Ah, Dutch, my new favorite language. At least I can say I was for it before the World Cup made it cool...
This was another fantastic year for the Podium Cafe. Sure, nobody made any money; we're still in Phase 2 of our business plan [1. gab about cycling; 2. ...; 3. Profit!] but, well, tomorrow is another day. No, this was a fantastic year for two basic reasons. Number one, and I do mean Number One, more people seemed to have more fun than ever inside the friendly confines of our virtual Cafe. That has always been our primary barometer... but like any cafe, we hope that had something to do with, say, a better menu or better beer or the Annual Darts Tournament or maybe you like the artwork we hung on the walls. So number two, this was a fantastic year from my (personal non-definitive) perspective because of all the goals we set and met this year.
Goal #1, without which goals 2-7 weren't very possible, was to grow the management team, and that was accomplished when Gavia joined me as co-editor last winter. You knew about this, of course, but it cannot be emphasized enough how fundamental this was to The Plan. For the rest of these goals, I'm going to assume I can speak for both of us, because once Gavia became co-editor, a plan for 2010 came into existence and became capable of team execution. This was a shared vision, IMHO.
Goal #2 was to make our day-to-day stuff cleaner, better coordinated, and more than just a repetition of years past. Things like divisions of labor, occasional Monday email meetings to lay out schedules, bringing new writers into the main column, overhauling the Tour de France coverage (which became a template for far better organization in grand tours), and of course crayons. There's a sweet spot between continuity and freshness that we strive for each new season, for your sake and ours. The facts on the ground don't change much from, say, one edition of Paris-Roubaix to the next. So we look for new voices, new angles, and new ways to appreciate cycling as the pedals keep turning over.
Goal #3 was to get closer to the riders. No, we can't get Fabian Cancellara to write guest columns here (yet), but teams are aware of us and as you saw through interviews and live chats that we can contact them directly and bring cycling and its constituents in more or less direct contact. This is actually a slow process, necessitating a lot of off-line contact, for the simple reason that riders and teams are very busy. But compared to a year ago, we have spread the word pretty widely that the Podium Cafe is a great place for riders to stop by.
Goal #4 was to develop coverage of Women's Cycling. Now, I don't expect every fan of the men's side to be interested; we'll put it out there and if you decide to read and jump in to the convo, fantastic. Our reasons for this goal were that this is simply a natural fit, and a golden opportunity to see the same sport from up close. Women's Cycling has its differences but fundamentally it's the same sport. It looks the same to me; if the speed isn't as high, it's still ultra-elite athletes suffering unbearably to ride like the wind. It's got stars and watercarriers; tactics and teams and courses and desire all play out the way they do for the men. Sponsorship for teams and races is forever an issue. Riders are accessible and outspoken compared to the bigger sports. And to underline this connection, several of our favorite men's teams have women's teams. To those who suggest we stick to one thing or else we'll get bogged down doing too much, I say that Women's Cycling is the exception, it's a part of the sport that we gathered around in the first place, in ways that don't extend to the juniors or track or other disciplines.
Goal #5: kits. And you can see where that got us.
Goal #6: Widgets! We now have our own rankings and a flawless Virtual Directeur Sportif site so you can track the real world and your own team in ways you'd expect in the 21st century. While crayons might be a good thing for the site in other areas, crayons and spreadsheets weren't getting it done on the VDS side.
Goal #7: Meatspace! I personally took charge of one PdC Meetup, our Flanders extravaganza that I will never forget. But I know that's just one and that the \o/ flag waved over several races this year. I'm always glad to hear about other people getting together, and compared to other years I got to hang out with more of you than ever before. Hope you guys had or will have the same chances, if that interests you. It's always been a blast for me.
I am probably forgetting other ways in which we made strides this year, but this is getting long. Overall, I simply hope you felt that the Cafe was a noticeably better product this year while remaining the same fun space in which to linger. I certainly did, and for that I thank Gav for a zillion things, Superted for the VDS and for mapping the grand tours, Jens for his 350th live race thread without a complaint, Majope for the Adventures of Barbie Barbie and VDS analysis, Veloki for great artwork and the kits, Sui Juris for kit coordination and legal advice, Nikki for external outreach assistance, Monty and Pigeons for kicking the women's coverage into hyperdrive, Ursula for ... the poetic madness that is Ursula (particularly on the VDS side), Watergirl for the Calendar... And of course, to all of our contributors to the comments or the Fanposts and Fanshots, from the frequent writers to the occasional commenters. This site is what you all make it to be.