What's In a Name?
The Journey of SoCal Cyclist's Growth and Change to Veloworthy.
When the SoCal Cyclist Podcast first started, it was designed to fill an information void that existed between Southern California and American bike racing, along with coverage from the ever-booming European World Tour race scene. I knew there was no way I could ever cover that kind of action alone, and not out of lack of desire, but rather from lack of resources and direction. After I’d scoured the internet to see what was out there, and discovering pretty slim pickings, I decided to turn my complaints into creation. In those early moments, I had no idea what I was doing, but my passion to create was strong, so that's what I did. Within months, I’d created a forum to discuss relevant happenings in cycling, brought my friends on the show, recorded it, and released it online for others to enjoy and discuss. Through hundreds of hours of love and labor, one small idea bloomed into the SoCal Cyclist Podcast you know today.
It wasn't the prettiest setup in the beginning, but the heart was there. I watched videos on podcasting, set up microphones on my kitchen table and asked everyone I knew who raced a bike to come do the show. It felt like inviting people to a party. You line up all your supplies, send out the invitations and cross your fingers that someone shows. Most people were skeptical at first and would follow up with “Who else has done the podcast?” I had no social proof or precedent. Just a wild shot in the dark. I tried to contact every cycling podcaster I could find to ask to collaborate. Every single one told me to buzz off in more polite language. One podcaster told me to never quit my day job.I was lucky to have two small advantages. First, I was a cyclist and involved in the local ride and race scene. Second, I discovered I was living in a hub for local professional cyclists, industry notables and a beautiful place where people come to ride their bikes.
The first guy to test the kitchen table setup was a true pro in every sense of the word, and I was lucky to have him. Greg Romero was riding for Surf City Cycling at the time, dominating field sprints and running a successful coaching business as his main gig. Greg also knew the qualities of an entertaining interview, and delivered the goods. I had no idea how to do an interview, so we just talked. After that, guests just kept rolling in. Literally. People would and still do just come over, sit down over a beverage and do their thing. And it feels natural this way. When a guest can't make it into my home studio, we make it work from the road.
During that first season, I ran with the momentum and challenged myself to interview 52 guests in 52 weeks. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I would DM, email and even cold call everyone that I knew in the cycling world, to the tune of "no thanks" or even worse, no answer at all. That year was the ultimate exercise in highs and lows, but persistence turned local guests into national stars, and then the international names followed.
There was the time then World Time Trial Champion Amber Neben drove down from Orange County just to talk to me. Another time, local Crit Champ Charon Smith and I talked about his positivity and being part of a close knit team. I remember going to Michael Marckx’s house and how his dream of the Belgian Waffle Ride is becoming one of the biggest events in the country. I talked to Ellen Noble on FaceTime in Europe where she was staying in the Netherlands trying to win the U23 Cyclocross world cup and going to college at the same time. Phil Gaimon did the show and then announced his retirement the next day. Phil Tintsman brought some delicious Lost Abbey beers over and we watched a stage of the Vuelta in my living room before we started the show. Brian and Joy McCulloch came all the way down from Redlands and talked about the best way to coach and mentor athletes while running a business together as husband and wife. Amanda Nauman brought her bike over and we went for a spin by the beach before we started the show. I went to interview Coryn Rivera and she talked about how she just wanted her first year on the World Tour with Sunweb to be a “learning experience” for her. She ended up having a breakout year to say the least. I remember being so nervous as I headed up to Santa Barbara for a training camp with the BMC and EF teams, essentially a first year journalist pushing himself to talk to riders who talk to press for a living. Turns out they’re pros on the bike and off, making it easy to ask them about anything from peak race experiences to their ideal breakfast. These experiences never go unremembered.
As the podcast grew, people reached out to sit down with me. I started keeping track of the downloads. I got excited when we hit one hundred per day. Then my excitement grew as that number turned to one thousand. The validation from the outside began trickling in for something that I’d always believed in. I started to do social media giveaways. Made a kit. Did a live show. Designed accessories. I started reviewing products and writing about them with the abundance and reach of local and national brands within the sport. Companies starting contacting me and telling me about their passion project for cycling. I went to bike races and events and people started to recognize me and hi-five me. Was this real? I’d be shocked every time. I saw good press and bad press. Praise and trolls. I convinced my wife to let me use an entire room in the house to build out a proper studio with boom microphones and foam acoustic panels. The podcast was becoming a full on brand. It was scaring the hell out of me. Could I do this full time? Hire people to do some of the work I couldn’t keep up with? Get big sponsors to do ads for the show? The answer had to be yes. I read that podcasts were merely a medium for promoting your platform rather than having the podcast BE the brand. I started helping friends set up their own podcasts as the genre was taking off.
If you search for cycling podcasts today, you'll find a gaggle of genres across every discipline you can dream of. There are cycling podcasts on a single day races, gravel, mountain bike, women’s cycling, tour coverage and let's not forget training how-to sites. So how does one stay relevant? I had to grow as a genre and a brand.
As much as I love Southern California, SoCal Cyclist does not communicate anything to the listener other than a place. Albeit a beautiful and wonderful place, it’s still just a place, and my local vision had global dreams. After grinding over names that would best represent the brand, I landed on one that felt like home.
Welcome to Veloworthy.
This new namesake compels the urge to ask; "how do you measure your worth?" It shows a way to value yourself, your cycling and the life you’ve built around it. There are people who have careers that depend on cycling and there are those who just can’t live without it. People who have sacrificed for the sport and people who are just getting started. It may be about achievement, health, lifestyle, community or all of the above. For me, my worth in cycling is measured by the difference I make in people. Doing my best to influence cyclists who are intentional from within sport and how they make an impact on others. I’ve seen great people thrive in the sport and I’ve also seen good people leave the sport for their own reasons. I’ve listened to people get a new lease on life through cycling as a vehicle to heal from injury. I’ve loved cycling through its dark days, and during its contributions to humanity. The bicycle is a simple machine that can do powerful things. It gives a sense of freedom and challenge and I feel compelled to share that story. If not through my own voice, then through the words of those that shape the sport and have found a way to make cycling a part of their life.
I'm grateful you've joined me on this journey and I look forward to sharing the next phase with you.
You are worthy.
Brian Co is the founder of Velo Worthy and runs the Velo Worthy Podcast. He is a professional life plate spinner and tries to help the cycling community one cyclist at a time.