BikeRadar website of the week: Red Kite Prayer

An industry stalwart’s own push through the flamme rouge

The Red Kite Prayer is the cycling equivalent of American football’s Hail Mary pass. Sometimes races are won on fumes and a prayer; sometimes they’re not won at all. The Red Kite Prayer (RKP) blog is dedicated to offering insight, analysis and inspiration behind the finish line prayers and it generally delivers.

RKP founder, Patrick Brady, saves up his site’s small amount of advertizing revenue for his annual pilgrimage to the Tour de France in July. He’ll tell you it’s why the site exists: to chronicle the drama found within a grand tour road race. From there, he works cycling’s most famous race with the fervor of any other working journalist.

You will not see any sort of blow-by-blow report from Brady or RKP, rather he offers context drawn from more than two decades in the industry. For example he takes Mark Cavendish’s first Tour stage victory in 2009 as a chance to compare the way he won to those sprinting greats before him in a post entitled Cavitation; and he does it all in plain and simple terms. Another more recent post in which RKP set itself apart came after Alberto Contador took advantage of Schleck’s dropped chain in last year’s Tour. It is entitled Chaingate — despite their vintage, both posts are still good reads.

Take Brady’s muse, the grand tour, and mix in a honest review or two, some straight news, a sentimental super-fan style op-ed, the story of an epic everyman’s ride — Brady being the everyman — and tie it all together with the inspiring imagery of John Pierce from Photosport International, and you have a week on RKP.

“It was time that I needed to run a blog of my own,” said Brady. “The launch was just in time for the 2009 Tour (de France) and that was very deliberate because, for me, the grand tours are where it’s at, they’re what I love. As I wrote in the very first post, my idea of heaven is going out and riding my bike for six to eight hours a day in the July sun — I mean does it get any better than the Tour de France, to me it’s the ultimate?”

RKP founder, Patrick Brady, practicing what he preaches

The name Red Kite Prayer, is derived from the flamme rouge, the final kilometer, it’s a marker that every racer looks for whether it be for a final push toward victory or a last bit of encouragement to legs that can’t pedal any longer, and some time it takes a prayer to make it to the line first or even make that last 1,000 meters at all.

“Every single guy out there puts their head down,” says Brady. “They’re not looking up the road, they’re looking straight down and they have this look on their face… that moment, because it’s so universal, that moment needs a name. It’s a little personal Hail Mary, so I thought, Red Kite Prayer.”

In June 2009, when RKP launched, Brady may have been looking for his own flamme rouge. He had sunk his life savings, plus loans from investors, into a magazine called Asphalt.

Plot Spoiler: Asphalt failed. (This is directly borrowed from Brady’s trademark RKP style in which he offers Plot Spoilers within his most passionate posts.)

Before it did, though, he managed to put out five issues and, in a way, he paved the way — in terms of style — for a new crop print magazines, including Road and Paved, but the best example is undoubtedly Peloton, to which Brady contributes, because it is not backed by a large scale publisher. The failure of Asphalt, according to Brady, can be directly attributed to the cycling website boom, but the loss of his nest egg came at the end of a line of failure and it was the most personal of them all.

“My writing about bicycling and the industry has never really been driven by money, it’s been driven by a need to resonate with readers,” said Brady, about his own Red Kite Prayer and the purpose the RKP blog serves him.

Red Kite Prayer posts are filed under the headings: body, mind and machine

Brady’s industry tenure saw him first published in Dirt Rag, and then as a staffer at The Ride and Bicycle Guide, the latter folded while Brady was on assignment at the Tour de France. Perhaps carrying the most cachet, however, is Brady’s role as a founding contributor for Radio Freddy’s cult blog, Belgium Knee Warmers.

Currently, Brady works as a freelance writer with his work appearing mostly in Road Bike Action and the new Peloton, but he maintains his conviction to RKP and promises to post at least once a day. Brady, who posts as Padraig, supplements his work with that of Da Robot, a longtime BKW reader and freelance writer turned RKP contributor, as well as Rick Vosper and Bill McGann, both longtime industry figures.

“It’s [RKP] a curious thing… I don’t want to change what we do, but I wish we could do more of what we do,” said Brady. “Red Kite Prayer, is now doing what I want it to do.”

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