Asphalt & Rubber Turns Five Years Old Today

10/18/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS


Another year has gone by at our tiny motorcycle blog here, as Asphalt & Rubber turns five years old today. The thing is though, the site isn’t that tiny anymore — one million visitors will come to A&R in October alone.

In the past four years, when I have written these birthday posts, I write the same thing about how I look back on the past 365 days with a bit of astonishment, and then list all the great things that we have done in that time.

At the five-year mark though, I find myself looking all the way back to the beginning of A&R, a time when this site wasn’t really anything at all. With that retrospect, I see how Asphalt & Rubber has come into what it is now — if I had to go back, and try to decipher today from the fog of time, it would all feel like an impossible reality, if I am honest.

Many have asked me how this site came to be, and so here it is. The not-so-quick genesis story of Asphalt & Rubber is that I stared this website while in the middle of a second-year corporate finance class in business school. It was October 2008, the job market was non-existent for soon-to-be newly minted MBA’s, and though I didn’t know it yet, the Great Recession had officially started.

If I had been smart and safe, by graduation I would have copied what my fellow classmates had done, and latched onto the first available paying gig that came along. Instead, I decided to take a risk, and try to start something of my own.

You see, the idea of being a corporate controller at ExxonMobil for the rest of my life was unappealing when it was pitched to me in a job interview that year. Similarly, I laughed far too loud when a Dell recruiter told me to work for them, as they were going to be the next Apple, according to him.

And then there was the prospect of working for a regional mid-Atlantic bank, the very prospect of which had me already reaching for my shoelaces and looking for a good load-bearing beam in the rafters. If I had been smart and keen to play it safe though, I would have taken any one of those jobs, and life would have been much easier.

Instead I moved back to California, moved in with my mom, and started Asphalt & Rubber in her freezing cold basement. It sucked.

Post-graduation and full recession, I was a quarter-million dollars in debt from my nearly decade long tenure in school (I did three years of law school, in addition to the two years of business school). In my late-20’s, living with my mom, and “blogging” for paychecks, what I was doing was looking more like charity than a living.

This wasn’t what I had planned for myself during that last year of college…you know, when I had figured everything out, but the world had changed on me. Motorcycling had even changed in that period of time, as we saw sales in the United States and Europe just completely disappear.

Journalism had changed also, though things were already changing in the industry as the internet constantly encroached upon the readership of print publications. Not helping matters, print budgets were slashed in the recession. So, not only was the readership leaving print magazines, but now so too were the dollar signs.

I don’t have any illusions that those two factors are probably what got me through the lean years and why Asphalt & Rubber exists today. With all of that now more of a distant memory, the site now flourishes, despite my dyslexic attempts at mashing words together.

While many things come easily to me, writing has never been one of them. I look back through the archives and see some of my ahem, rough, articles and cringe a bit — if you have been a long-time reader of Asphalt & Rubber, you surely are a patient person. Another thing that strikes me looking back at old articles is that this site has matured into something of its own.

Truth be told, this isn’t my site anymore. It’s your site, really.

When I finally put my mind towards Asphalt & Rubber actually being something more than my own outlet of thoughts, I knew that I wanted to create a publication that I would want to read as an enthusiast.

I wanted to create a publication that didn’t shy away from asking the tough questions, and didn’t mind losing advertisers because of the stories that it had  published. I wanted to run a publication that completely held its readers as its ultimate stakeholders. These are the same tenets others always seem to promise, but also always seem to fail to deliver.

I look at the response we have had from our readers these past five years, and see them as confirmation that this is something that others are looking for as well; and as such, that standard goes beyond being just my own. It is ours.

I have learned that it is easier to draw those lines in the sand when you are a small publication, and no one pays attention to you, but that the task becomes much more difficult once you get bigger in size, readership, influence, etc.

What keeps me up at night is how Asphalt & Rubber will maintain those same standards going forward, as this seemingly slippery slope is something I think only the most unscrupulous of people undertake willingly. Thankfully, I have good people around me to keep me accountable.

I continue to be deeply grateful to have David Emmett publishing his work here at Asphalt & Rubber, as he continues to be one of the most insightful writers in motorcycle racing, in both the print and online mediums.

Beyond the words of his, that many of you read, David is often the sounding board I go to for my big picture ideas, mindless rants, and rare crises of conscience. His friendship makes up for the moments where he talks on the phone in Dutch to his lovely wife. Seriously, it sounds like Chewbacca.

I can’t talk about David without talking about Scott Jones too. His photos are a huge factor in what makes this site look so visually appealing, and I don’t nearly do them justice by coupling them to my written postings. Scott’s work behind the lens is surely apparent to anyone who reads this site on a regular basis, but he too does so much for Asphalt & Rubber behind the scenes.

He has endured my unique style of “planning” trips abroad, my snoring at night, and of course my constant reminders of how I was born when he graduated high school. A true friend, I look forward to our regular lunch meetings where we plot to takeover the two-wheeled world. I love this guy so much, I would even go vegetarian for him.

Readers are likely not too familiar with Daniel Lloyd though, Asphalt & Rubber‘s server administrator. Dan has been a part of this crazy adventure since the very first day…the poor bastard.

As each day passed on, Dan become more and more the literal reason that A&R continued forth, as he built, tweaked, rebuilt, and retweaked our now four (or is it five?) servers into submission for the roughly gigabyte of traffic our little blog now produces…each hour.

Looking back too over the past five years with Dan, we have had some late nights, some stressful mornings, and sometimes combinations of the two. I am immensely grateful for all the hard work he has put into Asphalt & Rubber. Any other sane and rational person would have told me to take a hike long ago.

I am even more grateful for the patience of Dan’s wife, because rarely has a call at 2am woken up only Dan. Since starting A&R, I have had the fortunate opportunity to watch Dan find the love of his life, Sara. They got married this year, and I was deeply honored to get to witness their union. That day had to be the top moment for Asphalt & Rubber this year.

I am exceedingly proud of what we have all created here, and of course none of this would be possible without the hard work, encouragement, and support of a very loyal group of people. Many thanks to all of you that have been there these past five years — you really have no idea how much your support has meant. You too Mom.

Lastly and most importantly, thank you to all our readers who make all the work worthwhile. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to follow us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook, or just leave a comment below. Until next year.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • paulus

    Many happy returns.
    A great opportunity to express appreciation for you and your team’s efforts.
    A great resource and a great daily read.

  • tl1098

    Great site,congratulations hope you have many more years of success.

  • L2C

    “Similarly, I laughed too loud when a Dell recruiter told me to work for them, as they were going to be the next Apple.”

    Hahahaha!! That might be the funniest thing I have ever heard you say. :-)

  • Patrick Houston

    Appreciate the hard work and dedication.
    Love reading your site on a daily basis and will continue to do so as long as you are writing.

  • MikeD

    Aaawww, Jensen . . . You brought this picture of a VERY HAPPY SINGLE Mom watching her son playing with the other kids on the Park while she remembered how much it HURT pushing the little sucker out to this side of her Cooch, how those staples on her belly hurt like a Mother after having C-surgery and how many sleepless night came after ALL THAT (feeding, butt cleaning, playing doctor, etc).

    Kidding aside, CONGRATS to you and your Crew for keeping the LIGHTS ON at A&R another year and bringing the News and many more to come !
    KEEP UP THE WORK ! and a place for us here to talk motorcycles, racing and call each other names with out too much parenting ! ROTFLMAO !

  • L2C

    Well, I love this place, obviously. I appreciate the work the good result and work that goes into it, so thanks to all involved.

    And a special thanks to you, JB, for sharing your story and how Asphalt & Rubber came to be. I’m sure many will be inspired by it. Nothing beats following your passion and having something to show for it. Kudos, man. You deserve it.

    Happy Birthday, A & R! ;-)

  • L2C

    Typical editing boo-boo. Sorry about that. It won’t be the last, I’m sure. Derp.

  • vanduc996

    Congrats man, and may you have many more anniversaries to come.
    A&R is a daily destination to feed the online aspect of my two wheeled addiction.
    Basically, I like what you do, keep up the good work

  • TexusTim

    congrats jensen, the best motogp blog on the planet.

  • Goncalo “Bam”da Silva

    From all the articles you’ve written, Jensen, this is the most heartfelt one I’ve read. I got the chance to meet you in PI last year, even if briefly (and slightly intoxicated), and as I said at the time: congratulations on this blog. My day doesn’t go without reading it, same with Motomatters. You and David (and the Motopodcast I might add), both in very unique ways, have created what I see as the future of motorcycle journalist. Class, knowledge and passion steered in the right direction. I like where this is going, I just hope some Australian publications catch on…

    Congratulations Jensen. I shall eat some Nando’s tonigh to celebrate!

    Goncalo “Bam” da Silva

  • Hisham

    Hi Jensen.

    From the state, all the way to MALAYSIA, home of Sepang International Circuit. I would read A&R lmost everyday in the morning in office before i start my work. A&R is clean and simple. More to motorcycling purist thought and with open biased. great work and may A&R will cherish centuries to come.

    Happy Birthday A&R!!!

  • Judge

    Congratulations on another year Jensen. Here’s to paying off your loans and getting out of freezing basements.

  • Motogpdr

    Congrats! By far the best sport bike/ racing site ! It’s one of the first sites I check each am while waiting for the espresso machine to reach temp…..warmest regards and I wish you many more years of success. Your writing is second to none despite your humble self critiques…kudos Jensen

  • Bruce

    Hi Jenssen
    Congratulations on completing 5 years,
    We all look forward to your site everyday in hope of seeing something new, thanks for enlightening us
    and keeping us updated with latest happenings around the world.

  • Gutterslob

    Happy 5th Birthday, AsRub~!!

  • Fred Santos

    Cheers from Brazil.
    A&R are an inspiration. I´ve started a motorcycle news blog some time ago, but refused to continue.

  • TimM

    Congrats JB/A&R–happy fifth, glad you survived, thrived, and made that choice back when. Don’t know if your mom’s glad but a lot of readers are! Thanks for five years of great work.

  • Ganny

    Congrats Jensen….have been a constant follower of A&R for three years now…This is the go to site for me when it comes to motorcycle news….Cheers

  • I appreciate your blog and site more than any other I go to. Proper job, well done. Keep it up, many happy returns.

  • Alex

    Congrats Jensen! This is my favorite blog on the internet on any subject.

    Thanks so much for all your hard work!

  • Neil

    Happy Birthday A&R, and thanks for one of my favourite sites! Tough work but appreciated.

  • Many many congratulations Jensen :D

    I have been following A&R since Oct 2008 itself. I did not know A&R had started only then!
    I latched on due to a KTM 1190 RC8 article way back then.

    Today, A&R is my daily read. Never a day goes by without reading up all your articles.
    Kudos to you and your team of hardworkers.
    Enjoy the torque !!!

  • sam

    Looks suspiciously like Minnesota st

  • jim

    between an MBA and a law degree you were screwed, but unlike bucky fuller you didn’t get kicked out of harvard twice. you succeeded. a much more difficult spot. if you’d gone to work for dell or the mid adlantic bank you’d have ended up committing sepuka in the parking lot, and A&R is proof of the veracity of that statement. fortunately for myself and the crowd that visits A&R, yo mama has a basement. apparently all that college work solidified your writing, i’ve always viewed it as pro work. so weather it was desperation or stamina that got you five years down the line, it’s a site i visit most every day since it’s exactly what one wants, a stream of straight ahead coverage, not a front for an ongoing advertisement.

    i’m still looking for a 300lb bike with about 70hp

    cheers and thanks

  • smiler

    Well done thus far. Well written, laid out and great photographers with Dan and Scott, once Dan gets equal dibs.
    Not bad at all for colonial commoners.

    Keep it up.

  • Mariani

    Yesterday was this website’s birthday?

    Today is MINE birthday! :-)

    This blog got my attention ever since I laid eyes on your criticism of Honda’s recent mundane work, and it has become one of the few sites that I get to visit every day.

    Your work is appreciated, Jensen. It truly is.

    Cheers from Brazil!

  • K1200Rider

    The fact that i am at work since 4:00am on a saturday morning, and reading A &R is a testament in itself to what an amazing site you and your faithful team have created.. You are like my morning “cup of joe” so to speak, my picker upper for the day. Keep up the excellent work!

    Guess i better get back to doing some real work now…

  • Keep up the pace, and full throttle!
    Cheers from Greece.

  • Keep up the pace, full throttle!!!
    Cheers from Greece.

  • B.T.

    Congrats buddy.Gotta love anybody that chases that dream & doesn’t sell out to the easy money.
    Proud of you Buddy.Great site.Can’t wait until you do an article on me…..Hahaha

  • I honestly can’t remember how I stumbled across the site a few years back, but always kept an eye on the articles. Then, one day at the TT, taking photos I got talking to an American guy who was taking some shots for his site. When I mentioned that I read an American site called Asphalt and Rubber, he (fairly) modestly informed me that was his site.

    Anyway, since then I’ve continued to read and enjoy the site and even had the pleasure of contributing to the site with some coverage of this year’s TT.

    Long may it continue!

  • ET

    Congrats and many good years ahead.

    I stumbled onto this site few years back and has been my daily must visit site!! In fact I check for any updates every now and then throughout my day.

    Great news and vast coverage of motorcycle news and insights. Keep it up!!

    Edwin from Singapore

  • MikeBike

    My favorite online distraction at work. Congrats and keep it up!

  • Mike

    Happy 5th & thank you for a great site!

    Really is my favorite bike site & my first stop


  • dayyan

    Been following since the website came into being, and it has been a great thing to see the website flourish. Great to read the story behind it.

  • Karl

    Congratulations! Keep up the excellent effort – it’s very appreciated.

  • Jonathan

    Congratulations! Where many other have faltered, given up, or sold out; A&R continues to give us what we want. In the last year I have become a much more dedicated reader due to the contributions of all the writers, particularly Mr. Emmet . As long as this lives on, I will be reading.

  • mudgun

    I visit three sites daily to keep my world in perspective. The first is AsphaltRubber. So glad you’re one of those guys who used to live in his Moms basement.

  • Jensen,
    Congrats, great work.

  • Didn’t hang around much this year but nice work and congratulations Jensen.

  • What a great retrospective. Congratulations on getting through another year, Jensen. I wish you many, many more; A&R is one of the only two motorcycle publications I follow.

  • Halfie30

    Happy day of birth A&R! Thanks for helping me stop paying for magazines! Keep up the great work Jensen and Co. !!!!!

  • Azhar

    Congrats Jensen to u n the rest of A&R’s team on the 5th Anniversary. Articulate,honest & insightful motorcycle website that I’ve come across. A&R is sort of my daily dinner & breakfast “meals” (im on permanent night shift-in IT industry;not Dell!). Always awaiting new & exciting readups on 2-wheels world news. Keep up the excellent work & may A&R have a many prosperous years ahead!

    Greetings from Singapore

  • Anvil

    Jensen, you know what you have? Balls.

    Mom’s basement sucked, but you now have control of your own destiny. Plus, you have the best co-worker of all–your love for what you do. And that’s worth a lot more than some cube job with a paltry bonus (maybe) and a false sense of security. Congrats and many more years of success.

    As to your writing, it’s a fair shade better than a plenty of hacks that I know that call themselves pros. Just one request: please try to stop using the phrase “based off,” I know it has become colloquial in the last several years but it’s nonsensical. The phrase is “based on.’ Other than that, you’re pretty much golden.

    Just a minor request from another one of those professional hacks. Yes, I understand your pain.

    Keep up the good work. I’ll be coming back every day, too.

  • Anvil

    See, I am a hack. I meant, “…it’s a fair shade better than plenty of hacks who call themselves pros.”

    Ugh. Sometimes I really need an editor. And a proofreader.

  • Tanker Man

    Congratulations! Is that you catching air? I, too, catch your website first.

  • Tommy D

    Happy Birthday!!!

    And many more… I’ve been following this site almost since the beginning; keeping up with it daily through my RSS reader.

    Thank you very much for your efforts, stories, and ideas!

  • Congratulations Jensen, I’m a huge fan of A&R and a regular reader. It’s been great to watch the site pick up speed and become a major force in the world of two-wheeled journalism.

  • kaliberr44

    Happy Birthday!!!

    Been regular reader since discovering this site few years ago. The quality and uncommon topics made me stay.

    Thanks for your hard work.

  • Jean

    Happy Birthday !

    Looking forward another 5 years of great articles and galleries. When compared to what else is offered on the www, A&R really stands out.

  • Jimbo

    Congrats mate, all the best from England!

    Love A&R

  • David Hill

    I deeply appreciate the hard work that you’ve put into this site. A&R is my first stop when it comes to motorcycle racing news. The site is visually appealing and the articles are stellar. Your work continually deepens my understanding and appreciation of motorcycle racing. Thanks for everything!