Paul Component Engineering: 7 Questions with John Watson of the Radavist Jun 21, 2017

While I was in Chico, Paul and Travis from Paul Component had a few questions for me about life, liberty and the pursuit of constant stoke. Check out the full interview below!

1. What is your mission behind the publication of the Radavist? Or what’s the contribution you strive to make in the realm of bicycle news?

When I started the Radavist, I wanted it to be a venue for autodidact raconteurs to share their stories from their rides and to focus on the vehicles that enable cyclists to explore – That’s an attempt to sound smarter than I am. In short, I wanted a venue to share routes and rides, along with a focus on companies who make products that fall in line with the kinds of rides found on the site. Photographing people’s bikes is a huge part of that as well. People love to flip through galleries of bikes and bike rides, so each gallery has to be loaded with good photos. There’s an amazing community at the Radavist and one that I feel is the best in the industry. It’s positive, constructive and engaged. I’d like to think that’s the biggest contribution to the industry: constant stoke.

2. You’re an amazing photographer – Can you tell us how you got started with all that and was it a skill set that sort of helped form the Radavist or were those skills more like an added bonus to making the publication so great?

I went to college for architecture and worked in the industry for 8 years. I took photography classes in college and when I moved to New York to work as an architect, I began documenting bike riding there. Granted, I was horrible at making photos back then. Over time, my skills were honed and now, I feel like a large reason the Radavist is so popular is that we take photography so seriously. Well, not seriously, but we strive to make good photos… and have fun doing it.

3. How does all the traveling you do for your job work in the grand scheme of things? Do you love it, hate it, both? Does it suit you perfectly or is it something you have to manage to make work?

Ah, that’s a tricky one. In the moment, I love traveling. I love meeting people, riding in new places and soaking in the culture as best as I can. In terms of photography, it’s a great way to improve your skill of capturing the moment. When you’re new to an environment, it takes quick thinking to document it. That said, after two or three weeks on the road, I miss my life in Los Angeles. I miss my home, my rides, my girlfriend, our dog, canned rosé after a ride and my friends. At this point, I only travel for trips that will add to the feel of the website, often turning down press camps that might not suit the website. Or my travel schedule. Or my sanity. I do however love exploring the Mojave and Death Valley. I could do that full-time, easily. My lady and I are desert rats, often joking about how we want a tiny shack in the desert with a palo verde tree as the only form of shade.

4. How do you decide on what you’re going to cover – does it come to you, do you seek it out?

It’s a healthy mix of the two. Honestly, I’m so busy running the site, editing contributor’s work, making sure everything moves along smoothly that my free time to explore new content is so short. I usually just put myself in situations where I know the content that comes from them will be visually engaging.

5. How long did it take you to acclimate in L.A. and come up with a good portfolio of rides?

I had been traveling to LA for six years before moving here, and luckily, I’m friends with the guys at Golden Saddle Cyclery, who showed me a plethora of rides in Los Angeles I could build my experience off of. When I first moved here, I made a game out of finding new places to ride, or at least new variations on those familiar rides so they would feel like mine. There are still a ton of rides, within 50 or 100 miles of my house that I’ve yet to explore.

6. Are there any events you haven’t covered but really really want to?

Of course! Far too many to name. Although I was really bummed out that I got the flu and couldn’t travel to South Africa for Eroica, or the bikepacking trip that ensued afterward.

7. You have a Toyota Landcruiser from Japan where the driver’s seat is on the right. Do you ever get confused?

Honestly, it took five minutes to get used to it. I will say I was really confused when I did the math the first time and figured out I was getting 28MPG on the highway for a truck with a 3″ lift! The only thing that trips me up from time to time is hitting the windshield wiper when I’m trying to hit the turn signal. Everything about it is easy and it sure draws attention everywhere we go. Mostly from dudes. Lots of dudes love that truck and want to talk about it. Ladies, if you’re single and are looking for dudes who are into cars, holler at me and I’ll rent it to you. Joking aside, working on the truck – doing everything from replacing wiring harnesses, to tracking down parts for it, replacing rusty components, and keeping it running mechanically sound – has been a great side hobby and when you make a living out of what you love, sometimes those side hobbies keep you sane. :-)

  • brieboyg

    Ex-Architecture rat huh? W https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9534c3e419da52d8d92dfcb628c366af48fc6a6cdd52ae1fc0acc42f9467669e.jpg ell, now I have renewed hope that one day I too can be free of the “trade” and enjoying the Stoke-life! And what the hell, maybe a better photographer too! #stayrad

  • alex

    Interview of yourself on your own site, so meta it’s blowing my mind

  • Jonathan McCurdy

    “…how we want a tiny
    shack in the desert with a palo verde tree as the only form of shade.”

    If you ever get tired of the LA bustle, Tucson would welcome you.

  • Garrett Johnson

    Just wanted to say – I’ve followed you for the past 7 or 8 years and it’s always been a source of inspiration to go ride and have adventures. Thanks for everything John (and I wish I could get a new necronomicog kit to replace the one i shredded)

  • Dobry

    Wow . . . “a venue for autodidact raconteurs” – this needs to be on the next set of merch . . . I’d at least buy a water bottle.

    • Richard

      I’d like to see this spelled out on bar tape, again and again and again wrapped around some nitto albastache bars from Rivendell…

  • Dobry

    I feel you on the traveling too, after I ramped up my travel, I had to give up a number of simple pleasures (like commenting on the Radavist) to try to make up time with the people and things I missed.
    Tell us more about this canned rose, though…

  • breed007

    “When I started the Radavist, I wanted it to be THE window you quickly minimize at work when someone walks in.”