Charles Pelkey Chipin

Help a brother out

After 17 years of working for VeloNews, corporate owners Competitor Group Inc. laid Charles Pelkey off on the same day he was diagnosed with cancer. He has gone through three surgeries and now faces 16 weeks of chemo, just as he’s starting a job search. He hasn’t asked for help but just imagine experiencing two immense setbacks simultaneously. Here’s a Chipin page if you’d like to help him out in his time of need.

If you’re not familiar with Charles, he wrote the live updates for the Tour on VeloNews, as well as the great Explainer columns (which, ironically, still occupy prime real estate on VeloNews’ homepage). He’s an outstanding journalist and has always been a great mentor and friend to us with our amateur attempts at writing. We wish Charles a full and quick recovery and we hope to see him covering our sport again very soon. In the meantime Charles is on Twitter here.

(I found out about chipin from Daniel Zmolik’s page. You can help Dan out here.)



Yup, another case of the standard corporate “we crunched the numbers and you didn’t fit in”. Completely bogus, no matter how you slice it. Doesn’t matter if you’re Competitor Inc. or USA Cycling Inc; fire all the good people instead of the real fat. Nice job dumb-asses.

If any start-up cycling magazine has a smart bone in their body, Charles won’t be out of a job for long. Good luck with everything; be well soon.

Charles Pelkey

As weird as it sounds, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Yup. Men get it, too.

I noticed a lump on my chest and would have probably ignored it, were it not for the fact that my uncle Philip – the man for whom my son is named – had died of a much more advanced case of breast cancer back in 1994. I was already aware of the fact that men account for one percent of all breast cancer cases – about 1800 a year – and now I happen to be one of those rare and exceptional guys. (I assure you, I would much prefer to distinguish myself in other ways.)

I mean, come on. As if growing man boobs in middle age ain’t bad enough, mine were trying to kill me!

I’ve had three surgeries so far, including a complete bilateral mastectomy (yeah, weirds me out, too). My chest looks like it belongs to Frankenstein’s monster at this point. Lots of scars, and no nipples. The impact on muscle tissue was minimal, so I am going to be able to exercise and build that up, but it will look kinda weird anyway.

The third surgery – I was becoming enough of a regular that the surgical staff all said “Hey! Charles is back!” when I came in last Friday – was to put in a chemo port. That starts tomorrow.

Charles Pelkey

I’ve been a long-time fan of NYVeloCity, but I never imagined that meant being part of a family. Monday proved that I was.

Andy and crew, I don’t know what to say. The outpouring of warmth has been overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting this and when I saw what Andy had done, I was tempted to turn it down … but my cranky old friend, Mr. O’Grady, suggests to accept it in the spirit it was given “a digital version of folks stopping by with a casserole and offering help.”

With the prospect of $1850/month to maintain insurance, I will only use your donations for that. If our family manages to secure new insurance, I will either return money or donate it to a worthy cause. It’ll be your call.

This decision was largely a corporate thing and has little to do with what I always regarded as VeloNews. I am not encouraging anyone to boycott a publication with which I was associated for 17 years. It was a good run and I had some amazing experiences there. There are some terrific people still involved in the magazine and the website and I sure as heck don’t want to do anything to detract from their work. What I find most heartening in all of this is that the readers apparently saw me and my work there as something more than just a line item.

I am considering returning to doing LiveUpdates and such as an independent, mostly because I really enjoy doing those. Let me know if that would work for you.

Tristan Topcap

Charles, godspeed on beating back the demon. How long is chemo regime? Radiation too? Oh and don’t be classy. Instead, be a raging pissed off bull in a china shop and do everything you can to get back to good health.

Charles Pelkey

The chemo is for 16 weeks. The main drug is something called Adriamycin. It’s supposed to be effective, but the side effects are not pleasant. Apparently, I will lose energy because of a low red (and white) blood cell count, will be unable to ride much and not get outside, because of susceptibility to infection, and my hair will fall out.

In other words, I’ll pasty, pudgy and bald … pretty much like all of the other 53-year-old lawyers I know 😉

Folks, the money that has come in over the past few days has been amazing. I hate to say it, but maybe it’s time to put the brakes on for a bit. I am scrambling on the insurance front (negotiating with my former employer) and what you have donated more than covers five months’ worth of COBRA. I am sure that I have deductibles ahead, too (I think it’s around 6 or 7k) and a bunch of other expenses and co-pays, but I cannot expect you to make up for my loss of income. I am trying to get to the law office already and spending at least a bit of time trying to grow my practice.

I am truly grateful for all of the help and my family and I have been moved to tears by your generosity.

I was really touched, especially when some apologized for not being able to give more. Please. To be sure, the double whammy of unemployment and an inability to work is a huge hit, but it’s not so huge that people need to cut back on their own expenses to help me out.

These last few days have underscored how really lucky I am. My wife and I “celebrated” our 25th anniversary just a few days after my first surgery and my lay-off. (Talk about burying the “for better” with a big dose of “for worse.”) Diana – and our two kids, Philip and Annika – have been remarkably strong. On top of that, the outpouring of support from all of you has been downright overwhelming.

Please, please, please … do not forego necessities (or even luxuries) to make a donation to me. Scared as I was a few weeks back, I now know I will survive … all of you have reminded me of that.

Don’t send more money. Take your husband out to dinner. Buy flowers for your wife. Spend money on the kids this weekend. What all of this has proven to me – more than anything else – is that we all get by on the help and support of our friends and family. What has really surprised me, though, is to discover just how many friends I have out there.

You guys rule!


Charles: I will miss (at least for now) reading your work, but you have a more important task ahead of you and that’s not getting a job or even fighting with a insurance co, it’s surviving, put that in the top of the order of worldly things (God, love, family is always at the top of the top) and the rest will shake out…..

Sorry to hear that you have to take Adriamycin, it will suck but you will make it. I went through 8 rounds of that funky red stuff (plus 3 other drugs and then radiation) spread out over 8 months back when I was in my mid 20’s and that’s almost 12 years ago now.

Sounds like you have a great family, the prayers love and support of those you know or have met in some way, mix that in with good medical treatment and will come out of this on the other end with a few cool scars and some good stories to tell.

Charles Pelkey

I have to agree. The big job ahead is just getting through this crap. It won’t be fun and it won’t be pretty (not as if I was in the first place), but I have to believe this will eventually all be the stuff of stories over drinks some day.

As for now, the bills are coming in faster than is the chemo. Not only is this cancer crap a complete pain in the ass, it’s expensive, too. That said, the help that people have given has made it so much easier and so much less stressful. We probably have a good chunk of our insurance covered for the next few months. The deductibles are brutal, but without insurance I’d already owe in excess of $100k.

Again, I have to tell you that the generosity shown here has been overwhelming. Not only have you helped our family secure insurance for the foreseeable future, you helped me gain a semblance of confidence. No matter how one phrases it – “laid-off” or “fired” – losing a job invariably makes you think your work has been utterly without value. What all of you did – both financially and emotionally – came at exactly the right time.

I promise to let all of you know how things are progressing. I am working hard to ramp up the job hunt and to ramp up the legal work I’m doing. A guy still has to pay the mortgage, so I will do my best to work as much as possible. … although I have no idea what chemo does to a guy.

Meanwhile, I am doing a bit of work during the Vuelta and would welcome all of you to stop by for daily Live Updates from this Vuelta.


Pelkey was one of the last bastions of decency at VN. I would say boycott the VN rag too but I already pulled my subscription earlier this year after hearing about them teaming up with Chris Carmichael- he doped juniors: how do you work with someone who doped little kids?

I donated what I got- good luck Charle: you can beat this.

Meg Anderson

It’s a rough road you have to travel Charles, but we’re beside you every step of the way. I know you said not to blame Velonews but will never read it again.

Gilles Bartape

Best of luck to Charles in his treatment. Stage 2 breast cancer has a very high survival rate, not that makes what he is going through any easier or less scary. Hopefully you’ll make a full recovery.

Oncology Guy

It is pretty amazing that so many people stepped up to help donate for Charles, nice work folks. I just want to make sure that you have had genetic testing Charles. Male breast cancer is extremely rare and with 2 cases in your family, some serious red flags should be going up with your health care providers. It is very important for other members of your family to know the mutation status. Good luck and be strong.

Lennert Drainhole

Charles, it is humbling for me to see you so overwhelmed and moved by the caring kindness, generosity, and decency that the cycling community is capable of demonstrating. But taking care of our peeps is as much a necessity as taking the bike out for a spin and snarking on twitter. So just trust in this, okay?

My sister-in-law was in precisely your boat seven years ago. She too had Stage 2 BC, underwent the bilateral, did the ACT chemo, and then the courses of Tamoxifen and Arimidex afterwards. I can remember going to the hospital with her and sitting and nervously chatting as she waited for the chemo bag to empty into her veins. Scary, sobering stuff. She had her good days and her bad, as you will too. But she is now six years cancer-free, and living a more robust and healthy life than ever before. I trust that you will too.

As a matter of housekeeping, is this now a formal cease and desist on the fundraising? We have a ChipIn widget on the website homepage, and I wasn’t planning on removing it any time soon, but will do so if you and Andy wish it to be so.

If you ever need to talk or get some input from someone who’s been there and emerged a healthy and sane (ish) survivor, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up. I promise there are no silly silicone bands or false soundbite platitudes. Only friendship, wisdom, and experience.




Hey Charles,

It’s been a long time. I’m amazed and inspired by your class and spirit. I am not, however, surprised at the outpouring of support for you. You deserve it and have earned it through your life and actions.

Be well.


Antoine Clamp

I was just watching an episode of Breaking Bad where, in a brilliantly cynical twist, the donations coming in from the internet to the Save Walter White Fund were in fact a money laundering scheme cooked up by his ultra dodgy and yet effective lawyer. I feel compelled to share this because it is just so life-affirming to see that real people can actually make a real impact on someone they don’t necessarily know. Cynicism has its place but this makes for a wonderful change.

Charles Pelkey

I just wanted to extend my thanks to everyone here. It’s been a rough few weeks, but I think things are looking up. I just finished my third surgery last Friday and once everything heals up, I start on 20 weeks’ worth of chemo. It should be done after that … let’s at least hope, eh?

On another note, I really do want to discourage anyone from engaging in a boycott of VeloNews, especially if you’re using me as a reason to do it. Look, I’ve been a bike geek for more than 30 years. I raced for many of those and I continue to enjoy the bike. When my son was born in 1994, I was looking for a way out of Washington, D.C. when my dream job – working for VeloNews – came up. Think about. Sure, I was working in the U.S. Senate and yeah, I even got to do a lot of really cool stuff, like ride around in limos and go to the White House and … well, all of that paled with the prospect of doing a job in which going to the freakin’ Tour de France(!!!!) was one of the requirements of the gig.

I’ve had a long run. My son is about to enter his senior year in high school and is tall enough to ride any one of the garage full of 63cm road bikes I have here. Seventeen years, a lot of grand tours and more trips to Europe than I can even keep track of … all while getting paid to do it!

So, for reasons not connected to my cancer, I lost my job in budget cutbacks. I am close to working out insurance coverage and my job prospects – while dim during treatment – are pretty good overall. I have that law degree (which I earned while working full-time at VeloNews) and I have a ton of friends in both the legal and journalism worlds. I have my wife and two kids and an extended family that reaches around the world.

So we have a cadre of young guys at the magazine and a good crew on the website. Neal, Steve, Brian, Nick and Caley are hard workers and will do a good job turning out great work. It’s worth a read and it’s worth your time to check it out. Honestly, let those guys enjoy the thrill of doing work they love and don’t make them responsible for what is really just a bad turn of events. Economies rise and fall and sometimes it’s just a bottom-line decision to cut out what may have been the most expensive staff. (Yeah, it hurt to be viewed as a line item, but you guys here and around the cycling community showed me that the readers never viewed my work as such.)

I will get by – bald and tired for a few months, but I will get by. Meanwhile, give the guys on staff a vote of confidence and tell them when they do well … and do what you did with me and tell them when you think they could do better.

I’ll be around.

If anyone wants to reach me, my contact information is as follows:

Charles F. Pelkey
609 S. 5th
Laramie, WY 82070

Gabriel Brazeon

I was at the end of my rope with Velonews as it was. With the Chris Carmichael thing. Then your layoff happens. Yours was one of the few columns I actually read. I was to the point that the only time I want to VN site was when linked by someone else. I will no longer visit their webpage and I will discourage others from visiting it as well. Sorry for the writers but the powers to be have killed a good thing.
Best to you and I wish you a speedy recovery.


I have always like VeloNews, but I find their website convoluted and weird. Time and time again, I can’t find the simplest things (like GC standings in a Grand Tour) without clicking through many pages. CyclingNews is pretty much the same. Maybe this is by design, but it is annoying.

Jesus from Cancun

In case that you have wondered why I call you Master… in my job, sales of tours and services, one gets to be named “Master” only after many years of outstanding work. Kind of like being called “senior agent”, but even better.

A Master is an example to follow, a role model, the most respected and trusted member of the team. And that’s what you have been for years among cycling journalists.
In my very personal opinion, you are right there, alone at the top. Maybe only John Wilcockson could be up there too, but I stil think you have been the most intelligent cycling journalist I have read, in any language. (I also read the Gazzetta and several Spanish and English publications).

I used to check VeloNews daily, mostly looking after your and Mr. Wilcockson’s articles, as well as Nick’s columns. I didn’t know you were not there anymore, until Birillothedog replied to one of my comments saying you were gone but doing the Vuelta from your site.

I have to say I was shocked to hear the news, but my respect for you has grown even more. I just found this page today, and I found out details of your struggle that felt like a kick in my stomach.
I am very glad that all of us who have enjoyed your writing can help you somehow. And I am very happy to hear that you are keeping a great attitude and your forecast is good. And you’re giving your Live Update feed to VN for free? Wow, that is something to admire.

I look forward to reading all you write about cycling from wherever you publish it, but more than anything, I want to hear news of your quick recovery and your landing in the job(s) that you deserve.

As we say here: Animo, Master Pelkey! Arriba y Adelante!

Cheeeky Cheeeky

Wow! What all-around great eloquent post by Jesus from Cancun!

Charles, I am moved and I am touched by your class, your professionalism and your…well…everything man!! I gain strength from you and the things I’ve read from you. Now it’s your turn to gain strength from us.

I don’t know you but I see you. I see you fighting the good fight. AND, I see you and coming out of it. I see you prevailing…I see you winning!!! It is a beautiful energy. I and we as a cycling community want to be part of that magic. It makes us all collectively better. And, most importantly at this time, I hope that through this writing, I and we can offer up some of this good energy for you. And place it there for you at your disposal to feed off of and to gain strength from.

I see you not only winning this shit, this “massive, uphill, into a headwind bike race of sorts”, but I see you becoming stronger and better from it – ALL AROUND. You’re in my thoughts…you’re in all of our thoughts…hammer forward man and kick this thing!! Be well.

Your buddy –
a typical bike racer and bike enthusiast

Giorgio Grips

Charles, a dear family member just went thru several months of intensive daily chemo & radiation and came thru it, just declared cancer-free after review of PET scans. Having helped them thru it, the only thing I can suggest is to stay positive, and when it gets really lousy–and it will–think of it this way: you’re going through hell at that moment in order to get better later. It’s a mental battle which you can win. Especially as a cyclist, since we regularly fight through pain in order to go up that hill just a little faster, hang on to that fast wheel a little longer, etc. etc.

God bless and godspeed on a quick & full recovery to you sir!

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