Blog Paper

I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now. Here are some thoughts:

I first pressed ‘publish’ on November 4th 2009. I note that I was riding a 72″ gear. Since then I’ve geared down and prefer a 68″ or even a 65″. You lose nothing on the flat and riding uphill is much more enjoyable. I can climb anything on a 65″, whereas on a 72″ there is not much margin for error.

Blogging is a narcissistic process. Maybe not always, but I think in my case it tends to be narcissistic. Maybe I’m being harsh and it’s actually just self-reflexive, rather than self-indulgent, but that’s semantics.

I think there is a vague belief that somehow some of what i write has a relevance to some of what people want to read. It’s unashamedly aimed at cyclists. I am stuck somewhere in a hinterland between being a quite good amateur racing cyclist and a very good amateur racing cyclist. Sometimes i think i’m closing the gap on the super fast people but they always remain tantalisingly out of reach.

My trajectory as a cyclist, over the past 4 years has been really unexpected, and so the direction of this blog has changed. As I’ve experienced more success on a local level (or sometimes even regional! Steady the buffs!) the blog has reflected the process behind that level of success and the feelings and emotions it generates.

There are a couple of truisms that resonate throughout nearly every post: there is always a bigger gorilla (©Jack Thurston) and it never stops hurting, you just go faster (©Greg Lemond).

I get excited by comments. It’s really nice to see that people read it and appreciate what’s being written. Readers seem to follow the blog in ‘spikes’, the readership tickles along at a set figure, then spikes for a month and suddenly lots more start reading and it never goes back down to what it was before. Regular updates are key, but not for the sake of regular updates.


By far the most popular posts I have written are reviews, especially my review of the Boardman Air TT. Writing reviews is a really easy way to generate traffic to a blog, but a blog full of reviews makes for really tedious reading. My approach to reviews is simple: if it’s something that genuinely has made a profound difference to my cycling then I’ll review it, or write about it. Coming soon: Carradice Super C: Or Why Messenger Bags Are For Sweaty-Backed Hipsters. It’s really easy to see a blog that is deliberately aimed at generating content and readers. Maybe there’s an argument that it has a purpose and benefit. I think it’s cynical and lazy. It’s taken me a long long time to build up a readership. I don’t recklessly cross-promote. Occasionally I’ll tweet a post or link it somewhere else. I save this for when I think I have something interesting to say.

For the first year I averaged about 10 views per day. 3 of those were family members. The other 7 were misguided search terms. For example, being a cyclist I like to write about the weather. A few of the posts contain the phrase ‘pissing wet’. This has made for some interesting search terms that, i daresay, might not be what the person was looking for. I now get more appropriate search terms and the readership is much larger, and growing steadily – sometimes exponentially, such is the nature of the interweb. It’s been particularly heart-warming to have so many positive comments from people at races about the blog, people saying they read it and like it. It makes it worthwhile.

Lastly, there is one danger of keeping a blog. I tend to write anecdotes or talk about races. I then see friends or local racers at various places and in discussion do what many people do, throw in a few anecdotes. The slightly bored look on their faces tells me they have already read it. I feel like i’m suddenly repeating myself everywhere I go. I have no stories left to tell because I’ve already written them all up. The side effect of having an interesting blog is you become an inexplicably dull person.


12 thoughts on “Blog Paper

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  1. A lot of the time I just read from the subscription email rather than clicking through (unless I’m desperate to see the pictures). I suppose this has an impact on your hits. How many subscribers do you have? Should we all click through to unleash the latent web traffic your ego is craving, and help attract all those advertisers you’re obviously trying to get on board with your incessant mainstream reviews of Halfords bikes? #traumstrong

  2. At the risk of leaving you utterly perplexed by the prospect…. you could always steer the conversation away from cycling 😉

    Maybe that’s why I always enjoy a catch up with Belle on those odd social occasions….

  3. ^^yes the emails contain the posts. The images would be there too if I bothered to click ‘allow images’ or whatever, but I think embedded videos are sometimes just displayed as stills.

    ^I don’t think he can manage it. He’s like Swiss Toni (or maybe Swiss Fabian or something) – “you know, *insert activity* is a lot like riding a beautiful bicycle…”

  4. Whilst im a keen cyclist my big weakness is hill climbing. That’s not to say I dislike hill climbing but age and weight are both against me unfortunately. I came across your blog shortly after attending to watch the hell climb. I found that this was a good watch, I liked the friendly atmosphere. Last weekend we cycled out to Burrington to watch the hill climb and again whilst we arrived late we all enjoyed the event. I even had the pleasure of seeing you fly past me as I was on my way up to the top lay-by. Having started to read your blog’s, I must say that I find them well written, good technically and entertaining. Best regards John


  5. Yes all blogs are narcissistic. The internet and ‘social networking’ in particular have helped make our post-modern society selfish and self-obsessed. FACT. This doesn’t stop your blog from being an excellent read. Keep up the good work.

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