“What happened to all the cycling blogs?”
The question was not about this blog (it wasn’t on the list of now-silent blogs). Speaking for myself, as one does, the decline of my blog activity has been multi-variate. The short answer is “if you want to read a good cycling blog go write it.”
Well, why did we have blogs in the first place?
Maybe it’s more interesting to think about why someone would have started a blog in the first place, than why they stopped. Since I don’t clearly remember the reasons I started, maybe that’s a reason right there…
I thought it would be cool to have a nom de internet.
People like Cyclofiend had cool online names, and I thought it would be fun to have one. It is. It’s fun. It harkens back to early cyclotouring, where people went by made-up cycling names. It seems easier than actual fame under you own name (Sheldon, Jobst, Grant, Jan Heine), which takes time, and a kind of genius. BikeSnob and John Prolly are famous, but both pseudonyms.
Why’d I quit? I didn’t. I just kinda moved sideways.
I thought I might show people how to fix things on their bikes.
I can’t. I can show people how NOT to fix things on their bikes.
Why’d I lose interest in that aspect? Time, mostly. I have enough spare time now to ride, OR wrench, OR blog. I still take pictures of projects as I’m doing them, but I just post them to Instagram. People see them and like them, and I get the project done in time to ride it a little. It used to take twice as long to do any project, with all the photo-ing, and the same amount of time again to write the post. I don’t have that time any more. I have a bigger job, a longer commute, and other hobbies.
I wanted to show off my bikes.
I was proud of them: they were unified and different enough from the main stream to interest me, and sometimes others, and done on a limited budget.
I did it. My Quickbeam is moderately famous.
Why’d I stop? Time. I fully intend to show the evolution of each of my bikes by updating a single post or page, but I haven’t done it yet. Time.
Redundancy. The world caught up to my bikes. There are more bikes now like my bikes were then than ever before. Dirt drop bars aren’t ‘alt’ anymore, and drop bar bikes with 60mm slicks are production bikes. Baskets are ubiquitous, and thoughtful builds are table stakes.
I wanted to know how blogs worked.
I was interested in the mechanics and the social aspect, and all the ancillary online stuff like Google Analytics, ads, social media, WordPress.
I did it. It was interesting, and it made me more useful in my day job.
Why’d that stop being interesting? I’d done it, and Facebook came along, and Instagram, and Flickr ceased to work for me. Basically the tools got better, and some faded away.
I wanted to capture my bike thoughts in one place.
I’d write a long answer on the BOB list, and turn it into a blog post, or write the post then link back if it was relevant to the discussion.
I wanted to make friends.
I had rarely met people who liked the bikes I liked, and I had recently moved to a small town. I did it. I made local bike nerd friends in that town, and I made Flickr friends, and BOB list friends. I see some of you a few times a year.
Why stop there? Friends are exhausting? jk
I wanted to create opportunities, see what might happen.
I got some opportunities. I sold some articles, sold some art, worked on some apps. Got into some bikes shows for free as a “media type.” I even got a nice British bell “for review” that I ran over with my car by accident.
Why stop: None of that was a good enough fit to go big, and I let it go. Or they let me go. You know how it goes.
I wanted to document my bike life.
I did. I do it still, on Instagram, but it takes 20 seconds, instead of two hours.
Why stop? My bike life is repetitive. Same bikes, same routes, same dog. Things that are interesting to me aren’t really “biketinker” things: learn to ride in a paceline, for instance.
I wanted to do my own thing, man.
I did it. I had my own thoughts and experiences, wrote them down in my own words, and illustrated them with my own photos.
Why stop that? People hassling me for not posting, or for using cuss words starts to sound like work, man.
If you truly want to read a great cycling blog, you should write one yourself.
The barrier to entry is zero. Time and practice. I feel like the guy that used to stand on the corner at Columbus and Broadway, shouting at traffic. If you say, “Hey, man, how come you don’t yell at traffic anymore?” I’d say, “Street corner’s open, man. It’s all yours.”