2012 was an interesting year to be a cycling blogger. There was everything from the Olympics to the biggest drug scandal in the history of sport. Even if you didn’t want to blog about the pro-scene, there was never a shortage of things to write about. Not least - Should Cycling helmets be compulsory? Should Daily Mail columnists be re-integrated into society? and, above all, the 10,000 different ways to ask – why is cycling in Britain so rubbish?
Some of the different types of Cycling articles.
The Complaint Post
As a train enthusiast, I always thought there was a golden age of trains. Express locomotives billowing romantic smoke as they stormed through Carnforth train station. On closer investigation, I found there was no golden age of trains. Even in the so called ‘golden period’ passengers spent all their time complaining about delays, uncomfortable seats, overcrowding, expensive fares e.t.c. In short, the same as now. A sleuth may take this as evidence the British have a certain fondness for complaining, moaning and believing that somewhere in the black and white past, everything was jolly decent (or, if not in the past – in Amsterdam.) Whatever subject you take up there’s always a certain mileage in complaining about the state of things.
To be fair, with cycling this isn’t just theoretical, ivory tower, ruminations. When you’ve nearly been run over by a white van, the impression does rather stay with you, and understandably you would really like it not to happen again. Usually cycling leaves a certain feeling of powerlessness, but we think perhaps if we take to the world wide web and write down our grievances, the said white van driver will read our reasonable request to drive considerately, and then all will be well with the world once more. We can even have aspirations of influencing political policy. Politicians may be committed to deep austerity, but perhaps if they read my cycling blog, they will make an exception for cycling and invest £0.5 billion in overhead cycle lanes.
The problem with complaining is that it does become rather negative and repetitive. When you’ve complained about one white van driver, you’ve complained about them all. There’s only so many ways you can write – why don’t motorists just be nice to me, the poor environmentally friendly cyclist?
One thing I can promise is that, even if they are negative and repetitive, 2013 will undoubtedly see a few more complaint posts. It’s a constitutional right for cycling blogs to be allowed the odd post to get your worst complaints of your chest. I shall just promise to try and keep them short, innovative and illumining. ‘Today I was nearly knocked over by a Pink van driver – Is there no end to the dangers posed to cyclists?
I think helmets should / should not be compulsory
I think cyclists should / should not be able to go through red lights filtering left.
I think cyclists should / should not be able to exceed the speed limit.
I think cyclists / people on bikes are better / worse people than motorists / lazy fat people sat behind steering wheels.
The fundamental problem with opinion posts, is that you have the unmistakable feeling you are regurgitating ideas that have been done to death a million times already on t’internet. When I google ‘should cycle helmets be made compulsory? We get 97,200 results (or if you’re watching this on Dave 197,200 results)
That’s the problem with t’internet – it’s hard these days to come up with a unique opinion. In the good old days, you could turn up at a club run, and be the centre of attention for knowing the result to Milan San Remo. These days, you turn up on the club run 12 hours after result, and everyone already has an opinion why Mark Cavendish got dropped on the Poggio.
However, even though opinion posts add very little value to the world wide web, I won’t be able to resist doing a couple throughout 2013 – At least, my opinion is always the RIGHT one.
The Drug Post
During September and October, I spent rather too long reading any piece vaguely connected to ‘that drug scandal’. It became almost an addiction to read any snippet of repeated news / opinion / vague quote. It left a strong sensation that I’d been wasting my time, yet I still couldn’t stop. Did I really need to know that a Texan postman called Bob was ‘thoroughly disappointed with that rotter Lance Armstrong, despite all his good cancer work…’? Does it really matter if Jose Manuelo Javier, Spanish cycling champion of the 1960s? couldn’t see anything wrong with a bit of ‘medical help’?
Of course, I couldn’t resist writing a few posts to offer another useless opinion on the whole saga. More than anything it had a certain cathartic quality. Seven years of watching the Tour de France and hoping anyone apart from the big Texan would win.
But, the posts didn’t leave much satisfaction. And it was wasn’t really anything else that hadn’t been written already. The good news is that surely no future drug scandal can surely have the same impact?
Product reviews can be tricky because there’s only so much you can write about energy bars which generally all do pretty much the same function of providing energy in a conveniently packaged wrapper. You sometimes feel just a little bit of a fraud for trying to write 600 words on why banana flavoured energy bars are better than citrus pink.
When done well, product reviews can be informative, interesting and helpful to fellow cyclists. But, they are not always so easy to write.
The Informative Advice Post.
Yes, the internet can even be a source of information, inspiration and good old solid advice. e.g. How to cycle up a hill without getting of your saddle. I should do more of these.
The ‘I Cycled Through a Puddle Blog Post’
The problem is that if you discount all the above types of posts, what are you left with? Today I cycled through a big puddle. It was wet, cold and windy, but I enjoyed eating my low fat, mid GI, high carb Fruesli bars, though I wished I’d bought the banana flavour…
They are at least unique – no one else rides through puddles with quite the same élan as I do, but with these posts you have to avoid the tendency to narcissism, dangerously possible in writing about your own cycling. It’s often easier if you have some incompetence or bad luck. It’s harder to write about winning.
“Well at the end of the 90 minutes, I cycled faster than everyone else so that was just about sufficient to come away with the win, but it was really a game of two halves and, at the end of the day, the crowd were like the 12th man on the final bend.”
Let us know, which kind of cycling post, you like the most!