To be frank, I’m doubtful the Cycling iQ blog is anywhere significant enough to even warrant this post but it’s important to me that new and regular readers understand where the future content they read comes from, as well as any connections the author (me) has to it.
As noted already, Cycling iQ began in September 2011 after I decided to take an introspective break from the commercial side of the bicycle industry. Some of my favourite things – cycling, traveling, market research, analysis and reporting – were distilled into my most recent role (international market manager at BMC), which ultimately informed me that; 1) few media outlets were focused on road cycling in Asia, and; 2) the fragmented global retail landscape of the bicycle industry was highly topical but not well understood. This made me believe there was room for a dual-channel blog that attempted to at least partially fill some information gaps. [Cycling iQ was never about me, so it’s strange to be writing a personal post such as this].
A reasonable understanding of the bicycle industry lead to the ‘Vertical Limit‘ series, followed by articles about companies in the bicycle manufacturing sector. Though I already knew many of the larger factories by name, actually speaking with representatives involved research, countless overseas calls and emails. It was important to me that content was original and facts were obtained and/or corroborated from the source. In the following months, Cycling iQ was referenced by respected sites such as The Inner Ring, Bicycling, VeloNews, CyclingTips and Road, which made me believe the basic formula was sound.
The philosophy around original content also applied to the coverage of professional road cycling in Asia. I figured the best way to find out about these races was to go myself. As a new blogger with few media credentials, this meant burning through some savings. Attendance to my first race, Tour of Beijing, was self-funded, as were Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL was the first race to pay for my on-site costs, which I am still incredibly grateful for) and Tour de Taiwan. I emailed or called other race organizers to see what assistance they could offer and became accustomed to receiving responses along the lines of “we have no budget for foreign media”. To be fair, any race organizer would be right to question what exposure a blogger in Australia could possibly give to a UCI2.2 stage race in Asia.
During my travels on the UCI AsiaTour circuit, I quickly learnt the value of good media contacts. It was through such a contact that I received an invite to be Tour de Korea’s official reporter in April 2012. Not only would my costs be covered, but I would be paid a small wage! On arrival into Seoul, I received a loaner Samsung Galaxy tablet and 4G network card so I could tweet and blog 24/7. Paradise! Not long after Tour de Korea, I was invited to perform a similar role at Tour of Chongming Island and Chongming Island World Cup. A certain momentum was developing and Tour de Singkarak was the next race to invite me along, but it clashed with another appointment. This brings me to the behind-the-scene changes mentioned above.
As a by-product of Cycling iQ’s scope I’d been keeping a constant eye on the bicycle industry job market, but knew a rare combination of factors would be needed before I personally leapt into a permanent role. Without going into unnecessary details, a casual conversation commenced a great dialogue, which led to an unmissable professional and personal opportunity. As of August 1 this year, I will begin working for Scott Sports based in Switzerland.
Most readers will immediately recognize the complications of working for a global bicycle brand whilst writing about the bicycle industry. I know that many bicycle industry insiders have found the market information presented in Cycling iQ articles quite useful. It also takes much time to research and compose the type of industry articles I enjoy writing. This could be called the ‘price of market intelligence'; on the one hand, market data is very valuable to brands and interesting to readers; on the other hand, it gives me less time to write about pro cycling in Asia.
Ultimately, I’ve decided the best way to avoid any perceived conflict of interest in future is to stop producing brand- and market-specific industry content before starting my new job. All current content will remain available as a resource. Cycling iQ will continue as a source for information on the people and places of the Asia-Pacific cycling scene, with a particular focus on the UCI AsiaTour. Better yet, I hope a regular salary will allow me to pay for more great images from people like Sonoko Tanaka, Aaron Lee and Mike Mokhriz. There will be less regular spare time for writing, but I’m optimistic this will result in the most interesting content floating to the top.
A huge thank you to all regular readers and visitors to Cycling iQ. It’s immensely rewarding to log in each morning and see so many different nationalities have visited the site. Special thanks to anyone who has referred readers or friends to Cycling iQ. Though I’m a little disappointed that lengthy industry-analysis pieces will no longer be a regular feature in future, the previous nine months have already been instrumental in informing me that the growing sport of cycling in Asia is a far more interesting (and accessible) area to write about. I hope you will continue to enjoy learning about it with me.