Another season of the UCI AsiaTour nears its conclusion and the inexorable momentum building behind Asia’s pro cycling scene suggests the next year will again result in the axis of world cycling tilting a little further East. There is a lot to look forward to.
The Cycling iQ blog is also only a few weeks away from entering another year and, as with many birthdays, it is a time for reflection.
A little over 14 months ago, I made the decision to wind up a rather indulgent, but extremely rewarding, year-long escape from full-time employment which had allowed me to create and develop CyclingiQ.com [Yes, it's pedantic, but the Q is Upper Case]. The motivation for starting Cycling iQ has been explained here already, as has the reason for going back to work.
It sounds, and is, arbitrary, but I always like to give any new project at least 12 months before a decision can be made, on evidence and merit, whether an additional investment of time and energy – both of which are scarce and come with their own opportunity costs – can be justified. The reaction to the Cycling iQ blog in its first 12 months really exceeded expectations; by the end of that first year, articles published here attracted views from visitors all around the world. On a good day, I could log in early on a weekday morning to discover several thousand page views had been registered; not exactly worthy of accolades in “most popular” contests, but that was never the objective.
The philosophy behind articles on CyclingiQ has remained unchanged since day 1: source original content, attribute wherever possible, and add value for cycling enthusiasts wanting to know more about what is happening in Asia. This last point is the most critical, because it’s what I feel separates good articles from “news”. I only recently re-read some articles from the first year and – apart from remembering how long it took to unearth information, corroborate it, and turn it into something comprehensible, informative and educational – generally speaking, I’m proud of the content on this blog and how it has been sourced.
Which brings me back to the upcoming (third) year of CyclingiQ.com.
Having made the decision last year to continue the blog, whilst also accepting the challenge of a new and time-intensive job – together with moving to the other side of the world and learning a new language – I settled into another 12 months with a general optimism that I could manage to balance it all. For the most part, this has been true. Sure, sometimes it has involved waking up at crazy times on a weekday to post live results from a stage race (weekends during the busy months of June and July remain a blur), but it was manageable – so long as I did little else but work, eat, sleep, blog and Tweet.
Compared to the first year of blogging, I can’t say the second has filled me with the same sense of satisfaction. I can remember doing a lot of AsiaTour race reports - some were more enjoyable than others - but not much else. The available time to research, do interviews, travel to races, etc, has diminished significantly, but I’ve also been lucky to be able to rely on the fantastic support of friends in the media who are every bit as passionate as I am about elevating and improving the coverage of cycling in Asia.
I’ve also now been in Europe for more than one year. From Monday to Friday, and occasionally weekends, I am one of the fortunate few who goes to work with a smile on my face, knowing that there are plenty of interesting, and often fascinating, things to do. Even better is the fact that “go to work” means a 80km-round trip commute, rain snow or shine, over delightfully-smooth and undulating Swiss country roads on my road bike (or snow-tyre-equipped CX bike during winter!).
It’s time to summarise the above.
Adding value means discovering something – even a tiny snippet of information – that promises to be newsworthy and interesting for Cycling iQ readers, and creating a good story from it. It does not mean finding an article that has already been published, re-hashing the majority of it with a few “unique” sentences and then calling it news. It feels (to me at least) that permutations of articles are more likely to make the news than original reports.
Race reports and other articles need to be created in the evenings and/or during weekends, which decreases the available time that could be spent exploring Europe or expanding mein Deutscher Wortschatz. (Lucky for me that my colleagues are all, as a minimum, bi-lingual). The truth is I’m unsure about how much “free” time I am prepared to commit to Cycling iQ in future. I thought about pulling the plug on the blog altogether – I would rather take it down on a high than see it wither and die – but a lot of people are still dropping by every day, even during weeks when nothing has been posted. So, I’ll start by allocating a couple of hours to writing every weekend and see how that goes.
Thanks to everyone that still drops by. Also, thanks to all the (often far-superior) blogs and websites that have helped Cycling iQ find its place in the world of cycling media with links, re-tweets and emails along the way. I don’t know what the future holds for the blog, but am entirely comfortable with not knowing.