Earlier today I had the idea to take a look back at one of my early endurance mountain bike races and rewrite the race report from my current perspective to see how different I might write it now, nine or ten years removed. I still plan on doing that in the near future, but as I read over some of those old posts on the Soiled Chamois v.1 blog I found myself sidetracked with some mild embarrassment and distaste for the way I wrote and approached
blogging writing back then (mostly in the ’05 to ’08 era).
Now I’m not saying that the current version of this blog is much better, but back in 2005/2006 when I started getting more serious about endurance mountain bike racing and started blogging (I’m pretty sure it was a contractual cycling bylaw that you had to have a blog), I had the tendency to put way too much emphasis on equipment I wanted and used, or the hours I spent doing what I thought constituted training (as if anyone other than me gave a fucking shit about it). Equipment and hours on the bike are important for racers (to an extent), but I went on way more than a mid-pack at best racer should have. I’m not going to apologize for starting this blog in 2005, because whether I like the early writing or not, it helped me to grow and find enjoyment from writing as well as develop a love of photography. I also learned a few things about web design here and there and that combined with my past design experience helped me launch XXC Magazine back in 2009. An accomplishment that I am pretty proud of, even if it didn’t last more than four years. But I digress.
There’s not much I can say about those early years of blogging now other than I was inexperienced with the cycling world, immature and doing what I thought needed done in order to promote, not only myself, but the burgeoning endurance mountain bike race scene. I probably made the mistake of emulating some other racers and bloggers as well, rather than just being my own goofy ass, mid-pack self who just wants to talk about bikes, take some pics and maybe make someone laugh now and then.
As I matured, and this part has taken some time, I started to realize how incredibly douche-like I must have seemed talking about how far I rode (probably not as far as you did, do or can) or about a new piece of equipment that I got on some pro form deal. As someone who was trying to get into racing somewhat seriously, I was more just trying to give a shout out or thank you to a some of the folks who believed I had something to offer by racing my bike for long periods of time and distances. Something that ten or so years earlier I would have thought unimaginable as I struggled to button my size 42 pants after a three Big Mac lunch.
I was happy to get even the smallest recognition for being in good enough physical condition to compete, and having people outside of my circle of friends and family acknowledge my hard work (even if that acknowledgment was 30% off tires) was appreciate, as was any discount. Racing is expensive and any little bit helps. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with promoting the folks that are helping you, that’s an important part of growing relationships with sponsors. There is never at time I lied or embellished about something I was using to make someone like it or feigned interest in something. But looking back on it, I regret some of the choices I made as a blogger in conveying the message.
Again, I recognize that sponsorship, support and/or the benefits of being on a team is a two-way street, and that being able to answer questions, call attention to new product that you are using, honest reviews, etc., etc., is part of the deal. All this has more to do with me, and what I feel when I look back at what my blogging voice (not to be confused with my voice) was like ten or so years ago compared to what it is now. I feel there were better ways I could have gone about calling attention to or thanking those who helped me out, something that I to think I have gotten better at doing as I’ve got older and ironically; slower, fatter, racing less, and without any sort of official team or assistance other than what my wife generously allows or I procure through side work.
My goal as a blogger was never to take myself too seriously and have fun with it, whether it was talking shit on myself or just being the goof that I am as I talk about riding and racing bikes. So it’s when I look back and see posts where I strayed too far from me being a self-deprecating goofball who likes to ride (and race) bikes to a wanna be racer boy who got a bit too heavy-handed with the self promotion, bro science and product lust that I get disappointed.
Truthfully, as much as I miss the fitness I had at the peak of my lackluster racing, I don’t miss how I wrote or conveyed my message sometimes. Whether my blogging is visually appealing, creative, informative or entertaining is surely debatable, but I am way more comfortable writing and blogging now. I’m not saying that I “technically” a good writer (proved by my lack of punctuation, spelling and editing), but I get way more satisfaction now, which brings more irony as back in the early days (if I trust the statistics), I was getting significantly more readers than I am now, yet I am happier with my blog now, even though at times I struggle to make posts even vaguely connected to the world of cycling.
I still plan on talking about bikes and gear a bit and I still plan on racing occasionally. However these days I am happy enough just to get out and ride my bike and take some photos. If you read this blog you probably won’t see too many of those racer boy posts any longer. You are more apt to see me writing about riding, attempts to maintain fitness and my love of beer and food that makes those attempts futile and crap.
Cheers to ever so slight blog maturity.