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December 30, 2010
I try and not talk about myself too often in this blog because frankly, I’m not that interesting. However, the other day I was reflecting on what a spectacular year it’s been because of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with as a result of writing this blog. I’ve been living an absolute dream and without a doubt it’s been one of the best years of my life. Before 2010 comes to a close I thought it would good to summarise some of the significant moments and what a wonderful year I’ve had with CyclingTips (in chronological order).
At the beginning of 2010 I did my first interview. I thought I’d dip my feet into the water and hit up 3-time Grand Tour winner Simon Gerrans. I had no idea of how to approach something like this so I simply asked questions of Gerro that I wanted to know. Simon is a really nice guy so I knew I was safe with him. Throughout the year I’ve done many other interviews and I’ve been enjoying leaving the questions up to you, the readers.
Since moving to Australia I had always wanted to compete in the Bay Crits. In 2010 I got my chance and rode on the same team as Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano) and against the likes of Robbie McEwen, Greg Henderson, Baden Cooke, Jez Hunt and many other of the top ProTour riders who live in Australia during the summer. I have to say, this was one of the best and most difficult experiences I’ve had on the bike. The amount I learned from racing so closely against some of the best riders in the world was priceless. Straight after the Bay Crits was the Austrlalian National Crit Championships. In comparison to the Bay Crits, this race felt like a C grade event.
Unfortunately I’ll be missing the 2011 Bay Crits next week but hopefully I’ll have some great photos to post.
I love racing the Australian National Road Race. What other sport can a guy like me line up against some of the best cyclists in the world? I know I have no chance at being competitive, but it’s always a great experience having a crack and seeing how long you can last. The 2010 Road Nationals were extremely tough. The temperature on the road was over 40C and only 50 riders finished. I was number 50.
Thanks to fellow cyclist Mike Van Niekerk (Editor-in-Chief of Fairfax online), I was given the opportunity to write for Fairfax publications. CyclingTips Fairfax Edition was born and I’ve been trusted with a platform that reaches millions of people from the general public with any cycling topic I choose. One of my 2011 goals is to write more for Fairfax which will hopefully bring cycling to a wider audience.
My first ProTour race armed with a media pass. Gee whiz…I didn’t have a clue (and still don’t). The photo above is me all kitted up at the start line taking photos of the riders. The security thought I was trying to gatecrash the race and ride the stage. I was lucky to ever receive another media pass from the UCI!
The Tour Down Under was the first real event I ever “covered”. Photos from James Broadway, Leigh Schilling and Verral Patel that we posted from the TdU were fantastic which brought this blog to another level. I can’t thank these guys enough for all the sensational photos they’ve contributed to this blog.
We’ll be in Adelaide at the TdU in 2011 and I can’t wait. This has to be one of the best events I’ve ever attended. Read more about last year’s edition of the race here. If you’re planning on making the trip this year, here are some tips.
In March, ten of us packed up our bikes and went on a cycling adventure to Vietnam. We rode from the middle of country to the south over two weeks. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on a bike. We’re already scheduled to go back in September 2011. I don’t know if I can wait that long! Here are the stats from 2010 and some lessons learned for those of you attempting this trip:
On one quiet day in June I received a surprise email from BMC’s Marketing Manager, Cam Whiting, with an invite to BMC’s Product Launch in Switzerland. This is where they were to unveil their upcoming flagship bike, the Impec. This also meant I’d be able to attend the Tour de France right after their product demo – a dream come true.
The BMC Product launch was an experience in itself. Not only did I get to spend a day test riding these amazing bikes in the mountains of Switzerland, I also got to have dinner with BMC owner Andy Rihs and met a lot of other people who are part of the cycling media.
To attempt to tell you about how great the Tour de France is would just ruin it. Take a couple minutes to look at 2500 of my photos (below) to get a glimpse into this amazing spectacle. I’m excited to say that I’ve already got my tickets booked to go back to the TdF in 2011 with TopBike Tours.
The Pass’Portes du Soleil was something I stumbled on in the week leading up to the Tour de France. My friend Pat (of Ride International) invited me to his friends’ chalet in Champéry, Switzerland where we stayed for a week and we rode this spectacular mountain bike event. I normally try to hide my mountain biking roots but couldn’t hide it any longer after this week of promiscuity. This was when I came out of the closet and publicly announced my bi-cycling tendencies. I’m already booked to do this again in 2011. WOOT!
Jamie Jowett has become a regular contributor to CyclingTips and my personal favorite column is the one he writes called Where Are they Now?. Jamie is the master at extracting and telling obscure stories about old cycling personalities and celebrating their achievements. Every time Jamie sends me one of these posts I can’t wait to read it. I look forward to more of these posts by Jamie and thank him for his hard work and contributions.
I wish there was a formula to what types of things catch on. The What You Missed This Morning (WYMTM) photo competition (camera phones only) was one of the highlights of my year. Budding photographers submitted nearly 2000 photos in the 6 week competition and I’m glad that it inspired some of you to get out there, be creative, and share some of your best moments on a bike. The camera phone rule was a great equalizer, however I think it will be great to hold a similar competition in the future where any camera is eligible.
What a horrible winter we had in 2010. However, horrible weather makes for great cycling stories. The only positive thing I had to say straight after I finished the Melbourne to Warrnambool is “at least this will make a good blog post”. Now looking back, this was one of the most satisfying races I’ve done in a long time. The weather and competition made it so insanely difficult compared to other years and I have to say it was the most memorable. The Tour of Geelong however….that race nearly cracked me for good.
Having the World Championships in our backyard was incredible. Having a media pass along with my mates James, Veeral and Leigh while working as a team made it even more memorable. The highlights for me included the New Pathways to Pro Cycling anti-doping conference, witnessing the media circus (I find this part of cycling extremely interesting), BMC coming up with a bunch of Cancellara-signed jerseys and a team car hot-lap competition, Interviewing Aldo Sassi, and of course 5 days of exciting racing.
Nearly a million people visited the CyclingTips in 2010. I was shocked at this when I looked at these stats tonight. As I write this I just noticed that 4,000 people follow CyclingTips on Twitter and thousands more on Facebook. The internet is an amazing thing and I could never have done any of this without all of you taking a couple minutes out of each day and stopping by. The high level of conversation and interaction that takes place here has restored my faith in the internet. Thank you.
Thankfully there have been some generous supporters of CyclingTips that keeps me out of an office cubicle and helps me produce all of this content. I’ve had the time of my life doing this however it does incur considerable expenses. These sponsors and advertisers have kindly supported me throughout in an effort to bring all of this to you for free. Not only that, but many of these supporters provide me with opportunities to do things, get my hands on products, and hold competitions with prizes that I could not get otherwise. These sponsors also understand how important it is for this blog to maintain editorial independence and have never once pressured me to write anything about them. I thank all of you readers for supporting these brands and for recognising the role they play in all of this.
2010 Sponsors and Advertisers:
A lot of people ask me what my goals are for this blog. You’ve seen it evolve over this past year and I’m pretty certain of where I’d like to see it go. I’d like to have more regular contributors writing interesting and insightful posts. I’d like to have more local content. There’s lot I have planned but I don’t want to commit too much just yet. I’m in the middle of a site redesign that will allow for content to be better displayed on the front page and the archives more accessible and categorised. You’ll hate it at first. There will be an uproar, I’ll lose sleep at night, and then after a couple months you’ll forget all about it. I can’t wait.
I’m looking forward to another exciting year. If I do half the stuff I did in 2010 listed above I’ll be very happy. I’ll be back with updates for the Bay Crits, Australian National Championships, the Tour Down Under and beyond. All the best to every single one of you in 2011 and enjoy the rest of your Christmas break