06 June 2013

500,000 views just to read about cycling


I wanted to thank all the visitors to Pedal Dancer® who have shared an interest in the sport of cycling or a passion for travel.

Bravo to perseverance and growth. Would you believe it took 7 months before I reached my first marker of 15,000 visitors, and only 14 days to receive the last 15,000 visitors, sailing right past the 500,000 marker. So fast I have not gotten around to creating a Legs of the Tour post in celebration to match the one I did for my 15,000 milestone (15,000+ views and counting).

It is an amazing experience to look back and see the changes I have gone through as a fan and as a traveler over the past three years. Never would I have guessed three years ago that I would create the experiences I have enjoyed. What started as a creative outlet and a motivation for myself to discover answers to my own questions, evolved into a keepsake of stories, a resource that I refer to myself on race-day, and an ever evolving journey.

Never was my intent to be media, never was my goal to have expanding friends in different states or countries, never was my purpose to write about myself all the time. Or to be reminded by one of those out-of-state friends, "How ‘bout you? I often feel like there’s no point in asking what you’ve been up to cuz I already know most of the time…cuz you tell the world everyday…. How’s your mom?" My hope was to ride my bike and travel and meet more people to talk to about cycling. I did that.

Truth is I have wavered in and out of talking about myself on this blog. Like many bloggers I went through that phase of calling this writing format a "website" and trying to report "news". Come on - it's a blog. Come on - I am a traveling bike rider. I never said I was more interesting than then next guy, I just write about my interest in the next guy, who happens to be on a bike, pedaling really fast. Truth is people like to read about other people's experiences because it is what makes us human and feel connected.

I have learned a few other things as well.

Don't expect to stay the same. Change is okay.
(Learning, changing, forever evolving)

You know the old saying Life is about the journey, well that holds especially true for bike riders. We have phases. We set a huge goal, we buy gear, we learn how to "train," we find friends who ride bikes, we baffle our co-workers who do not understand our new diet or why we are so tired on Mondays when they are well-rested. Next we find local routes, how about one in a nearby city, a week-long ride, the next state over, another country. We measure watts and map our very existence. We fear we have become boring.

I feel as if I have gone through the same series of changes in writing this blog. In a search for my voice, I have come full circle back to what I believe my niche is: discovering new lands, enjoying the simple things in life, and encouraging others. And yet I know the circle is not complete.

Believe more in yourself but support others because you never know someone's true story. 
(Doping is a reality)

There is no point in being disappointed in others if you stay true to yourself and realize we never really know another. This lesson is nothing new, but doping nearly took the wind right out of the sails of this sport. Mostly because dishonesty and deceit and having one's belief in their fellow man dashed, just plain sucks.

Here is the answer to the doping issue - get on your own bike and ride like the wind. Believe in your own triumphs, but stay humble because we can never understand what drove a person to walk down the wrong path. It is sad act to behold.

Also never assume someone doped because Lance Armstrong did (and a lot of other riders did too). How would you feel if you trained for years, put up with team politics and others not believing in you, finally won a stage and the first thing a reporter asks you is, "What do you say to those who claim that doping still exists in cycling?" Believe me, whatever that rider may think, is not going to be revealed after a glorious win he just dug deep and fought for. The doping question has been answered. Yes.

Never ever put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
(Take that trip, ride that ride now, tell someone you love them)

I started this blog three years ago in good health and in great shape. I had this burning need to ride hard and to travel lots, that ol' gut feeling told me I had to do it now. We have all met people who have in one way or another been shining examples of why this is not just a notion but a required action. Little did I know I was going to have my own story to add to that list. 

Three months after I spent 5 weeks in France simply to ride my bike as much as possible (a trip many thought I was nuts to do on my own), I had a serious accident that has changed my riding ability. Maybe not forever, but certainly 3 years later I am nothing like the rider I was. Yet I still LOVE my bike, and, I still have good bike handling skills; if that counts for anything.

Media is like VIP, only free.
(Never pay for what you can work super hard for instead)

I recently read a description of a VIP package for the Amgen Tour of California. the package included a backstage pass, press conference access, a peak into the Media room, a ride in a car on the course, access to autograph alley, VIP tents, the works for $1000. "I get that for free!" I said out loud upon reading.

Only it's not really free. I spend hours of time on this project, lots of reading and writing, money on camera equipment, cover my own travel expenses, unpaid time off of work, learn my place in the pecking order of Media folks, get hungry and dehydrated, eat crappy food on the road, stay up until 1-2 a.m. creating posts, scramble to plan logistics for each stage, get discouraged, pick my chin up, work at making connections, follow a lot of rules, and feel like I actually need to report on something more than Bernhard Eisel is hot!

I look back fondly on the days when we would just jump the barriers at races and have as much fun, as simple fans, with far less rules to follow. Then go drink a bunch of wine.

Blogging formats are a pain to use and I hate typos
(Therefore I am changing to Wordpress sometime in the next 365 days)

My mind works in a multi-media format. I am an artist, a map maker, a photographer, a creative writer, a technical writer, a travel guide writer, a humorist, an educator, a photographic file cabinet and information guru. And an honest person. I am not an editor or an English teacher. I make typos galore and errors in fact, both of which make me want to crawl under my desktop, laptop, or iphone (that's a tough one) and hide in horror.

If there is ever a time when I fail to acknowledge my own mistakes - blogging is that time.

I also tend to believe someone else's cooking always tastes better than my own, and that is why I will forever recommend the writings and photography of others, because I truly think what they do is awesome!

Thanks for being a fan of cycling and traveling right along with me. And now my favorite photo I have taken over the past 3 years:

Picture of the day (07/04/10)
A big Great Pyrenees in the Pyrenees with a great big snack
He was just cruising up the road on his own, on his way to the Col du Soulor from Ferrieres. I'm not sure if this was a pickup or delivery. Photo© By Karen at Pedal Dancer®

Please come back and visit again.