Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Influences and Sources

Pre-zombie, looking ahead to when, after years in the wilderness, he will rejoin cycling, start a blog, and search for influences and sources for that blog.


Last week in my 100th post, I looked back at this blog. Originally I had a section on what other blogs had influenced this one, but last week's post was already too long and the section on influences was growing alarmingly so I decided to describe my influences and sources in this separate post.

Influences are blogs and other websites that inspire me to do something similar. When other people describe their cycling experiences online, I want to do the same. Sources provide information. I have no interest in developing my own version of Wikipedia, for example, but I frequently use information from Wikipedia in this blog. A blog is a particular kind of website with a particular structure. Since you are here, I assume you know what that is. There are other kinds of websites with an essentially endless variety of structures, and although blogs are characteristic, there are no hard lines separating blogs from any other websites; websites can have an almost any degree of "blogishness."


There are many websites about cycling that I have found useful and/or entertaining at one time or another. Listed here are ones that I think were the biggest influences on this blog.

Bike Snob: One of the most popular of the bike bloggers. The main purpose of his blog is to be funny, but there is a remarkable amount of information and wisdom among the humor. He has also written three books and I have purchased all three. Besides showing me what a bike blog can be and providing me with hours of amusement, Bike Snob helped orient me within today's bike culture.

Lovely Bicycle: I enjoy her blog very much, I think mostly because of the quality of the writing and her personal perspective. Her main contribution to my blog was another example of what a bike blog could be.

Crazy Guy on a Bike: A vast, sprawling, iconoclastic website, certainly not a blog, though it sort of provides a blog for non-bloggers. It has many sections but in my opinion its heart is its journals, a place where long distance bicycle tourists post daily updates on their tours, with pictures. As I say, these are sort of like a blog, except there is one blog per tour and just like the tour, the blog comes to an end. There was a time when Crazy Guy on a Bike was a major addiction of mine as I followed the adventures of various cyclo-tourists, vicariously riding with them on their tours. It has been a while since I have been there, I think I am over it.

Tim and Cindie Travis: Now it is just Tim Travis, he and Cindie split after years of bicycling the world together. To me, things have not been the same since. When I discovered this couple, how they married, lived on 25% of their income until they saved enough money for a multi-year, around the world bike tour, I was entranced. The link above is to their/his old school website. Over time, they embraced Twitter and Facebook, but the site is still there. When they started riding in 2002, they found they could make enough from their website to more or less cover their expenses allowing them the option to cycle forever. Forever? Marriages end. Family members die. Tours pause...and then end. But still, what a dream!

Randonneur Ride Reports: (too many to link to). When the Randonneuring community puts on a major event, riders are encouraged to post personal descriptions of how their ride went. Just one example of many is this report page from the Cascade 1200 Grand Randonnée. Some reports, like these, end up on the website for the event. Others end up scattered hither and yon, on a rider's personal blog, for example. In addition, a rider will sometimes write a report for an event that does not have its own web presence. When I first discovered randonneuring and thought that it was something I might like to do, I devoured as many of these as I could find.


Bike Forums: Over the years, when I have asked Google questions about cycling, as often as not Google would take me to Bike Forums. It is a classic forum, a type of platform that significantly predates blogs, and is a place for cyclists to talk to each other, to ask questions, to give and receive advice. Recently, I wanted to ask my own question rather than just learn from the questions others had asked over the years, and to be able to do so, I joined. I am glad that I did.

The old school website of Pamela Blalock and John Bayley, husband and wife, randonneurs extraordinaire, was a major source of information about randonneuring. When I started reading them, that was their only web presence. They have since added a blog, which has become their new focus, but their original site is still there and referenced from the blog for its informational articles. When I was totally disoriented by the new, new world of cycling and was desperately trying to wrap my head around this thing called randonneuring, Pamela, with her clear and direct style and her willingness to meet beginners where they are, made it all clear.

Sheldon Brown: Old school, down to earth, brilliant and wise about all things cycling. When Sheldon created his website, the web was brand new and his site was revolutionary.  Sheldon created his site both to share his wisdom and to service the needs of the bike shop where he worked, Harris Cyclery. Sadly, Sheldon is no longer with us. Harris Cyclery has a slick, commercial website. And yet, his website even in its current, frozen form remains as unmatched and irreplaceable a resource as ever. And do you know what? At the top of Harris Cyclery's slick, new website is a link to Sheldon Brown's original site for those who prefer it. I am a regular mail order customer of Harris Cyclery, and Sheldon's original site is where I shop. Besides just answering question after question after question, Sheldon's main influence on me was as a familiar face to allow me to maintain my equilibrium as I got used to what cycling had become.

Wikipedia: As usual, the comic strip XKCD says it best.

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