I did have something else lined up for my next blog post but as I was walking the dogs earlier I heard that little tinkle of the WordPress App notification go off in my pocket. My hand went straight for my phone, excited to see if anyone was actually reading these, but alas it was an auto generated message from WordPress. All was not lost though! It was fairly positive message telling me that my site had reached 500 all time views. Just in case you don’t believe me…
I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself here because ‘views’ doesn’t mean ‘visitors’. I’ve not had 500 individuals cross the threshold into my little blog universe. Not yet anyway.
The stats at the time of writing are this: 552 views, 187 visitors, 39 likes, and 12 comments. I’m not embarrassed or nervous to share this. It is what it is and in all honesty it is better than I expected. Obviously I hope it grows into something a little bigger but right now I’m really enjoying writing the posts and the feedback I have had is pretty positive. My main goal is to create something that is actually informative and can be of use to people. There will be the odd story and ramblings in here but those who know me could have guessed as much!
How Did I End Up Here?
Those of you who have read my ‘All About The Bikepacking Dad’ section on the homepage will have a brief idea of how I ended up bikepacking & blogging but I fancy going into a little more detail as it’s been quite a big change in my life.
With Arthur bursting into our lives in March 2021 the changes to our lives were pretty huge. Now I know the parents reading this are probably rolling their eyes and wondering what the hell I expected it to be like but I was clearly a little naive about the impact it would have on my fitness goals, my hobbies, and my free time in general.
So after a few months it had become quite apparent that I was now destined to live my new life with less sleep and less free time. So how was this going to work with my quest to become a powerful cycling athlete with a respectable FTP (functional threshold power in case you are unaware), a healthy amount of local KOM’s that Arthur can steal in the future, and dreams of ticking off the big ride numbers like 250km and beyond. The answer – it wasn’t going to work. Not at the pace I wanted anyway.
Now I know there are parents out there who are amazing athletes and make time for training no matter the work and family schedule and those people impress me greatly! Could I Zwift at 8pm after dinner and the bedtime routine? Yes. Do I feel like that is something I want to do? No.
I do have my reasons though. Don’t throw your mouldy fruit and veg at me yet! I’ve only been married for a couple of years this November so the wife and I are still fairly fond of one another. It’s nice to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and watch some Netflix at the end of the day or chat about what each of us has been up to. Not only that, we now have a joint calendar that needs updating with childcare, nursery, seeing friends etc. This calendar keeps me on the straight and narrow and I should definitely look at it more! My wife, if she reads this, will throw that last sentence in my face for a long long time.
With baby number 2 on the way there is no chance of me getting back to any sort of structured training so I needed a new focus. Not a new hobby, it was always going to involve bikes, but a new way to ride my bike that would keep me engaged and that I would enjoy.
So there I was one night, scrolling through YouTube, and a video about Bikepacking popped up. It was from bikepacking.com and it was about leaving no trace when you are out bikepacking in the wild. Camping and riding your bike, as one activity, in the middle of nowhere… Sign me up, take all my money!
I love being outdoors and exploring those less travelled places and I could use my bike to get there. Well there it was, just like that. New focus acquired, time to get a setup sorted so I could give this a go. What would I need? Where would I go? It was planing time, and I love a plan. Now bare with me whilst I direct you to some more of my quality content about those things just in case you haven’t had a look yet:
- First Bikepacking Trip – Part 1
- First Bikepacking Trip – Part 2
- Bikepacking Kitchen – Alpkit Product Reviews!
- Bikepacking Bags – What Bags Do I Use?
After my first trip, and the satisfaction of successfully getting both myself and my camping gear, to and from a secluded place over some very testing gravel roads and mud paths, I was hooked. This was fun. Even though I returned home soaked to the skin and fairly cold it had been a genuine adventure. I had seen a handful of people at best – always a bonus – and seen some pretty beautiful views.
My average speed was steady, my distances were not massive, and I had no idea what my power numbers might have been. Did any of that matter on this occasion? Nope! Not one bit. However, all that training and base level fitness that I had built up over the years was paying off. I didn’t even consider whether or not I would be able to ride a heavy bike over what felt like mountains at times. I just knew that my body was capable and my mind was keen. With that combination it was simply a case of getting on my bike and going. I might not be training and chasing down local KOM’s but I was using my fitness to reach new goals. I needed to stop worrying about what I might be losing on the top end of my fitness and be proud of where it was at just now and proud of the things I was capable of doing.
I still have my fancy road bike and it still gets use in the good weather. When I jump on it these days I feel lightening quick as the slow and steady pace of bikepacking is very different. I love how it feels to eat up the miles, I love the sound of the Di2 gears, I love how the power comes straight out of the back wheel because the carbon frame is so stiff, and I love how beautiful it is. Do I still hunt out the occasional Strava segment and test my ageing Dad legs against the best riders locally – damn right I do. There’s some power in these legs yet world!
Starting My Own Blog
Everyone who asks me what caused me to venture into the world of typing to strangers on the internet a.k.a blogging gets the same answer – now I don’t have time to ride my bike as much I’m going to write about riding my bike instead! So here I am, and hopefully here you are as well…
I was pretty nervous about starting it up as no one wants to fail at anything. However, if I didn’t try I would never know.
It was a steep learning curve when it came to creating a website. There was a time right at the start when I thought I was simply amending my homepage but what actually happened was that I deleted every piece of text I had written and it disappeared into the depths of the internet to never be seen again. A weaker person would have cried, only one tear trickled from my eye though. I could do this! Reset.
With that being said the next sentence is 100% true – if I can create a website anyone can. A subject, a passion, some revision, along with a healthy side portion of trial and error and you’ll be up and running.
Using WordPress took some getting used to but after a fair bit of research, numerous YouTube videos, and many blank blog posts that were used for practice purposes only I was finally happy enough with a post to share it with the world. By ‘world’ I mean the handful of people I told about it and politely asked them to read it…
That was back on the 8th September and since then I’ve worked hard to write posts that are hopefully informative and mildly funny all at the same time. I’ve enjoyed it a lot and continue to do so. I’ve amassed 15 followers, not all of them family or friends, and I appreciate them for taking the time to subscribe and be interested enough to read these posts.
I am well aware that my subject matter is quite specific. I did think about branching out in order to try and get more people over to the blog. But why? I started this blog because I wanted to write about what I was interested in and hopefully be of help to others who might share a similar passion. If I deviated away from this the enjoyment wouldn’t be there and it would turn into a project that was short lived.
Right now I’m a tiny minnow in an ocean that some people see as they swim by, and that’s ok. Let’s see what we can grow into as the months go by!
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