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Lesser Royalty: Bike Bloggers at Interbike

by Ted Johnson

Josh Lipton told me yesterday, “Bloggers are a strange kind of lesser royalty at Interbike.”

(Interbike, in case you don’t know, is that annual mega-trade show for the cycling industry held in Las Vegas. It’s where I spent the day yesterday. Skip to the bottom to see the bike porn photos I took.)

I kind of see what Josh means. During our first day at this year’s Interbike, I’ve seen a variety of reactions from the exhibitors when I introduce myself representing Commute by Bike. The reactions range from barely-suppressed yawning to low-grade fawning.

It’s as though the exhibitors don’t really know how influential bike bloggers are, and neither do the bike bloggers themselves. The moment happens in an instant when the two meet.

Blogger: Hi! I’m Rickey Williams, from IAmSpecialBecauseIHaveABike.com.

Exhibitor: Oh. Uh. Hi…

(I’ve never heard of this person or his blog. Do I pretend that I have? What if it’s one of those blogs that all the savvy bike industry guys read, and not just some loser who managed to weasel a media pass. Damn it. I really should spend more time reading bike blogs. I’m a fraud. A failure. I can’t let it show.)

Blogger: Nice bikes you have here. I like bikes.

(I don’t think this exhibitor has ever heard of me. Who am I to assume that he has? Nobody reads my blog but my mom! 100,000 page views per month, all from my mom!)

You may have seen my recent post about how much I like bikes… to ride them and stuff.

Exhibitor: Hmmm… That does sound familiar.

(That might have been one of the articles Cyclelicious tweeted. Why can’t I at least skim those? Twitter is killing me.)

And the dance has begun. The exhibitor has to choose to either treat the blogger as someone with a little clout, or like anyone else. The blogger has to decide whether they are entitled to the clout or whether they are a nobody who just bragged about having blog — as though it were of greater consequence than having a pair of clean socks.

One measure of the respect to which we are entitled is the special food that is catered for holders of media passes such as ourselves. They almost made enough Lasagna for us all.

Lasagna

If that doesn’t make you feel special, what would?

Clout is like lasagna; sometimes you expect more than is served. Sometimes you don’t know how much to provide.

I take the humble approach, and demand that exhibitors kneel before me only if they sell bike commuting products. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

With me at Interbike are Karen Voyer-Caravona of She Rides A Bike, and Josh Lipton of Bike Shop Hub (also the publisher of Commute by Bike).

Other lesser royalty we met today are Laura Crawford and Russ Roca, who write The Path Less Pedaled.

Lesser Royalty

From Left: Me, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Laura Crawford, Russ Roca

Richard Masoner, of Cyclelicio.us, is an alumnus of Commute by Bike. We had dinner with Richard along with Haniya Hussain and Paul Harris of Urbana.

Urbana & Cyclelicious

From Left: Haniya Hussain, Richard Masoner, Josh Lipton, Me, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Paul Harris

Had enough self-referential, self-indulgent name dropping yet? I thought so.

Here are some photos from yesterday:

 
Burley nomad 229

10 Responses to “Lesser Royalty: Bike Bloggers at Interbike”

  1. Michael says:

    You’re “Urbana” pictures are actually Civia bicycles, FYI.

  2. Hi Ted,

    It is kinda funny, about blogging on a favourite pursuit, and wondering/hoping/sometimes demanding respect for the carefully crafted words one writes on the subject.

    In my case, I came to blogging on bikes in particular (amongst other things, such as sailing, kids, cancer, sustainability…etc etc), the other way round.

    That is, over the last couple of years I fell into writing a few pieces for “Australian Cyclist” magazine: it doesn’t have an enormous readership (remember Australia only has a population of 21 million), but it is a national magazine with a readership in the 100s of thousands.

    I wrote frequently, but it wasn’t overly satisfying.

    So now I blog when I want on niche subjects that interest me, and I have a very small readership.

    Refering to the point of your post being about ‘royalty’ or clout, is ironic, at least in my case.

    If I now write about or refer to my previous magazine-related networked contacts, or have a chat with them to blog something, I don’t need to position myself in a way that craves favours from them.

    They don’t know my readership is small, couldn’t care less, really, because trust has been established. We talk and I write, from a basis of mutual respect.

    Get this, though: if I needed to establish a new contact to blog on a new topic, I’d probably mention that I’ve written for “Australian Cyclist”, and the new contact would respect that.

    The irony is, that as print readership is falling, it is still on the whole streets ahead of online readership, although the latter is catching up fast!

    Our contacts in the bike world – at least on the established ‘industry’ side of the fence – don’t seem to get that the power of the blogosphere is growing!

    All the best

    Richard

  3. BluesCat says:

    (chuckle)

    See, the problem is, Ted, that yer not a member of the real bike media. Ya gotta add the word “magazine” after yer name: Commute by Bike Magazine. See?

    Also, I noticed you showed up wearing what look like cargo shorts!?! Really?? I mean, REALLY?!? Run out and git yourself a set of Lycra shorts a half size too small and stuff yerself into ‘em, Ted! Git a pair for Karen, too, only make sure they’re the correct size for her. And, just like Karen, make sure yer legs are shaved.

    See? NOW yer a REAL BICYCLIST, Ted!

    A couple tips for talking to the exhibitors:
    1. Never, EVER, NEVER mention recumbent bikes; the Union Cycliste Internationale doesn’t even consider these rides bicycles, so sneer at any recumbent dealers in the hall.
    2. And NEVER, EVER, WHATSOEVER say that you know Ol’ BluesCat; I have a bad rep with some bike manufacturers and with your luck they’ll be the first ones you talk to!

    Good luck, Dude! :)

    • Ted Johnson says:

      Those are cargo pants, not shorts. If they had been shorts I could have shown off the awesome scar on my knee from a cycling injury.

      I talked recumbents yesterday to one of the manufacturers. It was the end of the day, and we were about to leave anyway. I figured that it was too late to shun me from the conference for using the “r” word.

  4. BluesCat says:

    Ted – Yeah, but I betcha he was lookin’ around REAL uncomfortable-like; hopin’ none of the REAL bike people overheard your question.

    Did he whisper that you should meet him around back, in the alleyway, if ya wanted to see some “product”?

    (snicker)

  5. BluesCat says:

    Ted – Oh, and I STILL think you should get Karen some bike shorts … EVERYBODY would want to talk to you, then!

  6. Blues:

    I’m a high fashionista bike lady so I don’t wear bike shorts. I only shave my legs for Sheila Moon bike skirts and dresses.

    In all seriousness, most of the product manufacturers I spoke to seemed genuinely interested in talking to me, since I represent that elusive women’s market that has committed to riding a bike most everywhere she goes. Or maybe they are just incredible actors who actually have no interest in my opinion. However, one product rep wouldn’t even tell me about his product (which I really didn’t care about anyway!) until I told him how many followers I have. Clearly he did not know of my near royalty status and totally blew me off when I said 95 (96 since I checked this morning, but hey!, I live in a small city) and didn’t even tell me the first thing about his dumb looking sunglasses. Well, that’s fine because I LOVE my Target sunglasses! They are the best I’ve ever owned and only $16 and I wear them in my blog all the time. So next year, when I surely will have moved up on the list of really awesome bike bloggers, Mr. Lady Bike Blogger Hater, don’t even try to kiss my ring.

  7. BluesCat says:

    Two thumbs up, Karen! Although the racer types would find you much more desirable in skin tight shorts, I find gals in dresses and heels on bikes MUCH sexier than gals in race-wear (ask Ted: he knows one of my favorite bike pics of all time is Cote de Pablo in a white dress on a blue cruiser).

    And, stayin’ on topic, as I look at the photos on the Interbike site it seems to me that one of the biggest missed opportunities of the vendors is fashionable/functional gear for women AND men; seems like the only “serious” cyclists they’re marketing to are racer types. I know Ted has posted pictures here on CbB of serious commuter bikes, but looking at other web sites it seems more emphasis is put on carbon rather than steel. As you scan the booths, do you get that impression, too?

    Oh, and you were up to 97 followers … with the Ol’ Cat adding himself to the list yer now at 98!

  8. Thx, Blues! Glad to have you on board.

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