How to run a twitter account for your cycling club

I’ve been on twitter for a while now, and have been involved in the twitter account for Stirling Bike Club. This account has really taken off in the past two or three years and I thought I’d share some tips on how other clubs could do it succesfully.

Why do it?

You can use twitter to spread the word about your cycling club, grow your membership, create or improve a sense of community amongst the members, promote your events and other uses.

Don’t go on twitter just to go on twitter or your account will drop like a stone – it’s good to start out with a few specific aims.

To begin with, I aimed to follow any club members who were on twitter and any notable local cyclists. At that time, we were talking Scotland-wide, but these days many more people are on twitter. The aim was to build an audience and a community that would become self-sustaining.

Cycling Past

Conversation and community

To state the obvious, perhaps, social media is best when used socially. The big brands and personalities might judge their performance in the thousands followers and hundreds of retweets but for a cycling club, the numbers will be small. I usually cringe when people talk about their followers on twitter. Rather, success should be engaging in useful conversations and building an online community.

Anyone who sent me a tweet or replied would be engaged in conversation – this helps the person running the account to get to know people. After a while, your twitter community will take a life of its own and people will be having their own conversations. Continue reading

Scottish cycling podcast 5: cyclocross with Dave Hamill

In this show I recorded a chat about cyclocross event organisation and the cx scene in Scotland generally with Dave Hamill who runs the Dig In at the Dock race, held this year on 26th February. We recorded at Rouken Glen at the end of January, which was race 1 of a 4-part series called the Super Quaich.

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Listen on itunes or using the soundcloud audio below.


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Scottish cycling Podcast 4: How to organise a big cycling event

In this show I talk to Norrie Petrie, chairman of Stirling Bike Club about organising a big event. The Crit under the Castle race has been held in Stirling in 2014 and 2015 and has incorporated the Scottish Cycling criterium championships. This event has enjoyed a full programme of racing with closed roads in a town centre and I wanted to ask Norrie about how this was achieved to help other clubs with ideas and practical advice about how to improve their own events.

Crit2 (56)

Listen on itunes
Listen on Soundcloud below

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Scottish cycling podcast 3: my 2016 predictions

After my last episode at the Scottish cyclocross champs I got some great feedback and discussion on Facebook in the Scottish cyclocross group. I was really pleased to see this – I’m not aiming to be controversial for the sake of it, or to draw attention, but to raise constructive discussion points and this is what happened, so thans everyone who commented.

I thought I would keep the run going with an ‘inbetweenisode’ – just me talking. Tis the season to make woefully inaccurate prognostications, but I’m not much of a gambler, so I’ve gone for a few fairly safe predictions for the Scottish cycling scene in 2016.

Blogger Spokedoke has posted his view of how the future of cycling will look and this is a good look at the way things are changing in international pro road cycling.

  • ASO V UCI
  • Light weight bikes with the removal of 6.8kg rule
  • How this might affect:
    •    Disc brakes on road bikes
    •    Power meters
  • Thought on Rio Olympics and how athletics doping crisis may affect things

In the podcast, I delve into my humble predictions for the coming year with a Scotland-centric hat on.

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Scottish cycling podcast 2: Irvine cyclocross champs and Tom Forbes

In this episode I speak to National commissaire Tom Forbes at the Scottish National Cyclocross championships. Unfortunately the windy coastal location has created some interference but there was some good discussion so I have posted the audio anyway.

If it’s unpleasant to listen to, read below for some of the points discussed.

Or listen in iTunes if you prefer.
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Scottish cycling podcast: Plean cyclocross and Andy Rafferty

I have recorded my first Scottish cycling podcast.

I’m planning to look at broad topics in Scottish cycling, rather than race previews or news. I hope to get some interesting in-depth interviews that can help everyone from club riders to aspiring racers, and from committee volunteers to event organisers get the most out of the sport.

The stilted intro to this show makes me cringe but I’d rather get things up and running than chew my fingernails over perfecting the audio and format. Let me know what you think!

Or listen to the Scottish cycling podcasts in iTunes

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Instincts, crashes and cyclocross starts

Sometimes it’s all about instinct. This striking image, capturing Chris Barr about to the deck at the Strathclyde round of the Scottish Cyclocross series, conveys many things for me.

cyclocross start crash

The unbridled instinct of the improver, bursting with enthusiasm and gridded at the front, to sprint full gas but underestimate the treacherous conditions and potholed surface.

The instinct of the seasoned racer, well-versed in the rough and tumble of Belgian racing, to anticipate the chaos and take a wide line to avoid potential chaos. The reactions kick in, to resist grabbing a fistful of the brakes, shift your weight on the bike and squeeze past the danger.

The instinct of the photographer, Mike Bishop who shoots a range of sports, to position himself near the bottleneck, sensing an incident may happen at the bottleneck formed by the gate.

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Obree the innovator: predecessors to Old Faithful

On a recent This Week In Cycling History podcast, John Galloway and Cilian Kelly went off on a tangent (as they sometimes do) musing over the origins of Graeme Obree’s aero tuck position, used to break Francesco Moser’s hour record on his Old Faithful’ bike in 1993.

Obree was an innovator, rethinking his position on the bike and the bike itself,  achieving aerodynamic gains by  going back to first principles and bringing a ‘beginner’s mind’ to bike engineering. I’ve heard him speak about this in person several times – he would look at his bike and think (or maybe say out loud) ‘what if I had never seen a bike before – what would I do differently?’

Early frame innovations

Obree could weld his own frames and would design  Found on Bob Reid’s homage to the Flying Scot bicycle, the picture below shows some of the genesis of his frame innovations:

One predecessor of ‘old faithful’ was this machine he built and seen here at a road race in Carluke in 1987. The short back end prevented Graeme from using double chain-rings and the frame has a brazed-on chain guide.

Obree custom frame 1987
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RIP Ian Steel

I was sad to read Will Fotheringham’s obituary of Ian Steel yesterday. Ian died last week on 20th October aged 83.

Ian won the Tour of Britain in 1951, the Peace Race in 1952 and rode the Tour de France in 1955 among many other achievements. He was one of Scotland’s and Britain’s greats.

Despite a relatively short career he kept an active interest in cycling – one of my previous posts included a photo of him being presented with a Glasgow United jersey – one of his former clubs.

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Cyclist Ian Steel in Glasgow United jersey March 2011

I had heard that writer Richard Moore had been in touch with him recently and hope there are a few more stories to come out of that – Richard has an obituary in the Scotsman.

Tribute on Scottish Cycling

My other blog posts on Ian Steel.

Wardell on ‘portage’

Rab Wardell opined on the technique of ‘portage’ – or carrying your bike, to the non-cyclocross aficionado – for the Dig In at the Dock 2014 race programme. With summer cross races now underway and thoughts moving towards the approaching season, I thought I’d revisit this with a new angle.

Portage – it is what separates cyclocross from all other disciplines of cycling. Lesser disciplines of cycling, one might argue. I’ve seldom heard a more eloquently phrased explanation of how this can inspire a lifelong love of ‘cross. I overheard one of our humble race organisers recalling a childhood memory to the Simon Burney. ‘Ah mind wotchin’ some ‘cross race on Grandstand, aboot 30 years ago! Ah wis just a lad and ah mind seein’ these guy fae Belgium an tha’ jumpin’ oer bits ae wid an’ tha’. The next day ah wis runnin’ roond the wids wi’ a road bike an’ ae’most got hypothermia. Quality likes! Thats the real deal…’

‘Yeah…’ Simon agreed.

I don’t think that anything in Scottish Cycling can compare to that moment you cross the burn at the ‘Tosh after 55 minutes, ready to shoulder your trusty steed and face that b*tch of a run-up one final time. Whether fighting for the victory, surviving the race, finishing for your first time or getting the better of your mate, one thing remains the same. As you try to slot your feet into the ankle deep, cold, muddy footholds. Digging your toe studs (if you’re lucky enough to have them) in the soil and push off, propelling your protesting, wheezing body and mud clogged, heavier-than-ever bike closer to the summit. It is incredibly painful. Horrific even.
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