Media Matters

In a couple days, I will be in the September issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine in some capacity. I’m not sure to what extent I will be featured, but I know there will be at least a few quotes, and maybe one or two of my images.

Now seems like a good time to reflect on my recent experiences with the media. There haven’t been many, just some small newspapers and now a small magazine. Contrary to the above graphic, I do not think I am a big deal, but it is nice to get a little bit of attention. They have at least made for some interesting stories.

Longtime readers and my local friends will remember the ‘Push It’ debacle from earlier this year. Long story short, I was pressured to estimate the time it would take me to complete a century ride. I overestimated myself, underestimated the route, and qualified my response with ‘if I push it.’ They ran with that as a theme for a larger feature of the paper. That weekend was bedlam. I heard from a lot of people, including some reputable cyclists I had never met before.

The last one was more recent, and I haven’t discussed it on the blog yet. While I was out in Colorado, I heard from a reporter doing a story for Smoky Mountain News on the Blue Ridge Breakaway. It was my ride of the year for 2011, and I gave an enthusiastic review. It is probably still my favorite ride to date.

I spoke with the reporter for maybe 30 minutes early in the morning from Colorado. Most of the interview went well. He had some interesting questions about the ride and cycling in general. There was the obligatory ‘why?’ question, which I have noticed is commonplace from non-cyclists.

He caught me off guard towards the end of the interview. He asked what I think about while I’m climbing up a big hill (I touched on this in my Loveland Pass write-up). That stumped me, as I hadn’t really given a lot of thought (ha!) to what I think about. Usually I just go with it.

After returning from Colorado, I discussed the question with someone I know who practices transcendent meditation. He said that cycling is a form of meditation, but the journalist was correct that it is rare to obtain a complete state of peace while on the bike. Many people will achieve it once or twice, then continue pushing themselves to try and achieve it again. Some of them never will. Realistically, I probably have not reached this point. There have been many times that, due to pure exhaustion, my thoughts have slowed and I have focused intently on the task at hand. Being hyper-focused on completing the task is not the same as meditative bliss.

Overall I was happy with the piece. After all, he called me an influential blogger. I don’t know about all that, but thanks! He also interviewed BRB’s route director Cecil Yount, as well as Laura and Russ from The Path Less Pedaled. I made a couple errors, including playfully exaggerating something for emphasis, which he quoted verbatim (from the article: “One girl spent about 20 minutes on the ground after she was finished because she was so tired.”).

This upcoming piece in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine should be the biggest exposure yet. They have a readership of around 250,000, mostly concentrated in the Southeast USA. The magazine is free, and primarily aimed at tourists. I have been reading it over the last few months, and have been impressed. They usually tackle an activity every month, and give an overview of where in the Southeast you can enjoy that activity. For example, the August issue was about swimming, so they listed the best watering holes in the Southeast.

The September issue is going to be about road cycling. The piece where I’ll be quoted is about the toughest mountain centuries in the Southeast. Their editors had chosen six rides that were evenly spread throughout their readership. I had only ridden in two or three, but I knew about the others. I also suggested some rides that they had not mentioned, which should be part of a sidebar.

Fortunately I did not put my foot in my mouth this time. At least I don’t think I did. We’ll know for sure when it is released. Despite my participation, it sounds like it’ll be a useful article. I’ll post the web link on Twitter and Facebook.


20 responses to “Media Matters

  • Wayne W

    It all depends on who is reading the commentary, and if they agree.
    Many years ago I expressed an opinion about personal watercraft on Lake Murray in response to a question about increased injuries. I said IN MY OPINION that some sort of training/permit should be mandatory. Well, that made it in to the local news. Talk about a firestorm.
    When you me or anyone gets put to ink or TV, you become the defacto spokesperson (potentially) depending on the picture that is trying to be portrayed.
    That magazine sounds pretty friendly, that isn’t always the case.

    • aaronwest

      I’ve found that newspapers have their own agenda, and have a quote they are looking for. In my case, it was the time of the ride, and ‘push it’ was the ball they ran with. In your case, it was about watercraft training (which I agree with btw).
      The magazine was far more laid back. It was easily the most pleasant interview that I’ve done.

  • theresaschroder

    Wow, 250k is a whole lot of readers-talk about exposure! Can’t wait to see the article!

    • aaronwest

      We’ll see. There will be some attention. That’s for sure. But I don’t know how many people actively read the mag. We’ve grabbed it in hotels before and barely looked inside.

  • bgddyjim

    I get into the zone all the time. I learned how to do it running and working with zones. My “zone” is somewhere at the high side of zone 3 and low side of zone 4. I did manage to translate that to the bike – it is a bit touchier on the bike though.

    • aaronwest

      I’ve found that those zones are more easily obtainable on big climbs. I can get into zone 4 easily on a mountain. That’s also where I tend to zone out, usually it takes awhile.

      • bgddyjim

        The next time you get there think about where you are in your breathing and cadence – if I line those up the same way I can almost always drop right into it. It does take a while – I think you have to wear yourself down to a point, it’s odd how that works.

  • suzecycling

    Wait until they hear about your Haute Route race …

  • Jim Brennan

    Congrats on the article, and don’t sweat the small stuff. People tell me I think too much, and when I think about it they are probably right. 250K is a big deal. Be happy.

  • Bike Noob

    Aaron, you are an influential blogger. You influenced me to work a little harder on hills, and I can even climb one once in a while now.

    • aaronwest

      Likewise. You have influenced me to lose my ‘noob’ in quick time. In all seriousness, I know from emails and comments that I have inspired and influenced people. All that is nice and is partly why I do this (as you probably do too). Still, when I think of ‘influential’ bloggers, I think of Fatty, Path Less Pedaled, Jill, etc.

  • Zeke Yount

    I’ll be looking for the article to come out and will enjoy reading it. I keep meaning to read BRO more frequently but it is generally not on my radar. This time it is. I can say, “Hey, I know THAT guy!”

  • Steve

    I knew I should have trademarked the phrase, “important and influential blogger!” Despite the fact you are now clearly a threat to my self-declared position as the East Coast’s premier cycling blogger (sorry, Bike Snob!), I look forward to the article. Congratulations!

  • The Velo Hobo

    I’m looking foward to reading the article and I agree the Breakaway was a wonderful event. Congratulations! Jack

  • Bo Bissett

    Even bad press can be good press. Keep up the good work!!

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