One bit of excitement that came from the recent Blue Ridge Trip was that I landed a project to write a feature article for a regional magazine. While this isn’t my first paid writing gig, it was my first feature article about cycling.
Before I get into that, I want to touch on another article I wrote a couple months ago. Eric at Blue Ridge Parkway Daily reached out to me this summer. He has established a massive social media presence (42,000+ likes on Facebook!), and has one of the better web resources for the Parkway. He wanted to include some content about cycling, and asked me to write an article. I was given free reign to come up with something. Since his is a general interest website mostly for non-cyclists, I decided to put together a beginner’s guide. That article is here: Beginner’s Guide to Cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway
As for the magazine article, it was just published online here: Just Keep Going: Cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway
Since I was too injured to ride, we weren’t sure exactly what sort of angle to pursue. I had been corresponding back and forth with the Executive Editor long before the ride began. He had given me some good suggestions, and had been reading the blogs as I posted them during the trip. Rather than just writing a ride report, he wanted me to capture some of the adventure and human drama. This was not an easy task when writing about the complex organization to get dozen riders from one end of the Parkway to the other.
There were multiple story options. We could have talked about the government shutdown, although that would have been stale by December, when the article was planned to go to press. We could have talked about my injury and how I interacted with the other riders. I shot that down because the long injury history would take away from the Blue Ridge experience, plus might come off as a bummer, which would not capture the spirit of the event.
Finally we settled on Julie. The editor had been reading the blogs, and was particularly taken with the conquest over her physical and mental struggles. Having seen it unveil in person, I agree that it was quite the story. I hope my article captured it.
After reading my rough draft, I had Julie take a look at it and give me some feedback. After all, even though I could see her face, I couldn’t see inside her head. She gave me some valuable insight that I worked into the article, and some great stuff that there simply wasn’t enough room to include.
I sent the final draft last Sunday, making a mental note to check the website and newsstands in December. Lo and behold, I was tagged in a Facebook post about the article on Wednesday. It was online already!
What in the world? I asked Blue Ridge Outdoors about it. As it turns out, even though they liked the article, they had undersold the December issue and did not have enough print space. That means it is online only. Even now they are listing it as a ‘Reader Submission,’ which isn’t correct since it was a paid article. They said that will be corrected at some point.
So that part is disappointing. If I knew it was going to be online only, I would have expanded the word count and narrative to include some other riders and trip details. Even though this one didn’t make it into print, there will be other opportunities. I just hope that next time I can be the writer and subject.