Updated: Jan 13, 2021
It's amazing how little public approval it takes for a person (me) to start daydreaming about a different life. I mean I have been content now for three years with having a couple of hundred people read my blog, most of whom share my surname or my cycling club. Occasionally I have written something that goes a little further, but most people who read my blog or follow me on Twitter or Instagram have met me. So imagine my surprise when thousands of complete strangers watched a video I made.
A month ago I was watching somebody else's YouTube channel (Always Another Adventure) who asked for people to send in their best tip for completing the Rapha Festive 500. Like some latter day Yozzer Hughes (look it up kids), I thought "I could do that". I sat down and very quickly came up with 11 tips and rather than share them with the channel I decided to film them myself to share with friends. I had already been toying with the idea of filming the next long ride home so this would be good practice. I also have a GoPro camera I bought for work and so off I peddled.
It took me three weeks to make the video as I had to learn how to use the software, in this case, iMovie, at the same time. I posted it to this blog and was happy when it quickly reached 100 views. I also made it public on YouTube. To cut a long story short, I've got to witness first hand how the YouTube algorithm works as the video first jumped from tens to hundreds and now thousands of views. In fact over 7,000 at the time of writing, along with hundreds of positive comments and subscribers. The subscribers thing is the most amazing of all: who subscribes to a channel with one video where the presenter says they unsure if they will make another?
It didn't take long for my imagination to run away with me, with dreams of just writing and making videos about my cycling adventures for a living. It also didn’t take long for me to laugh at myself for being so ridiculous. The second and third videos only have 400 odd views. If I was a firework, I would be a sparkler, fizzing for a few short seconds before being burnt out and discarded. Sadly the imaginary 'cycling influencer' dream lasted for one bike ride. But I have proven that it's possible for almost anyone to be a one-hit-wonder. I correctly guessed that at the start of December that lots of people would search for tips to help them finish the Festive 500. I also correctly guessed that what YouTube doesn’t need is another Rapha imitation video, with moody black and white slow-mo images. There was room for a semi-serious / semi piss take video with tips learned from actually completing the 500 already.
Still, having a couple of hours to daydream on a ride was a nice Christmas present. Even better has been the little interactions with people who watched the video and have taken the time to come back to me with feedback: the guy in Berlin who is riding the Festive 500 with his girlfriend, the woman in New Zealand who found me on Strava so that she could comment on rides and the guy in Belgium who has told me about the challenges of fitting in the rides with daily life. These are all meaningful and examples of just how well social media can connect strangers who have a shared passion.
I am going to have a play around with another couple of videos and then retire quietly. Perhaps my video will resurface every year like a Christmas record........
For the record, you can see all of the videos here.