I have to confess that although I support the idea of keeping the local bike shops alive I’m more inclined to make my purchases online. I don’t want to gloat, but in all honesty I was kind of glad when one of the local bike shops went belly up. There are several good reasons for their demise and I do think this kind of creative destruction can also be good for the local cycling community. Now at least my favorite bike shop may be on more solid ground.
I have tried to visit this particular bike shop several times, but they had already closed every time. In the end I didn’t even bother trying the door even if I was popping into the shop next door. Sure, evening and weekend pay is expensive, but I don’t understand the logic behind 11-18, 10-14 opening hours. I would assume that you would need to be open at least to 7pm on weekdays so that people have time to go home and grab something to eat. Dashing straight from work is quite unrealistic for most.
So the shop had to close and today they had a clearance sale during the lunch hour. I bought some tools and bibs on the cheap on my first and last visit. Service was friendly and there were loads of people at the shop. The one thing that made me wonder was the number of ugly as heck Trek single-speeds on the wall. It seemed like nobody wanted to even get near them. It is obvious bicycle trade is a fickle business. In the age of the internet you need to have good sense of what will sell as trends change really fast.
In this case the writing was on the wall. I think it was kind of obvious nobody would buy clunky bikes like that even if it had a respected brand name. The store had it coming and justice was served. We will see if they can resurrect themselves or if this was another casualty in the seismic drift of consumer behaviour as a tide of online shops takes over.
The number of hits on this site (~200k) just keeps growing so it would make sense to try improve the user experience. From the start the basic concept has been to put the content first. The site is now flush with content (100 published posts) so now would be a good time to find better ways to present it and realign the design to match the editorial style of the content. The goal is to add more pictures to posts, change the visual design and have a dab at activating the no logo cycling community. Bit of a re-branding is also needed.
Generally I personally only like to read blogs that start posts with visualizations or images. I have tried to keep the posts short, but even then “text only-posts are kind of boring and do not invite to explore more. So one simple way to improve would be to start embedding more pictures to posts. The least I could do is start posting pics I have taken on my rides since I don’t want to steal others’ pictures. So look forward to some posts in the vain of BikeRumour’s Pic of the Day. Now I just need to remember to stop for pictures when the scenery is nice.
The current layout was originally cooked up in 10 minutes almost three years ago so a new visual design would be in order. Spending an hour or two creating some eye candy would definitively not hurt the overall look of the site. This far the visual style has been deliberately crude as the intention was not to confuse the readers by mimicking big brand sites. Finding the middle-ground should not be too difficult, but might require an investment in tools.
From day one the blog has purely been a non-commercial venture. At first I even thought about publishing all the information in a Wiki format. Eventually I defaulted to my favourite free publishing platform. Despite the editorial freedom brought by independence money would be nice. Still finding ways to monetize has not been high on my priorities. Testing more new models and gear would be much easier to justify if the blog had some alternative revenue streams instead of my own pockets.
Advertisements would require moving to my own domain and I’m really not all that excited about paying for a server and ruining the refreshed design with flashy banners. I would be open to the idea of infomercials ie. writing reviews on donated stuff, but I have a bad habit of being brutally honest. I don’t like to beg either so Chinarello merchandise could be an easier route to finance some of the purchases. I also really fancy the idea of creating a global community across people riding chinese carbon. Wearing the same uniform has always been the most powerful way to unify a group of people.
In all honesty I kind of think the glory days of chinarellos are over. The brand name carbon frames have gotten much cheaper and there is true variety of offerings available. In many ways the mission of Chinarello Blog has been accomplished. War isn’t over though and I will still keep writing about chinese carbon as I’m looking to upgrade to electronic shifting and buy an sscx. What I would really like to promote in the future is this diversity of white label cycling products that are based on industry wide standards. There is definitely still need for an 0utlet for that viewpoint since other media outlets do not cover those topics.
Year 2013 was a good cycling year. I did plenty of commuting, participated in several fun cycling events, upped my game on group rides and even managed to do some mountain biking. Getting to work required some effort in the mornings, but riding with my son to kindergarden was ace. Yksivaihde community organized bike part jumbles and got me to do some picture hunting (“kuvarastit”). I did some group rides with HePo, but I was happiest about weekly Kampisolmu rides becoming a common phenomenon.
Next season I would like to keep progressing. That basically means I would need to get some competing experience. I’m not expecting being a contender, but getting on the line at a VPCX/HELCX event, criterium, maybe even a Bianchi cup race or similar would be nice. I don’t even mind if I finish last or do not finish (DNF) at all so the only goal is to not chicken out. On the other sportive front I hope I finish Vättern Rundan under 12 hours and can keep in the main group (34-35km/h) at TdH.
To reach the goals I think I will need to train quite a bit to lose more fat. I reckon I should get about 20h of roller training in before the training starts in April. That would be in addition to weekly bouldering session and floorball practice. During the summer I hope I could sneak in hourly equivalent of 5000km of road riding (~200h). I know it is a lot, but I have kept succeeding in my plans so maybe it is time to get little unrealistic for a change. In the end the biggest win for me would be if my son learns to ride without training wheels.
It is that time of the year when most cycling buffs start thinking of upgrades and new projects. I’ve been pretty happy with the chinese carbon racer so it will stay as is for one more season (at least if the barrel adjuster issue can be fixed). I have two vintage racers (Bianchi Mondiale and Olmo Competition) I’m working on, but I already bought some SRAM Omnium cranks and s900 brake levers for a fixie build. I would really like a chinese carbon track frame, but the “killer whale” design (FM126) just does not appeal to me. We will see what comes of this. I might go for a second hand Cinelli, Low or Look if something pops up, but custom Mielec build also intrigues me. Let’s see what Santa brings.
I have been trying to better myself every season. I challenged myself at the 217km Pirkka this season and since it went so well I need to up the ante for 2014. So today I signed-up for Vättern Rundan 2014. The event takes place in Motala, Sweden so it will be my first sportive outside of Finland. The 300km course will be a real test mentally and physically. I have 218 days to prepare, but I would be lying if I claimed I wasn’t intimated.
The rainy season is upon us and I have to admit I have already pretty much given up on cycling. The days are so short and gloomy that it makes much more sense to go climbing indoors than get wet outside. I still commute occasionally, but only on the rare sunny days. Today I went to shoot a local cyclocross race. Since I was there I just had to give it a go and ride one lap around the circuit with my single-speed winter bike. The atmosphere was great and sliding around in the mud was lot of fun. I haven’t cleaned up my bike or clothes yet, but if I had a CX bike I just might actually sign up for a race later on.
Some friends invited Kampisolmu CC to ride part of the Reitti 2000 over the weekend. Most of the 50km loop from Luukki to Luukki is gravel roads or park paths. There is 10-15km of proper mountain biking which I did not necessarily enjoy all that much. Even though I had my full-sus I was falling over all the time. The muddy roots and sharp rocks are a snakebite waiting to happen. Also the terrain around Solvalla is quite undulating. I think I hadn’t really gotten rid off the flu so it was really tough going for me at times. Fortunately little later others started having trouble as well and the faster riders on 29ers waited for us. The sausages at Hynkänlampi and coffee break at Pirttimäki were a really good idea and perked us up a little. Amazingly there were no punctures or other major mechanicals and everybody made it back in one piece. Next time I need a smaller chain ring at the front and shorten the fork travel to properly attack the hills. MTB is nice for a change, but pretty relentless.