Why did you start the blog?
I was going through a “5k phase” in my life and enjoyed training and improving and looking into the things that helped me improve – such as technology, training regimes and diet. I wanted to share those experiences in an attempt to help others in a similar situation.
I accidentally got into multi-sports and did ‘quite well’ for a while, at least sometimes I did. Or at least my fading memory of that tells me I did.
Although I say “I” quite a lot, there are two other people who help out from time-to-time and they say “I” too.
Is this your full-time job?
No. Definitely not. I have a few other ‘jobs’. One of them being a ‘proper’ job that pays ‘money’ (just). Whilst everyone at my ‘proper job’ knows what I do, I run this blog relatively anonymously as it just makes things easier with the clients of the proper job – all of whom do NOT know.
My main ‘other job’ is not sports or tech-related! Previous ‘other jobs’ have been in corporate IT for multinationals as well as some fairly senior roles in smaller tech companies.
Hopefully, that is now as clear as the mud on your MTB.
Sounds like the blog is a full-time job regardless of what you’ve just said? There’s a lot of content.
It takes a fair amount of time, I agree. A labour of love. Sleep is for wimps.
I really do put in a lot of hours each week to all my work efforts. This blog definitely doesn’t pay me what I think it should for the effort expended.
Some of the stuff I write is inspired by a sports news event or something a friend might have done or said about their weekend’s training. Those things are quick and easy to write. The reviews do actually take a long time…usually, several days spread over a couple of weeks.
Does it make any money?
Yes, from affiliate revenues and commissions from the likes of Amazon and Wiggle. It’s at most a tenth of whatever you might think it is. I need to read a page that I saved somewhere called “How to monetize your blog.” I’ll read that after the next review is published. Maybe. Although I’ll probably be too busy on the next piece.
Do you get freebies and does that make you independent?
If you are reading this and thinking of doing the same thing to get freebies then don’t bother. You CAN get trivial freebies by sports-tech blogging but it is much easier to buy them rather than spend at least several hours researching, chasing and writing about them.
You will find it VERY hard to get free watches, bikes, wheels and power meters. Very hard! Most of the big companies use PR agencies and they supply things on loan and REALLY do want them back. Specifically, Garmin has a global 2-month policy for EVERYONE, they will NOT give you a free watch.
More about that is (here).
When a company approaches me the first thing I make crystal clear is that I have ALL THE GADGETS I WOULD EVER NEED and I’ve bought the ones that I use myself for training and racing.
At the moment (Oct 2020) I have over 10 pieces of kit that need returning. Although secretly I have to admit that I’d like to keep a few of them 🙂 But they are relatively inexpensive so I might end up buying them if they retain my interest. Tech changes. My interests change.
There is DEFINITELY a subconscious bias when reviewing something. A bias to be favourable. You should remember that whenever you read any review, try to work out what the reviewer’s bias is – they REALLY ALL do have a bias. I specifically make the effort to think of at least something negative to say – and sometimes that’s easy! I really TRY to be as independent as I can and I am sure I fail at that from time to time.
My natural inclination would be, “That’s a cool feature for my friend X to use because of Y,” rather than, “Personally I would never use THAT feature, therefore it is rubbish.”
Maybe that’s the wrong question. Independence, bias and balance all have different meanings. This site: IS financially independent of suppliers; is sometimes, by definition, DEPENDENT on suppliers/PRs for early-release kit; does have some inherent bias that we all have; tries to be balanced by writing negative and positive opinion pieces.
I guess I am lucky in that I get a chance to try cool stuff out for free. Sometimes new stuff that many people have not yet had the same opportunity to have a play with. Sometimes new stuff that really does not work and wastes HOURS of my time. Lucky? Free? Depends on how you define it.
If you think I am too nice to some companies then please rest assured that I have had some serious run-ins with a few companies who have not liked what I have written. On none of those occasions was I asked to correct anything that was factually incorrect and I AM always happy to correct my mistakes.
How Popular is the blog?
4 million page views a year with 2 million visitors when I last looked. FREESTAK, VUELIO and ACE might have more detailed stats in their PR systems if you want to look.
That might sound like a lot to you. It isn’t. If you want to make a living from this sort of thing then I would estimate that a blog would need 10 million page views per annum.
Will you feature my event or product?
Generally YES and sometimes NO.
The YES would be for startup companies of interest to me and, hopefully, you. Generally, I will circulate a press release and their image. Indeed, for companies who send them, I regularly circulate press releases and sometimes add my own comments…either positive or negative. That seems to be how journalism works although I would not class myself as a journalist.
The NO would be for an uninteresting (to me) product or a large commercial race – although I would gladly cover such races if I ran it or if a friend ran it and I felt I had something to say about some aspect of it. I also often give some degree of publicity to Age Group multisport qualifying races/championships – mainly that’s because I then use what I wrote as my aide memoir for the date of the race!
How can I support the blog?
Hopefully, I can sometimes entertain and sometimes inform.
I appreciate financial support to keep it going and there are links to Amazon and other mechanisms on the sidebar to the right. Anything you buy there is the regular price and I get a small commission.
I do engage with some people by email or in the comments on certain posts.
Some of those people have been kind enough to give me a paypal donation or e-coffee which I really appreciate eg for training advice. I just like helping people out.
Of course, a great way to support the blog is to read it. Ultimately though I’ll need to make some money out of it as water and gruel are not helping my athletic performances 😉
Can I copy your posts or images?
It’s the internet and I can’t stop you. You can credit any images or content and provide a link back…that is always appreciated. So copy away…and give credit to the source, please.
I only have a problem if you are using my stuff to make money! Don’t.
To be clear – NO YOU CAN’T COPY MY POSTS/IMAGES if you are a commercial organisation. Please ask.
How can I ask you a question?
Please be mindful that I am not a free advice centre for everyone that wants to buy a running/tri gadget of some sort. I remain delighted to answer a thought-through single question – please read this if you want complex advice or lots of questions answering.
“Yes”. Either by email or in the posts’ comment sections. I prefer you to post a comment as someone else may give a great answer as well.
Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the best way to contact me although I do occasionally use Facebook and twitter.
If you are exactly like me I can definitely say precisely what you should buy.
You are different to me.
I am very happy to make recommendations and I do in the posts listed below. One thing you should bear in mind when reading any review is that the reviewer will be subconsciously looking at the product from their own perspective. Sometimes a reviewer will list all the features of one product and compare them to the list from another product – one has 8 features the other has 12 but which is the best? If you see it in those terms you realise how ridiculous recommendations can sometimes be. More definitely does not mean better.
And you also have to factor in that not all companies will actually release features that work.
I try to be empathetic and put myself in the shoes of you and other sporty people and what they use and how they use it. However, empathy is a gift that humans generally lack.
For example, in the RUNNING WATCH recommendations below I give recommendations for types of runners, as I see them, rather than “This is the best watch for $100”.
Bikes, wheels or running shoes – really I don’t know all the offerings well enough to make an informed recommendation, although I do have a good level of knowledge in some specific niche areas. Slightly older stuff is better value for money, newer stuff MIGHT perform better, branded stuff costs more, brands might be able to buy components more cheaply, second-hand stuff might be damaged or stolen…most of it is fairly obvious. More expensive is probably better…hmmm, maybe!!
Recommendation: Power Meters and Bike Trainers – I keep writing something and then 5 new products are released. I’ll get around to doing this properly one day!
What Kit do you use?
All I would say is that my best ever race performances used very little gadgetry and I rarely wear a watch when not being sporty.
I use Polar, Garmin and Suunto. My partner prefers the Polar stuff. I have Assioma, Stages, Kickr & Shimano power meters but friends keep borrowing them – others come and go from time-to-time and they all seem pretty good (Rotor, Garmin, PowerTap). I have a TACX trainer or two. I use SportTracks and Golden Cheetah software. I have several bikes and wheels, my favourites are Specialized, Cervelo and Mavic. I use Watt Bikes and Speedo and Zone 3 kit as well. I use a variety of running shoes, my favourite being Skechers and New Balance.
My running clothes are variously branded and I seem to have more Nike than I should, although I do not use Nike footwear. My cycling clothes vary from cheap Sports Direct stuff to very nice Assos bike shorts.
I have several Zone 3 tri suits and my club suit and a few GB AG suits that I never wear for fear of being overtaken and laughed at.
You seem to be biased towards Garmin products
Err. No, I’m not! Really.
Read a bit more of the blog, please!
I have ZERO links to Garmin – no PR info, no freebies, no PR samples. I buy my own Garmin just like you. EXACTLY like you. It’s a long story as to ‘Why?’ I am in that situation but, in hindsight, I believe that being truly independent of Garmin gives me a longterm advantage.
Some Garmin products are great and they do dominate some sectors of the market. If I think they are great I will say so.
Opinions and Unreleased products
You seem quite opinionated
Thank you for the compliment 🙂
I do give opinions on where I think some product areas are heading. Generally, the approximate direction is guessable BUT THE TIMING IS NOT – although several other people prod me in the right direction from time-to-time. This is the fun bit for me of the blog.
You seem a bit too like DCR’s blog
Sometimes I’m criticised for saying the same things and other times I am personally criticised for not going along with the hegemonistic view of endurance tech. You can’t win!! It’s a harsh world sometimes.
I’d probably agree with 70% of what bloggers say in this part of the market. I’d probably agree 80-90% with what DCR says – or, put the other way, he would probably agree with 80-90% of what I say.
But there is ABSOLUTELY ZERO POINT in me becoming an echo chamber for anyone’s views (see mainstream media who copy his reviews, my reviews and reviews of others) #OriginalThought. If I see an unusual angle or opinion I will make it. That just makes life more interesting for everyone.
So hopefully I am NOT like DCR’s blog. Hopefully, you will read his blog, my blog and a few others and use your grey stuff to make up your own mind. I tend to find my readership is full of clever people. Welcome!
What about new products
I VERY RARELY NEED TO agree to NDAs with manufacturers, although I have no problems doing that if asked. Press releases mostly come out up to a week before the formal announcement and they normally come with an embargo date on them. If I didn’t stick to the embargo date I probably wouldn’t get the next press release – so I stick to it. Simple really.
If some company releases information into the public domain before they intended to then people will often comment on that on forums and blogs. I never ‘break’ leaked information despite what you might think. But once it’s public domain, it’s fair game. Sorry, that’s the internet, you can’t stop it except by controlling your own staff and processes properly.
Sometimes I am lucky enough to have access to products prior to announcement days where the company would like a review to coincide with the launch. THAT is precisely the thing I am most interested in doing.
What about beta products
I don’t see myself as being a tester. Although I am happy to give my thoughts, ideally you would be looking for some public coverage about an interesting product. Please be crystal clear about the market-readiness of your product and what you want from me.
What about that review you said you were going to do 3 months ago?
Too busy, sorry! I tried. I might even have it on my to-do list. It might even be half-finished (likely).
Do you host adverts?
I do now (Oct 2020). After realising that some other sport endurance blogs have multi-million dollar annual turnovers, I decided that even a minuscule amount in comparison of such advertising from all the companies whose products I help sell (or not sell) would be very welcome.
Apologies if the ads slow things down a little. If they’re too bad let me know, I don’t want them to be intrusive. I have looked into introducing a mechanism to allow ad-free viewing for supporters of this blog but it is not a trivial thing to implement and indeed would probably cost me more to implement than any money it would generate.