When a quiet day in the office in 2008 led Melbourne resident Wade Wallace to start his website, Cycling Tips, he had little idea of where it would take him. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine some of the opportunities that would come my way,” Wade told BikeRadar.
“Going to the Tour de France and riding in teams cars, interviewing and riding with some of the best cyclists in the world... I need to pinch myself on a daily basis. I’ve never been involved in something so satisfying and fulfilling.”
A long-time amateur racer, with a full-time job away from cycling as an engineer, Wallace had a passion for road racing that couldn’t be satisfied by cycling alone. Years of riding helped him build up a wealth of knowledge of the road scene, and he saw a website as an ideal way to pass this experience onto fellow cyclists.
He naturally started off small – race tactics, simple nutrition and training tips were among his initial posts – but he gradually widened his scope. Three years, hundreds of posts and over 50,000 reader comments later, he’s showing no signs of letting up.
“I still get a buzz out of posting something every day,” he said. “My ideas usually stem from conversations I have on morning rides and I can't wait to write about it by the time I get home. Nothing has really changed since I started, except that I’m continuously expanding on the topics I write about, depending on what I'm into at that point in time. I'm also learning a lot by doing this every day, so the more I learn, the more I write.”
Cycling Tips creator Wade Wallace in action
Wallaces says interaction with his readers is one of the most rewarding aspects of running the website, and their comments help to keep him on his toes. “They have much more power than I do and I need to stay 100 percent transparent with them. I can't feed them garbage,” he said. “They're also much more intelligent and they'll call me on anything if I try to slip something that's inaccurate or dishonest by them!”
But Cycling Tips is much more than one guy simply passing his opinions and views onto his readership. In-depth interviews with industry professionals and pro riders, plus regular posts by guest contributors, make it a cut above many other blogs. Three recent posts demonstrate the variety and detail it offers.
The Geometry Of Bike Handling sees Wallace interview an industry expert on bike design, while regular contributor Jamie Jowett’s interview with ex-pro Jay Sweet – as part of his ‘Where Are They Now?’' column – sees him find out what former riders have been up to since retiring, and To Shave Or Not To Shave looks at the debate over leg waxing.
His favourite series on the site – What You Missed This Morning – started two years ago as his way of documenting morning rides in pictures. He’s held an annual competition running alongside the series, with readers sending in their own images of their mornings from around the world. Last year he introduced a ‘camera phone only’ rule, which minimized the technical aspect and opened up the competition to a wider audience.
Last year Wallace found himself reporting from the Tour de France following an invite from BMC. But he still sees himself as a cycling fan rather than a journalist; something that’s reflected in his work. “I always try to cover the race as a fan would see it,” he said. “I love photography and always try to capture the ambiance of the event rather than shots of the cyclists.”
As the website has continued to expand, he’s been fortunate to get support from advertisers, who've helped to offset the costs of production. He still ultimately sees it as his hobby though, and he’s aiming to keep it that way. “I’m very proud of the readership I’ve earned. It's fun the way it is and I'm very content,” he said.
Wallace is always keen for others to contribute to the site too. Apart from giving him occasional days off, he takes satisfaction in seeing them develop. “Some very talented photographers have been generous with their contributions and I wouldn't have the readership I do without their help,” he said. “It's great to see them grow in their craft and I'm always excited for them when cool opportunities come their way because of their involvement.”
On his plans for its future, he’s happy to see the site progress in its own way. “I may change the aesthetics of the front page layout and I’ll keep progressing with good ideas as they come up," he said. "But I think it'll be something that evolves rather than trying to stick to a masterplan."
We’ll certainly be keeping our eye on developments from one of favourite websites out there, and encourage anyone who hasn’t checked out his unique take on cycling to head over to www.cyclingtipsblog.com.
BikeRadar readers: If you visit – or own – a cycling website that you feel is worthy of mention in BikeRadar’s website of the week, email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in the comments section below and we'll follow up with them for a possible profile in our latest column.