Thursday, August 28, 2014

Retro-Grouchy Anniversary

I just realized that The Retrogrouch Blog has marked its first anniversary. One full year on the web, and I almost missed it. In that year there were 189 posts, the first of which was posted on August 27, 2013. Readership is nowhere near BikeSnobNYC numbers, but it has grown every month since the beginning.

Here's a little background. I'm a full-time English teacher with a journalism background. I did spend some time working for a magazine before I started teaching -- though it was nothing bicycle-related. It was a trade publication for the directional drilling and underground utilities industry, read by contractors and vendors in the industry and civil engineers. It wasn't much fun, but writing is writing, and it was good experience.

I've always been a bit of a bicycle nut, full of strong opinions on bikes and equipment, and driving people nuts with my retro-grouchy ranting. I figured I should start putting some of it down in print, so a couple years ago I started sending out "feelers" to see if I could get some paid writing jobs for some of the bicycle magazines, but came up with nothing. My local bike shop has a blog, and I asked them if they'd be interested in some product-review kinds of submissions, which they were. After getting some decent feedback to my contributions to the bike shop blog, and still getting no response from the bike magazines, I figured why not just start my own blog? It doesn't pay anything -- but it's a good outlet anyhow.

I briefly toyed with calling the blog "The Lauterbrunnental Leaflet" after a fictional newsletter in the web-comic Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery, but eventually decided that might be a bit too obscure. Still, anyone who would read a blog called The Retrogrouch would probably get the reference. We'll never know.

Over the past year, I've ranted against carbon fiber frames and forks, disc brakes, and press-fit bottom brackets. I've looked at products I like, both old and new -- like Brooks saddles, traditional pedals, single-pivot brakes, fenders, and more. And occasionally I've looked into the history, lore, and tradition of classic and vintage bicycle components and brands. I've also been a critic of the bicycle industry today for their increasing reliance on planned obsolescence, and the constant marketing hype of incremental changes as massive improvements -- which probably means that none of them will ever want to advertise with The Retrogrouch.

I don't know how much and for how long a person can go on ranting against changing technology, or praising the good stuff of the past -- but a year seemed to go by pretty quickly.


  1. Congratulations!

    It's funny that your experience parallels mine in so many ways. I teach English and have written for newspapers and online publications. But it's getting harder to find paid gigs--let alone ones related to bicycling---these days!

  2. Congrats! Keep up the good work Brooks. I enjoy the Retrogrouch blog and have learned some interesting facts and bike related history. In my opinion one of the best bike blogs out there.

  3. thanks, folks -- glad people enjoy what they're reading.

  4. Started cycling in the mid-70's so I can readily relate to what you write. Keep it up. From the Phil.

  5. Congratulations! 189 posts in a year is very good going. I love reading this blog and hope you continue to enjoying writing it.

  6. I really enjoy the blog, I'm always impressed by how much thought and care you put into each post. Have you thought about talking to more general publications? LIfestyle pages on bigger newspapers, men's magazines etc. Perhaps a general feature on being a retrogrouch? You'll probably hate me for saying this but there's definitely something retrogrouchy in the air.

  7. "I don't know how much and for how long a person can go on ranting against changing technology..."

    Until they stop. Please.

  8. Oops, sorry, Brooks. I'm afraid I wasn't clear. Let me restate. Please keep up the great work until those who keep changing things for the worse cease their work.

    A friend of mine once said, "If they keep improving it, pretty soon it won't work at all!"

    1. Ohhh! Sorry. Yeah -- I really mis-read that. I feel a lot better now. Thanks for clarifying!

  9. Congrats on the anniversary! I really enjoy your writing, and have definitely liked reading your viewpoints. I've learned a thing or two along the way, as well as being entertained.

    Keep it up!