Friday, August 31, 2018

An Anniversary

It occurred to me today that I just about missed an anniversary.

The Retrogrouch Blog first went online five years ago, in the last week of August 2013. I wasn't sure at the time how much I'd be able to write, or how long I could keep it going. I suppose it's lasted longer than some blogs out there. And there are others that were blogging about bikes long before I started that are still going.

Some of the blogs I was following before I started this one were BikeSnobNYC, Lovely Bicycle, and Midlife Cycling. Velouria, over at LB, has gone pretty quiet in the last year or so. BikeSnob is still going, though it seems more and more that his posts are going up on Outside Online rather than the BSNYC blog site. Justine, of Midlife Cycling, just amazes me - she's been going for more than eight years, having started in mid 2010 - and she's still posting almost every darn day. As for myself, it gets difficult to find time to write posts as often as I had earlier on - or to come up with something new to say about topics that I have probably beaten to death.

In any case, I went back and looked at that first post. It was a short one - mostly just saying "here I am, world" and a few sentences about what the aim of the Retrogrouch would be.

Here's an excerpt:

"Bikes should be simple, reliable, and beautiful. I believe people should be able to work on their own bikes, because repairing and maintaining your own bike is not just a right of passage, but it also makes one a better cyclist. I believe the importance of weight in bicycles is overestimated . . . I believe that when it comes to bicycle weight, there is "light" and there is "stupid light." Too many bikes and components today are "stupid light." I like new stuff, but only when it makes sense and really makes things better. New for the sake of new doesn't make sense. And New is not always Improved."

It's kind of funny, but there are some lines there that are very familiar and have been stated again and again over the past five years. Some of those words are practically a mantra. I feel pretty good to be able to say that I've been consistent.

Readership of the blog was pretty tiny in that first year or so. Readership has grown, but is still pretty small on the whole. On average, about 1100 people visit the site each day -- barely a blip in the big scheme of the internet. I mean, BSNYC probably gets more traffic in a day than I get in a week. Approximately two years ago, in October 2016, the blog hit the milestone of a million visits. It's closing in on 2 million, but that magic number probably won't be hit before the end of 2018 (it'll be close, but I expect it probably won't hit until January).

Over the years, the most consistently popular posts have been the one about "Bike Fit Then and Now" and one about Tange and Ishiwata tubing. In terms of "hits" or "visits," those two are far and away the most-read articles I've written - and they date back to that first year of this blog's existence. It's kind of funny that nothing I've written since even comes close. Oh well. If I have any favorites (regardless of popularity) I'd probably say it would be the article on the history of the Mercian Cycles company, or maybe the series on the decline of US bicycle manufacturing.

I had actually pitched the idea for a book on Mercian history to some publishers, with the plan that it would be ready for release for their 75th anniversary. I pictured it as history of the brand, with interviews and perspectives from fans and owners (including a few celebrities), and lots of pictures of nice Mercian bicycles from various decades. Unfortunately, books like that are expensive to produce, and none of the publishers I found were willing to make the investment and take the risk considering that it isn't that well-known of a brand. Too bad, really. Believe me, it would have been worthy of your coffee tables.

Well folks, that's all for now. Got to start looking for ideas for the next year.


  1. BSNYC may get more traffic than you but his blog is childish nonsense for the most part and it attracts like minded drivel. If that's what it takes to have a new subject everyday, please pass. Yours is a blog I look forward to for its interesting adult content.

  2. Your blog continues to be one of my favorites. For all that I post, I still prefer quality to quantity, and you provide the former in spades.

    (I post as much as I do because I can write quickly. I guess it's a result of having written for a newspaper and doing PR work in my youth.)

  3. You bring back my youth ,Tange vs Ishiwata, Apollo Mk. 5 and 6, late 70's rode both , bike shop employees got to buy less than wholesale!Had a custom Talbot made with Ishiwata. Got to see some very nice Japanese custom bikes , handmade touring bikes !! In Velo Veritas !

  4. Congrats on the anniversary!


  5. I had a Benotto 1000 in Ishiwata tubing.

  6. Happy Anniversary. What You write is always max. interesting reading !!!

  7. I love your blog, man, even if I haven't said it up to this point. Happy Anniversary.

  8. Congratulations for your interesting, good and solid blogspot.

  9. You have a great blog. Keep up the good work!

  10. Auguri! I've been thinking a lot about my content as well. Since relocating to flyover, there are far fewer opportunities with classic rides than there were in LA. BUT, I've still been at it, just can't find nearly as much time now I'm running my own custom business. Still riding old steel, just not writing as much about it! Keep it up!

  11. I tremendously enjoy this blog since discovering it about a year ago. I don't care how often or seldom you post something, it's always interesting.

  12. Looking for a group set drillium done by Jon Williams or a complete vintage bicycle with Jon Williams drillium parts. Can you help me with this...
    My hope is to create a tribute bicycle done up correctly.

    1. Contacting the Classic Rendezvous group (you can find them through the Cycles d'Oro website) would be a good bet.