It’s that time of the year when I reflect on my accomplishments in the past 12 months and foresee what I can do to make things even better in the following year. It seems like a cliché, but I feel that 2015 has been one of the best years in my life. I am so much happier and less stressed than I have ever been in a while. This was certainly a year of adaptation. I now earn my income working part-time with various bicycle related organizations, but more on that later. Let us get into the highlights of the year.
My 2015 Highlights
I am going to borrow my 2014 format and list out my highlights for the year.
- My biggest highlight was that I traveled to Europe for the first time and bike toured through 9 countries for 3 months between April and June. This was the first time I’ve ever been to Europe and the first time I traveled longer than 1 month at a time. This trip changed my life, and I’ll never be the same again.
- I landed 2 “dream job” opportunities to work with Adventure Cycling Association as a tour leader in Colorado and the Pacific Coast North route. The latter of those trips allowed me to visit Crater Lake for the first time. This has been on my bucket list for the longest time.
- My MeetUp group has been a hit with people all over Southern California coming out to participate in various bike tours. Because of this group, I have been able to go on a bicycle tour at least once a month and see places like Catalina Island and San Diego. For a more in-depth overview of my MeetUp click here.
- I participated in my first Wolfpack Marathon crash ride on the morning before the Los Angeles Marathon in March.
- I visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) for the first time through an overnight trip with the Topanga Creek Bike shop. We were able to go and visit the campus as guests.
- I co-presented a Bicycle Touring 101 presentation once again in January at Stan’s Bike Shop.
- I installed S&S Couplers on my bike to allow me to travel with my bike easily. This has made it more convenient to travel without incurring additional costs. Read more about it here and the review here.
Looking back at this list, I am extremely satisfied with my accomplishments and focus in life.
What I’m Doing Right
Leaving my job was certainly something I did right and have not looked back on this decision at all. Even though I may have left a lot of money on the table, it was at the cost of my happiness. Fortunately, I was able to save a good chunk of money through the years of working and have been able to stay afloat on my monthly expenses. In addition, I was able to supplement my income with teaching opportunities with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) from July to September and then work with SoCal Cross on race timing for the rest of the year on weekends.
Passion has been the main fuel of my progress. I have been lucky to get paid for doing what I love most. What more can you ask for?
The other thing I’ve done right was a blog post that I wrote in February about finding accommodations on the road. This post alone has garnered the biggest traffic bump on my blog and was the biggest story of the year in terms of people visiting it.
I have also grown my audience for the blog this past year exponentially (see above). Part of that was due to me scheduling many blog posts and staying in touch with my readers throughout my travels in Europe. Having my blog posts prepared and scheduled ahead of time really helped me with my creativity. I am planning to do more of this in the new year and remain consistent so I don’t run out of topics to write about. More about this below on lessons learned.
Lessons I’ve Learn
Of course, there is certainly room for improvements, so let us dive right into that with my list of lessons I’ve learned from this year.
At the beginning of 2015, I had alluded to my newsletter readers that I would be launching a podcast show. There were 3 incidents that pretty much halted my progress. The first was the time it took to plan for the Trans-Europe trip; it took much more time than I expected. The second incident occurred when I was told by another bicycle touring blogger to stop my progress. Initially, I was offended by his action and intended on continuing my work, but subconsciously, I think it halted every intention I had to move forward. The third reason was that I lost my co-host. The combination of all 3 things discouraged me from continuing on with my podcast show. I had even purchased an online course, recording software, and had all my interviewees lined up. This is probably one of the biggest regrets in 2015. I suppose it was good to stay on the sideline this year and watch the bicycle touring blogger do his show. So far, the momentum has been slow as he only has a handful of shows up. This is encouraging as I definitely see opportunities here to do the show that I would like to do. I haven’t given up on this idea. This is going to be the year that I will start my podcast show.
Another lesson I learned was the importance of keeping a content schedule. I actually followed one until April, when I had to leave for my Europe trip. When I returned from the trip, I did a bad job in maintaining the momentum. In fact, I completely stopped writing in the month of September. It was not until November when I returned to a consistent weekly posting schedule. I was possibly burnt out and suffered from Post Tour Depression (PTD).
My Internet traffic seem to have plateaued. The blog, my social media, and newsletter have all seemed to stagnate. This may correlate with the fact that I haven’t been consistent with my blog posts.
Looking Forward to 2016
Even though 2015 was such a success in my book, there is certainly room for improvements. There are 3 areas that I plan to focus on.
The first area of improvement for the new year is to continue to produce consistent and value-driven content for my site. This will include more ride reports, product reviews, how-to’s, and interviews. I plan to have more videos this year for your viewing pleasure. In addition to this, I will launch my podcast show. This time, I won’t let anything stand in my way. No excuses and no fear.
The second area that I would like to change is being open to the idea of spending more money on promotion, education, and items related to creating great content. I operated the past few years on a rather minimal budget, but I think I need to invest in myself to continue to improve on what I deliver to my readers or viewers.
The last area of focus for 2016 will be planning for my first cross-country ride with Adventure Cycling Association through the popular Trans American route. I look forward to riding 3 months from August to October next year and working with my co-leader and another group of riders. It’s going to be one exciting opportunity!
I can’t wait to get started and run with the plans I have for 2016! See you all in the new year.