By any meaningful digital metric, Cyclocosm is old. It started as a side project of my long-dead “regular” blog in 2005, when there was no Twitter, a cutting edge “cell” phone could play an eight-track ringtone, and a George Hincapie Roubaix win seemed orders of magnitude likelier than a Lance Armstrong confession. (Some of you are no doubt reading that last sentence and wondering who exactly this “George Hincapie” fellow is).
It has been nearly a decade since the last time I redesigned Cyclocosm, and honestly, 2011 was a bad moment to re-build a website. Mobile devices still accounted for only about 5% of web traffic (vs ~60% today) so I gave them essentially zero consideration—Mobile Safari’s tap-and-zoom functionality seemed to work fine, and there were loads of half-supported CSS3 features (
box-shadow in particular, it seems) that I really wanted to show people I could use.
And showing people stuff was important. At the time I was stuck in a dumb job with a long commute that precluded doing the work I wanted to be doing on my still-un-trademarked How The Race Was Won® content (at a time when, lest we forget, others in the cycling media were actively trying to steal it). While HTRWW is still not exactly easy to produce, let’s just take a moment and appreciate how much better consumer tech has gotten at processing large amounts of video:
Fortunately, I did eventually find myself both a new job and access to faster processors, and the ensuing rise of How The Race Was Won® really negated the need to do much of anything with Cyclocosm. But between this and the many, many corners I cut hacking user-facing features onto WordPress, the old blog’s tech debt had become unsustainable, and the site had been literally falling apart—missing
<title>, disappearing comments, no footer, etc.—for most of the twenty-teens.
In 2019, I built howtheracewaswon.com; in addition to getting my most important content outside this decaying catastrophe of a website, that page also provides a single location where all my How The Race Was Won® content can live, accessible by anyone, from anywhere, essentially forever. While there will definitely be some lag between when new videos debut on a partner site (thank you, CyclingTips and Eurosport) and when they show up on howtheracewaswon.com, if you’re looking to send someone a link to an old video (2017 Women’s Worlds, for example), or just introduce them to the series, howtheracewaswon.com is probably your best bet.
Plus, building an (almost) all-JS, single-page app from the ground up was a fun reminder that, even with all the supposed conveniences of Modern Web Development, I still don’t much care for writing code any more than I have to (odd, I know, for someone who ostensibly does it for a living). I’ve repeatedly toyed with porting Cyclocosm to Gatsby, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how un-terrible and sort-of almost fast-ish a modern WordPress theme performs. Certainly a few
hours days of tidying up content and taxonomy seemed preferable to engaging in the never-ending waltz of teetering npm dependencies.
I also wanted to make sure that all of my old, non-HTRWW stuff (and any newer, non-HTRWW stuff I might make) has a reliable, robust place to live. Visual errors and SEO fails are one thing, but having content disappear entirely in the cycling space is something I’ve been trying to fix for a while now. Seeing the old-school goods like Bobke Strut pretty much disappear while VeloNews continues not to address their issues (probably more on that later this week) was good motivation to get my own house in order—everything from fixing broken server references to finally getting placeholders in for a few dozen images I accidentally erased 12 years ago.
So that’s about it for now. I’ve placed links in the header to recurring features/content you might have missed/forgotten about, there are dropdowns to search by date published and the cleaned-up categories list in the footer (legacy versions of this blog badly misused categories because they predated the arrival of tags on WP); the site search is stashed there as well. Still plenty of work to do, but this is a good enough start. If anything else seems out of place, just drop me a line.