Saiklr Starting Salutations

Welcome to saiklr, a blog dedicated to amateur cycling, fitness, nutrition, and any additional random odds and ends I feel are worth sharing with my audience. Today marks the official launch of the web site, although I have been writing here for a little over one month now. I have found documenting these topics therapeutic and motivational, and sharing thoughts out in the open may ultimately help other people in similar situations as I was eighteen months ago.

At the heart of saiklr is me - just some average, everyday, dude living in Tokyo, Japan who loves cycling, and is doing his best to improve both his health and fitness through a more active, healthier, more exciting lifestyle. The goal is to go beyond just the physical, touching upon the the mental as well.

This is the site where I write primarily about my cycling adventures and post pictures I take along the way. Whenever I cycle I am never just riding. I am also looking for that beautiful picture to frame. I am lucky enough to be able to ride up and down the Tamagawa Cycling Road on the border between Tokyo Metropolitan and Kanagawa. It is a lovely ride along the river, filled with fresh air, and lush greenery from the natural ecosystem.

There is an ostensible positive psychological component to having a site solely dedicated to my riding activities rather than posting on my more "well established" accounts. I opted to register a very simple and to-the-point domain, develop a very easy to use web site, and go live with my writing. The past month or so I was essentially practice posting my rides, and normalizing the types of articles I would like to publish.

Quick Background

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was in high gear and I was basically strapped to my computer for twelve hour days, doing nothing but Zoom after Zoom, I recognized a need to unplug. I had already been working out at the gym, but thought morning cycling may be more enjoyable. While the elliptical is useful, it is not particularly fun, and it is still inside. Being outdoors was absolutely necessary for me to maintain my sanity, and cycling fit in with my newfound focus on a healthy lifestyle.

Taken with a remote and a little luck, this is my serenity now moment at Lake Tahoe.
Photo by Keegan Houser / Unsplash

I started riding every morning I was able to, and immediately fell in love with cycling. It also helped me shed a lot of weight, and speed up my healthy life transformation. My intent with cycling was to primarily improve my mental health, allowing me some alone time away from work so I could unplug, relax, and meditate. For the better part of the first nine months I merely just cycled and logged my rides, never writing about the journey.

Then one day I decided to add commentary to my activities. I initially started by posting lengthy descriptions of my daily rides on Strava. Although I kept at it for months, I quickly realized there is no true method for building an audience on that platform. Most people only care about logging kilometers, sharing their routes, and posting the pictures they take along their adventures. Few people write lengthy posts on Strava, and the platform does not really even promote a decent-to-use writing system.

As I fell deeper in the Strava writing rabbit hole, I thought it would be better to setup a blog dedicated to these activities. This would allow the site to have a specific theme and focus, not confusing people with intelligence, security, and other topics with no relationship to cycling. I conceptualized a domain, put together a logo, developed the web site, and then started writing in late June.

So here we are on August 1, 2021: the official launch of a project with its genesis eighteen months in the making, focused primarily on cycling, but also dabbling in fitness, nutrition, mental health, and more.

UI Wireframe Saturday
Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui / Unsplash

Why Saiklr?

One of the first questions I get when I speak to people about the web site is why this particular name. It is fairly obvious from the pronunciation, but most folks are curious about the spelling, and why I opted for something semi-obscure.

Quite frankly, all the obvious domains are already chewed up by people who hit the domain gold rush early on in the dot com bubble. Nowadays you need to be somewhat creative when coming up with the name and domain for a web site. Straightforward english words are no longer available, and even the more popular foreign loan words have already been snatched by various people. I tried to be somewhat creative with the naming, but I am unsure if I hit the mark or not.

Since the domain was unavailable I needed to muster up a bit of artistic skills to come up with something apropos. It took quite a bit of conceptualizing, searching, and iterating before I settled on the current name. Here we are now, and the name saiklr is essentially a combination of these three main components:

  1. It begins with the first letter of my given name – Scott – which seems like an obvious ingredient considering this site is all about my cycling trials and tribulations more than anything.
  2. In Japanese, the word saikin – 最近 – means recently in English. Since I am a relative beginner with road cycling, having only truly started with the sport in Spring 2020, this felt like a good method of conveying my amateur-ishness. In the grand scheme, I really did just recently begin a full fledged cycling-focused lifestyle
  3. I needed a word to convey cycling, and a variant of cyclist seemed like a good idea at the time. So I opted for a bit of web 2.0 naming nonsense and thought cyclr sounded right, even if the domain was unavailable. Using some creativity I opted to change up the spelling.

This is the basic story behind the domain saiklr as opposed to something more traditional and boring. It is not as if saiklr evokes any special images, but it absolutely fits within the concept I have developed for the content to be published.

Binary digital HTML/CSS Javascript source code web design coder. Made with Canon 5d Mark III and vintage analog lens Leica APO Macro Elmarit-R 2.8 100mm.
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Saiklr Tools

There are a ton of content management systems available today. Choosing the right one is a tough task. There is a ton of feature overlap, and trying to decide which features are vital, which are nice to haves, and which can be lived without is somewhat of a nightmare.

When I first soft launched saiklr I opted for a hosted version of Wordpress before quickly realizing it was not really the tool I needed. While I love the CMS, and have been a staunch supporter and major user of Wordpress since its inception, I find it far too difficult to enjoy the writing experience. The UI is too complex and composition is clunky, especially the newer Gutenberg editor.

This is what led me to use Ghost. It offers a far cleaner user interface, easier setup and functionality, and a platform focused on what is important: the content. Moving to Ghost has been the best choice I made with saiklr thus far. Every time I pop into the Koenig editor, I feel right at home and know what to expect. Contrast that with Wordpress, where I am also guessing what will happen should I take a particular action.

Ghost is not a general web site CMS, but very specifically designed for publishing. Wordpress is exceptionally powerful, but that comes at a cost of complexity I am not interested in dealing with everytime I want to write. Ghost, on the other hand, has a beautiful writing system, and promotes easy composition, and makes it super easy to get your content in front of the eyes of your audience.

Just a list of things you should check off daily
Photo by Ty Williams / Unsplash

The past eighteen months have been a very interesting fitness journey. Cycling has literally changed my life, and I am focused now, more than ever before in my life, on charging forward towards a more natural lifestyle. I sincerely hope to inspire someone else who was in a similar space to me eighteen months ago, and help this person or group of people to make significant positive behavioral changes. If I feel substantially better, then you absolutely will too!

While I did not get out for a ride this morning, having overslept my alarm, I still feel great. Today I get my first COVID-19 jab of Pfizer, and will hopefully be able to ride tomorrow before commencing another wickedly wild work week. Like I have been doing every day I do get out on the tarmac, expect a write-up of the ride coupled with a gallery of photos shot along the way, primarily from my standard stopping spots.

In the meantime, if you are interested in the content here, please subscribe to the free tier at least. This allows you to have content pushed to your inbox as I publish fresh daily articles. If you have any content suggestions, please do reach out and let me know. I am always open to ideas, and if I feel I can execute on your recommendations I am more than happy to do so.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, stay safe, and have an awesome upcoming work week.

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