This task genuinely frightens me. In fact, #CountryCyclist may be the most arduous journey ever undertaken by a digital editor: cycle more than 800km, along farm tracks, from Joburg to the KZN coast.
For a fellow more accustomed to the physical strains of keeping tweets under 14o characters and avoiding paper cuts, this is a metaphorical Everest.
What exactly awaits? I’ll spend the better part of four months transmogrifying myself into a hardened off-road cycling machine. Then, on the 25th of April 2014, I line up with 400 other brave souls in Lycra, all as fit as we’ll ever be, but still filled with trepidation. At the crack of the starter’s gun, I, the #CountryCyclist, embark on the notorious joBerg2C. Rumbling across usually off-limits private farmlands of Gauteng, the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, the route’s challenges are said to be matched only by its beauty.
Country who? By day, I remain Ian Macleod, Country Life’s digital editor and resident sports nut. It’s during the wee hours of the morning (soon to turn achingly cold here on the Highveld) and on Joburg’s dusty evenings, when I leap into my riding kit and become the #CountryCyclist.
While I’ve always played every sport on offer, my ‘Most Enthusiastic’ trophy epitomises my athletic history: enthusiastic, thorough but unintimidating. As for cycling, I do have medals from the Argus and 94.7 in my drawer, but the joBerg2C is incomparably more trying. In short, it’s like riding one of these each day for nine straight days… off-road.
But as my favourite trophy would suggest, I’m enthralled by the challenge.
Why? However you look at it, digital media will be a major part of any magazine’s future. The #CountryCyclist campaign is designed boost the Country Life brand across our various online platforms, ranging from social media to a constantly updated website.
Being that any hard border between print and digital is imaginary, this project is also a source of superb content (from MTB product reviews and travel to feature stories on the experience) for the ink-and-paper product we put on shelves every month.
Of course, given my penchant for running around the veld and perpetually analysing most every sporting contest under the sun, the venture might also be considered one of the perks of the job.
Help from my friends
I haven’t come alone. In fact, I have a veritable army of experts who will guide me on this journey. Chief among these are the biking brains of Cycle Lab. SuperSport pundit and former pro rider Andrew McLean will lead this impressive panel, assisted by Cycle Lab’s in-house boffins at the Bryanston megastore, including dietician, coach, bike mechanics and more.
Your role? You can hitch your bicycle to the peleton by following #CountryCyclist on all of our platforms. On top of the journey’s official website, outoftheoffice.countrylife.co.za/, you can follow progress and gain advice and expertise on Twitter, on Facebook, via Pinterest and even through the magazine’s website: http://www.countrylife.co.za/. Throughout the journey, we’ll offer various opportunities to engage with me and the various cycling buffs I consults, too.
So, join the #CountryCyclist and we’ll take from the bike trails of Gauteng to the picturesque South Coast on little more than two wheels, a social media revolution and the strength of an adventurous heart. Saddle up!