Fifteen years of the Urban Adventure League Blog

Self-Portrait, Mt. Tabor Park, 11 May 2020. Olympus XA2/Kodak Gold 200

Today marks a milestone: On June 17, 2005, I published my first blog post here. While the Urban Adventure League had already been in existence for a year, this date marked the beginning of the UAL on the web. I had already led several rides and walks, and published four different self-guided adventure zines. But even I, a dedicated Retro-Grouch, realized that I needed a web presence. Flyers and the Shift listserve could only go so far to get the word out. And in 2005 “social media” wasn’t the thing it is today. While I could have tried to figure out a domain and uh, Dreamweaver, a blog was a quick and easy way to get the dirty work done. I registered via Blogger, and voila, the first post.*

2005, the year I turned 30, was an interesting year for me. In retrospect I consider it part of a transitional era, full of uncertainty and a healthy dollop of self doubt. I had given up permanent housing a year earlier, bouncing around on friend’s couches. I was working very part time (somehow I ended up working at an independent record store, a thing I thought would never happen)**, and really trying to get the whole Urban Adventure League off the ground. There was a lot of riding (on my crappy Giant Rincon, pretty much my only bike for my first five years in town) and walking around, trips to Central Library and Oregon Historical Society, scheming in coffee shops. Oh yeah, I flirted with the notion of living in two different cities at the same time, depending on season. After spending a February in Tucson, I scrapped that idea. 2005 was also the first time that I took a bike tour, which wasn’t the greatest time, but not bad enough experience for me to give it up.

It would be another year before I transitioned into work stability with the Hawthorne Hostel, a job that was great and well suited for me for a few years, than became “the devil I know” for far too long. With a steady job came steady housing and the ability to travel more without stressing out about what I’ll do for money when I return to Portland.

In 2005, I considered myself a zinester first, so blogging wasn’t that appealing. I saw it strictly as a means to an end. Still, I gave it a go, and got into the swing of things for a little over a year. Here’s a sampling of some decent posts from 2005-6:

After the first year and a half, my blogging here was quite light. I’d post about an upcoming event, share a brief report of a past event, and maybe a status report while I was on tour. Truth be told, I wasn’t that into blogging. I still considered myself a cartoonist/zinester first. I did follow a few blogs, but I hadn’t gotten into the culture and community of blogging. It wasn’t until the end of 2010, when I discovered the world of “urban bike bloggers”, that I really took the dive.*** That first post of this blog 2.0, titled Bike Crazy, was published on December 17, 2010, nine-and-a-half years ago to this day. (Maybe I’ll do an anniversary for that in December?) So, if you want to start deep-diving into the blog, start there and move forward.

From there, I started to make connections with fellow bike bloggers in the same way I did with comics artists and zinesters. I detailed my life in bikes, my obsessions and frustrations. I went on a big bike tour, meeting other bloggers along the way. People finally started to pay attention to my online writings. I’d get the occasional solicitation or request for a product review.

And here we are. I’m still chugging along, trying to get out at least two fresh blog posts a week. The theme has always been a personal one, tied to my interests. I know some folks aren’t particularly excited when I stray from “proper blogging protocols” and get more personal, like when I blogged about a particularly low time for myself in 2016. One commenter was possibly hoping for a more “Successories” tinged blog. Sorry on that one folks! Yeah, I’ll try to keep it positive as much as possible. But I also keep it real, and true to myself. I’m not always going to put a positive spin on things because it looks better.

I’m still interested in bikes, urban exploring,**** bike touring, camping, and art. Over the past year I’ve incorporated my burgeoning love for film photography, which I know some readers will gloss over. That’s fine. I want to be honest to myself and write about things that interest me. While this blog is linked to things I do for money, I never saw the blog as a money-making thing.

At this point, blogging has to be a personal thing for me. Otherwise, I don’t see much of a point anymore. While I get likes here and there, I haven’t had the interactions I had back in the “glory days” of 2011 to about 2015. Comments are few and far between. No, I’m not griping about the current lack of comments as a cheap ploy to get you fine readers to leave one, but I’m not going to stop you if it works. 😉 But the radio silence makes me wonder: Is anyone listening? Do I have an audience? And most importantly: Why am I doing this?

And I realize why I do this: For me. I never was one to have a diary, so something like a blog or doing a daily comic is a way for me to talk about my life. Now I have a fifteen year long digital diary that I can turn back to and see what I was doing, and more importantly, how I was feeling. It’s a record of my existence, one that can help me reassess certain eras of my life. For example, looking back I can see how 2012 was better than I had made it out to be. And I’m sure I’ll look back in five years to see how this era of my life.

So I’m going to keep on keeping on, sharing my life and my interests. Thanks for being along for the ride for the last fifteen years. Hope you stay with me on this journey.

*I switched to WordPress at the beginning of 2014. All of the old Blogger entries migrated there.

**Working in a cool independent record store is a job a lot of people wanted, especially in a city like Portland. Yeah, there’s no money, but have you seen High Fidelity?

*** So, if you’re looking for nuggets of inspiration from my first five years of blogging besides what I listed, stick to things published in 2005-6.

****This is where I point out that my version of urban exploring is not about trespassing and exploring abandoned buildings.

3 thoughts on “Fifteen years of the Urban Adventure League Blog

Add yours

  1. Well said Shawn. Always, the blog has to be for you, otherwise it will be the end. I’ve found blogging very therapeutic and I hope it’s the same for you.

  2. Congratulations on reaching your 15 years anniversary of your blog, that is quite an achievement. Many people start blogging but then lifes gets in the way. Like you, I blog first and foremost for myself.
    Best Wishes
    Kevin

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