When people first started talking about this new thing called “Twitter,” (which I know is not new anymore) I didn’t get it. I understood Twitter was supposed to work as a social networking tool, but social networking about what? What you ate for breakfast? Who cares about that? Twitter struck me as a self-indulgent waste of time.
Despite my initial skepticism, I kept an eye on Twitter to explore what the hype was about.
Over the past year, Felkerino and I started using Twitter more and more, primarily for randonneuring. We “followed” randonneurs from our own club and other people we met on rides. I searched the Twitterverse and started following other randonneurs and commuters.
Our friend Alec rode the Shenandoah 1200K this summer, and tweeted his progress throughout. From his tweets, Felkerino and I could see how much he was riding each day, tell what the weather was like, get a sense of the terrain, “see” who else was on the ride, and who went to the finish. He even tweeted a few photos as he went along. Here is a snippet of his feed near the end of his #bigbicycling journey. (For all of the tweet feeds below, read bottom up.)
Since Felkerino and I could not make it out to the event and cheer for him in person, we tweeted. Go Alec!
Alec’s fine Shenandoah 1200K tweeting inspired Felkerino and me to tweet throughout PBP. I never thought I’d use my cell phone as more than a phone, and look at me now. For an activity like randonneuring, it is an excellent way to communicate and connect.
- Twitter is easy to use on rides. Just punch in your 140-character or fewer tweet and off you go. Messages have to be short so being pithy is key, both for the sake of Twitter as well as your own progress on the ride.
- You can tweet a photo along with your tweet. People can actually see something from your ride. I love that, though half the time I forget to attach the photo.
- You can tag or name other tweeps in your tweet. If I want to reference Felkerino, for example, I add “@dailyrandonneur” to my message. As we are often riding together, lots of my tweets include him. During PBP, if we rode around others, we shared that on Twitter. It allowed our friends to see what other D.C. Randonneurs or RUSA members were in our midst.
- People can track tweets by an event. If you include hashtags, like #PBP2011, or name an event in your tweet, people can search Twitter for it and your tweet will be included. This was how I learned that we were riding close to Paul Rozelle (@octopuscycling). I was searching quickly through the #PBP2011 tweets during one of our overnights and he was also using the #PBP2011 hashtag. I also saw that he was tweeting the same controls and stops that we were, at approximately the same times.
- Twitter connects you. It was fun to be able to search the tweets and see fellow randonneurs/tweeps riding PBP and giving updates of how their ride was progressing. Some of them I knew from home, others I did not. I connected to people from the UK, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, and the United States, and some I still keep in touch with via Twitter.
- Fantasy PBP! Peopled connected to my Twitter feed because it allowed them to “virtually” go to PBP and follow the event from the comfort of their home computer– fantasy PBP, as our friend Lynn H. calls it.
- Friends can tweet you on! Felkerino and I received so many encouraging tweets during our ride from randonneurs, friends, and our #bikeDC commuter buddies/tweeps. It meant so much that people took the time to virtually cheer us on and send their well wishes during PBP. Rides as long as PBP have both highs and lows, and the motivating tweets from our friends and followers helped especially during the tougher moments of the ride. Thanks, guys!
I hope that more and more randonneurs start using Twitter to share their rides. Riders note what they experience as it happens, observers can connect to the event and the riders even if they cannot be there, people can get a unique glimpse into randonneuring even if they don’t randonneur themselves, and a global virtual randonneuring community grows. #iheartrandonneuringandtwitter!
Happy Friday! Time to get your #coffeeneuring on. Oh yeah.
One of the largest advantages I found to using twitter during PBP was just saving money. I was able to use a few text messages (albet at the escalated foreign rate) to notify all my friends and family of my status on the ride. Much cheaper than multiple texts or phone calls.
Excellent point! Much easier AND cheaper than texting.
Excellent post, as usual MG. I love Twitter for both work and play. I was one of those following PBP from afar, as you know. Funny story – apparently I alerted @brycewalsh to the fact that he had achieved Charly Miller status through Twitter before he had seen the official time in person. Small world! Here’s my Twitter name @georgeswain if anyone’s interested. Other randos, please share yours.