Who cares who’s Tweeting? I do. So do lots of other people. Since the Tour of California, I’ve been following a number of pro cyclists and cycling news organizations from around the world. Just yesterday morning I got a tweet from Lance Armstrong that he was watching live coverage of La Fléche Wallonne road race online at steephill.tv. I browsed right there and watched the last five minutes of the race, too. Seconds after the race, I got a tweet from Johan Bruyneel with the results of the race. Funny thing is, the race was in Belgium, Lance Armstrong was in Aspen, Colorado, and Johan Bruyneel was in Madrid, Spain. I was in Downtown, Oly. To tell you the truth, it made me feel cooler than I really am. 🙂 My article was published in the Capital Bicycle Club April 2009 Newsletter and you can find it below:
On Becoming a Twittering/Tweeting Cyclist (or How to Tweet like Lance!)
By Dr. Andy Rosser, Downtown Olympia
Every morning I wake up to a new text message from Ivan Basso. At 5:33am this morning, I received a text to let me know that he had taken an easy 2 hour ride on the bike today, had gotten a massage, and was now listening to his iPod. Earlier than that, though, at 3:47 am, I got a text from George Hincapie to say that he was having coffee with Eric Zabel and they were talking about Eric’s cool bike collection. They are both living on European time so I leave my phone on silent at night. During a typical day, I might get 20 or so messages like these from around the world from people that I “follow” through an online service called Twitter. I’m afraid to say, this is one of those things that’s caught my attention and is part of my daily routine now.
I’m not alone, though. That message from Mr. Basso went to me and 9,421 of his other “followers.” George Hincapie has 16,925 “followers.” I follow about 2 dozen or so cycling and other personalities, local and abroad. I mainly got started on it during the Tour of California, since I couldn’t park myself in front of a computer and I don’t have a TV. Using Twitter, I was able to open my phone and get up to the minute news from riders, team directors, team doctors, and many others 24 hours a day. I admit, it’s a bit overkill and some messages are better than others, but the stream of information is easy to manage and gives me a whole new perspective on the lives of some of my heros.
Here are the basics of getting started with this microblogging tool: First of all, you should know that all of the postings are short since they are limited to 140 characters. That means you aren’t going to end up with loads of long texts on your phone. You might get a short message, a weblink, or a photolink. If you are just wanting to dip your toes in first, you don’t have to sign up for anything. It’s easy to just peek in. For example, browse to www.twitter.com/lancearmstrong and you can read about how his surgery went, how his shoulder is healing, etc., posted by the man himself. If you then want to become a “follower” of Lance, along with more than half a million other people… sign up for your own personal account. It’s free.
You can then choose to have postings (“tweets”) sent to your phone. (Make sure you have unlimited texting if you do this! Otherwise, it could get ugly at the end of the month on your phone bill.) Next, start searching around for people you want to follow. Here are some of my favorites: Lance Armstrong “lancearmstrong,” Taylor Phinney “taylorphinney,” Ivan Basso “ivanbasso,” Johann Brunyeel “johanbrunyeel,” Chris Carmichael “trainright,” George Hincapie “ghincapie.” You can also follow groups and organizations if they are tweeting… VeloNews “velonews” and Bicycling Magazine “bicyclingmag” are both active tweeters! They use Twitter to let you know when they have new information on their website, when they have breaking news, or race results to post.
As you might guess, Twitter is not limited to cycling, though, and it can have some redeeming qualities as an information tool. You can use it to get local news sent to your phone, weather updates, even hobby information! (Try “everydayolympia” and “wsdot” for some of these “useful” updates. What if you are in to scrapbooking when you aren’t pedaling? How about …”lovetoscrapbook” The possibilities are endless!)
I’ve been using my twitter account to send out near daily updates on everything from my recent rides, getting new tires, getting dropped from a group ride, crossing my fingers for good weather, getting a flat tires, etc. You know… things people are REALLY(?) interested in hearing about. Okay, maybe not everyone needs to know all that stuff, but I have to admit some of my tweets are more interesting than Lance’s… I’m just sayin’. Tweet you later! To follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/andymanr