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WillCycle - cycle touring, traffic-free cycle routes, cycle camping and great cycling T-shirts and caps

The Spirit Of Adventure


For those of you not familiar with it, howzit is a popular South African greeting. Why start with that? Simple - this time of year I tend to do much reflecting, thinking of the past, as well as the future. Being South African (but resident in the UK) I sometimes hanker after my roots, hence the greeting.

And speaking of the time of year, personally, I don't do New Year's Resolutions, as I find it bizarre that people feel they can only make important, often life-changing decisions at a certain time of year. Having said that, I do enjoy hearing about other people's resolutions, so let's hear yours!

In my near future there's an important decision to make: what to do with WillCycle. The site (and this newsletter) is growing, and visitor numbers for 2023 is just about double that of 2022. That's seriously strong growth, by anyone's measure.

WillCycle falls under the Hobbies And Leisure website category. Overall, websites on average get 20% of their traffic from search engines, but sites in Hobbies And Leisure typically get 30%. WillCycle now gets over 70% of all traffic from search engines!

Despite the huge growth, WillCycle isn't even close to breaking even.

I tried selling T-shirts, which helped for a while, then sales dried up. I sell route guides still, though (as I expected from the outset) sales are few and far between. I run ads on the site, and since late November, ad revenue collapsed. No - I have no idea why!

I offer a WillCycle Supporters option, which is a subscription of £2 per month. I never expected a huge number of supporters, but it's been far worse than expected.

In the meantime, I spend huge amounts of time overall, and significant sums of money to keep the site going. To put it in perspective, if I paid myself an hourly wage during 2023, it would've been less than £0.01 per hour. Even if it was legal, you'd (rightly) laugh and send me packing if I offered you a job paying that!

Frankly, I'm running out of ideas here. I never expected WillCycle to support me financially, but I'd like the site to cover all costs, and it's not even remotely close to that. I'd be delighted to hear what ideas you may have.

My options right now seem limited: I either keep on subsidising the site, or I shut it down. WillCycle has always been a labour of love, but it's also meant to be a micro-business. So far, as a micro-business, it's not working.
That's down to me, so please don't for a moment think I'm trying to guilt-trip you! You have all been bloody brilliant!

I'm holding off on making a decision, probably for at least three months, but sooner or later I will have to make that decision.

May all the trains you want to travel on always have a free bike space!

The Blast From The Past button is quite straightforward: with every edition, I link a random old WillCycle post to it. If you click it, you will see what old WillCycle post it takes you to.
The button will only ever point at WillCycle.

The Good News

In a world where we're regularly told how desert are growing (they are) and that food crops are at risk (they are) there's some good news: a project in Jordan is growing vegetables in the desert, relying on solar panels, sea water, and a lot of ingenuity.

Did You Know...?

Roughly 90% of the dry mass of plants comes from the air, not the ground. Much of the overall mass of plants is because of the water it contains, but aside from the water, most of the solidity of plants come from the air around us.

What Did You Miss On WillCycle?

Kit Review - Valehowl sleeping mat

Provisional* overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sleeping mats are not all the same, and the difference in price between entry-level and top-end sleeping mats can be eye-watering. Generally, sleeping mats fall into three categories:1) Inflatable mats,2) Self-inflating mats, and3) Closed-cell foam mats *A provisional rating, as I've yet to test this mat in sub-zero conditions. Sleeping mat R-ratings explained Additionally, sleeping mats …
Kit Review - Valehowl sleeping mat

Use your noodle

Use your noodle
"Use your head" typically is the same as saying "Think it through", but there's far more to this. Like any muscle, your brain responds very well to sustained aerobic exercise. Physical exercise for my brain? Yes, absolutely! Look, doing puzzles, like sudoku or similar, is a good workout for your brain, but doing physical exercise is immensely good for your …

WillCycle Supporter

WillCycle is mostly funded by me, with ad income almost covering the web hosting costs. I get that most of us don't like ads, and browse the Internet with an ad-blocker. However, because WillCycle is so reliant on ad-revenue, I was forced to block people visiting the site with ad-blockers running.
If you really wanted an ad-free experience on WillCycle, you can sign up as a WillCycle Supporter.
WillCycle Supporters can browse the site while running ad-blockers (while logged in).

Soon, certain content on WillCycle will become exclusive to WillCycle Supporters.

Spanner In The Spokes

The idea behind Spanner In The Spokes is simple: send me your questions about bicycles, cycle touring and camping, and I'll either answer them, or ask others to answer them. Keep sending those questions!

Here's this edition's question (previously unanswered): How do you deal with having to bleed hydraulic brakes by the roadside?

The answer was provided by Ian, the owner of North Road Cycles (do go look at their bikes - they're to drool over!).
Remember, the question was asked in the context of cycle touring. Ian's answer was succinct:

"Minimal tools - unscrew handlebar bleed port a little but don't take it all the way out, strap brake lever to the bars, leave a few hours, or overnight. When done retighten port. Anything else you'll need specific kit for."

So there you have it - if your bike has hydraulic brakes, and you're far from anywhere you can get help, this trick may just save your tour!

Random Internet Link

If you had to pick ONE site as the absolute most useful on the entire Internet, which one would you choose?
For me, that's easy: Instructables, of course! Want to learn how to bake a chocolate gateaux cake? Or make an interactive-LED coffee table? How about a working trebuchet? Find answers, and detailed how-to's, for these, and many thousands of other projects. Honestly, go have a look!

And Finally...

I spend considerable amounts of time producing The Spirit Of Adventure, and you receive it for free. Please do me a favour and forward it to someone else who you think will appreciate it?

And if you received this newsletter because someone forwarded it, you can subscribe quickly and easily at
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