Posted by Editor on 02/19/16
Much to our amazement, we recently realized that this month marks 20 years of Canadian Cyclist being online; where has the time gone!
At the time we launched, the internet was in its infancy, but cycling and cyclists were already beginning to make use of the web. It was less then two years after the first edition of the Netscape graphical interface browser had launched, and everyone who was on the internet was using dial-up modems - we published a piece on cycling and the internet in our print magazine, in which we strongly recommended that people get the newer 14400 or 28800 baud dial-up modems instead of existing 9600 baud ones...
Our very first edition of the website did not have the current URL of CanadianCyclist.com; that wouldn't show up until April of 1996. In those days, it wasn't as simple as going online and picking a name, and then paying ... you had to submit numerous pieces of documentation, proving your right to the name.
There was little in the way of photos - everything had to be scanned in from prints or negatives because digital cameras were still to come - and certainly no video. We published repeats of our print articles, had a constantly expanding links section as more and more cycling -based entities got online (remember - no Google...), classifieds (still one of our more popular sections), the soon to be infamous Forums discussion area (our early form of social media), Editorial Beer (surprisingly popular) and, of course, News.
We were already publishing an up-to-date insert in the print publication (some domestic results were available within an astounding two weeks of the race taking place...), but now we could publish them the same day!
Sadly, those earliest of news items are lost. The earliest news was all hard-coded onto the website, and our database of news and results didn't start to archive until May of 1997 (we still have the print versions, and someday we hope to add them to the archive). Our very first archived news item in the database is the Men's results from the Grundig World Cup in Hungary on May 4, 1997. Christophe Dupouey (France) won, followed by Cadel Evans (Australia), with Chris Sheppard the top Canadian, in 41st. You can look it up.
Race organizations were not online, so we ended up spending a lot of time on the phone to Europe, the USA and all around Canada, either arranging to get the results faxed to us or writing them down as someone read them out, and then inputting them by hand. Many of Canada's top athletes helped in this endeavour - Chrissy de Vall (Redden at the time), Alison Sydor and others would call us from pay phones after the races to let us know what happened.
The cycling media community was small, and we all helped each other to track stuff down - Bill Mitchell (of what would later become Cyclingnews), in particular, swapped information with us.
We also worked with Canadian organizers to help them get online - we built the website for the 1998 Mountain Bike World Championships [it is still on our server Here and click on the News icon for the updates and photos] and did live lap-by-lap coverage in English and French, plus same day photos (a first, so far as we know).
In our first month online we did an astounding (or so it seemed) 40,000 hits, translating to about 10,000-12,000 pageviews. Now, during some of our live coverages, we can do that in less then 15 minutes.
As CanadianCyclist.com continued to grow, it became apparent that online was where we could best fulfill our goal of connecting and informing the Canadian cycling community, so in 2005 we ceased publication of the print edition to focus full time on digital.
While the Editoress and I do the day-to-day (and night-to-night) stuff, CanadianCyclist.com has always been a community effort. Athletes, riders, event organizers, the provincial and national federations, industry members and, very much, families of riders, have all been a huge part of what has made Canadian Cyclist succeed.
We have watched generations of athletes go from the local level to national and international success. We have seen many technological advances over the years, with Canadian companies and innovators at the forefront. And we have seen cycling become a respected sport and recreational activity in Canada.
As we enter our third decade (!), all we can say is: continue to enjoy the ride.
NOTE - I still remember the day the Editor came to me (as I was laying out a print issue) and said "We need to be on the internet!". I think I swore and then said.. "What is the internet?" - Editoress
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