It is a weird time of year to be a mountain biker. Depending on where you live, you could either be trying to get up the determination to brave the chill and ride, or putting away your bike and waxing up the downhill skis.

Here in the southeast, most of us tend to mountain bike year round since the cold weather isn’t that severe and we don’t get enough snow to ski on. I say “most of us” because the cold inevitably scares a number of riders off of their bikes and into the gym or onto the trainer. However, after growing up in central Wisconsin and living in Montana, I have learned that you can enjoy exercising outdoors in just about any conditions.

The trick is to dress for the weather.
This is the blog post that I wrote as a part of my application for the Singletracks Blog Team. It covers 7 essential pieces of gear that you need in order to shred singletrack this winter. They are:

  1. Long-Sleeve Jersey
  2. Riding Tights
  3. Full-Finger Gloves
  4. Wool Socks
  5. Shoe Covers
  6. Large Hydration Pack
  7. Cycling Beanie
Want the scoop, complete with some sweet photos? 

While my freelance gig with fell through unexpectedly, my application for a position with is an entirely different story!

I have had a long history of involvement on Singletracks. I first joined as an ordinary member back in 2008, and quickly became addicted to this fascinating repository of mountain bike trail information. When I lived in Colorado, I was researching and riding trails at a frenzied rate! Quite often I would find and ride trails that weren't already listed in the database, so I would add and review them.

This started a cycle of contribution to Singletracks that has lasted all the way up to the present day, placing me (Goo) as the number one (member) content contributor to the website with 5,830 points (as of 1/26/11).

After the start of Greg Rides Trails, I wrote a number of different guest posts for Singletracks to help get the word out about my own blog... and to be an even bigger part of such a cool website.

My work on Greg Rides Trails and my involvement with Singletracks continued to snowball until finally Jeff (the owner of Singletracks) announced that he was accepting applications for a part-time blogger position. In my mind, that was absolutely fantastic, and I began working on my application as soon as I received the information!

Obviously, I was selected to be one of the 4 new "blog team" members, and I'm excited to be a part of this! If you want to read more about my thoughts on this opportunity and how this gig will affect my publishing on Greg Rides Trails, be sure to check out the blog post I published on the topic.

If you are interested in hiring me to blog, write copy, proofread, or edit, please email me.
I know that many of you regularly read the mountain bike blog, and if you do you'll have noticed that I've recently been selected as an official member of the Singletracks Blog Team! It is a real position that I will receive compensation for (either cash or free stuff).

I am very excited to be writing regularly for one of the largest mountain biking websites on the internet! And, in my opinion, Singletracks is easily the most useful and best-designed mountain biking website that has ever been. This is an awesome opportunity and privilege, and I am very grateful for it!

At the moment, I will be posting about once a week over on Singletracks.

Don't worry, Greg Rides Trails will not disappear! I will still be writing unique content on a regular basis for this website. In addition, whenever one of my blog posts goes live on Singletracks, I will be sure to put up a short post here letting you know (like I've done in the past for guest posts).

I think that has an awesome future ahead of it... and so does Greg Rides Trails! I'm happy to have you along for the ride as I write useful mountain bike content for both websites!

Your Turn: Do you already read the blog? Why or why not?
Photo Credit.
The past few days have held a roller coaster of events.

Just a matter of hours after I submitted my application, I got an email back saying that I would be the perfect person for the job! After a few more emails, I set to work and wrote what I thought would be my first paid piece of writing ever.

A couple of days later, I received an email back saying that the owners of the blog decided not to start any bike-related sections and that they didn't really need me anymore.

What a disappointment! For a few precious moments I saw the glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. I thought that finally I might be able to quit my part time job and just focus solely on writing and college.

I don't know when exactly I made this decision, but at some point I decided that I'm going to try to find enough freelance writing work to enable me to quit the part-time minimum-wage job that I only work to put a little money in my pockets. I think that our occupation should be so much more to us than a simple paycheck... it should be our passion! But for many of us (myself included, at the present time) that's just not the case.

But I think it is a worthy goal to strive for.

If you are interested in hiring me to do any sort of work pertaining to writing or proofreading/editing, please feel free to email me.
Application for Employment
Photo Credit.
I just submitted an application for a paid blogging position. It is about the third application of this type that I've written in the last month. I've been rejected once, and now I'm waiting to hear back on two different applications.

Can I just publicly say that the job application process is extremely stressful?

For starters, I have a hard time beginning an application. Since I know that whatever I submit will be under intense scrutiny, I get paralyzed by the fear that whatever I write won't be good enough. I feel that a piece of writing can almost always be improved, no matter who writes it and how many times it's already been edited. Most of the time we just have to reach a place where we are satisfied with the piece in question and then just go with it.  The issue is, what if the piece is good enough for you, but not good enough for your potential employer?

Secondly, deciding how much or how little to say is always an issue. What information is pertinent, and what doesn't matter? Should I write a really long application to try to include as much helpful information about myself as possible, or should I try to keep it short and to the point in hopes that it will be more striking and that my potential employer will remember the most pertinent information?

Thirdly, the actual writing of the application takes time and is stressful.

Fourth, what writing samples do you include? I've written so many different things that it can be difficult to choose what I should submit. Each piece has subtle nuances, but that's not even the worst part. The worst part of choosing submission pieces is that they weren't written with this exact potential employer or website in mind. They may have been written to a different audience than I'll be writing to if I do secure the position.

Aye, applying for jobs is stressful. For that matter, hitting the publish button on a blog post is stressful... but not nearly to the same degree.

What do you think about job applications?
Flickr photo credit.
I have heard many people say that reading constantly is crucial to becoming a good writer. The reasoning goes that if you read good material you'll write good material.

My question is: what exactly is the optimum amount of reading that is actually beneficial to your writing? It seems to me that if you do too much reading that your own personal style could be destroyed, or you might simply not have enough time to practice the actual writing part of writing.

This came to my mind as it is only the second day of the semester, and I've already had to read about 70 textbook pages worth of literature. No, those aren't nearly the same as pages out of a work of pulp fiction. Those were 70 large pages with very tiny text and lots of confusing words and archaic diction.

Obviously I need to do all of this reading for my degree. But is it actually helping me become a better writer?

According to Brian Clark's 10 steps to becoming a better writer, you've got to focus on writing. Reading doesn't even make the list. (Obviously this post was probably intended to drive a point home, but consider the point well taken.)

I'm all for reading and filling my head with more knowledge and exposing myself to more styles of writing and words I don't know, but I think my personal development as a writer would benefit more at the present time from simply serious practice putting words together, and then getting them torn apart again by a professor.

Not that I enjoy the pressure of getting my essays graded but hey, sometimes you've got to learn the hard way.
Photo Credit.
Vacation is over and it is time to get back into the swing of things. It is time to write again… and write and write and write.

But I don’t feel like writing.

The inspiration just isn’t there. Reaching the intersection of creativity and productivity that produces a work of writing isn’t like flipping a switch. I don’t think that you can be a successful writer only every once in a while. Writing is a lifestyle, and for creativity and productivity to converge one must actively practice both of those disciplines.

Creativity is not nearly as spontaneous as people make it seem, and productivity can be way more spontaneous than people make it seem.

Yes, college is starting up again too. I’ll have to make an appearance at my part time job pretty soon as well. What an awkward time to attempt to ramp up my writing endeavors. Yet writing is a practiced lifestyle… it can’t wait for the occasional slow week.

It has to be an every week, every day discipline.