I'm not usually one to get excited about bicycle "journalism," at least in the mainstream. Don't get me wrong, there are some great publications out there (Bicycle Quarterly, I'm looking at you), but you won't see them sharing shelf space at the local book mega-mart alongside the relentlessly annoying Bicycling and about a dozen "duuuude!" mountain bike magazines that I can't even distinguish enough to name individually.
I was at the local Borders magazine rack, poking through the usual suspects (because I like to stare at pretty pictures to entertain myself while I drink coffee) when I noticed something new. First, I saw the Dirt Rag logo, which didn't inspire confidence. DR has featured esteemed blogster and fellow member of the Veloquentia Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson, and they have managed to hang on (mostly) to their original independent vibe, but their stuff tends to be about riding on dirt (which I don't do) and drinking beer afterwards (which I like to do, but I don't need a magazine to tell me how.) When I saw the title Bicycle Times, I immediately thought of High Times (although I didn't inhale) and assumed that this was DR's attempt at a "ride on dirt and enjoy herbal refreshments afterwards" magazine. I almost didn't pick it up.
But I did catch the subtitle: "Your Everyday Cycling Adventure." Hmm. Promising. I pulled it out of the rack to see "Be Prepared for your Commute" and "5 Brands of Rain Gear Tested" against an illustration of a suited bike commuter playing in traffic, grin on his face, tie blown back over one shoulder... on a bike with fenders!
Cue confused Scooby Doo noise: "Hmmmph?"
A magazine about just riding? No Lycra-swaddled racers teaching me how to humiliate my buddies on the next hill? No tattooed guys dragging pallets into the woods so they can build crap to ride over? No workouts that require a heart rate monitor, a power meter, and a European coach chasing me in a car? No nameless style "experts" lobbing insults at the befendered bicyclist? A magazine about people who (dare I even say it?) ride like ME?
One more Scooby Doo noise for good measure: "Hmmmph?"
Just in my casual, coffee-chugging page-through, I saw enough I wanted to read that I (gasp!) actually reached for my wallet, pulled out a fiver, and PURCHASED the magazine to TAKE HOME. Crazy, I know. After a thorough read, I was impressed enough to -- ye gads, man! -- SUBSCRIBE to the thing. I know!
Granted, if you've already taken the plunge and commuted long enough to be past the "getting into a routine" phase, you'll find some of the advice pretty basic. I enjoyed seeing what the staff carried in the "Commuting Kits" article (if only because it made me believe that these people actually do commute), but I didn't see anything that made me slap my forehead in a "I need to do that too!" moment. Still,where else are you going to find a review of a Breezer Villager commuter followed by a wool cycling dress (for women -- and even though I like wool, there are lines I won't cross) followed by the so-bizarre-I-think-I-want-one Voodoo Agwe singlespeed 29er? Finish it off with the awesome "Rise of the Pedaltarian" propaganda-poster-cum-advertisement from Kona on the back cover, and you've really got something.
Good grief, did I just say I liked an ADVERTISEMENT? I guess I really do like this magazine a bunch.
Here's hoping it survives and thrives.