Bicycling magazine has a new look and an expanded focus, which, I hope, will embrace an emerging breed of cyclists: urbanites who view the bicycle not as a high-tech racing machine, but as a reliable, efficient means of transportation, as a vehicle to use for grocery shopping, to get to the local coffee shop or to ride with friends on a balmy spring evening.
The journal Bicycle Retailer interviewed Bicycling magazine’s editor in chief, Peter Flax, who came to Bicycling nine months ago from Runner’s World, which, like Bicycling, is published by Rodale Inc.
“My intent was to do a major redesign,” Bicycle Retailer quoted Flax as saying. “This is not just a minor tweak; this is radically different.”
Since the magazine’s last comprehensive redesign in 2003, Flax was quoted as saying, cycling culture has become more authentic and timeless. He cited examples of roadies kitted up in a more stylish way and women riding city bikes in street clothes.
“Flax said while its readers are primarily road cyclists, more of them ride city bikes, commuter bikes and mountain bikes as well,” Bicycle Retailer reported. “As such, Bicycling will carefully expand its coverage to make cycling broader and more experiential.”
That’s good news! I’ve subscribed to Bicycling magazine for at least a decade as it tended to focus on super-fit dudes and dudettes piloting sleek, carbon-fiber rigs designed more for speed than utility.
During that same decade in my own neighborhood and others on the Near South Side of Fort Worth, I’ve watched and participated as a flourishing bike culture developed. Some of my fellow cyclists, of course, are still into high-end speed machines. But many others use city bikes for commuting to work, cargo bikes for hauling groceries and kids, and “fixies,” or fixed-gear, bikes favored by bicycle messengers, hipsters and other cyclists who just like to tool around town.
In our corner of Fort Worth, members of the Night Riders use bikes of all sorts for rides on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. Same for the Slow Spokes, who ride on Tuesday evenings, and the Bicycle Betties, made up of women cyclists.
As a touring cyclist, my favorite cycling magazine is Adventure Cyclist, which comes nine times a year with membership in the Adventure Cycling Association. Based in Missoula, Mont., Adventure Cycling Association caters to touring cyclists and has mapped out more than 40,000 miles of American backroads suitable for long-distance travel.
During my years of reading Bicycling, the world’s largest magazine on the sport, I don’t recall any pieces on touring cyclists, although I may have missed some. A few touring bicycles, however, have been included in the magazine’s regular reviews of new bikes and in its annual Buyer’s Guide.
Bicycling has many subcultures and types of practitioners: criterium racers, long-distance tourists, daily commuters, bicycle messengers, weekend recreational cyclists, nostalgia buffs who wear vintage clothing for annual “tweed rides” in cities around the globe, and kids in Oakland, Calif., who pimp their rides with tinfoil and candy wrappers and call them “scraper bikes.”
It’s difficult for one magazine to be all things to all cyclists. But as the average price of gasoline in America hovers around $4 per gallon, as roads become increasingly congested with pollution-spewing motor vehicles, as more people embrace bicycles as a transportation alternative, and as Bicycling approaches its 50th anniversary this fall, it would be a fine thing indeed to see the nation’s premier journal on bicycling consider the varied interests of the sport’s many new participants.
Check out the video below on the Fort Worth Night Riders.