There are plenty of bike magazines out there covering every possible facet and sub culture of cycling but most of them are simply trying to sell me bikes I’m not good enough to ride to their full potential, stacks of kit I can’t afford and riders that I cannot hope to emulate. Very few of them actually focus on riding, what it means to ride, why do we do it, what does it feel like. Into this glossy world of consumerism has stepped The Ride Journal who have taken a very different approach to what a bike ‘magazine’ could be. The motto is simple whatever you ride just ride and they concentrate on the journeys, experiences, emotions, triumphs, dreams and disasters of us the riders. There is no focus on any particular style so from folding to fixie, commuter to campagnolo obsessive, tourers to track riders, cross country to cross town, pros to pootlers all are featured.
Photo Credit: The Ride Journal / Frank Scott
In taking this all are welcome, democratic approach to cycling the focus is not on what you ride or even where you ride it but on the experiences and emotions you get from doing so. This is of course great but the small team behind it then bring all of this together in a beautiful package – magazine is not doing it justice it is more like a book of short stories and the quality of the writing is generally superb which is another thing that sets it apart. Take these examples from the lastest issue that I’ve been pouring over for the last week or so:
I purposefully choose routes where I know the plough has not yet scarred the crystalline carpet. The extra effort to slice through the pallid layer is barely noticed as I Etch-A-Sketch my way past just-lit windows revealing silhouettes of those not yet ready to venture out into Jack Frost’s kingdom. All the sharp sounds of the city are dulled and the glow from streetlights sits in gilded pools on top of soft alabaster powder. Other brave souls who choose to commute exposed to the elements give an occasional nod or lift their stiff fingers from their icy bars in silent salute; an acknowledgement that by shunning our instinctive desire for comfort, we are sharing something special.
Oslo Winters – Nick Moss
He loves the bike, the ride, the wind, the rain, the stars, the sun, the friends, the mountains, the woods, the strength, the skill, the belief, the knowledge, the dedication, the toil, the effort, the dreams, the game. He loves it, he loves it all, but one thing is missing: the fear of defeat that drove him along this path in the first place. It is this loss that is his actual defeat – the journey is over. Head bowed to bars, his shadow sways through grass, a summer breeze embraces his arrival at the crest. He looks back but no one follows on this ride, he moves alone. And he smiles, and tells himself it’s time to find another quest, and dances off through the grass, and shadows, ahead of the breeze, faster than his old, fine dreams.
Victory and Defeat – Rob Lee
Photo Credit: The Ride Journal / Seb Kemp / Dan Barham
The scope and breadth of subject matter together with the writing would be good enough for me but then there is the photography and art. Each story will be accompanied by one or the other and they are always beautiful and evocative. The Journal itself is also very tactile and olfactory definitely also something for paper geeks – I’m not sure what the paper and print type is (Deano can help me here) but every time I pick it up to read a story I cannot but help fan the journal in front of my nose to pick up the smell (much to my kids embarrassment) and to feel the paper.
The Journal is now on issue 6 and it comes out (it would appear) on a random timetable based on when the team can pull it altogether. Whether you like bikes and bike culture, paper, art, photography, all of this or simply something that has been put together with thought and love then the Ride Journal is for you. I simply need to now write something good enough for inclusion.
Photo Credit: The Ride Journal / Alistair Hall