Cycling…quo vadis?

An interesting exchange of views with one of my readers has left me thinking about the future direction of recreational cycling. Pete a chap that sells bikes for a living, had this to say:

The interesting thing here is perhaps BikesEtc is targeting a new audience? The bankers and the golfers got on board 08/09 onwards, but I have seen and noted (due to selling bikes) an increase in the “average Joe” buying road bikes due to the cultural shift and cycling being the recent new rock ‘n’ roll.

I call the average Joe someone who may read a red-top rather than a broadsheet, drink and smoke too. Football fans staying football fans, but enjoying the delights of a bike ride, though less high brow and educated, perhaps a “different class”. This buyer will always go for Di2, Ui2, carbon wheels buying on looks and spec rather than the right bike for the right terrain….but, the great thing is people are riding bikes!

Okay, so according to Pete he is seeing a slightly different demographic coming through the door of his shop. And clearly Dennis Publishing think that this new demographic is worth aiming for (they already have the bankers reading Cyclist) and have re-pitched BikesEtc at this new type of reader. I assume Dennis Publishing has done its research (focus groups, customer segmentation and clustering, all that stuff) and decided there is an expanding gap in the market for BikesEtc.

If Pete is right, this new customer is inexperienced, but prepared to spend decent money on flash kit to impress his mates. And the cover-lines on BikesEtc these days seem to suggest a Top Gear type of “nu-laddism” creeping into cycling. Obviously cycling is very cool compared to some sports…

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…but is it cool enough to tempt Darren out of his Evo? Maybe it is. Maybe there is an emerging breed of C2s attracted by putting the hurt on their mates, mashing it up on Zwift, competing for bragging rights on Strava, and for whom the hard-man image of pro cycling is a draw. This would certainly explain why NutsEtc has employed a gym-rat and ex-staffer on Nuts magazine to edit their magazine. And it would explain why there’s so much “beasting”, “hammering”, “smashing” and other homo-erotic language in the mag. Basically it’s rugby-club mentality for people who don’t play rugby. It’s for the lolz n bantz, innit.

With Cycling Active abandoning the entry-level/no-frills market in favour of the middle-market and sportives, there is potentially space for something else. But NutsEtc seems to think that entry-level experience and mid-range spending power is the market, and that’s what they’re aiming at. In terms of ad revenue that’s a smart move, because there is not a lot of money in the sub-£1000 market. It will be interesting to see if this new demographic flourishes into a significant sector of the market, and what affect that might have on the market.

In the meantime, I’ve identified another untapped market and I’m launching a new magazine I’m convinced is going to be a huge hit: Celebrity Cyclist. All the news, all the goss, all the real-life stories about celebs and their bikes. Issue 1, priced 99p, will be on sale shortly.

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I’ll be back on Monday with thoughts on the latest CA, and other things. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @TranqilloTommy (or not, it’s up to you).

 

I’m so sorry

I am, I really am sorry. I thought I could do this. I thought I was strong enough. But I’m not. I JUST CAN’T READ ANY MORE OF THIS SHIT! Those morons at NutsEtc have pushed me too far. Just look at the latest cover:

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Oh no, wait…that’s not it. That’s waaaay too subtle and understated. It’s this:

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And check out the language: Kill, Nastiest, Staggering, Horror, Secrets, Power! It’s utter, utter shite. Seriously. If it said “Marco Pantani Found on Moon!” I wouldn’t be surprised. But they did manage to get 13 exclamation marks onto the cover, so clearly it’s time for Nick’s medication.

Anyway, let’s do this, shall we? First we have 10 Reasons Why Pinarello’s Marketing Department Love This Bike (it has gears, and everything!). And the Gan Disc is only £3500, for an Ultegra-equipped bike that weighs 8.6kg. Apparently it’s better than Chris Froome’s Dogma.

The first test is of “tough bikes”, where the magazine boys “beasted” three perfectly normal road bikes in the Brecon Beacons, because that’s where the SAS do their training so it must be tough there. Seriously? How old are these guys? Nine? If you’re talking tough, then where are the Croix de Fers, the Surlys, the Konas? Feeble.

Despite all the sensationalist crap, the essence of the Taylor Phinney piece is quite interesting. As a man who has broken more than a dozen bones in the course of my journalistic career, I empathise with Phinney and I thought this piece was nicely written (and therefore completely out of place in NutsEtc). The following piece about night riding isn’t too bad, but when I read that taking along a companion is a good idea “because you’re less likely to get spooked” I realised that these guys are actually nine years old. Bless. I hope they told their mummies where they were going.

And the kiddies at NutsEtc seem to want to be cycling superheroes (a theme that crops up every month) as well . I bet Nick has a cape somewhere at home. Anyway, you can be a cycling superhero by learning a bit of first-aid. This is actually a fairly tricky subject to write about in this litigious age, because amateur first-aiding can sometimes do more harm than good. As an Editor I wouldn’t touch this with a bargepole; instead I’d do a piece on first-aid training and leave it at that.

The piece of the World’s Toughest Sportives is a four-page listicle filler with no real substance, and the six pager on overcoming your fears of cycling is a bit odd. My advice would be to get off the turbo and ride your damn bike properly, but that’s just me. As a piece about sports psychology, though, it’s a decent read. I didn’t bother with the Eat Like Team Sky feature because a) I’ve already got a copy to Hannah Grant’s book, and b) I’m a strictly paniagua kind of guy (if you get my meaning).

And so to the reviews section. First up, hi-viz clothing. It’s OK as far as it goes, but it’s by no means comprehensive and the graphical style of piece makes it very light on words. Next pedals. It starts with this gem: “Pedals are all the same, right? Wrong!” I’m afraid I rather lost interest at that point. You see I know not all pedals are the same, and I know about Q factors, float and stack height. For those that don’t, this is probably OK, but they didn’t give you any of these figures in the test (except for float angles for the Ultegra, Keo Blades and Speedplays).

The overshoes test is a waste of time (three sentences written on each of the six products)…you’d be better off looking at the Wiggle website. And the tough tyres piece just made me want to put my head in my hands and weep. Seriously people, this is amateur hour stuff. Check your tyre pressures at least every fortnight? I suppose that’s fine if you only ride every fortnight. But there is nothing in here about rubber compounds, about carcass construction, or anything that actually matters. Plus they give weights for 25c version of the tyres, except for the Arisun which is a 23c (and still weighs 321g!).

I can’t even begin to tell you how shite this test is. If ALL you care about is not getting a puncture, then this is the test for you. Never mind that crap tyres dramatically increase your chances of falling off, at least when you do come crashing to earth you won’t have to fix a puncture. Your frame may be snapped in half, but your rock-solid, massively heavy and unresponsive tyres will be fine. FFS! It’s a single-track vehicle that depends on its tyres for everything. So don’t buy shit tyres (you’re not in the company car now!). The tyres tested have carcasses with between 30 to 60tpi…what sort of ride is that going to give? And the winners weigh in at around 700g the pair. At least have a bit of discussion about trading grip and comfort for longevity and puncture-resistance. This isn’t just shit…it’s ill-informed, stupid shit.

Sorry. This stuff makes me somewhat less than tranquillo. Moving on: titanium race bikes. It’s not a bad read (and who doesn’t love a bit of titanium), but there’s no explanation of how titanium compares to steel, ally or carbon, and how can the specs not include size and weight of the bikes tested? Sigh.

And finally is The Edge section, normally the place for advice aimed at people who know nothing about cycling. And the hysteria is back: 10 WAYS TO STOKE YOUR CYCLING…Zzzz. But at least the Editor got value from the testing-tough-bikes-like-the-SAS by doing a ride piece on the Brecon Beacons. And that’s pretty much it.

I should probably count the editorial pages, do some analysis of how the mag is doing, and all that stuff. But frankly I’m too depressed to spend any more time on this. The one or two decent articles don’t make up for the rest of it.

 

 

 

Freebie furore

Having gently poked a bit of fun at Cycle Sport and Kenny Pryde’s revelations that they were given £300+ worth of riding gear at the recent TeamSly TeamSky training camp, the issue of freebies seems to have become a bit of a thing. I’m not really sure why, though, because this is the way things have been done for decades. Indeed it should be noted that freebies these days are a bit shite compared to the glory days of the ’80s and ’90s.

The relationship between journalists and manufacturers/importers/teams/event organisers is a subtle one. Journalists want to maintain their journalistic integrity, and the manufacturer/team/etc wants to present their product in the best possible light. They don’t expect the journalists to be overtly swayed by free trips and little gifts, but they hope that the journalists will feel just that little bit more friendly towards the company (the Tweet from Cycle Sport is a perfect example of this).

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If you’re launching a new bike/car/whatever it makes sense to do it somewhere nice where the sun shines, the photos will be lovely (often supplied by a photographer laid on by the company launching the product), and based around a nice hotel (the company execs, for whom these things are also a massive jolly, don’t want to stay in a crummy motel outside Slough). Flights and accommodation for the press is paid for by the company so as to guarantee maximum (and controlled) exposure.

Many new product launches happen in the winter, in preparation for the new season, so in order to find good weather companies are forced to launch their products in the Bahamas/California/Tuscany. This is nice for the company execs, nice for the PR team, and nice for the journalists. And it’s all tax-deductible, so it’s a win-win.

When The Independent newspaper launched in the UK they made the admirable decision to pay their way on these launches. They would attend, like everyone else, but they would pay for their own flights, accommodation, etc. They wanted visible transparency (is that even possible?), but it made no difference because the rest of us were writing what we thought anyway, regardless of the level of PR and freebies.

Having said that, journalists do like a freebie. At an annual Show in the south of France an Italian company used to hold a press conference every year to announce their financial results and talk about future plans. It was mostly in Italian, it went on for ever, and few of us bothered to attend. Then one year the company gave us all (about 20 of us) an iPod as we were leaving. Nice. The next year around 200 journalists turned up to the event. They were given a ballpoint pen each. Heh!

Of course a good journalist is not swayed by PR. Good PR should be there to do the job of letting the journalist know what he/she needs to know, occasionally covering up things they don’t want the journalist to know, but above all getting the message out to the buying public. At best, companies hope that good PR will take the edge off any criticisms the journalists might have. Of course most of us old hacks have no problem with biting the hand that feeds us, but there is a grey area where some journalists may tone down their criticism for fear of offending their hosts (or losing access). Those journalists should be reminded by their Editor that these companies are doing this stuff for sound commercial reasons, not so that they can be our bezzies.

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So, in the spirit of the press’s recently-discovered transparency, and in defense of Cycle Sport’s journalists, I’d like to confess to the following:

Flown in a private jet to test a new car in Monte Carlo and put up in a five-star hotel for four days.

Given a brown envelope containing £500 in cash by an automotive company to cover my “expenses”.

Given $200 in cash to spend at a strip-club in Acapulco.

Given so many free bags that my house looks like the Left Luggage office at Heathrow.

Given a replica samurai sword on a press trip where all the journalists got massively shit-faced. Pissed journalists and swords do not make a good combination, and several people were treated in hospital (blood won’t clot if it’s 50% alcohol, apparently).

Given a bolt of Italian silk/wool mix cloth to make a suit from.

Spending an evening in Tokyo with a geisha paid for by an automotive company.

Given a gold-plated rocker cover for a large automotive engine.

Given countless personalised dictaphones and multitools.

I once went to California on a launch, stayed for more than a week, and came home with the same $10 note I went with. That, my friends, is dedication.

Week-long sojourns in the Caribbean (several times), Florida, Australia, South Africa, California, Japan and the middle-east, where I was forced to endure five-star luxury at no expense whatsoever.

In 25+ years doing this stuff I have amassed a huge quantity of free stuff, but it’s only since the advent of eBay that it has really become a proper income stream for me. Speaking personally, I feel quite able to remain completely objective while filling my cupboards with free stuff. But then I’m talented that way.

But not all journalists are prepared to play the game. I went on a trip to Mallorca a while back for the launch of a new product. The world’s press turned up, sat through the press conference, played with the product, asked appropriate questions, and filed their stories. Except for two American journalists who went straight from the airport to the shops in Palma, went nowhere near the product or the briefings, and just turned up in the evenings for the five-course meal. They filed positive stories, but weren’t invited to the next launch.

So do we need to be concerned about all this? Do we have to demand transparency? I’m not so sure. Aside from the occasional wide-eyed cub reporter who is unused corporate largesse and being showered with free tat, most of us are professional enough not to be overtly influenced by this stuff. A brown envelope with €50,000 in, however, might test the integrity of many of us. We live in hope of finding out. Meanwhile, if the Editors really want to make a statement, perhaps they should collect up all the freebies their staff get given and auction them for charity.

And now I really am the most hated man in cycling publishing!


 

Oh, and follow me on Twitter: @TranquilloTommy

But only if you want to.

6 Tips for Cycling Journalism Success!

Listicle ahoy! Yes, in the spirit of modern cycling journalism, here are six guaranteed ways of making a successful career in cycling journalism.

1 Change your name

In order to be a successful cycling journalist you must not have a surname. If you are cursed with such a thing, change it to a Christian name immediately. Cycling journalism is full of people with two first names: Timothy John (Rouleur), David Arthur (road.cc), Matthew Allen (C+), Daniel Thomas (CA), Peter Stuart (Cyclist), Dan Joyce (Cycle), Guy Andrews (ex Rouleur), Tom Marvin (BikeRadar), Lionel Birnie (author). If absolutely necessary, change your Christian name to a surname: Warren Rossiter (C+), Wesley Doyle (ex NutsEtc), Ellis Bacon (Cycling Anthology), Carlton Reid (BikeBiz), or go for something properly comedic such as Will Findlater (BikeRadar).

2 Apply for a job

Hmmm…this isn’t quite so easy. Being a cycling journalist is second only to being a motoring journalist in terms of cushy numbers, so jobs don’t come up all that often. When they do, you need to get a letter off to the Editor outlining your credentials. Don’t worry if you’ve never done any journalism before…that will probably act in your favour and the Ed will see you as someone he can mould into an efficient and inexpensive content provider. If you do have some journalism experience, don’t over-sell yourself. The Editor doesn’t want to be looking over his shoulder in case you’re after his job after six months, nor does he want to get shown up as the indolent slacker he is.

3 Ace the interview

If you’re fortunate enough to get an interview, make sure you cycle there. And pray for rain…it will underline your deep commitment to cycling and prove that you are prepared to ride in all weathers (something the Editor absolutely never does). Don’t worry about being sweaty/smelly/wet…cycling magazine offices are full of stinky young men who have been doing intervals on their way in to work. During the interview don’t express strong views about disc brakes/electronic gears/Strava/tubular tyres/Rapha. Preconceptions and prejudices are the Editor’s domain…you’re expected to be impartial and professional, even if that never actually happens. If you can, show some in-depth knowledge about something cycling related (hubs is a good one, because Editors don’t really know much about these), but don’t over-do it. A knowing mention of bracing angles on Zipp 188 hubs will probably do the trick. Also, make sure you tell the Editor that you are “commercially savvy”, that way he knows you’re not going to upset the advertisers.

4 Settling in

Should you be fortunate enough to get the job, the settling in process is very important. From day one you need to underline your cycling credentials, even if thus far they amount to riding to the pub on your girlfriend’s commuter. If you have a bit more experience than that, be self-effacing and down-play your achievements (“yes I did some Cat 2 racing, but it was just a bit of fun really”, and “the Zoncolan? Yeah, ridden it a couple of times”). Under no circumstances allow any of your new colleagues to follow you on Strava or any social media…you really don’t want them knowing you’re a fraud, unless you create an entirely bogus on-line presence (using one of those Strava-manipulation sites, Photoshopped pics of you up mountains and in races, and so on).

5 Writing stuff

This is the easy bit. With one or two notable exceptions, cycling magazines are not written by writers, or even journalists…they’re written by cycling enthusiasts. And mostly the mags are written for people who have little cycling experience. So, KISS (keep it simple, stupid) is your watch-word (or acronym).

For news and new products, ctrl C, ctrl V is the way to go. Top and tail the press release, adapt to House Style, and you’re good to go.

For riding-event pieces, check out the formula here.

For bike tests you just ride it around for a few days (good excuse not to be in the office), throw in a few standard clichés (laterally stiff, vertically compliant, etc), gloss over crap design features (underslung rear brakes, etc) and find something innocuous to criticise (bar tape, cheap wheels, etc), and then give it 7 out of 10 if it was shit, and 8 out of 10 if it was OK.

For general features the mag will have a list of go-to people for quotes. If they accidentally say something contentious and interesting, don’t feel you have to write it down. No one will thank you. Actually, you won’t have written it down anyway, because everyone has a voice recorder on their phone and no one has used shorthand (a series of squiggles and dots that were impossible to transcribe afterwards) since 1983.

6 Stay put and write books

No matter how lazy your Editor is, no matter how inept, no matter how much more than you he earns, YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE THE EDITOR! Seriously, you don’t. Yes, the money’s nice, but the grief and hassle are just not worth it. A strata of middle-management (Publishers, Marketing Drones, Circulation managers, etc) will attempt to justify their existence by constantly demanding reports, meetings, budget cuts, HR issues, and all the other bollocks that has nothing to do with producing a magazine or website. So sit tight, maybe aim for the Deputy Editorship if you have a modicum of ambition, keep your eyeballs white and your needle clean. With luck you will establish a huge contacts book that will be invaluable when you leave and become the Press Officer for a cycling company/team. In the meantime, start writing books about cycling in your spare time (I’m just finishing off one called Cannibalising The Badger, in which the Vulture of Toledo swoops down from the Col de Jeux sans Frontiers and carries Bernard off to its mountain eyrie and makes him into a soufflé for Roger de Vlaeminck). Books are your passport to better, more respectable things and free you from the yoke of vertical compliance and search-engine optimisation.

 

The racing’s back!

Another quickie today, I’m afraid….I stayed up all night watching the Tour Down Under live on telly, and now I’m a bit tired. No, don’t thank me…I’m just doing my job.

In fact, don’t thank me anyway, because I didn’t stay up all night watching the TDU on account of it generally being a bit crap. So I recorded it and watched it on fast-forward at x12 speed over breakfast. This is the perfect way to watch pro cycling on the telly…you stop for the crashes and the mechanicals, you don’t have to suffer the ad breaks, and you don’t have to listen to Phil&Paul talking shite about the vineyards of the Barbarossa Valley (or wherever). On a sprint stage you can resume watching with 3km to go, on a mountain stage you might want to resume watching on the final climb (or the last 500m of the final climb).

In social media news, some idiot broke Twitter today and the entire pro peloton will now have to have counselling. But, before it broke, it did give us these:

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Followed by this:

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Which made me laugh. And then this:

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WTF??? What are the Velominati going to do? I can almost imagine Frank Strack’s head exploding right this minute as he sees a WORLD CHAMPION with unshaved legs. What about The Rules? Next thing you know he’ll be wearing his sunglasses UNDER his helmet straps, and the whole world will go to hell in a handcart. Cookson…do something!

Finally, we got this. Just before the podium ceremony at the TDU they dressed a small child in cycling kit and had him kissed by two podium girls. Bless.

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PS: Dear god, this page is a hideous mess! Sorry

Oops, I did it again

Yes, I know…I should know better by now. I really should. But there I was in Smiths, temporarily bereft of reading matter thanks to an unfortunate series of events involving my Kindle, a bench seat, and my son’s FAT ARSE!, when I spotted the latest issue of Cycling Weekly. Oh, go on then, I thought. It’ll keep me amused for a while.

And it did…if “a while” is defined as 10 minutes or fewer (or is it less? The grammar nazis have got me all confused now). Anyway, the latest issue is out and it’s pretty much as you’d expect. I don’t even have to say it, do I? You know…you just know.

On the cover we have Chris Froome, the well-known Kenyan baseball player. He must be a baseballist (or a chav) because he’s wearing a baseball cap. I think the new Editor missed a trick when he took over at CW. He should have emailed all the pro team PR people and told them that no photos of their riders would be published if they were wearing a baseball cap instead of a proper cycling cap. The cycling media owes us this.

The news pages kick off several pages of stating-the-feckin-obvious. We have ex-doper JV saying he wants the Cannondale team to be better in 2016, ex-doper JTL saying he can’t wait to get back to racing, probably-not-a-doper Jack Bobridge winning the Aussie Nationals, Cav saying he wants to win stuff, and Dan Martin saying he wants to do better this season. All absolutely fascinating, I can tell you.

But what really caught my eye was the story about delivery delays from Canyon. I have to say I did chuckle a bit at this. CW has leaped into action on behalf of frustrated Canyon customers, demanding to know when the hideously inefficient bosches are likely to deliver some bikes to their customers. It almost smacks of actual journalism. But what I don’t really understand is why it’s taken them four years to notice that Canyon’s delivery estimates are as reliable as an IAAF doping test. Look at the main cycling forums and you’ll find lots of complaints going back to 2012 concerning repeatedly revised delivery estimates. CW only got involved when Canyon themselves recently fessed up to the problems and blamed it on some kind of change in something a bit important at one or other of their factories. Or something. Glad that’s sorted out then.

The big feature (seven pages) this week is about Chris Froome. It’s not bad, as far as these things go. But there’s still nothing new that hasn’t already been said endless times since the Tour. And I really don’t care very much. He is horrible to behold on a bicycle, he doesn’t have any of the entertainment value of Wiggo, and I just don’t care. The next piece, about the snowy 2013 Milan-Sanremo, was far too short to really capture a flavour of that extraordinary day. Shame.

Next we get a look at Sagan’s metalflake monstrosity, his Venge, then a few pages of new products, and some product tests — an Enigma Elite in salmon pink (although in reality it’s hot orange), and five random rain jackets. The very short piece on roadcraft is so lightweight as to be barely worth the effort.

Next is another cracker asking the question: should your bike fit put your body first? WTF? Really? You mean there are bike fits that put your bike first? If your stem’s too short, do they suggest chopping 20mm out of your forearms? Saddle too high? Cycle in platform-shoes. What they’re actually talking about is the occasions when some riders have injury or a disability that requires a physio-led approach to bike fit. I just don’t understand why they didn’t say so in the first place. In itself, it’s a decent read.

The preview of the Kings of The Mountains sportive is quite a nice (too short) piece, the stuff about Thanet Road Club I didn’t bother with (who the hell designs all these hideous club kits?), and nor do I care about cyclocross races. Dr Hutch, on the other hand, is as good as ever. The classifieds, however, are a real let-down…not one hideous Frankenbike to be seen! Come on people, let’s see those hilarious seat angles, misplaced levers and tortured cable routing. It’s the only thing I look forward to in CW these days.

 

We demand better freebies!

Just a quick one today because I have pressing business in the Frozen North and can’t spend all my time doing this shite.

A quick glance at Twitter (I’m @TranquilloTommy, if you’re interested) yesterday had me chuckling. First we had this:

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And then we had this:

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There were 40 journalists invited to the Sky press jolly in Mallorca, so check eBay over the next few days for the latest Team Sky kit going cheap. But at least all that expensive PR got the message out — Chris Froome shares Sky’s values, and Dave Brailsford has chopped in his Jaaaaaag for a Mondeo.

And yes, I know…the formatting of this page makes it look uglier than a hatful of monkey’s arseholes, especially with short posts. But I’m old and useless and can’t be arsed to try and fix it.


All change!

It’s been a busy few months for cycling journalists, and mostly not in a good way. A huge cull at Time Inc (publishers of Cycling Weekly, Cycling Active and Mountain Bike Rider) during the summer of 2015 has resulted in a game of musical chairs at the magazines and websites over the last few months.

Time Inc realised, rather belatedly, that their road cycling titles were on the slide. They still had legs, but they weren’t washing their faces (or something). What Time Inc needed were brand-centric media-neutral proactive content provision solutions across multiple platforms (yes, I was in the room when Sly Bailey actually said that out loud, and I hardly laughed at all). Or some such shite about low-hanging fruit, grey panthers, easy-wins and turn-key thinking.

Anyway, Time did what Time does, which is to make their editors jump through endless hoops en-route to a relaunch, which resulted in Robert Garbutt leaving the Editor’s chair at Weekly and Luke Edwardes-Evans leaving his chair at Cycling Active. This is a well-established technique in publishing — get the Editor to perform somersaults to save his magazine and his job, get him to work furiously hard on a relaunch, and then either sack him or make his life so miserable he just wants to leave. I have no idea if that’s what happened to Robert and Luke, but it’s not uncommon.

So Simon Richardson stepped up to the Big Chair at CW and Hannah Reynolds stepped up at CA. Meanwhile half a dozen other staff were axed and the rest face being relocated to Time’s new (cheap) offices in Farnborough because they sold the London HQ. I thought Time Inc was making more money sub-letting space in the Blue Fin building than publishing magazines, but perhaps not.

Meanwhile, over at Dennis Publishing, something strange was afoot. A year after its launch, BikesEtc lost its Editor, Wesley Doyle, and its Deputy Editor Andy Waterman. Normally there is an established way of handling changes of Editor — the outgoing Editor writes an Editor’s Letter in his final issue saying what a great time he’s had, what a great team he’s had, and wishing the new Editor the best of luck (check this out). In the next issue the new Editor writes a piece saying what a great job the last Editor did and how they hope to continue that good work and take the mag to new heights.

Except when they sack you. Then it all gets a bit complicated. Then there are NDAs, lawyers, tribunals, and such like. Sometimes they’ll let you depart gracefully, sometimes they make it very personal. Sometimes they let you pen a farewell to your readers, sometimes they don’t.

I don’t know what happened to Wesley Doyle and his deputy Andy Waterman, but there was no farewell Ed’s Letter or any mention of them leaving. Suddenly Pete Muir (Editorial Director, and Editor of Cyclist) was writing the Ed’s Letter, and after a month or two Nick Soldinger and David Kenning appeared on the masthead. After another month or so Nick started to write the Ed’sLetter, and it all carried on like nothing had happened. Except for the editorial direction of the magazine, which has taken a serious nose-dive. Clearly the publishing team wanted a new direction for BikesEtc, and just when it was starting to find its feet and look half-decent they brought in Soldinger to infantilise the whole thing. Even my kids think it’s too dumbed-down to read now.

Over on the interweb, more changes are afoot. James Huang, the Angry Asian and Tech Ed at BikeRadar is moving on. He didn’t say where, but industry gossip since before Christmas says he’s off to CycleTips, the excellent Australian cycling website. This is after CT successfully landed Shane Stokes not so long ago. I also hear that Neal Rogers (ex of Velo and most recently at GCN) has taken up the role as US Editor-in-Chief of CyclingTips. With Stokes, Huang and Rogers, CT has some pretty big hitters on their team now, and we can expect the already excellent CT to go from strength to strength. If they could get some designers in to make the site a little more visually exciting, that would also be good because at the moment that’s the only thing letting down an otherwise great site. Oh, and the headlines could be punchier and more SEO-friendly.

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Over at Immediate Media everything looks fairly settled and stable since they bought Cycling Plus, Pro Cycling and BikeRadar (among others) from Future Publishing. They are busily populating the metaphorical 5th Floor with assorted suits and middle-managers with fancy titles spouting corporate managementspeak: “blah blah brand extensions blah blah developing a more experiential part to our business to connect consumers with the brand and with our key clients blah blah.” Yeah, whatever. Check this out for the full SP on what they’re thinking (if you can stomach it).

The big question is this: is CyclingTips going to take on BikeRadar head-to-head? CT seems to be recruiting quite aggressively, and they’ve certainly got some big names on board (yes, I’m still waiting for the call!). Does this mean CT will replace BikeRadar as the go-to site for news and products? At the moment CT doesn’t have anywhere near the content-churn of BR, but their recruitment policy seems to suggest there will be more content going up there, and a more global outlook from the site. I think there will be exciting times ahead.


 

Keep up to date here: @TranquilloTommy

Oh so quiet…

Dammit! Paid work is once again interfering with the business of blogging. I don’t know how proper bloggers do it, unless they’re getting to their desk before 11am or working past 4pm. Anyway, there’s no blog today (unless this counts), but there may be one tomorrow…depending on, er, stuff (meetings with my agent, parole officer, and such). In the meantime, get out there and do it to them before they do it to you.