Judging A Magazine By Its Cover

    As I mentioned not too long ago, every couple weeks I find myself browsing the world’s last remaining chain bookstore, and this time they actually had the magazine I was looking for:

    There it was, my little Star Track story, which allowed me to finally show my younger son his father’s name in print (and no, they didn’t have any copies of my books, no doubt because they’re in such high demand they just fly right off the shelves like an overzealous Cat 4 racer off the front of the pack on the first lap):

    “Wow, you wrote that whole thing?,” he asked earnestly. 

    Oh, son, if only you knew the volume of crap I crank out on a daily basis.

    Anyway, as I usually do, I surveyed some of the other periodicals on the rack, such as Mountain Bike ACTION:

    While at the time I could not be bothered to open the magazine, in retrospect I want to know more about that “Flat Pedal Versus Clipless Power Test.” Really, it’s not what I think? Do you open up to the article and find it’s just a recipe for French onion soup? Or a pop-up scratch-and-sniff nudity spread? Or it actually is a pedal power test, but the power they’re testing is which one is best for clubbing a chipmunk to death? Because unless it’s something like that I must say I’m fairly skeptical that “Mountain Bike Action” can confound my expectations concerning pedal tests at this point, and I’m reasonably confident it’s more or less exactly what I think.

    Also as last time I contemplated the titles dedicated to firearms:

    As I’ve mentioned, when it comes to any lifestyle pursuit of which I’m ignorant (which is to say all of them except for bikes), I attempt to understand it through the prism of cycling. For example, is that (to my eyes, anyway) inconveniently large gun the equivalent of a full-suspension mountain bike with progressive geometry, a dropper post, and electronic everything? Is the Torsus bus to Gun Freds what the vintage Land Cruiser is to Gravelistas?

    I don’t know, but I do know the magazine comes with a free poster:

    Here is a Venn diagram of people who shop at the Scarsdale Barnes & Noble and have mothers or wives who would allow them to put up a Maxim Defense poster:

    Okay, fine, maybe in Eastchester. For the most part though I imagine the typical shopper manages a stolen glance at a page or two at best before being ushered off to the Pottery Barn, and later that night drifts off to sleep in a Farmhouse Platform Bed beneath a European Flax Linen Waffle Comforter, spirited off to dreamland in a Torsus battle bus of the mind.

    And I don’t mean that mockingly or condescendingly, either. That’s pretty much my own routine except instead of guns and battle buses I’m fantasizing about Delta brakes and riding a classic Italian bike into the hills of Tuscany. Also, who doesn’t love a good comforter?

    Speaking of guns and bikes, these days you don’t see a lot of crossover there in terms of marketing, and if anything a lot of bike people (or at least the people who purport to speak for them) tend to recoil (see what I did there?) and the very suggestion of it:

    Really though, if you think about it, this is a bit simplistic and naive, as is our tendency to sort everyone into neat little piles like “gun people” and “bike people.” The truth is guns and bikes go way back, and once upon a time guns were marketed widely to cyclists, on the basis that they were useful for defending yourselves from curs:

    [Via here–and check out the one-handed stem grip, now that’s bike-handling!]

    And tramps:

    [Via here.]

    And even your own incompetence:

    [Sorry, I lost the link for that one.]

    Today they’d call that the “triathlete” model.

    And some companies even made both:

    All of this is to say that today you’ve got gun magazines, and bike magazines, but no bikes and guns magazines–and it’s not like there’s no longer any real-world crossover between the two, at least judging from all the “How do I carry a gun while I’m riding?” posts on the Internets.

    Similarly, there’s a magazine for classic motorcycle enthusiasts:

    And yet there’s no magazine for classic bicycle enthusiasts:

    Why do people who still use carburetors get a whole magazine but people who still use downtube shifters get nothing? If someone can manage to keep this magazine in print how come there’s no Classic Bicycle magazine with action photos of some middle-aged Fred who restored an old Nishiki? Sure, the magazine would be like 75% ads for L’Eroica rides, Brooks saddles, and Flomax, but I’m convinced that an enterprising publisher could make it work.

    Anyway, after that I began to lose interest, though I paused briefly in the music section, where the periodicals on display were covering the vibrant young musical acts of today:

    Good to see Paul McCartney finally getting some recognition.

    With that I intend to ride off into the weekend, albeit unarmed, so wish me luck. But before I do I’ll share that there’s going to be a memorial ride for the now-discontinued and iconic (or at least meh-conic) Surly Cross Check at the Philly Bike Expo this year organized by Trophy Bikes:

    I used to give a talk at the Philly Bike Expo every year, which was always fun, but I have not returned since “The Incident,” when I was asked to speak at an industry party and completely humiliated myself.

    If you look back on your life and don’t cringe with embarrassment at least several times then have you really lived?

    I’d argue that you haven’t.

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