I have several subscriptions to cycling magazines. Every month they show up in my mailbox, usually a week or so after they show up on the newsstand. They sit in a pile with bills and junk mail until I get around to sorting it, and they are eventually deposited on my nightstand where they sit around some more. Eventually I find the time to peruse an issue, skipping over the articles that don't interest me. I can't remember the last time I read the majority of one, much less cover-to-cover. After I "read" it, it falls off the nightstand onto the floor and is kicked under the bed, where it will remain until I get around to fishing it out from its light dusting of dirty socks. From there, it gets stacked with all of the other back issues, which I am retaining for archival purposes and because I'm a hoarder. In a couple years you'll read about me being crushed under an avalanche of Bicycling magazines, each proclaiming to contain the "Ultimate Core Workout!" and "New Cycling Superfoods!"
I've been ignoring the subscription renewal cards in the mail pile. Enough is enough. I love print media, but unfortunately cycling magazines haven't figured out how to make themselves relevant in the digital era. Race-oriented magazines like Velonews are constantly running previews of upcoming major races, highlighting contenders who end up hurting themselves a month before the event, or profiling athletes as "the next big thing" and thereby cursing them to have a multi-year recovery from some horrible accident. Race-ish magazines like Peloton waste countless column inches fetishizing coffee grinders, cigars, and wines, splash a bunch of pretty pictures on the page with little meaningful content to provide context, and throw in an article about a rider from the mid-'60s to show everyone that they are, in fact, legit. Bicycling hasn't enjoyed credibility for decades, so any attempt on their part is funnier than Melissa McCarthy's impression of Sean Spicer. After years of casting about to find their target audience, they seem to have settled into the "introduction to urban women's cycling" niche. Nothing wrong with that, as it's been a historically under-represented demographic (or so I'm told), but I really have no interest in the words "introduction", "urban", or "women's" when it comes to my periodical consumption habits.
I haven't really cared for a cycling magazine since Joe Parkin's Paved, which I doomed to cancellation by subscribing to it. Considering it was initially supposed to be a one-issue thing for a third-tier publisher, their run was pretty impressive. Guess that shows what content will get you.
So, I'm out. Like a TV dinner, the current crop of magazines are cheap but ultimately unsatisfying. I'm tired of being a consumer just because they're $.99 an issue. When it feels like a burden every time a new one shows up on my doorstep, it's time to pull the plug. I have a stack of plastic-wrapped issues left to read already if I feel the need for outdated-before-it-hit-the-presses material.
Like a bad relationship, I'm trying to figure out what I saw in them in the first place. I can't remember the last time I bought something because I saw it in a magazine. The "latest-and-greatest" doesn't interest me much, because I can't afford it and last week's "latest-and-greatest" is now deeply discounted. The training plans don't interest me, because I can't even stick to ones I pay for. Most of the other stuff I can get online, and the rest doesn't float my boat. I've spent enough time and money on the sport that I've narrowed down my interests into a sub-sub-category so small no magazine could make money from it.
I think I'm going to box up the piles of back-issues and give them away or recycle them. Get them out of the house by any means necessary. Free up some space and maybe find the cat that's been missing for a few months. Find the bed in my room without directions that include the very specific "turn right at the 2012-2013 Velonews stack and hop over (but don't touch) the haphazardly piled Bicycling best-of guides."
I've already reallocated the funds towards new-old-stock Dura Ace 7810 pedals, which I think is a better use of my resources. Plus, the pedals are shiny, clicky, and spinny, which is something I could never say about any of my magazines.
I'd rather be riding than reading about it.


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