• Sun April 19 2009
  • Posted Apr 19, 2009
By Andrew Hartsock I’ve read at least part of just about every bike-themed magazine I’ve ever come across. I’ve subscribed to a bunch, some longer than others. Some are little more than collections of bike porn — pretty pictures of pretty bikes with little substance. Others focus on racing, or mountain biking, or mountain-bike racing, or … you get the idea. Though there are a few general-interest cycling magazines, for the most part all cover niches within the niche that is cycling. New to the niche-within-a-niche niche is a magazine called Bicycle Times. An offshoot of Dirt Rag Magazine — an irreverent magazine that concentrates on mountain biking, but touches upon several other aspects of two-wheeled life — Bicycle Times is focused more on road riding, primarily commuting by bike, touring, family rides and aimless recreational riding. When I saw it on the newstand, I eagerly bought a copy. Long a fan of Dirt Rag, I wanted to see if Bicycle Times would be even more relevant — to me, that is. A cursory glance showed it had gear reviews, odes to commuting, reader submissions, how-to articles and the like. In other words, it seemed perfect for a bike-commute geek like me. About 20 minutes into what was to be a leisurely one-hour ride on the trainer in the basement, I had mowed through more than half of the magazine, and my enthusiasm had cooled considerably. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong with the magazine. I gleaned a tidbit here, a tip there, learned a little about rain gear. But it dawned on me that reading about bike commuting is even more dull than … bike commuting itself. And I’m a big fan of bike commuting. There are a lot of positives to riding to work by bike, and I won’t bore anybody with them here. But the commute itself can be tedious at best. The scenery rarely changes. The pace — mine, at least — typically is pedestrian. Every now and then a reckless car or homicidal rabbit will add a little spice to the ride, but more than anything my rides to and from work — and, again, I think they beat the heck out of the alternative — are more dutiful than awe-inspiring. Which points out, I think, what’s wrong with Bicycle Times. It reminds me of walking. I recall seeing a survey that showed walking, by far, is the most popular form of exercise among Americans. And, yet, how many magazines do you see dedicated to walking? Walking’s good. It’s good for you. It’s also the last thing I want to read about. Put one foot in front of the other. Switch. Repeat. Same with commuting by bike. There’s nothing sexy about it. Commuter bikes tend to be utilitarian, not pretty. Same with the gear: There’s not much to like about racks or backpacks or rain pants. And it’s really too bad. I really wanted to like Bicycle Times. I probably will subscribe for a year to see if ever it trips my trigger. I hope it becomes wildly successful, simply because that would mean that commuting by bike — and touring, and family rides — is becoming wildly popular. But I’m afraid nobody wants to read about something as mundane as commuting by bike. So says the guy who blogs about it.

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