Moving ahead while looking back
Prompted by the realisation that it was 15 years ago that the whole concept of RIDE Cycling Review was born, we are delving into the archives and offering a series of flashbacks from RIDE #40. The finishing touches are being put on RIDE #59 now (due out end of February) and RIDE #60 will feature a few interesting surprises based on it being the 15th birthday edition. In the meanwhile, the idea is to give some insight into what RIDE Cycling Review is, how it came to be, and a few stories from each issue.
We’ll be publishing a series of extracts from RIDE #40 – the 10th anniversary issue. The first is the introduction, by publisher Rob Arnold. This is followed by the tale of RIDE #01.
1998: Getting RIDE started…
(From RIDE Cycling Review’s #40 published in April 2008). How time flies when you’re always trying to meet a deadline! To celebrate the 10th anniversary edition of RIDE Cycling Review, we take a look back at how it all started and reflect on each of the 40 issues that have been made…
– Reflections & Ramblings: Rob Arnold
It took me a few years to realise what I wanted to do with my life. One year of a fine arts degree led to another as an apprentice chef; each fine endeavours in their own right but they didn’t satisfy. I just wanted to ride my bike. It’s what I’ve always done. After a few years living in the Netherlands, the country my father is from, I saw that cycling was more than just a means of getting around. It’s a lifestyle.
Afternoons in Holland were spent idling around on an old commuter bike complete with mudguards and a dynamo to generate a light that was never needed. I was 11 years old and the sun doesn’t set there until very late in the day during summer. What confused me in 1981 was why the streets were empty at the best time of day. Then I heard about ‘Joop’.
Of course I knew of the Tour de France but had never really understood its impact on the lives of many. Not then. Now my life’s schedule is based around this race and many others.
When I first started relishing my pedalling time, however, it seemed odd that people ignored the few weeks of the year when the weather was reasonable and the outdoors could be explored. Instead, they were inside watching the tellie. Would Zoetemelk win again? That was the question back then. No, he wouldn’t repeat his Tour triumph from a year earlier but people cared.
Why watch a bike race when you can actually ride? Now I see more cycling than I thought possible but I practise it less. That’s one of the great conundrums of owning a magazine devoted to the sport. If I wasn’t so busy writing about riding, I’d be doing it more often.
I’m not bitter because when I do get the chance to spend time on the bike these days, it always reminds me why I started this magazine in the first place. I love cycling.
The story is told in parts on these pages covering the past 10 years. I won’t bore you with my personal history too much but it’s important to illustrate how it all began. Readers have asked what prompted the first issue. The answer is complex but it’s based around the same simple notion that I started to understand all those years ago. Cycling is a lifestyle.
There are many facets that intrigue me about an activity that essentially stems from the ability to propel yourself with your own power at a rapid speed with a relatively basic contraption. To see the bike used more and more for transport is an encouraging sign; it’s so logical! Traffic congestion makes cycling an obvious option. The rising cost of petrol and the damage burning it does to our environment are also reasons to get out of the car.
What inspires me most, however, is racing. Take any sport and knock it down to the basics and it seems absurd to invest time and energy in it. But it gets you hooked. For me, there’s just one sport of interest: cycling. That’s the background on me and my passion. Now, to the story of each issue…
RIDE Cycling Review #01: July 1998.
I went to the Tour de France in 1997 for the first time and still clearly remember the day when Jan Ullrich raced ahead of everyone to win the 10th stage. It was in Arcalis, Andorra. Compelling! I’d met the young German a few years earlier and I felt like my generation had arrived on Planet Tour.
“He’ll win more than Merckx!” I wasn’t the only one extolling his virtues. Ahead of a field full of EPO, he was dominant. It made absolute sense to put him on the cover of the first issue. The photo by James Startt was taken on the climb to L’Alpe d’Huez. The determined grimace, the muscle in his leg, the clarity of the Tour logo and the wandering eye of a fan wanting to snap one for his collection but too captivated to click… it’s a great photo and remains one of the classic covers.
“Welcome to RIDE Cycling Review – a celebration of cycling,” I wrote in the editorial. “What a time to launch a magazine devoted to all things on two wheels.”
By the time anyone had read it, the sport was undergoing great change. The fight against doping was just really starting.
The first day RIDE was on sale coincided with the date of Willy Voet’s arrest. There was denial about doping but it was rampant. EPO fuelled the peloton and the Festina Affair marked the catalyst for change that we now know was overdue. Would the first issue also be the last? Nah, but it seemed plausible. The passion ebbed… but remained.
– Rob Arnold
RIDE Media publishes RIDE Cycling Review, a quarterly magazine all about cycling.
RIDE Cycling Review is now available in a digital format via Zinio.