The Ride Journal #10
When it arrived last month, the tenth edition of cycling mag The Ride Journal seemed to be very much business as usual. Wrapped in another stunning Shan Jiang cover illustration – this time the bicycle placed in a dirty yellow-tinted cityscape alongside marching traffic lights – the 196 pages contained stories, illustrations and photography of typical variety and quality.
Yet the editor’s letter revealed the issue was anything but business as usual; the issue would be the final one: ‘It will be sad not to be working on issue XI but having ten of them lined up on the bookcase feels like a nice place to call time,’ wrote the editors in their introduction.
We hear plenty of discussion about how to launch a magazine, yet more about how to keep it going, but very little about how to end one. Given how many young titles cease publication for reasons beyond their control it might seem perverse to consider a managed closure. But sometimes a magazine reaches a point where its done what it set out to do. At that point should it struggle on, risking its hard-won reputation?
I’m very sad to see The Ride Journal cease publication; it has been an integral part of the independent scene for seven years. Influential in so many ways, its approach to its subject created an much-copied template, turning away from ‘lifestyle’ toward a cultural, experiential take on its subject. The brothers behind the mag, Andrew and Philip Diprose, are passionate about cycling and that shone through on every page, as did their desire to share that passion. They regularly shared their passion for publishing too, speaking about their mag at Printout and many other events.
But a defining part of being an independent magazine is to do things your own way and not let commerical considerations overwelm the creative decisions. Kasino A4 ceased after ten issues too; Weapons of Reason is working to a pre-planned programme of eight issues, and I’m sure there are other examples of managed endings.
It’s also a matter of a broader context. The Ride Journal’s editor’s letter points out how much British cycling has changed since the magazine started publishing, arguing it’s time to take stock and have a break. And as Rob Alderson recently wrote here when discussing magazines closing, ‘Rather than managing a decline that may or may not be their fault, these teams could then use their experience and expertise to start new ventures…’
Not that The Ride Journal displayed any sign of decline, as the pages shown here demonstrate. And I’m sure Andrew and Philip will re-emerge with a new project sooner than even they might realise. Meanwhile, perhaps we should be grateful that they created ten beautiful issues of their magazine and stopped before any decline set in. See you soon, guys.