The Ride Journal: Interview with editor Philip Diprose

by Chloe in March 2012
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This month we sent out the Ride Journal so we caught up with the editor, Philip Diprose, to give you an insight into their world.

For people who doesn’t know the magazine, what is the Ride Journal about?
The very brief resume for the Ride Journal is that we’re an all-encompassing cycling magazine that focuses on the rider and the tales they have to tell. We cover all types of riding, from BMX to road, MTB, track and commuting, all with the same love and reverence. Our contributors come from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe.

Our other passion is making it look good. Just because we’re covering a sport doesn’t mean it has to look as bad as most other commercial cycling magazines. The strength of the internet is the ‘right now’; it can cover race reports and new product launches better than a magazine can. So we play to the strengths of the format and go for something people will want to keep.

We last spoke to you in February last year. What’s changed since then?
On the surface it seems like we’ve spent longer than usual in producing the latest issue (issue six) but we’ve been as busy as ever. We produced a book for Condor Cycles last year, which was great fun but hard work. We’ve got an amazing new website that’s now up and running, and we also have a limited edition Ride Journal cycling kit made by our friends at Morvelo. Chuck in the day jobs, the fact that both Andrew [Philip’s brother, and the magazine’s art director] and I are house hunting with our wives and the occasional ride and it all makes for a pretty busy life. But I don’t think we’d be happy any other way.

Have you had any problems?
Apart from the lack of decent houses while house hunting? There are always problems, some big, some small. Each issue is a selection of different hurdles that appear and need to be cleared before the magazine can come out. You can never guess what they are going to be and hopefully they are never the same ones each time. Each issue you hopefully learn a little more, don’t make the same mistakes and try to make things a little easier. It rarely happens though.

What’s the hardest part of making it?
One of the hardest parts is not taking the easy route. It would be far easier to keep using the same contributors. We are lucky in that most of them would love to be back issue after issue with something slightly different each time. The trouble with that is that you end up with a predictable magazine. People will know what to expect, the style of writing and illustration will be known and familiar. One of the main things we wanted the journal to be was fresh and ever changing. To achieve this we have to say no to people who we like. That’s always tough. Oh and ad sales. Even though we don’t carry that many ads I still dislike having to do it. No one ever started a magazine and said “I want to do ad sales.”

Are you printing more copies than before? 
We’ve printed 6,000 copies of this issue, which as it’s issue six has a nice sense of balance to it. We’re really happy to see Stack growing as we do and each issue there are more magazine readers getting to see the Ride Journal. We know they are a very different audience to the hardened cyclists who might be interested in the journal purely for its contents. But thankfully we can be all things to all people. Hopefully we are accessible enough for non-cyclists to read and enjoy the magazine. We’d like to think we have a broader appeal, especially with the design and art direction that we have.

Do you feel like you’re taken on a ride with each issue because you don’t know what people are going to submit?
Ha ha! Sidestepping the terrible pun, each issue is very different. As I’ve said, we do try to feature as many different contributors as possible. What’s strange is that some issues we have a flood of pieces about similar subjects, sometimes we could have a load of good pieces about racing, or about touring and we can’t feature all of them. We want to cover as many subjects possible and so despite the fact that we’re getting sent good pieces we can’t put them all in as the balance would be wrong. Instead we have to hold them back and start actively looking for pieces on the subjects that are a little less common.

Each issue is a combination of people we have chased and people who have found us. We are always more than happy to hear from people who are interested in writing though. They don’t need to be formal writers, just people who’ve got a great cycling story to tell.

Cycling is rising in popularity and correspondingly there are lots of independent cycling magazines out there. Do you see that as a good thing or just more competition?
In all honesty I don’t think there is any competition for the journal. A number of all-encompassing cycling magazines have come out since we launched, some of which have certainly tried to do what we’ve done, but I genuinely don’t think they come close. I’d like to think that doesn’t come across as big headed, more that I have total faith in my brother’s art direction and the huge debt of gratitude we owe to the amazing writers, illustrators and photographers who make the Ride Journal what it is.

We see a lot of love for you on Twitter, how does the positive feedback play a part in spurring you on for the next issue?
Now that we’ve got with the times we get to see the love on Twitter as well. Usually we’re about two years behind the curve with technology, but to answer the question, yes it does spur us on. Getting each issue out is like childbirth (or so I imagine from a male’s point of view). Once it’s out you have to forget how hard it was or you’d never work on another issue. But once it’s out in the shops and people start getting in touch it does mean a lot when you hear from people who like what you are doing.

Knowing that people all across the world are reading what was just going to be a fanzine to start with is truly humbling. It’s crazy when you get an excited email from someone in Italy, or Canada, or Australia, who has just got their copy and is settling down for a read. We try and give ourselves a little break between issues (which is then filled with shop orders, individual orders etc) but when people are so positive it’s hard not to charge straight into the next issue.

What do you hope for from the future?
I try not to look too far into the future, especially as each issue takes about nine months to produce. But it’s hard not to now think that it would be good to make 10 issues of the journal. The scary thing is that the 10th issue could be out in early 2015. That thought terrifies me. Maybe a better thought is that the weather’s meant to be good tomorrow and I’m off for 100kms of road riding in the Chiltern hills with a group of friends. That kind of future is far easier to think about.

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