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12/10/06
File Under Winter: Discontent
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:59 pm

The newest BIKE magazine snuck into the mailbox this past week and I heaved a long, low sigh while slowly turning the pages.  The quality has returned to very good this past year or so, with some strong articles, decent themes, and always excellent photos.  But, it is with some trepidation that I considered this issue.  It’s related to one of my odd and inexplicable rituals.

Specifically, the day that I receive the new BIKE, I wait until the evening and then read “Grimy Handshake” - the column by Mike Ferrentino.  That’s generally the only thing I read the day that the issue arrives, though I may pause over a photo here and there, and perhaps tear out the reader reply cards that litter the innards of the issue. Yeah, Ok. If there’s a specific bike or gear review by Mike, then I’ll read that - especially if it’s cross-related. But, the first words of each issue roll over the fresh singletracks of my brain via that column.

Just to give you a slight example of how fixated I can get, that’s how it’s been since “The Customer is Always…There” in Volume 1, Number 1 back during the dial-up days of March, 1994. I’ll spare you the drivel of why that year was especially important.  It was, but not in some change-the-world way.  Just happened to be when a few things happened for me, and reminding myself how important cycling was played a bit part in that.

Fact is, I’d been enjoying Mr. Ferrentino’s columns and articles in California Bicyclist for some time even before that day in early ‘94, and even suspected that he was the one writing the “Mr. Surlywrench” column which appeared in that magazine. In CB, Mike first wrote about getting rid of derailleurs and shifting in a way which made it make sense, rather than “no gears - that’s stupid!” He understood the Minutemen. He wrote good tight prose about memorable small events which harkened of Larger Truths. I remember thinking - “cool looking mag, and Ferrentino’s writing for them…” and bought it off the newstand of the Safeway.  Since then, I haven’t missed an issue. Yikes, that was a while ago, eh?

And that’s the issue about this issue. It’s Number 8, the last one of Volume 13.  In the “Start Here” column, Now-Editor Ferrentino talks about the magazine on the whole, the ebb and flow of size and frequency, and how it’s settled into the 8 per year at a workable page count that portends of great things to come. But, I read that and it sounds hollow and sad to my ears, mostly because I think it’s his last writings for the forseeable future. Y’see, there’s this:

Bike Magazine’s Mike Ferrentino Joining Santa Cruz Bicycles


OCTOBER 17, 2006

SANTA CRUZ, CA (BRAIN)—Bike magazine editor Mike Ferrentino is joining Santa Cruz Bicycles in November as marketing project manager.




“I really wanted to be called ‘dark lord,’” Ferrentino said. “But apparently I’ll have to work my way up to that title.”




According to Ferrentino, working at Santa Cruz has
always been an option because of his relationship with Santa Cruz owner
Rob Roskopp. “I used to live in Santa Cruz, and have known some of the
people there for a good 12 or so years now,” Ferrentino said. “So it
feels like a homecoming of sorts.”




Ferrentino called Santa Cruz “a good company that
seems to engender a strong sense of employee loyalty, and I’ve been
friends with many of the folks there for a very long time now.”




Leaving Bike magazine, however, wasn’t an easy
decision to make for Ferrentino. “I was commuting between Northern
California and Orange County, and there isn’t enough money in the world
that could convince me to move down there,” he said.




“The last year and a half I spent as editor was a
pretty fruitful time,” he said. “And, editorially speaking, I am
exceptionally proud of what we achieved. It’s a good magazine, run by a
crew of folks more obsessive about quality than any other cycling
publication in this country. I will miss them all very much.”

As a wise man once said, “…we’re not selling out, we’re cashing in!” - and I do hope that this works for Mike. (And that sounds harsh where it shouldn’t - I’m smiling and laughing when I type that.) It takes a pretty strong talent and determination to make it as a writer, and probably more of both to pay the bills by writing about bicycling.  Not every one of his columns was great, but they always had something that made you think, or some idea that floated up mid-ride with an, “oh, that’s what he meant…” moment.  And the great ones… pure riding poetry.  Thanks for every word, Mike.

So, heading back to the coastal homelands are you? Heck, I may even break down and buy an aluminum frame with a hinge in the middle of it.  Or… maybe Santa Cruz will  find an affinity for steel and make a few runs of west coast cross bikes.  Good on ya, mate!  Best of luck on that whole “Dark Lord” job title..

Only the question remains, just what the heck am I gonna do when the first MF-less issue of BIKE arrives?

2 Responses to “File Under Winter: Discontent”

  1. Tarik Saleh Says:
    Yeah, I have been really impressed with the resurgence of quality in bike magazine under his editorial ship. It is a bummer, but I know him just well enough to know that there was no way in hell a long term stint in SOcal was going to do him right. The see you next spring part of his editorial was a bummer having seen the santacruz press release somewhere. I am betting he will be in on whatever the swobo bikes become, so some singled 29′er steel rigid bike called the ferrintino might come out of that.
  2. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Yep, yep, yep - a SoCal sentance can be terminal. I am glad he’s getting out & as you said, that magazine has been just hammering for the past 18 months… A great run.