Introducing Rouleur Editor Ed Pickering
I’ve recently taken over as the editor of Rouleur. I’m a little late in introducing myself - I’ve had my feet under the desk since April, but we had a Tour de France magazine to put together and it hogged my attention. (You should check it out - it’s out this week, and we’ve made two magazines in one - two front covers and two sets of features, one centred around the Tour de France Hommes and the other around the Tour de France Femmes. We’ve given them equal coverage, because why wouldn’t we?)
Rouleur is a great magazine, and one that I’ve admired from afar for many years. I was working at Cycling Weekly when it first came out in 2006, and it instantly grabbed me. Magazines in the early 2000s had a fairly standard aesthetic - trashy, bright, colourful and shouty, and I don’t at all mean these as criticisms. Cycling can be trashy, bright, colourful and shouty. But Rouleur approached the sport from a different angle: brooding, monochrome, epic, classy and with a lot of depth. There were longform features about cobblestones, deep deep dives into bike companies and a five-part series about a then-unknown young Czech rider, Jan Hirt, by Herbie Sykes. The magazine evolved and grew, first under founding editor Guy Andrews then Ian Cleverly and Andy McGrath. It started to cover contemporary road racing; it ran groundbreaking interviews with current stars; it sold out three print runs of issue 101, the even more groundbreaking women’s issue; it broadened and moved with the times, setting the agenda and embracing adventure riding and gravel. And now… well, I plan to keep everything that’s best about Rouleur and strengthen its position as the finest cycling magazine in the world.
The best thing about cycling, for me, is that it’s about more than just cycling. In fact, it’s about everything. The main aim of a bike race, of course, is to see which rider gets from point A to point B the fastest, and there’s a great deal of entertainment in that, especially as this is such a complex, nuanced sport. But when we watch a bike race we absorb a lot of other stuff by osmosis. A non-exhaustive checklist would include geography, history, politics, geology, art, architecture, meteorology, feminism, engineering, entrepreneurship, sociology, biology, physics, chemistry (I would put bike fans up against fans of any other sport in a chemistry exam)... Bike fans have to be mathematicians - we can instantly divide the time by which a break is leading the peloton by the number of kilometres left and work out its chances of success, and work out the virtual GC live during a time trial. Bike racing has taught me about philosophy, a lot about psychology and even a little bit about chaos theory and game theory.
I plan to celebrate cycling’s rich texture in the features I commission for Rouleur over the next few years. Of course, 100 per cent of our features will be about cycling, cyclists and bikes. But they’ll also be about the ways we are inspired, educated and enriched by the sport. Rouleur is a cycling magazine, but as I said before, cycling is about everything: I’ve hit the ground running here, because our Tour magazine contains a fascinating feature by Professor Douwe van Hinsbergen of Utrecht University about the geology of the Tours de France. Professor Van Hinsbergen operates the Twitter account @geotdf, which explains the geology of the regions visited by bike races and he personifies everything I love about fandom and passion: he loves cycling and he loves geology and he celebrates where the two intersect. (And if you’d prefer us to keep to the cycling, we have exclusive interviews with Primož Roglič and Annemiek van Vleuten, two of the biggest favourites for the upcoming Tours de France.)
We’ve got lots of other ideas to keep Rouleur at the forefront of the best cycling coverage. We’ll be running events, expanding our web presence and making ourselves available and accessible. At the same time, we’ll never lose sight of the fact that the most important thing about Rouleur is that we carry the best writing and the best photography, laid out in a beautiful and elegant way. That will never change.
A little more about me: I was a relative latecomer to cycling journalism, though I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now. I became a fan of the sport largely because it sat squarely in the intersection between my love of athletics and of France, but my career plans were initially to become a teacher. Further to this, following studying French and art history at university, I went to live in Japan to teach English for a few years. On my return, I decided to try something else before committing to teaching and did an intensive NCTJ journalism course at Harlow College (which was just out of the helicopter shots of the recent Women’s Tour stage finish there). I’ve always loved writing, and am interested in the world, so journalism seemed a good way of using what I thought I was okay at to make a career. The course involved a two-week internship at a magazine, so I called Luke Edwardes-Evans, the editor of Cycle Sport magazine (a stablemate of Cycling Weekly), and he invited me in. Serendipitously, the staff writer there, Lionel Birnie, was just in the process of leaving, Luke and Robert Garbutt (Cycling Weekly editor) suggested I apply for the job, and I ended up starting before I’d even graduated, at the beginning of 2002. I only went back to Harlow to sit my legal and shorthand exams.
I spent a few years writing news at Cycling Weekly, but preferred the longform feature-writing and more professional cycling subject matter of Cycle Sport and gravitated there, becoming deputy editor in 2007 and staying until 2013. After two years as a freelance cycling writer, I became editor of Procycling magazine, where I spent six years until it closed at the end of last year. And now, like a sprinter switching trains in a Tour stage finish, I’ve taken over at Rouleur.
I love cycling and I love putting magazines together. Selling magazines is a challenging endeavour these days, but I will always believe that they give a far more immersive, meaningful and intimate reading experience than words on a screen. No ad trackers when you read a Rouleur feature on paper; just the knowledge that a team of committed, talented and passionate individuals have worked hard to put the reader at the very centre of the experience. In a noisy world, half an hour sat down reading a feature or two in a printed magazine offers you focus and peace. Plus, always with Rouleur, interesting and thought-provoking content.
When I’m not being a cycling journalist, I’m busy being a dad to a couple of teenagers, running, playing the piano and playing taiko drums. Follow my Instagram account @edwardpickering for updates about my quest for the sub-five-minute mile and sub-17-minute 5k, and for ear-assaulting videos of my slow progress towards taking my piano diploma exam. For cycling, you’re better off following me on Twitter @edwardpickering, though I can’t guarantee a complete absence of bad puns.
As editor of Rouleur, I would like for our team to be approachable, accountable and most of all happy to talk cycling with our readers through our digital channels and social media.
Never hesitate to get in touch with me at my social media accounts or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback, questions, suggestions and ideas.