I had actually drafted this up as the next ‘The Edit’ column for #99, but now seems like a fitting time. A couple of weeks ago I was hiking in my local Waitakere Ranges with Casey Brown, after a week of running around Wanaka riding bikes and exploring. It was the first true downtime either of us had since Crankworx, and we found ourselves talking about how we’d gotten to where we are today. Our stories were pretty similar, both kids chasing the dream that decided to keep on chasing when the rest of the world was telling us we needed to get real jobs. For me, it started when I was ten.
My local bike shop gave me a Specialized catalogue and I took it home and spent nights lusting over Demos, Enduros and Stumpy’s. That was the moment I was hooked on mountain biking. For my eleventh birthday, my grandma gave me a subscription to this very magazine, NZ Mountain Biker, and my parents surprised me with my first ‘real’ bike – a Specialized Hardrock. From that point all I wanted to do was ride, write and talk about bikes. Fifteen or so years later, here we are.
To be honest, there’s not much money to make in print media and whilst I wouldn’t say we operate on fumes, Liam, who owns Pedal Press – the publishers of NZMTBR, and I work really hard to stay afloat so we can continue to publish both this magazine, and the title Liam oversees – NZ Cycling Journal. We’re lucky to have a great team supporting us, but there’s still a lot of sacrifice. From racking up miles in our personal vehicles, to working weekends and late into the night, it takes a lot of work to make money in the age of digital. With that said though, there is literally nothing else I’d rather do.
Covid-19 brings a lot of uncertainty. With our current lockdown status here in NZ, we have thousands of magazines that will be sitting in bookstores, bike shops and our distributors warehouse for the foreseeable future. We might still be in some supermarkets, but once they’ve sold out, they won’t be able to restock until the lockdown is over. For us, that means no income. To give you an insight, advertisement covers the cost of printing the magazines. Retail sales are used to pay our contributors and staff. Without retail sales, we don’t really know when our next pay cheque is coming. That’s before you even consider that whilst we print locally, our paper comes from China and prices were quickly rising even before Covid-19. We plan to publish our next magazine in June, however there’s only so much we can do.
We’ve been working hard to put together a plan to get us through the foreseeable future, and the first stage to that is implementing a new website. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been building a new site from the ground up, as you can now see! We’ll share content on this website super frequently, from old stories through to columns through to some of our favourite videos.
We’ve also decided to implement a ‘Supporter’ option on our website. Essentially, with this option, you’ll be able to support us with a one-off or monthly payment of whatever you choose. Basically, you choose what you think our content is worth. Monthly supporters will be supplied with a digital copy of our magazine each time we go to print and you’ll also gain access to our exclusive Facebook community – this is an ideal option for people who want to support us from overseas or that travel a lot and aren’t always able to receive a physical copy. If you wish to support us, you can do so here.
I’ve also started an exclusive Facebook community for our supporters. In this group we’ll talk about content ideas, share stories, videos and photos, you can ask advice – really, anything goes. Serviced your bike? Tell us about it. Need opinions on what helmet to buy? Ask away. Tried a new beer that’s super good? We need to know! This group is only open to those who subscribe, so if you’re a subscriber, check your emails!
Finally, thank you for supporting us over the years. We’re determined to continue creating content based on your feedback and to keep printing magazines showcasing the best of mountain biking. Whilst feedback can be directed back to this email address, I’d love it if you offered it in our new Facebook community so that we can all contribute our thoughts.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to start seeing some of you out on the trails again, soon.
Cam Baker & the NZM Team