Magical Rotating Masses of Steel

Thinking about magical things happen when you put your mind to them. How your desires can be manifested with continuous effort. How if you keep repeating something it becomes the truth.

So there’s this club up in the Berkeley Hills where grown men  play with trains. Really big trains. A club that’s been around since 1936, leasing a nice parcel from the local parks department. Live steam it’s called. Steam engines with all the mystery and explosive power of the full size models.

I have ridden by a few times, wishing to get in and meet some of the people that do this insane-looking hobby. It is a private club. And they have a thing on Sunday afternoons where the general public can show up and get a train ride (Donation suggested), but that’s just not for me. I want IN. How do you think I got into the bicycle business?

So on this fine Sunday, the 5th or 6th time I have cruised by there, longingly peering into the members-only area, I saw a full parking lot and rolled right in, parked my bike and walked in like I owned the place. What would Karl do? Ask forgiveness, not permission.

So I start walking around looking at the trains, trying to stand tall, full expecting one of those additudenessly-said “Can I help you?’s” from one of the up-tegenarian old white guys in conductor hats spread around the whole place. Whoa look at these things they are fucking awesome! Steam and fire and metal. What an epic hobby! I saw steam trains that run on coal, some that run on wood, and propane. 1/8 scale. 7.5” track.


Wait here comes someone a little younger, walking toward me. Uh-oh. Just smile and comb your hair, Maurice. As this man moves closer, my eyes begin to focus, and an air of familiarity fills the air…closer…closer… why it’s David Hoffman, my old friend from Pittsburgh. Founder of one of the finest Bike Advocacy groups in the land, Bike Pittsburgh. I am sure both of us were thinking “What the heck are you doing here” but whatever.

Well, actually the words said are “what are you doing here?” “Well I am just poking around” say I. “I have a engine here” says David. “What? Cool! How’ve you been?” “Let me show you around! Meet my daughter Ma’ayan. Check out my engine, it’s powered by a car battery. Those steam engines run $40,000 and more”….

And I proceed to get a grand tour of the place, checking out all the hardware, getting several loops around the 5000 foot track and having a ball.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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Are we not journalists? Part 2

One reason I keep doing this magazine-publishing thing year after year is my belief in putting more people on bikes. And my belief that the industry and the cycling media work together to  get more people on bikes. The advertisements that support our magazines not only tell readers about their stuff, but support the journalism that should take place. At Bicycle Times and Dirt Rag we strive for that.

But today my soul is weary. Much like in the more serious and important global political discourse happening in God-Blessed America and the world right now, the bike journalism field is following a steeper and steeper fall-line trail downhill. Pay to play. Where rather than conveying honest, objective opinions, so-call journalists write what corporations pay them to write.

Read on. (But please read part 1 first if you have not, thank you).

Recently, in what is now the 2015 ad contract season, I inadvertently  received an email containing a proposal from one of the top mountain bike websites in the world to the marketing department at a parts and accessories and clothing branch of one of the largest bike companies in the world.

Not only did the proposal include the usual “Cost-per-eyeball-per-thousand’ for the site, but it included a specific amount of editorial coverage for 2015. Leaving my heart heavy, especially since the “Client” in question had gotten tons of editorial love from us over the years, yet had never thrown down to support us with an advertising buy.




This left me questioning. Should I send an invoice to the company that’s getting all the free editorial coverage while not throwing us a dime for advertising support?

Or should we stop covering their products in our magazines as a tit-for-tat response? It’s an option I am considering, but one that I feel would break the journalistic code to tell our readers about stuff they will find interesting.

Does anyone else give a shit about where this is going? It’s looking unlikely. Most of the bike media and the corporate world are playing in the sandbox just fine. They both make money, and you, dear reader know, it is all about following the money.

So look around, do your homework. Take everything with a grain-o-salt. Value and respect real journalism when you read it. And support our advertisers! They get it!




Are we not journalists? Part 1

As some of you may already know, I publish a couple of magazines* about bicycles, Dirt Rag for 25 years now, and Bicycle Times for five . Publish, yes. While I oversee editorial content for both magazines, I mostly chase dollars to keep these ‘zines afloat and food on the table for our now-large staff.

Other staff people are editors, they work real hard to create “Content” to be delivered to our loyal readers. Honest, true, hands-on. Journalism.

Our loyal readers trust us to keep the editorial “Church” and the advertising “State” separate. Journalists on one side, “Ad Slime” on the other. It’s a fine line we have been walking for 25 years now.



But look what I have to deal with now. I have always suspected that there was some kind of “Pay-to-play” thing at some of the other titles, I still found myself flabbergasted when I saw this email from a potential ad client:

“We would really love to work with Dirt Rag, and look forward to doing so in the future, but for now I am going to pass.

My resources are limited and I need to ensure our brand gets the most possible editorial coverage as possible. I understand and respect that you can’t guarantee this, but all the other publications we are working with have been able to guarantee at least quarterly editorial, and have included it in the insertion orders.”

Soooo what the fuck. Guess I am putting this out there for two reasons. One is to share with anyone who reads this blog what I have to deal with on a regular basis. The other is to assure everyone that no, we do not sell editorial.

In fact the current Dirt Rag cover features a company that has politely turned us down for ads this year. While we have better relationships with some companies than others, the editor decides what is going in the magazine based on journalistic integrity.

Thanks for listening, I feel better now. All I can ask is that if you read my magazines you support our advertising and promotional supporters! Thankfully they get it.


*Or should I say “Media entities” as we have print, digital and web covered.

NAHBS fashions for men

Hey look I took some photos at NAHBS a while back, and just got time to post them. A couple of bikes, but mostly  just a bunch o dudes styling and not. And one lady, shot from behind cuz I liked her curls or something. Priority given to folks in Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times apparel of course.

Next time I will work harder but for now, take a look.


Well, I told ya I worship some rotating masses. Here’s some 24 inch masses rotating for your pleasure. Gotta love this one. What can we say about this guy? Other than liking him some McDeath burgers, he does worship at the Church of the Rotating Mass, somewhere in Richmond, CA. Just so you know, I approve this vehicle, except for the fake plastic orifices on the side.

Photo of the day, or should I say, night?

Somewhere in Beroakleyville…


I went for a ride on my bicycle and saw some some cool rotating masses

Yea, through Oakland, to BART, to The City, down the bayside to Hunters Point, Bernal Heights, The Mission, Sunday Streets on Embarcedero, and then out to the Wake Organ with Poppy, a good day indeed, with plenty of rotating Mass along the way


Business as usual in the Bike Industry

I was just thinking about how little effect the current doping scandal is having on the bike industry.

Am I the only one who thinks “The Tour” and every other major “Classic” should be cancelled until they can be reinvented as something a little less, um, wrong?

Hell, who’s left to race anyway? The guys that ratted on the guys that got busted? The guys that still get to come back in six months? They’re better than the guys that got banned? NOT.

I thought I was in the bicycle industry because we were doing good things, positive things that make people healthier and made the planet a bit more livable.

I thought we were better than the hoards of Americans we mock from our high horses, those enamored by the idiocy of ball sports, pro wrestling and NASCAR. (All stuff I personally enjoy on some level, like any other red-blooded American, but you get my point).

This win-at-all-cost mentality is not good for the cycling or the planet and does not need to be perpetrated by the bike industry.

Let’s put our dollars into something else. Like getting people on bicycles, the solution to many, (If not all) of the world’s problems.

Heck, just get one pro team to eat one less fancy pro team dinner, I’ll make some good stuff happen. How many miles of infrastructure would one prima-donna racers salary pay for?

Fuck racing and support bicycle infrastructure dammit!

Welcome! I Gotta Floggin BLOG!

Someone else said it first, but those words have been stuck in me head for some time. I want to make something of it, at the very least a little flog where I can share myself outside of my day-to-day constraints, who knows where it could go from there. Maybe I need to start a church so I can do bad things and use that old excuse that a “Higher being” “Told me to do it”, more likely I will use it to praise a few of my favorite things that rotate. Like bicycle wheels. Any one that knows me knows I am into bikes. I want to talk about bikes, tell people about bikes, be bikes.

But there are other diversions. I like pinball for example, another pastime involving rotating masses. And motorcycles, I have two right now. And cars. Yea, as much as I think that bicycles are the solution to all the world’s problems, a red-blooded American boy can’t go through life with out liken some sweet machines now can he? Then there’s skateboards and motorcycles. And let’s not forget billiards, ping-pong and Bocce. Might get into those subjects as well.

But the biggest rotating mass is that big blue ball we’re all sitting on, planet earth. Now I ain’t gonna get all preachy on ya, but this place does hold a warm spot in my heart for sure. And I might want to leave something for my young one after I have personally burned up all the fossil fools with my V-10 powered Hot Rod.

There ya have it.

I urge you to worship at the church of your choice, whatever day of the week suits your fancy.

Father Maurice