In this age of Hi-tec instant gratification Tablet and Smart phone touting general public who want it all and right now, that the humble paper hard-copy of magazine still prevails. There’s something about the excitement and anticipation of waiting for a new issue of your favorite publication that makes it worthwhile. Be it to see the great shots caught by a photographer of Pro riders and the not so Pro riders in locations that we would love to visit or of shiny new things that we wish we had, or the words and articles written by those cunning Wordsmiths who draw us into their (mis)adventures and exploits. Or the the smell and feel of the paper and ink and the weight in your hands. There is definite certain something that we can all enjoy about the good old fashion Magazine. For a start you can read it damned near anywhere.
But with a fair number of magazines out there, which to read? There seems to be a aspect of each magazine that appeals to certain age or riding type. Whether it be Downhill the latest thing or mad cap adventures. They all do it, but some are more of a sit down and take your time and others are a read fast quick fix. One magazine I’ve come across is very much take your time and enjoy type right up there with the likes of Singletrack and Dirt. It’s weight and smell bombard your senses and you have’nt even opened it yet. The articles and reports are involving and inspiring. as for the pictures? Well …….
I catch up with one of Privateer Magazines main men and see if we can get to know what is what. so we ask……
Who are you?
1, Who are you?
Andy Waterman, age 32
2, Where do you live?
Walthamstow in North East London. Obviously living in London isn’t ideal if you ride mountain bikes, but the area I live in is about as good as it gets: 20mins of canal towpath riding and I’m in Epping Forest which is full of amazing singletrack (so long as it’s dry), there’s a new BMX track round the corner, and it’s only 20mins by bike into London.
3, What’s your role at Privateer magazine?
I’m the Deputy Editor. I joined in August 2011 after working at MBR for six years, and MBUK for a year before that.
4, What’s the best thing about about your job?
Travelling and meeting cool people. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who was passionate about bikes who I didn’t get on with immediately. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, people who ride bikes just tend to be sound characters – whether you’re from the wilds of Canada, Australia or the Austrian Alps, we’re all the same really.
5, And the worst?
The fact I had to think about this for more than a few seconds means there probably isn’t one!
6, Where do you ride?
Since moving near to Epping I’ve been really enjoying just riding from my front door. Prior to that I was beginning to get really dispirited about travelling an hour or more each way to ride. When conditions are bad locally I’ll drive up to Chicksands or Woburn, or round to the Surrey Hills. I race cyclocross most weekends through the autumn and winter so the mountain bike gets neglected a bit, but the season’s over now so I’m looking forward to getting back to riding fat tyres.
7, Who do you ride with?
A real mix – old school friends, colleagues from my time at MBR, or quite often roadie friends who want to mix things up.
8, What bike/s do you have and ride?
The bike I’ve ridden most in the last year is a Genesis Fortitude race, fully rigid, which is actually great fun – you can get yourself into a lot of trouble on a bike like that, I love it. I’ve just taken delivery of a BMC FS02 29er which I’m going to use for a bunch of stuff this summer. Besides that I’ve got an old Genesis singlespeed, a pair of Cannondale cross bikes and a Scott road bike.
9, Where’s your favourite place to be?
At the moment, somewhere warm!
10, Where’s your favourite place to ride?
I really love Spain. I’ve been to stay with guys at Pure Mountains a couple of times now down in the Sierra Nevada, and it’s really hard to imagine anywhere better. The trails are like the best UK trail centres but longer, rockier and at altitude, the climate’s amazing, and the pace of life in a small Spanish village is the complete opposite of London.
11, What could you not do without?
A cold beer at the end of a ride. I don’t know what it is about mountain biking that creates this thirst – you don’t get it when you go for a run or road ride…
12, If you could meet anyone past or present, who would it be?
Missy Giove – I’ve always wanted to interview her.
13, What tunes do you like?
The Clash, Modest Mouse, Wild Nothing, the Smiths – pretty guitar-heavy, sorry…
14, What gets your goat?
Where to start? The distinction between footpaths and bridleways, the Daily Mail, online comment sections, bad town planning, crap cycle lanes, punctures, hangovers, Strava cheats, dope cheats, tax cheats, angry dog walkers, British weather, the fact there’s nothing good on TV.
15, How did you get involved with Privateer magazine?
I did a journalism course after university, and after that I did some work for the website Road Cycling UK. The editor of that was Guy Andrews who later went on to set up Rouleur magazine. I was working at MBUK and then MBR, and Rouleur was going from strength to strength, so they decided to launch a mountain bike magazine too. They got Tym Manley in as Editor (Tym was the founding editor of MBUK, and remained so for something like 20 years) on a part-time basis, but after five issues they decided that it would be good to have someone working on the magazine full-time alongside him, and Guy thought of me.
16, Privateer seems to be a break from the regular mtb mags out there. What inspired the way Privateer magazine came about?
I think what Guy did with Rouleur was revolutionary, certainly in my limited field of experience of specialist magazines. When they started it, they basically created a magazine purely for themselves without any real attempt to do “market research” or even get advertisers on board – it was a pure labour of love. Readers recognised that and supported it.
By the time Privateer came about things had got a bit more commercial, but we’re basically coming from the same position – we want to create a magazine we would buy, and would want to keep for years to come.
17, It certainly covers a diverse range of riding styles. How do you find the balance?
I actually hope we don’t find a balance – I don’t think we need to, if a story is interesting and appeals to us, and the images are good, then I hope it will appeal to other people too.
18, What’s the hardest thing about Privateer Magazine?
It’s boring, but money… I’m quite proud of the fact that we pay all of our contributors (not everyone does) but balancing the books each issue isn’t always easy
19, It’s still a fairly young magazine. who would you say it’s aimed at?
Good question! I honestly don’t think we’ve got a particular type of reader; I’d like to think that anyone with an interest in bikes – any kind of bikes – could pick up Privateer and find something interesting in there – it’s a window into the world of mountain biking. Mountain biking’s a really broad church: it’s mad to think that dirt jumping is technically the same sport as bikepacking across Alaska – I think it’s good to reflect that.
20, How has Privateer been received?
It’s a slow burner! Readers and the industry seem to be coming round to it though. I don’t think at first many people could see the point of a paper magazine that costs £9 (nine quid!) in the internet age, but once people actually see it in the flesh, it’s my experience that they tend to like it. You know, it is quite different to most of the market – we have very few ads, we run really long stories with big pictures and we treat the readers like grown-ups. And the one thing we’re told time and again is “I love the smell of the paper” – that’s not something you can recreate on an iPad!
21, What does the future hold for yourself?
I’ve got a really busy year ahead of me with a couple of long trips to the USA and to France for the Passportes Du Soleil (we’re a media partner), and I’ve got an entry for the Trans-Provence, so I need to make sure I stay on the straight and narrow, stay healthy and keep fit, at least until October.
22, what does the future hold for mountain biking?
I’ve just done an interview with Rowan Sorrell for the next issue about Bike Park Wales. A lot of what he says is about getting kids and families riding mountain bikes – that’s the potential real growth market for MTB’ing. So they’ll be building green and blue trails in Gethin Woods alongside the red and black downhill tracks, but they’ll be making sure those blue and greens are fun, and actually engaging in a way that most blue and green trails aren’t at the moment.
It would be good to get some of the MAMIL’s who have been inspired by Bradley Wiggins onto mountain bikes too – they don’t know what they’re missing out on just riding on the roads.
23, And for Privateer magazine?
Since issue 11 we’ve had George Marshall from the Albion BMX magazine working on the design of the mag, and I think that’s really helped push the mag forwards. We’ve got a story going in the next issue (14) about maps that – if it comes off, and it should – will be the best looking feature we’ve ever done.
24, Any last thoughts or wise words?
Drop your heels, bend your knees, weight the outside pedal.
25, Any thanks?
All our contributors who pull out all the stops to get their words and pictures in each issue, and everyone who’s ever bought a copy of Privateer – we’re hugely grateful for your support!