If I ever had to make the case why cycling is a microcosm of life itself, I’d present my stack of Rouleur Magazines as supporting evidence. God knows they make a persuasive argument for it in every issue. But even calling it a ‘magazine’ is doing itself a disservice. Magazines are ephemeral, easily digested, and quickly outdated; Rouleur is lasting, substantial, and remarkable. Physically, its heft, thick paper stock, and artful layout immediately looks, and feels different. Once your attention is captivated, you’ll want to sit down and dedicate a bit of time to it. Inside, don’t expect product reviews, or race results, but just the human experience of cycling, mined deeper and more eloquently than in any other publication. Their roster of award-winning photographers and journalists go wild with multi-page (and sometimes multiple-issue) assignments. It sounds heavy, but it’s quite a pleasure, really. Several times each issue I’m bound to think to myself ‘that’s exactly what I felt’ or ‘I didn’t know it was possible to express that’.
Every issue has a loose motif weaved though all the articles, and this one is ‘what it takes’. Roger Hammond tells his tragic tale of being within grasp of his career’s only goal, only to mess it up. How does he cope? Zeus, the Spanish components manufacturer, and Casati, the Milanese frame builder, are both formerly major companies, but whose perseverance and adaptation in the face of fatal threats led to different outcomes. The story of Harold “H” Nelson reveals a very nontraditional, but charitable English coach whose oddball remarks can be enough to motive greatness in others. Closely related in nature is the second installment on the Tour of Rwanda, a product of the UCI’s internationalization of our sport. Behind this developing race is a benefactor looking for his own salvation, and racers with ‘do-or-die’ attitudes rarely found in Euro pro's. Last up is Michael Barry, writing from inside the peloton about calculated risk, and its lasting effects.
I’m not into material possessions, but I do keep all my Rouleur back-issues neatly on display in my bookcase. If not for rereading, they’re becoming a coveted collectors item. Do yourself a favour: if you have a finite amount of time to read about cycling, start here and leave your other sources for later.