Something to read: Boneshaker Bicycle Stories – Volume 1

Hailing from the other side of the estuary in Bristol, Boneshaker Magazine is one that defies the current publishing convention. It has no set publishing date and you’ll be hard pushed to find mention of a new bike within its pages.

Instead, Boneshaker focusses on the human side of cycling –the epic journeys, the emotions, the connection to the countries you pass through and the ways the bicycle can profoundly affect our lives. Bicycle Stories is a highlight reel from the first 10 printed issues of the magazine.

The Culture…

When I started this site it is probably fair to say that I was in a slightly different place to where I am now. I got back into cycling following a slightly early mid-life crisis when a glance in the mirror gave me an unforgettable kick up the backside. I definitely got back into cycling for the health benefits, but then fell into the policy side because the two seem to go hand in hand.

It was only in the past few months or so did interest in the cultural side of things start to take hold. After developing a slightly vested interest in the reasons why people live their lives in ways that are detrimental to their health –the so-called Social Determinants of Health before then moving onto what can be done to correct it, you inevitably find yourself looking at cycling and how it can fit into people’s lives.

It has taken a little while to realise this but, the thing about cycling –aside from the fact it is the answer to many of the world’s challenges, is that the bicycle itself is an almost secondary consideration. When you strip all of the commercial stuff away, cycling is really all about people. A bicycle is a tool at the end of the day. Sure, we definitely develop emotional attachments to them, but they are tools that facilitate travel and more crucially, experiences.

Whether that is to work; to school; to the other side of the country, or even the other side of the world. It is a person who opens themselves up to the exhilaration and the unpredictability that cycling can offer.

This is ultimately what sets Boneshaker apart from other magazines aside from the flexible, undated releases. You won’t find gear reviews and you won’t find adverts –apart from one for their online store. Instead you’ll find stories –lots and lots of stories that are beautifully illustrated and ultimately, timeless.

Their FAQ section sums things up very well, when asked about contributing to the magazine:

Please bear in mind that Boneshaker is read all over the world, and as such, all articles need to be applicable regardless of their geography. Also, all issues of Boneshaker are undated, and we try to ensure none of the content will ‘go out of date’ – we want the magazines to be kept and treasured, not discarded because it’s all last year’s news.

This is a far cry from the cycling magazines you’ll find at the supermarket or newsagent, whose articles are invariably about a bicycle you probably can’t afford, which will shortly become obsolete when another bike you still can’t afford comes along. The responsiveness of the frame and the standard of the finishing kit will usually take precedence over the reasons for being on a bike in the first place.

Whilst we do love the feeling of getting on a brand new bike for the first time, many of us already have a bike that is quite capable of taking us anywhere we want to go. Boneshaker is perfect for those people who love their bike and wish to open their eyes to the wealth of experiences that other people are having with theirs. Unfortunately, right now there are no stockists in Cardiff, so you have to order a copy (or a PDF) online.

The book…

As our first introduction to the magazine, Bicycle Stories Volume 1 is by far the most inspiring thing we’ve read for a very long time. Particular highlights include ‘The Grand Tour on a Grand‘, by Kerry O’Neill on page 198; ‘The Malawi Mission‘ by Sofie Foldager Andersen on page 92; and ‘Tandem Acts of Kindness‘ by Mike White on page 16.

However, every story across its 215 pages is beautifully written; the book is bound to the same high standards as their magazines (we picked up issue 19 after this…) and we cannot recommend it highly enough.

It is on a limited run though, so if you want to pick it up you had better be quick. You can find it on their store here. It currently costs £20.

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