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Culture

We screwed up with a recent divisive column

There is no them; it’s only us.

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We made a mistake with a recent column introducing our new sister publication, Beta MTB. In trying to be playful amongst ourselves, we came across as launching an ‘us versus them’ attack.

Since I asked for that piece to be written, it’s on me. I feel terrible. And I apologize.

I apologize both to our audience, and to the good folks at Beta.

My thinking behind a column was a friendly roast. A good natured ribbing that shows how well we know each other — how well we know ourselves. I invited Beta to heckle us.

I remember a piece Mike Ferrentino wrote in his Grimy Handshake column years and years ago in Bike Magazine — the late, great publication from which the Beta crew comes — called The S*#% Gift. It was about friends giving each other grief as a display of affection. You would never heckle a stranger, but who knows you better than your friends?

Unfortunately, my idea totally flopped. Where I saw friendly heckling many readers found a divisive attack, and an attempt to categorize cyclists into the old and tired cliques that most of us have moved on from.

And here’s the thing, divisiveness is the opposite of what Beta and its editors are doing. Beta is producing stories that go so far beyond the old ‘dude/bro’ stereotype. They are writing about female riders who push the boundaries of the sport, gear that caters to riders of all skillsets, and cultural topics that push our understanding of the MTB community.

At Pocket Outdoor Media, we are a group of speciality media and event titles in the outdoor space. Our whole thing is bringing people together via our love of the outdoors, in the many forms that can take.

Some of the brands are new to each other, having recently been brought together under the same roof. I would never think to tease the folks, for example, at our fellow Yoga Journal title; in our covid times we haven’t even met in person yet. Doing so would make me a total jerkface. It would be coming off the top rail.

My column idea, I discovered, landed like we were coming off the top rail. I was a total jerkface. Damn it.

Bottom line: We screwed up. I screwed up. I apologize.

Thanks for reading.

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