Cycling magazines offer wealth of information

Every year Wimbledon encourages thousands of Brits to dust down their old tennis racquets and head to their nearest court. Equally, the annual Tour de France – which started last Saturday – inspires thousands to shed a few pounds by pumping along their nearest open road.

Few are aware that the 103-year-old competition, which will start off in London next year, is the world’s most viewed annual sporting event, attracting 15 million roadside spectators. And in the wake of last week’s doping scandal, the sport, which is usually buried among swathes of football coverage, has now truly hit the headlines.

But aside from this annual fillip, Britain has a dedicated cycling fraternity with a swathe of magazines to cater for them –and these titles offer opportunities galore for canny PROs.

More than bicycles
The Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), the UK’s largest cycling organisation, points out that its members are interested in reading about more than just cycle parts and vitamin supplements. ‘There’s a wealth of products that PROs might not associate with cycling, such as bike-friendly hotels and flights,’ says M2 Events MD David Townsend, who organises Britain’s annual Triathlon, Cycling and Running Show.

Townsend adds that PROs responsible for plugging GPS systems, cars suitable for transporting bikes, accident insurance and even suncream could perhaps do more to target cyclists.

Top titles include Cycling Plus (published by Future) and Cycling Weekly (IPC), which offer a round-up of cycle news, product reviews and touring features. They are the most popular general cycling magazines. Both have sister titles focused on professional cycling: Pro Cycling and Cyclesport respectively. Their editorial teams are partially shared across the titles, so getting to know one good contact can be beneficial in terms of gaining access to more than one magazine.

For the more sedate cyclist and CTC members, Cycle magazine offers a bimonthly guide to the best places to pedal, and the best ways to get there. This means a viable avenue for travel PROs. ‘PR practitioners need to think beyond the bikes themselves,’ says Tony Farrelly, editor of Cycling Plus. ‘For example, it’s very difficult
when cycling in India to find clean water to wash cuts or grazes. A hand-wash is an essential part of a cyclist’s kit.’

One word of caution before picking up the phone to these magazines, though – for the next few weeks, the editorial teams of the major titles may well be in the Alps, chasing the Tour.

Cycle
Editor Dan Joyce
Circulation 40,000
Frequency Six times a year

Contact editor@ctc.org.uk (email preferred);
01723 377521

What is Cycle magazine?
It is the official journal of the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), which has around 54,000 members. Cycle contains less product information than the average cycling magazine and less of the professional cycling news than most titles, but has the biggest readership of any UK cycling magazine.

Describe your readers
The readership is generally men and women in their mid-20s to 40s who are committed cyclists. They pay £30 a year to be members of the CTC and receive our magazine. So they tend to be lifelong cyclists. I want PR people to come to me with a knowledge of their products and how they are useful to us because our readers won’t be fooled. Camping equipment may find its way onto Cycle’s pages, as long as the readership will genuinely benefit from using it.

How much of the mag has been influenced by PROs?
If a PR practitioner has a new product then I will look at it, but the news generated by PROs sending me new products is basically nil. The magazine does feature travelogues and a variety of features which, if pitched right, are good PR fodder, but 99 per cent of travelogues are rejected. If I’m presented with an extraordinary destination, or an extraordinarily well-written piece, then it’s far more likely to get a look-in.

When is the best time to pitch stories to you?
As a bimonthly publication (the next is out in August), Cycle is planned up to four months in advance, so story pitches have to take into account seasonal changes that will occur. It would be no good now, for example, pitching a sunscreen when October’s issue is the one currently being planned.

Cycling Plus
Editor Tony Farrelly
Circulation 28,500
Frequency Every four weeks
Contact
cyclingplus@futurenet.co.uk; 01225 442244

Give us the lowdown on Cycling Plus
The core of the magazine is product testing. So try to approach us with products that can easily be tested, or with ideas for testing them. We never struggle with finding products to fill the magazine, but there is a lot of room for PROs who think more creatively. As a more sport-oriented volume than Cycle, we feature a detailed news round-up of the international cycling scene (much of which is centred in France and Belgium), but also run travel features, ride-guides and health articles.

So, what if I represent a new vitamin supplement?
Although the mag does feature some supplements that cyclists use to improve performance,  most never make it because they are simply too difficult to test. PR practitioners would not necessarily consider pitching a hand-spray or medical kit – but cyclists can get injured very easily. The general stuff we receive can be boring. It’s nice to get some variety.

What about travel?
We’re often approached by tourism bodies, but they often don’t follow up their initial contact. PROs must come up with ideas and pictures, rather than just ask me to consider a certain area. Cyclists will travel a long distance for a good ride, so it’s not out of the question to pitch an idea for Australia or Asia.

When is the best time to pitch?
Cycling Plus hits the shelves every four weeks, meaning there are usually 13 or 14 editions every year. The Tour de France editions will usually be bumper affairs, hardly short of copy, so for more quirky pitches it may well be best to avoid mid-summer. The magazine’s sister title, the professional cycling-oriented Pro Cycling, can be reached through the same number listed above.

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