Cover by Jack Chevell

Cover by Jack Chevell

Conquista -The Cycling Quarterly

Issue 4

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On 15 August, we turn the ripe old age of One. In fact, given the amount we have learned over the past year it feels like we have grown in step with the regular canine year.  So happy seventh birthday to us!

It is not widely known why, when and how we started Conquista. Like many good things before, it started over a beer on the concrete entrance steps to the Roubaix Velo Club. The previous day we saw fit to completely punish ourselves in our most painful physical experience to date on the infamous cobblestones with the other 6,000 ciclo amatori. With our rear ends as tender as the ‘Pave Steak’ from the night before, we sipped our 9am beer and looked across at a group of real hard men from the local area. From memory, most supported a moustache, hair tussled from wind and weather, some stood, some seated, beer in hand and a glow, albeit due to the orientation of the rising sun.

These men had history. They were cool. Not one piece of clothing matched another and nor was it made in this century. One hard man had a most impressive silver plume of hair under his nose, stood agate, beer in one hand and the other down the front of his bib longs, talking a mystical language we could not understand. We were entranced. Right in front of us stood a library of stories, shared experience and comradeship. Everything cycling meant to us. We grabbed a second beer so it did not appear that we were staring or eavesdropping on these wise cycling skeezers.

At the time, Trevor and I were in the middle of a campaign to unseat the unseatable, lamenting the lack of space available in mainstream cycling media for any alternative view. As we spied upon these credible cyclists, we talked about the dull mire of formulaic cycling comics and conversation quickly drifted to a crescendo, a delicious naïve thought: There are interesting stories all around us, stories that will never be told. Let’s do our own magazine and publish the stuff that moves us. How stupid we must have sounded, but it seemed like a cracking idea. We mutually agreed as to its brilliance and took a gulp of ale in celebration to cement our good fortune. That was April.

For the rest of the day, we caught up with old faces, had fish and chips and waited for the pros to enter the stadium. On that day a man named after a Thracian gladiator prevailed and we headed straight for the car. We had a long drive ahead of us.  As we got to the car, some cyclists were still coming through to complete their monument. One rider was a bloodied Zak Dempster. We were looking for Zak in the finishers, we spoke to his team manager, Ralph Denk, as to his whereabouts. No one knew. The mechanic said that he had taken a hit before a pave section, the Ambulance had arrived but that Zak had refused entry as he wanted to battle on. He made it. As such, we asked Zak to be a part of Issue 0, our opening gambit at a magazine.

Remarkably, as we drove back that night, arrived at home in the early hours of the morning and woke later that day, the idea to start a magazine still seemed a good one. Although we could not initially use a keyboard or have fine motor skills due to the vibration damage from the cobbles, we set about contacting our network for support.

We are incredibly thankful for the talented people that have contributed to Conquista. Without them, we would not be able to put this magazine together. In particular, we would like to thank Brian Hodes and Kristof Ramon for their words of encouragement. Also thanks to Twitter commentator @Kiss_my_Panache for his online support.

Speaking in the late 1700's Irish statesman and political philosopher Edmund Burke famoulsy said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing". It's for others to determine whether or not we are good men, but those words both haunt and motivate us in equal measures. Another quote from the same source builds on that thought "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle". 

In our own small way we have fought for what we believe in, articulated our thoughts and aligned our like-minded colleagues.  Conquista Magazine was never formulated as part of a politcal campaign - merely a quest to celebrate the sport we love and represent its purest forms, offering unbiased and intelligent viewpoints against a backdrop of samey formulaic content.  In their eternal quest for margin, publishers are merging editorial with sales messaging - the deliniation is not always obvious and it deliberatley misleads the reader.  Increasingly what we read online or in print is not determined by the Editor, but by brands and their advertising buck. We seek not to attack those publications, editors, journalists or brands - if that's what they think works best for them, then good luck to them all. But we have a passionate belief that readers, and consumers - indeed people - are smart enough to make up their own minds about what they want to buy or believe.  We continue to strive to offer a credible, worthy and interesting alternative and thank you all again for taking the time to engage with us.

Keep 'er lit.