My Mom has this tendency to flip through clothes with a dismissive, almost violent hand. Hangers squeak loudly against poles as she'll cast aside suits, shirts, and pants, unable to find that perfect, impeccably tailored, designer whatever. Meanwhile I try not to completely lose it as the product of someone's hard labor is violently shoved aside.
She does the same thing to books. Pages grating against themselves as she tries to find a quote or phrase. The fragile tissues somehow withstanding her abuse but clearly bearing the battle scars of wrinkles and too much wear. It drives me absolutely insane.
Maybe that's because I love print publications [and yes, clothes]. I prefer print-outs to reading things online, newspapers to the internet, letters to emails. My favorite books, while read and re-read, manage to remain mostly unscathed, the gloss of their covers still largely intact.
So you can imagine why I almost wished I had those made-to-handle-antiques cloth gloves on when I ripped open a package left mysteriously on my front doorstep [delivered by bike, I later discovered, with a $5 bill tucked into its pages for the shipping I had paid for...thanks, James!] and found Volume 3 of Embrocation Cycling Journal. Pulling it out of its envelope with slightly sweaty hands, a surge of goosebumps swept up my back as I ever so gently flipped through its pages.
Taught the importance of font and layout by an extremely critical sister [who happens to be a graphic designer], I ran an eye over it, almost bracing myself for something I wouldn't like. Something that wouldn't make sense. Something that would inevitably disappoint. Instead, my eyes feasted. And not just on the layout, which, though beautiful, seems only complementary to the sheer talent behind the magazine itself. Because that's what sets Embrocation Cycling Journal apart - the realization that that intangible something that all cyclists share managed to somehow collect the best of its members and spilled their gifts out onto its pages.
Due to the fact that I ride a single-speed 'cross bike, it was only too fitting that my first introduction to Embrocation Cycling Journal came in the form of an issue focused on cyclocross. Between the smorgasbord of stunning pictures, including photos by the incredibly talented Michael R. of Velodramatic, were stories and interviews, cyclists relating their love for racing, fabricating, and training. The pages kept turning as the laptop [and work] got pushed away. Even after owning it for several weeks, it still has that effect.
Which is dangerous. Especially because I now happen to be in possession of Volume 2 as well. Focused more on road racing, there's that same, strong talent behind every page. Just enough to give a sense of the potential Embrocation can grow to, but not quite done with puberty. And like a really good date with the high-school-nerd-turned-successfully-wealthy-hottie, it doesn't disappoint, but definitely leaves you wanting more.
That doesn't mean I won't be turning back to these issues once Volume 4 comes out. When sad, lonely, and covered in grease and brake dust, I turned to Joshua Gunn's "Bird Watch," careful not to blemish the pages with tears and snot [Volume 3]. When lacking artistic inspiration or dreaming of tattoos, Peter Rubijono's drawings [Volumes 2 and 3]. When fantasizing about custom-built road bikes, "N.A.H.B.S." [Volume 2].
It's all there - feelings of victory, disappointment, desire, excitement, fuzzy contentment...all tied together by a shared love of bicycles. The effect? Intellectual and emotional embrocation [the cold weather kind]...without the stickiness.
[Buy yourself a copy here.]