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Modest Bike focuses on the other guys

Big mountain freeriding, urban landscapes, and photography the focus of Whistler-produced bike magazine

If pictures are worth a thousand words then Modest Bike is the Moby Dick of mountain bike magazines.

Produced by Whistler’s Ian Millar, the new magazine takes an artistic and cultural look at a sport that is constantly growing and changing, with spreads dedicated to the other guys – talented freeriders that don’t fit into the cross-country or downhill categories, and who are equally at home riding city streets and skateparks as they are on the mountains.

"I’d rather focus on the lifestyle and the people out there riding their bikes a lot, rather than the usual high profile riders," said Ian Millar, who took most of the photographs, as well as handled the graphic design and publishing for the self-financed magazine.

"Often they’re the (riders) who are doing the most interesting stuff, and they do it because they love to ride, not because they’re getting paid for it."

Millar has been in Whistler for 12 years now, and has watched the sport steadily evolve, most recently with the growth of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

A sport that was once limited to cross-country and downhill has expanded to include dirt jump parks, stunts, skateparks and other man-made and natural obstacles. The cover of Modest Bike shows Aaron Chase doing a wall ride on a fence.

Other photographs feature Seth Lolli in a halfpipe, Doug Fink doing a foot stomp on a wall ride, Ryan Newman gapping a road in Pemberton, Ryan Hayes dropping a 20-foot cliff on Whistler Mountain, Jeff Lenosky riding tree trunks and park benches in Pittsburgh, Shaums March wheelie-dropping off a crazy rock somewhere.

In addition to Millar, pictures were contributed by Ian Hylands, Harookz, Aaron Lutze and Warwick Pattersen. The accompanying stories are by Millar, Ted Tempany, Ryan Senechal, Aaron Lutze, Jeff Clark, Justin McMullen, Jeremy Levin, DJ Bahilman, Morley Wilkins, Stan Iordanov and Harookz.

Through pictures and stories, Millar hopes to do for mountain biking what photographers have done for skateboarding and surfing, by getting away from typical shots and clichés to show the sport and the athletes in a more artistic light.

He was inspired to create Modest Bike after taking a trip to Budapest, Hungary, where he stumbled on a dirt jump park in the middle of the city. Watching a 14-year-old kid hit the double jumps on a bike he scrounged from other riders, Millar saw the need to create a free ride mountain bike magazine that gets back to the roots of the sport and the spirituality of its riders.

"The whole Modest Bike thing is not in-your-face flash magazine, with Cedric (Gracia) and (Richie) Schley on every page. It’s not that I would never do anything on those guys or other pros riders out there, because I would, I just wanted to show the whole low-profile thing, the guys who are out there riding every day that most people can relate to…. And all the stuff that happens out of view on the mountains," said Millar.

Millar is starting off small, with two issues this year; he hopes to produce four issues next year. He would be willing to produce more than that, but not if it hurts the quality of the product.

"I don’t want to sacrifice the quality," said Millar. "Right now I really feel every page is good and I want it to stay that way."

Most of the advertisers in the first issue are film production companies, which Millar also works with. Now that he has a finished product to show off, he hopes to attract more ads to recoup his investment.

He also doesn’t have a distributor yet, and is selling his magazine through bike shops around B.C. and North America. So far in Whistler it’s only available at Evolution, but he hopes to have it under more local counters in the next few weeks.

His first print run was just 1,000 copies, something else he wants to expand in the future.

"I’m better at photography and graphic design than the whole sales and business side, so I decided to put together a magazine first to show people where I’m going with this idea. It’s easier to show people the magazine than to tell them about it," said Millar.

He also sees the content of Modest Bike growing to include more lifestyle features, with sections on clothes, equipment and music, following in the footsteps of successful urban lifestyle magazines.

"I want to reflect what’s going on in the biking world, and there’s more going on there than just riding," Millar said.