I caught up with Simon on the eve of the launch of Issue one of LifeCycle.
Who is Simon Hayes and how did you get into triathlon, cycling and Transitions?
Ah, now there is a question! Well, a friend of mine, Kevin rang me up one day looking for someone "stupid enough" to enter the Speights Coast to Coast in NZ. We never got to do that race but we did do the JLL Challenge races in NSW and VIC. They were great, Katoomba to Sydney and Mt Buller to Melbourne.
The last JLL Challenge I was taking quite seriously, seriously enough to come in the top 30 on both bike legs. My team however, hadn't really trained and our result was quite disappointing. I remember sitting on the side of Lake Eildon waiting and waiting for our paddler to turn up and I decided there that I would go solo from then on.
One thing led to another and I got the IM bug, mainly through an old group called Tri-DRS, and later the Transitions forum. I did a few IM races though not very well, a few marathons, some of the big Sri Chinmoy swims and then kind of drifted out of competitions. Now I run once or twice a week and have a regular swim, but that's about all. I still like hitting the Blue Mountains cliff top staircases though.
How did you get into magazines?
I originally began writing race results for Australian Mountainbike Magazine and also did some stories for a couple of British mags. Then Bicycling Australia split into separate road and mtb mags and I was offered a regular column in the mtb mag, which I did for a few years.
Then, Bicycling Australia were struggling to find an editor for their road magazine and I applied. It was an interesting interview. Instead of the usual interview questions, they asked me; "Who one the 2007 Paris Roubaix?" and "Can you recite Shimano group sets from highest to lowest? Same for Campagnolo?" Twenty minutes later I had the job and I stayed there for five years.
It was a great job, quite varied, but an extraordinary amount of pressure and overtime. You would find yourself doing huge hours, particularly if you had to go overseas. I remember one trip I did to visit Richie Porte. I flew Syd-HK-Paris-Nice and drove to Monaco. I did a story on the Col du Turini and Col de Braus, next day met up with Richie and then flew to Barcelona and then a three day Giant camp in Mallorca. Then it was three days in London for pre Olympic stuff, velodrome, road race, TT course, caught a 6am flight to Marrakech to ride in the Atlas Mountains in 45deg heat. Back to Paris, drive to Flanders for two days doing the Roubaix and Flanders cobbles, back to Paris, London, HK and Sydney. All in 13 days. And of course, then I was on deadline. It was pretty exhausting, but at the same time exhilarating. But after a while you are in danger of burning out.
What made you decie to take the leap of making your own magazine?
I took voluntary redundancy from Bicycling Australia and went to work for JetBlack Products. BA had been letting staff go and they, to their credit, told me that I was next on the list. But JetBlack didn't quite turn out as advertised and I found that I was just answering the phone. I could have been doing the same thing at any insurance company. And also, if I'm honest with myself, it was difficult to get used to not being slightly important. Being editor of Bicycling Australia isn't that important, but you do get a little bit of respect. You can ring someone up, nearly anyone involved with cycling and they'll know who you are. But as soon as I left, that all went, whoof! Gone! Also, I had no creative outlet. I even began writing a novel in my lunch break just to do something creative. Another guy in the office, Mark Cordingley, a graphic designer was feeling the same so we talked about making a magazine of our own. I mean, all magazines, even the really big ones have to begin somewhere. I'd learned a lot at Bicycling Australia so here we are, a year later and we have our own magazine.
So what is is about and who is it aimed at?
LifeCycle is aimed at people like myself. It occurred to me that every bike magazine you pick up is basically similar. Lots of them have bike and product tests, or fitness articles and so on. But the one thing they have in common is that they're all 100% cycling.
And I thought,"Well, my interests are much broader than just cycling. I like all sorts or things, have a wide range of things that I like to read about. But why should I have to buy a bike mag and say, Smith Journal or Frankie, or BBC History? Why not have them all in one magazine?"
Some of the surfing mags do it very well. They hold their identity as a surfing mag with pics of waves and surfing articles, but then they'll have a story about Cuba or VW Kombis or something. So if they can do it with surfing, why couldn't I do it with cycling?
In LifeCycle you'll find a range of stuff. Cycling the Taiwan KOM. Iditabike, What's wrong with the Tour?, Tirreno-Adriatico etc. But you'll also find an interview with Ray from the Hard Ons, a guy making furniture out of recycled cardboard, beer reviews, film reviews, Bob Mina's postal swim, even our own music download. There's no bike tests, because they date a magazine and no race reports. But there's a nice big font so you you can read it in dim light and it has some pretty bloody excellent pictures as well.
I wanted to put a regular amount of women in (we were never allowed to have too much female content at BA), but just as a normal thing without making a big song and dance about it. And I also wanted to introduce some new people as contributors instead of the usual Graham Watson, Matt Keenan, Anthony Tan, Rupert Guiness. Many of the people in LifeCycle will be completely new to readers.
Hopefully enough people will like it and we can do a second issue. Fingers crossed!!
LifeCycle will be in you local newsagent on the 2nd of November. If you want to get hold of a copy but your regular newsstand doesnt have it, contact Simon on firstname.lastname@example.org and he can point you to your nearest outlet.
Ed: In the interests of full disclosure, Simon is a friend and gave me my start revieing bikes at BA and is also a pretty handy vegetarian cook. Personally I'd like to wish him the best of luck in his new venture and Im sure a lot of the Transitions members who have known him over the years would do likewise.