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Thursday, September 13, 2012
Ride BMX Magazine turns twenty

By Brian Tunney
ESPN.com

Issue one of Ride BMX (left), and issue 185 of Ride BMX Magazine (right). Issue 185 of Ride BMX marks twenty years of publishing for the magazine, a milestone few magazines will ever reach.

In the fall of 1992, I moved from my father's house in Matawan, N.J. and started college in nearby New Brunswick, N.J. I brought my bike, a dilapidated Haro ground Master with Homeless forks, Bully stem and Redline Flight cranks, and rode when my studies allowed it, usually two or three times a week.

I was completely disconnected from the world of freestyle BMX, with exception to BMX Plus! Magazine. Earlier that year, while finishing my senior year of high school, the only other U.S. BMX magazine, Go: The Rider's Manual, ceased publication. No letter was sent out, the magazine simply just stopped showing up in my mailbox.

I was not a fan of BMX Plus. Mark Eaton's video series, "Dorkin in York," remained my sole lifeline to the world of BMX that was slowly emerging from a recession and taking on a life of its own. That and the occasional local contest, which by then, had started to dwindle. There was nothing to really inform me of what was happening in BMX.

Then, in October of my freshman year of college, my father called. He told me that a new BMX magazine had arrived for me in the mail, called Ride BMX. That weekend, I returned home and dove headfirst into issue one. From what I could gather, former Go contributor Brad McDonald had decided to start his own BMX magazine, and using the subscriber list from Go, he sent out issue one of his new creation.

It was 48 pages long, and featured Tim "Fuzzy" Hall on the cover, as well as the first glimpse of Mat Hoffman riding the big ramp in Oklahoma. It wasn't stacked with ads, but the ads included within were enough to reconnect me with rider-owned BMX brands and BMX mail-order shops that stocked the proper goods.

BMX was beginning to rebound, and Ride BMX was about to become the focal point from which that rebound grew.

According to founding editor Brad McDonald, "The only remaining BMX magazine at that time wasn't very good, so I knew there was a need for someone to make a better magazine. I figured it might as well be me, so Ride was born."

He was not pleased with the first issue: "The first issue was terrible in terms of production quality. It was all black and white inside, had bad paper, and the printing was dark. For me as a photographer, it was pretty disappointing. I knew it was a start, but I had ambitions of doing a color magazine on quality paper, not newsprint. Most of all, I wanted the photos to reproduce well. Fortunately, enough people did like it or saw promise."

The only remaining BMX magazine at that time wasn't very good, so I knew there was a need for someone to make a better magazine. I figured it might as well be me, so Ride was born.

--Brad McDonald

Like it may have been an understatement. The first issue of Ride showed me that BMX was still happening, still evolving and still what I wanted to do. It was motivation, and it became the friend I needed to continue riding on my own. After issue one, it continued to arrive every other month. Issue two showed up some time before the holidays, with Mark Gonzales on the cover doing a one-footed seat grab over a hip on a bike suited for street riding.

For the next few years, Brad McDonald edited and published Ride BMX out of his apartment, with help from contributors. Eventually, it grew to the point where he moved into an office, hired additional editors, and eventually started other BMX magazines (including Snap and TransWorld BMX) and a lengthy collection of video releases. Through the years, Ride grew to become the world's most respected BMX magazine, and now, it's reached a milestone which few magazines can ever claim.

Ride BMX Magazine issue 185, the October 2012 issue, marks twenty years of Ride BMX. Twenty years ago, Ride BMX Magazine created a legacy that continues to this day. And twenty years ago, had I not received issue one in that mail, there's a good chance I may have hung up the bike for good.

Issue one saved me.

A sincere thanks to everyone that has worked on Ride BMX throughout the years, including Brad McDonald, Mark Losey, Keith Mulligan, Jared Souney, Chris Hargrave, Steve Buddendeck, Hal Brindley, McGoo, Ryan Fudger, Utah Ryan, Glenn PP Milligan, Jeff Zielinski and anyone I may have missed.