Publisher and founder of Full Sus MTB, SHAYNE DOWLING reflects on what has been a rollercoaster five years of South Africa’s largest cycling publication’s journey.
50 issues – wow! Full Sus’ first issue was in April 2013 and reading the editorial again I was reminded about those early days, why we started Full Sus and the team we had back then: “Full Sus is for you and while we acknowledge the race snakes, our primary focus is the weekend warrior, the regular rider, the newbie. You guys that fill up the rides, make up the numbers at the events, keep the local bike shops going and that ultimately ensure that MTB in SA is strong and healthy.” I would like to think that nothing has changed and that this is still 100% relevant. We still consider Full Sus as a publication for all MTBers but primarily for the pack and not the stars. Of course, we don’t ignore our athletes, the guys and girls that make MTB in its various guises, their living. We don’t ignore the professionals that are not only on the bike but also the industry and professionals around the cyclists and this fantastic sport and pastime. Looking back, the greatest memories and achievements to my mind have been the people we have met, the brands we have built relationships with and the loyal readers that read Full Sus from cover to cover every month. Full Sus is also an exercise in “self-journalism” – we run with a very small crew and besides one or two stories all the regulars and most of our stories are compiled from specialists in their field and you guys. We don’t pay any of our contributors and they are without a doubt the most loyal and coolest bunch of MTBers out there – huge thanks to all of you! It’s always tricky to single out people and there are a huge number of folks to thank, but special mention must be made for Seamus Allardice. Seamus started Full Sus with me. He was pretty much as green as me but he is a quality person and a great writer. He took on the task and knocked it out the park. Without Seamus I am pretty sure we wouldn’t have Full Sus. Shot Seamus! He left big shoes to fill and current editor Frans le Roux has stepped into the breach and is doing a fine job. I also have to mention the Stirlings! Stirling Senior and I go way back, and it’s been great having him and SJ adding colour and MTB wisdom to every issue and along with the MTB Gypsy: Jacques Marais who has allowed us to feature all his well and less well travelled trails. These guys have been with us since #1 – thank you! Kath Fourie is another stalwart and this issue sees her final column, thank you and go well Kath! Full Sus is also unique in that we are self-distributed to just about every bike store, the Sportsmans Warehouse outlets and also some coffee shops – you guys rock, thanks for accepting Full Sus into your stores. The idea was to get our readers into the outlets but also to make sure that the newspaper is readily available and on time each month for all MTBers around the country. No small feat and we couldn’t do it without Andries! He is our logistic master! Again, Full Sus couldn’t be what it is without Andries and his team! Of course we couldn’t do a thing without our print guru’s – Hussein, Celeste, Ierret, Andre and Hugo, who we have given grey hairs (Yes Celeste even you!) but these guys have worked tirelessly to ensure we get as close as dammit to magazine print quality on newsprint, and they do a fantastic job! Full Sus is a free newspaper. People laughed at us, called us mad. Sat on the fence. But slowly they have come around. The industry, related services and products are the sole supporters of your favourite newspaper. Without their advertising we wouldn’t be. Thank you for seeing the value in our little big newsie! I say it again, it’s a labour of love. We love seeing the category of MTB growing – long may it last! In the five years we have been publishing we have seen some amazing technology being implemented We essentially arrived with the death of 26ers and have seen 29ers become incredible machines and the progress doesn’t seem like slowing
down. Carbon everything, dropper posts, tubeless compulsory, full suspension (Yes folks, that’s where we get our name from), shock lockouts, 650b, Fat Bikes, electronic shifting, slacker geometry across the board, boost technology, wider rims, insane tyres, cool gear and this is just off the top of my head. Technology is getting better day to day and shows absolutely no sign of stopping. Just as the bikes have improved the cyclists have too. Without a doubt as the gogga bites everyone wants to be on a better bike, get fitter, eat better, enter the next big event oh and of course let’s not forget do our best to hit the top of our mates on Strava. Events have got to the point that a coke and jelly babies is so substandard at a water table, race villages are small Olympic villages that take care of every rider’s needs and then some. Oh and let’s not forget how we have become the conservationists of today and the future. Our sport has allowed us to see and experience places we wouldn’t have dreamed of before. We need to thank every farmer, private and state landowner that allows us to ride on their land. It allows us as a collective to admire, respect and contribute to our beautiful environment and realise how privileged we are to mountain bike. We also have to say thank you to the trail fairies, the guys and their teams that are out there day after day cutting, building, improving and discovering new trails all across the country, ensuring that we have of the best trail systems in the world. Finally my greatest journey has been following the sport of mountain biking, sitting around at every chance I get to discuss trails, bikes and beer with mates – especially Richie and Paul and those damn Mamils! With many old mates who I have reconnected with, with many new mates who I can now truly call friends and with my team who have come and gone over the years or are still waving the flag proudly: Frans, Seamus, Ash, Eloise, Annalie, Megan, Jess, Julia and Kaitlyn – thank you. Last and not least having you guys, our readers, coming up to us and sharing ideas, sharing stories, adventures and trails together. Thank you. Here’s to another five years! See you on the Trails.