Jill Layfield, CEO
1678 Redstone Drive
Park City, UT 84098
Dear Jill – I’m writing you less as boss and more as friend. In the same way, this feels less like my resignation, and more like my confession. It’s with a heart heavy with regret that I must tell you my time has come. I’ll forever cherish my 19 months here at Backcountry.com. No other company and no other group of people would’ve offered the same opportunity, challenge and joy. I wish I could remain part of it. But, alas, I now answer to a higher power. You see, I can’t suppress the need to pursue my life’s passion. It’s not just a voice in my head. It’s so much more. It’s like the first time I heard the 20 second THX pre-roll at a high-dollar movie theatre when I was a kid. It’s not just sound, but something that goes seismic and asks so much more than senses can convey.
I can’t ignore my calling any longer. From here forward I’ll be singly dedicated to photographing — and if possible, buying — the sexiest stolen bicycles of New York City and San Francisco. Look for me on the Lower East Side. Look for me in the Mission. But whatever you do, don’t look for me cuddling up with my laptop in my corner cubicle. Those days have come to a close.
I’ve tried time and again to shed my obsession. But this fall as I shuffled through the rain in the West Village an epiphany came in the form of a scraggly-ass homeless dude big-ringing down 7th Avenue. He was riding a Confente, the rarest and most valuable road frame ever built. Two overstuffed plastic grocery bags banged against the bars. Random words arose in my mind. Gulliver’s testicles. Then came the rage. Those wet fleshy bags, they mocked me as he ripped past, thwack, thwack, thwack, against what appeared to be period-correct Cinelli 66-42’s. Have you heard those stories of precious art sold at garage sales? How do treasure troves end up in Fresno? How does a Confente end up being treated like a beater? I sprinted after him. Was he truly real? Was it an apparition I chased in the cold October rain? Like the exit scene of a dark, foreign film, there was orchestral music, there was tunnel vision, there was an acuteness of my life’s purpose as I zeroed in on him, his filth, his gorgeous bike.
I would’ve paid any price for such a rare prize. Yet he, who otherwise seemingly had nothing, went deaf to my pleas. The moment was unforgettable. That magical feeling of stumbling upon stolen treasure, it’s electricity I can’t live without. If it brings me to my knees, it’s a bad religion, yes. And I’ll spend the rest of my days pursuing it. Armed with an itchy trigger finger on my waterproof camera and fistfuls of cash. I’ll shoot them, and, if possible, I’ll buy them. I’m only leaving my dream job here in Park City to chase a bigger dream. I can only hope you’ll understand.
– In case you missed it, #1: Campagnolo has put together an impressive microsite to show off its 80th Anniversary gruppo. If you dig around you’ll find some astonishing photos. Lifelong bike industry veterans suffer from calloused hearts and minds to marketing like this, but Campy’s aim is true. Chapeau Campagnolo.
– In case you missed it, #2: BMC has started publishing an online magazine called ‘BMC Tempo.’ It’s a mix of bike news and Swiss culture 101. Most definitely worth a whirl.
– In case you missed it, #3: Who didn’t read the New York Times’ monumental story ‘Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Snowfall Creek’? It was such pyrotechnic display of multimedia journalism, I’m not even sure if ‘read’ is the right verb. ‘Experience’? ‘Immerse’? I don’t know.
A couple of months later the Washington Post similarly chose the field of endurance sports to make its first foray into the mad, bad world of HTML5. This one, called ‘Cycling’s Road Forward’ is about Joe Dombrowski. I desperately wanted to love it. But, elaborate production aside, would the story pass as a first draft at a magazine? Unfortunately it has no flow, no turns, no interesting scenes. Rather than giving us insight about an easy-to-root-for neo-pro, ‘Cycling’s Road Forward’ provides further evidence about the decline of modern journalism. In the old days, the classic way for newspapers to win awards and praise was to spend an immense amount of time on a single story and then write it to about three times its ideal length. The result would run for days or, in the worst cases, weeks. It seems apparent that the new school approach is to dress it up in HTML5 and package it up with multimedia.