Back when BMX magazines were a thing, riders used to read through their latest issues and then write (yeah, snail mail, even) letters in to the magazine editors, who would then answer and then print both letter and response in a column in the next issue. For those of you who've never grown up without social media, picture a comments section, except it took a full month for the rest of the readership to be able to see you get trolled by Ryan Fudger or Jon Saunders. And then, if you wanted to clap back, it'd cost you a trip to the local post office, money for a stamped envelope, and then another month for them to get it, maybe read it, and then toss it in the trash, unanswered.
Some of you tried, anyway. I often wondered if there was a file somewhere in the Ride or Plus! offices reserved for just the saltiest of letters? Like, the ones they probably couldn't print, but all secretly passed around the desks at the shop to laugh at amongst themselves. What was Rage Tweeting before the internet?
If you're close to any of those guys, find out and report back. I'm genuinely curious.
Anyway, I read the letter section religiously. I always found it interesting to hear the perspectives of real people (remember, to us, the pros were unreachable aliens and superheroes), and to read about how other riders felt about the same articles and photos that I devoured so hungrily. Also, I always checked them to see if my own letters had been published. And to my surprise, several were.
Sure, nowadays, the second you click Return, your opinions are instantly available for the entire world to see, no matter how congratulatory or cynical. At any given moment, you can be an instant asshole. But then? The idea that other riders would get to see my thoughts - and my name! - all over the country was stokage unheard of. To me, it felt like winning the lottery. How many readers were there? How many of them were submitting letters too? And they picked mine to print? What?? Yeah, I was out of my seat. And waitwaitwait....more than once?!? Prepare me to die happy; I'm good.
Keep in mind, these weren't contests. I didn't win anything. Hell, for all I know, there were like 6 people total who even read the letters part of the magazines. Why was I so amped?
Anyway, maybe I'll repost some of them here. In this era of ADHD, who knows if people still even care enough to read them (TLDR is a thing)? But, as with anything worth doing, sometimes we can benefit from revisiting our roots. I'll post 'em. You do what you will.