Give me a moment to collect myself…. sniff, sniff with the wipe of a small tear.
It would appear the final chapter has finally come to a close on Tandem & Family Cycling (T&FC) Magazine.
I’ve always had a deep appreciation for what Greg Shepherd and his crew at T&FC were able to achieve with their magazine and was deeply saddened to see the enterprise fold back in 1999. The magazine’s arrival in my mailbox was always something I eagerly awaited and its mere existence suggested there was a robust tandem community out there large enough to support a high-quality publication. Well, apparently not.
Thankfully, I had a nearly complete collection of T&FC magazines and the classified ad site remained fully functional when the print magazine was sunset by Greg. I still have the nearly complete collection of magazines, but the server that Greg had kept up and running for 19 years — 5 years longer than the magazine — apparently went off-line for good a few months back.
At least one tandem team has stepped-up to try and fill the T&FC Classified Ads site with a new, organic Tandem Classified Ad site you can find at: http://TandemClassifieds.com. They’ve secured a few new ads, but have put in place a robust site that can easily grow to support the entire tandem communities needs.
For those who might be interested in a little more T&FC history, I pulled some extracts from a posting I made to bikeforums.net back in 2007 and woven into a new article below. Yes, there are probably some historical inaccuracies, but it’s close enough for my purposes:
Before the internet, Tandem@Hobbes and T&FC, the Tandem Club of America and its newsletter “Doubletalk” was the only game in town and the membership roll — perhaps six times larger than it is today by some accounts — reflected its value to the tandem community. TCA & Doubletalk was “how the tandem community stayed connected”.
However, with Wade Blomgren’s launch of the Tandem@Hobbes listserve in late ’92, early embracers of the internet who were also tandem enthusiasts found a more efficient way to share information regarding the hobby and, TCA membership purportedly began to feel the effects as Tandem@Hobbes list membership began to grow.
In late 1994, Greg Shepherd and a small collection of friends and associates took a gamble and launched Tandem & Family Cycling Magazine. The goal was to publish a high-quality, full-color magazine that truly filled the void in tandem cycling-related publications with a well-edited, balanced collection of articles and features. It was published on a quarterly basis and — IHMO– really gave tandem enthusiasts a much broader view of the tandem industry, technology, and travel. As was believed to be the case with Tandem@Hobbes, T&FC’s popularity purportedly caused a bit more erosion of TCA membership as tandem enthusiasts who preferred printed material to Email from the Tandem@Hobbes listserve had an alternative source for tandem news and information in a far more appealing package vs. the somewhat dated TCA “newsletter format”.
I personally discovered T&FC Magazine and their website not long after we bought our 1st tandem in 1997, just shortly after my discovery of the Tandem@Hobbes listserver. Tandem@Hobbes turned out to my favorite resource for gaining access to information regarding tandems and connecting to other enthusiasts. It was where “those in the know” would share their knowledge interactively and near-real-time. These folks included tandem & cycling enthusiasts / people in the industry like Santana’s Bill McCready, Co-Motion’s Dwan Shepard, daVinci’s Todd Shusterman, Glenn Erickson, Dennis Bushnell, folks from Bilenky, Sheldon Brown, Peter White, Jobst Brandt every now and again, and many other fountains of knowledge and experience. To this day I still enjoy many, many friendships that were formed on Tandem@Hobbes with tandem enthusiasts all over the world.
As much as I enjoyed Tandem@Hobbes, T&FC magazine satisfied my desire to have access to a printed resource that contained fairly objective, very well-written reviews of various different brands and model of tandems… my true passion. In fact, it was David Morgan’s excellent review of and Erickson Cycle Tours that first brought Glenn Erickson’s name to our attention, and then David’s equally excellent review of Glenn & Nancy Erickson’s personal tandem in a subsequent T&FC 1/4ly edition that eventually led us and four other couples from Atlanta to set aside our Santana tandems and acquire Ericksons between 1998 and 2000.
The T&FC website was also a good resource. It offered a nice collection of links, article archives, interactive classified ads, and other information hosted at their website was far more comprehensive than TCA’s web site. TCA’s website, in retrospect, seemed more like a tool used to bolster TCA membership by providing select extracts from the Doubletalk newsletter: snippets from travel & rally reports and static snapshots of the important event list and classified ads.
However, despite the outstanding quality of T&FC’s writing, editing, full-color photography and binding the subscription and paid advertiser model used for its revenue stream made the enterprise unsustainable given the small market it served.
Somewhere around 1999 T&FC ceased publication and their website went into a dormant mode. No longer were the club links, event listings, etc. being updated. However, it still had an interactive classified ads site that continued to work and there was a partial archive of articles and reviews hosted off the site.
By this point, Tandem@Hobbes had grown into a robust mailing list that continued to fill the need for enthusiasts looking for real-time information and who were becoming more comfortable navigating the Web to obtain information vs. sitting by the mailbox waiting for their next fix. But, with T&FC “gone” there was a pretty big void in the on-line world of tandem cycling.
It was the demise of T&FC that became the catalyst for the expansion of my personal website’s list of tandem cycling resources into what became the TheTandemLink.com in early 2000. To fill the T&FC void I made a point of compiling a comprehensive list of links to tandem builders – large and small – as well as tandem specialty dealers, tour operators, and anything else that I happened upon I felt tandem enthusiasts might benefit from.
However, the two things that I never included were a tandem-specific classified ads tool — T&FC had that covered — or a discussion forum, as Tandem@Hobbes had that covered, along with my off-road tandem forum, Double_Forte. Looks like http://TandemClassifieds.com may be able to fill the gap in the tandem classified ad department.