Interview: What a cycling magazine has to do with sustainability

In an exchange with the designer and realiser of our website - Martin Donat - we learnt more about his activities as publisher of the cycling magazine 'lifeCYCLE'.

We realised how much this has to do with sustainability and our own (travel) philosophy. That’s why we asked Martin for an interview so that you can find out the context directly from his words. When was the last time you went on a decelerated journey or simply took a trip by bike? After this article at the latest, you will certainly have new motivation to do so!

The daily balancing act of self-employment & sustainability

Daniela: Nice that you have time…
Martin:With pleasure!

Daniela: The first thing I would like to know is what is on your mind personally at the moment?

Martin: Interesting question that I hadn’t even consciously asked myself. But now that you ask: I think I’m actually more or less consciously preoccupied with a lot of things. I think the common thread in all my thoughts is a kind of balancing act that I try to achieve every day on all sorts of levels: Enjoy life more and “switch off” from time to time. Still earn enough money, which doesn’t happen by itself as a self-employed person. Living as “sustainably” as possible, but not completely isolating yourself. Observe world events without panicking. Somehow stay positive and try to make the world a better place on a small scale, even if you often no longer expect much from humanity…

A little more “slow”: For Martin, slowing down life works particularly well on a cycle tour – including an overnight stay in the countryside.

A slightly different cycling magazine

Cathérine: You are the editor of lifeCYCLE magazine. There are already several bike magazines on the market. Would you briefly tell us how the idea came about and what the motivation was?

I’ve been doing content for various cycling magazines for almost 20 years. Publishers have always focussed heavily on financial aspects, i.e. advertising sales. At the same time, there was always a strong contrast between what is actually a wonderfully nature-loving, sustainable activity – cycling. And on the other hand, constantly travelling by car or plane. Plus a permanent restlessness to practise this sport and produce great content. Every month we needed sensational stories and great news. A key experience was a press trip to the USA, where a product was presented that originated less than 50 kilometres from my home. Afterwards I was completely exhausted for a week and just thought to myself: Is there no other way?

And that was precisely our aim: we wanted to create a cycling magazine that was different. Above all, as sustainable as possible. As my business partner Stephan and I had just set up our own content agency, we could “afford” to put the typical focus on money for the magazine on the back burner. For the time being, the magazine should be our “extended hobby” and consistently realise our ideas of a good cycling magazine. And I think we have succeeded: I would boldly say that there is no other magazine that is created in such a way.

Such magical moments are free and regular on the bike!

Daniela:What is your circulation, how often is the magazine published?

Martin: That’s a point I always have to expand on. Because these figures say so little, especially as people like to cheat. When I say: We print 30,000 magazines, that doesn’t mean we’ll sell them. In fact, in Germany, the majority of printed magazines in a sector like cycling end up in the paper rubbish.

The reason for this is the complex distribution structure: you have to print a certain quantity in order to be able to display it at all the petrol stations, supermarkets and kiosks. In the end, you might sell 3,000 booklets, but 30,000 sounds much better, of course. And although everyone knows how it works, most advertisers prefer to hear the nice-sounding big number. Which doesn’t exactly make it any easier for us …

Nevertheless, we wanted to get out of this cycle. That’s why we distribute our magazine ourselves and exclusively via our online shop. We now have many subscribers who help us to plan our circulation. The remaining magazines will remain in the shop until they are sold out. We print 2,000 magazines, but we also sell them. lifeCYCLE is only published four times a year – for conscious reading consumption. In the magazine, we mainly cover timeless topics that will still be entertaining and topical in two years’ time. Daily news will be posted on our website.

lifeCYCLE Magazine is often about sustainability, combined with a great cycle tour. This one led – car-free, of course – to Lützerath.

The role of the bicycle in the mobility transition

Cathérine: It all sounds like we have a similar target group, namely people who are concerned with sustainable issues – in your case, mobility in particular.
Martin: Definitely! Anyone interested in sustainability and transformation can’t really avoid the bicycle. The crazy thing is that the bicycle has been around for more than 200 years and is now extremely efficient and sophisticated. It is the solution to numerous problems – above all, it is a key to a successful transport transition. It’s actually astonishing that so many people still voluntarily torment themselves through the city in expensive cars.

Cycling magazine founders Martin and Stephan
Cycling magazine founders Martin and Stephan

Cathérine: What exactly makes this target group so interesting and do you have any other activities? (We know that you also programme websites and create images and videos…)

Martin: Stephan and I have always done things that we enjoy. I raced bikes and wrote reports about them in the early days of the internet. This includes texts and photographs, and later videos. So I became a “content creator” all by myself and had to build the homepage to publish it all. When I do things that I enjoy, it’s much easier for me to put 100 per cent into them. That’s the “selfish” part of the whole thing.

But our target group has also been deliberately chosen: We want to change things in a positive way and fortunately there are more and more people who want to do the same. This is reflected in our topics and in the way we do things.

Daniela: Finally, what do you think about the idea of the CREATE Convention?
Martin: I think it’s a great idea. The name says it all: this is not just a place to consume, as is unfortunately often the case today. This is where people who share the vision of a beautiful, positive future come together and organise a weekend of exchange. Apart from the topics, I also think the location is great!

Cathérine: Thank you very much for the interesting conversation!

You can find out more about the topics that connect our philosophies at lifeCYCLE media and the magazine.

And what does a bike content creator do in his spare time? The answer is hardly surprising …

Start transformation now!

We are looking forward to meeting you.