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Bike basecamp

By LISA JONES TOWNSEL

August 27, 2012

When you love what you do, it shows. You live it, think it and are obsessed with it 24/7.

Perhaps freelance photographer Peter DiAntoni is obsessed with biking, or he is at least very passionate about it ó insomuch that he created a biking magazine to prove it.

The 45-year-old Riverwest native has long been a part of the biking scene and understands that the people who whiz by daily on narrow streets and busy boulevards deserve more than a honk of a horn. They needed a magazine that validated what they do and provided an insiderís view of the fun, frolic and frenzy that comes with being a cyclist.

In October 2007, he and two partners launched COG Magazine, a direct play off of the rear sprocket of a track bike. For him, naming the publication was a natural. Contributors for COG hail from around the globe, but DiAntoni now runs the magazine alone from his Riverwest home office.

Arguably, there was no better person to take on this task, since DiAntoni was already an avid biker, a photographer of bikers, worked with a bike courier company for a time, and had extensive experience with printing and publishing. (Even he acknowledges that such a skill combination is "rare.")

But donít expect a typical bikersí guide here. This high-gloss publication, for which DiAntoni is the primary photographer, overflows with edgy, candid articles about the messenger culture and tidbits on everything from six-day races and Japanese keirin racing to the Single Speed World Championship and other international activities. Not to mention that the photography is sleek, up-close and personal; plus, COG curates art for its seamless canvas-wrapped front and back covers.

"The messenger culture is a worldwide culture, and no magazine was covering it at the time," DiAntoni says of his pioneering periodical that is now distributed worldwide, mostly through independent bookstores. "This is a glossy magazine about this underground subculture."

The publishing business as a whole may be downsizing but that does not deter DiAntoni. "Itís been a really exciting project to put out there, and we got a lot of support right off the bat," he says.

COG is published quarterly mostly but sometimes semiannually, and it has amassed a circulation of more than 7,000 readers worldwide, DiAntoni reports. He says the magazine helped to spawn a niche publishing genre that was soon duplicated in this country and others.

"What we write about is a reflection of our lives personally. Itís a grassroots effort," says DiAntoni, who hasnít owned a car in more than seven years. (He uses a car-sharing service for photography assignments that require driving.)

Ultimately, he looks to the day when his publication becomes "a sustainable effort." So far, it has gotten him out and about, traveling to far-reaching places like Australia, London, Italy, Germany and Amsterdam to name a few.

Running the magazine has even spawned another operation for the biking enthusiast. This April, DiAntoni launched Flavor Cycle (www.flavorcycle.com), a bicycle food delivery service that pairs him and other working cyclists with select restaurants throughout the area. In Issue 11 of the magazine, DiAntoni details how he learned of the idea from two biking friends in San Francisco who went from being out-of-work cyclists to San Franciscoís largest employer of them. Those friends shared their business model with him.

And like always, he is confident about the possibilities. "I know a lot of business owners and have direct contacts to places," says DiAntoni in the same bright spirit that keeps him energized from one biking project to the next. "Itís been slow, but Iím optimistic."

Bike Bests

Peter DiAntoni's 5 favorite (local) biking resources

1. Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. "As cyclists in Milwaukee and throughout the state, we have the Bike Fed to thank for an increase in striped bike lanes, slipknot drawbridge retrofittings, the many trails and paths we enjoy and for the groupís continual struggle for cycling advocacy."

2. Benís Cycle & Fitness and the Milwaukee Bicycle Co. "This is one of the best and most progressive shops in the city. It has been a great supporter of COG and for the many events weíve been involved in."

3. The Riverwest 24 Hour Bike Race, or RW24. "This event has literally brought the Riverwest and neighboring communities together like no other. From its humble start five years ago, the Riverwest24 has become known around the world and given inspiration to other communities for their own races. This yearís race sold out its 750-rider limit within 1.5 hours. Yes, itís that much fun!"

4. Hayes Disc Brakes. "Most wouldnít know it but southeast Wisconsin has an incredible presence in the cycling industry. The best disc brakes in the world are made and engineered at the Hayes headquarters in Mequon. It doesnít stop there though as the company also is home to Answer components, Manitou shocks, SunRinglť wheels and Wheelsmith Spokes (the only U.S.-made cycling spokes in the world)."

5. Truly Spoken Cycles. "I canít say enough about how amazing it is to have a bike shop in your own neighborhood. Aytan Luck opened Truly Spoken a couple years ago on Center Street in Riverwest, and it is quickly becoming a hub for neighborhood cyclists. Thanks to the nonstandard standards of the cycling industry, thereís always going to be that one tool you just donít have, but itís most likely on the peg board of your local bike shop."

 


This story ran in the July 2012 issue of: