You are here celebrates 15th anniversary

Published July 1, 2015

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BRAIN) — After taking a year off from his job as a schoolteacher and moving to Italy with his wife, Cam McRae returned to Canada speaking another foreign language and thinking about a career change.
His idea included writing and bikes, and ultimately spawned North Shore Mountain Biking, or, which McRae and two partners brought online 15 years ago this week.

McRae's original vision was for a print magazine centered around Vancouver's North Shore riding scene. It was the year 2000 and the freeride movement was just starting to pick up steam on the Shore trails.

"The bike media wasn't paying attention and I thought there was space for something," said McRae, founder and editor-in-chief. "There was stuff going on here that the Lycra set wasn't paying attention to."

McRae's goal was to provide a resource for mountain bikers looking for product and trail info, and also to be a voice for the sport. One of McRae's partners, Michael Palesthorpe, was a snowboarder, and they originally conceived the site as primarily a snow-focused forum, and McRae thought they would use as a template for a separate mountain biking site he wanted to build.
But the bike content saw traffic right away with no outside promotion, so they ran with it.

Around the same time, was launching in Calgary, and McRae said there was talk of a partnership between the two sites.

"I said no," he said. "We wanted to chart our own destiny." 

McRae said that a focus on providing quality content has given an edge over the years.

"We didn't have the ability to code a video player like Pinkbike did. They also anticipated social media and were ahead of the curve that way," he said. "So they could rely on user-generated content in the beginning. But we've always had this fantastic competitor to keep us pushing and to set ourselves apart with good quality content."'s heritage is tied to the North Shore, but its wide variety of content has attracted an audience from more than 180 countries. McRae said there is a common misconception that is a local publication, when in reality only about 30 percent of its readers are Canadian. 

The site has attracted an audience that holds to a certain standard, pushing McRae and about 20 contributors to focus on quality over quantity — something that's not so easy in digital publishing. Their goal is to publish one original piece every day, Monday through Friday, including its "Ask Uncle Dave" column on Tuesdays and an opinion piece on Wednesdays.

"It's all about the low-hanging fruit with online media, because you have a direct response when you post," McRae said. "I think if you reject that as much as possible, it takes longer to attract the audience you want.

"But if you look at our comments, our readers aren't easily fooled and I appreciate that. They call us out and I think it's fantastic that we have an audience that calls us to put our best work out there," he added.

While team strives to publish timeless content, it's product reviews and videos that ensure the site's survival.

Video editor Matt Dennison has created viral sensations like "How to Be a Mountain Biker," which garnered more than 1 million views, and a series called "Hey Neighbour" that highlights characters in the North Shore mountain bike scene you've probably never heard of but who are worthy of recognition. The series, which started last year, is sponsored by Santa Cruz, the first advertiser. 

McRae kept his day job as a substitute teacher for several years until gained traction. Publisher, editor and partner Pete Roggeman, who has been involved since the early days, joined the staff full time two years ago after a stint working with Ritchey and Syncros in Switzerland.

Roggeman schemed up the AIRprentice program, which uses to recruit up-and-coming riders for the site-sponsored team. "It's been so great to have my partner Pete back on the Shore," McRae said. "The bastard thought up AIRprentice, and then left for five years, leaving me to execute it!

"But having him back here has really boosted the business end, and we've made big gains the past few years," he added.'s office is McRae's living room, where core staff meets every three weeks for editorial meetings and, of course, to ride North Shore trails right from his front door.

McRae, with a degree in English literature, has always been interested in writing, said that sometimes he can't believe what has become over the past 15 years.

"The thought of writing as career was an aspiration without a lot of promise," he said. "So it's become this sort of 'pinch me' kind of situation, thanks to a lot of people who have been so generous with their time. It's been a community effort and a labor of love, and that's the way want to keep it."

Look for more coverage of Vancouver and the North Shore in the July 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.


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