Commentary

Wend

Wend's mission is to inspire adventure. And judging by the stories -- kayaking the Channel Islands, climbing the forbidding Shaluli Shan Mountains in China and cycling across an unforgiving Australian outback -- it's as good as its word. There's a daring quality to the photos and a live-on-the edge ethos in print that should excite adventure and armchair travelers alike.



Take, for example, Liz Clark, who, since age 10, has had one dream: to sail around the world. I have a dream, too -- to own a butterscotch-leather Barcalounger. The wind beneath your feet is finite; a comfy chair is forever. And forever, by the standards of built-in obsolescence, is probably five years. But so what? By then, Clark, an award-winning surfer, will have a new dream, and so will I -- grabbing the new, improved iPhone for $59.95.

Xtreme travel, like technology, requires two key factors: youth -- who else considers dehydration in the desert a victory? -- and skill. In a market economy, I'd add a third: timing. Wend has nicely capitalized on the adventure explosion that has made dangerous sports both a TV reality-show staple and a lucrative apparel niche. This is the thrill-seekers' bible; it's like "Survivor" for the literate.

My idea of thrill was more basic: a Sting-Ray 5-speed bike. I bought it with my bat mitzvah money -- and it was worth every penny. It was slick apple red and the envy of the neighborhood. It's true, kids, you can buy cool. And, even if the thrill wears off, it's a great high while it lasts.

That's why Wend's mission statement works. The mag exists to "provide a forum in which the convergence of sport, style and creativity blend in a seamless fashion." The editor says it's there to "challenge our senses and our spirits," which I translate as cold, wet and tired. But the Wend crowd loves it! For the target readership, billed as "urban-minded adventurers," this is deep calling to deep -- a potent reminder that there is a big world beyond the bright lights, big cities.

But unlike more traditional pubs of the outdoor variety, Wend has no front-of-book section or a product page with edit write-ups that double as unofficial advertorials. The year-old pub tells point-of-view stories; the prose boasts a you-are-there quality that hearty travelers will embrace. Wend is a bit like Outside -- it never met a natural wonder it didn't like. Plus, it chronicles experiences unknown to people like me, who find Broadway theaters, rather than sunny shores, their natural habitat.

For instance, I learned the term "alleycat" was used in the late 1980s to describe a traffic courier race in Toronto. And since 1993, the Cycle Messenger World Championships draw professional couriers worldwide. In New York, messengers routinely zip by moving pedestrians at 30 mph and come within a hair's breath of killing them. If that's a category, I know who's taking first prize. I also discovered a new profession. Lynette Chiang, identified as a "cycling documentarian by trade," wrote a book called "The Handsomest Man in Cuba." She meandered through Cuba on a folding bike and recorded her journey. And, I'll bet, this once-in-a-lifetime experience offered a low-tech charm all its own.

My one gripe is that some stories, due to graphic layout, are hard to read. White type against purple-blue water or black type on rain-grey pages is a no-go. The articles record dramatic struggles; reading should be a breeze.

Even so, if your idea of ecstasy is swimming with the sea lions in the Galapagos, you've got a friend in Wend. This bud's for you.


MAG STATS
Published by: Adventure Oregon, Inc.
Frequency: Quarterly
Web site

Next story loading loading..