Production Week Hell
Production Week is five days of 12 to 14 hour days which Tim and I need to do in order to turn out ROAD Magazine. Contrary to popular belief, ROAD Magazine is not put together by a team of art directors and editors. It is Tim and I pounding this magazine out because, in some sick demented way, we love it. Because there are often too many distractions at work and I live 63 miles away from the office, I usually only come in twice a week. The exception to this is Production Week, when I need to be in every day. My personal life revolves around Production Week. I can’t go anywhere during Production Week. My training goes in the toilet during Production Week. In order to avoid commuter’s hell, I sleep in my office on a pull out bed. Sleeping in my office can be depressing as H3 Publications (the company that owns ROAD as well as Decline, our mountain bike magazine) is located in an industrial park in Valencia, California. For those geographically inclined, Valencia is basically a desert just north of L.A. where they constructed homes, a few shopping malls and half a dozen Starbucks. There is a Border’s bookstore I can go hang out in, but at this point in Production Week I haven’t showered in 62 hours and haven’t shaved in about 72 hours, so mall security always gives me the stink-eye when I walk through the door. Neil at day three is not a pretty sight. And by about day-three, my office also starts to be a reflection of its occupant: smelly and disheveled.
In an ideal magazine world all out text would be in the week before Production Week and we’d spend this week looking over text and sipping our lattes leisurely. Then we’d peruse color samples for that right hue of pink. That’s never the case. Interviews we have lined up fall apart at the last moment with little explanation, the race ends on the Sunday of Production Week (like Tour de Georgia) so the Monday and Tuesday we’d usually spend reviewing text are gone and we are now writing text and sorting photos. It is a very stressful time and I usually get a couple of headaches from it. Tim and I go through various versions of the issue, “okay-we add two pages to the Giro and take some away from the Gear section.” Sometimes we need text to fill a column. That was the case the other day. I quickly wrote 400 words, only to have Tim say to me, “You’re going to kill me, but I needed that space for something else.” There is a lot of stuff that Tim and I write that will never see the light of day because we run out of room. Every once in a while my publisher pokes his head through the door like a curly-haired gopher and barks, “You guys done with it yet?”
“Yeah Dave, just finishing up a few things,” we lie. Sometimes he’ll walk to my door and not say a word. He’ll just stare at me, hoping I look up from my computer so he can flip me off. I now take preemptive measures and flip him off first. Somehow Tim and I get it done on the deadline, which is this upcoming Monday, breathe a sigh of relief, then we start up again…