If John Squires were to participate in the reader surveys he oversees as SI's new consumer marketing director, it would certainly produce one more vote for a sport that doesn't get a lot of coverage in this country. Walk into Squires's office and one of the first things you notice is a large picture of Greg LeMond sprinting down the Champs ‚Äö√†√∂‚àö¢lysèes in a breathtaking finish in the 1989 Tour de France. On another wall is LeMond with a bicycle slung over his shoulder in a blowup of the cover shot for SI's 1989 Sportsman of the Year issue. A self-described cycling fanatic, Squires has had these SI photos on his walls through the better part of his two previous jobs, as assistant circulation director for PEOPLE and consumer marketing director for ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. "It's wonderful to finally hang those pictures where they belong," he says.
Although Squires concedes that increased media coverage of cycling would be nice—he figures he spent a good $100 tracking the progress of the last Tour de France via a 900 number because there was little stateside TV coverage—he would really rather be in the saddle than on the couch. He rides his Masi Nova Strada racing bike about 150 miles a week, and on weekends he races for a team sponsored by Le Ch‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¢teau, a French restaurant in South Salem, N.Y. Competing in what he calls "the weekend warriors' division"—35 and up—Squires, 35, hasn't won a race yet, but he often finishes in the top 10. "I'm getting closer," he says.
Squires's passion for cycling started when he was a kid growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, where his Schwinn "Lemon Peeler" was his only mode of transportation and the steep hill between town and his house was a daily challenge. "For a while I had to get off my bike and walk it," he says. "But eventually I made it on the bike. It's good to know what you can work through, because it really hurts to climb."
After graduating from the University of Washington in 1981 with an English degree, Squires held a succession of circulation jobs with publishing houses in New York City. He joined PEOPLE in 1989 and moved to EW in 1990. In Squires's tenure as consumer marketing director, EW reached the one-million circulation mark after only three years, making it the fastest-growing subscription-based magazine ever.
One of his roles at SI, says Squires, is to "act as a conduit between reader and editor." To this task he brings an analytical mind as well as an insatiable appetite for the product. "I love to read magazines," he says. "I know that sounds trite, but I live in magazines—to the exclusion of books, really. If you are going to understand readers, it helps to be one."
As he analyzes SI's reader feedback, is he tempted to, say, amplify the response of cycling aficionados? "Nah," Squires says with a laugh. "Everybody would know what I was up to."
Squires pushes pedals, but he isn't pushy about it.