Sunweb - Cyclist Magazine

When I started this photography thing in the crazy world of cycling, Cyclist Magazine was always something I aspired to work with. Their ability to showcase images of a high standard has always been something that has drawn me to their work and obviously, the calibre of photographers that work or have worked with the magazine was something I wanted to be part of - so they made the bucket list.

I got my first call up to go to the Giro with Team Sunweb and journalist James Writts. I have spent most of my photography path documenting Movistar, so I was really keen to experience the world of another team and see how they progress through Grand Tours. The fact they were hosting the leader's jersey, maglia rosa, was the icing on the cake.

Cyclist Magazine have just released their latest issue with a good selection of images and a great insight into the world of a Grand Tour winning team, from chef tricks through to leaving a rider at the hotel when setting off to the start - check out it here: www.cyclist.co.uk

Here are a few 'outtake' images from my time with the team - hope you like! Cyclist latest issue hosts the best of the bunch, so don't forget to grab your copy to view more work - stay tuned for future images ;)

 

Parenting Talent

I have two kids. A 7 year old girl who is beginning to show signs of teenage-hood and a 4 year old boy. They watch me closely, picking up the guitar to see if they can make it sound like I do, grasping at cameras to document days (the girl is actually super talented, I have to constantly check if my ability to take a photo was all down to the camera after all!) and more recently cycling!

Charlie got his first bike when turning 4. He chose a lightening red, quirky frame, free air horn and bottle attachment machine - quite the looker! He asked me if we can go to the local track to race "like the time I watched you Daddy!" and here is where his cycling life begins and my sudden realisation that bikes can be bloody scary!

We woke on ride day with eager anticipation. Porridge to fuel the ride, bottles filled to the rim with energy juice (plain water obviously). He was eager to replicate what he has seen at local cyclocross races. Adjusting the strap on his helmet, making sure it is secure. Double checking his shoes are tight for the sprint. Sipping at water to make sure he doesn't get thirsty and possibly his favourite part, munching Haribo just like Sagan.

We set off on a our race track, a non traffic course used by local riders for evening training and family rides in between. He quickly notices there are two different coloured lines towards the inside of the track, "What do these mean Daddy?". What happens next makes me realise how we are born with the underlining ability to want to push limits. "The outside line is for slower riders, this is where we will be staying to make sure we do not collide with any fast riders on the track - they stay on the blue line.", "No way, that is rubbish! I want to go in the fast lane!!". He applies pressure to the pedals and shoots off, stabilisers can be heard picking up an impressive speed from the go.

He is now experiencing that 'Flying' feel we all get on a bike. You can see his eyes are locked on the 'fast' line and he begins to notice he is getting faster and faster as the track begins to slope downhill. "Don't forget to use your brakes, there is a corner coming...brake...brake...BRAKE!!!"

There is a sweeping right turn, he takes it at full speed! He is technically now only on one stabilser and only just maintaining rubber on the tarmac. He swooshes round the corner and eventually finds the brakes. "WOAH!! That was awesome!! I nearly fell off but did you see me manage to stay on my bike"

My heart was racing! I nodded nervously and complimented him on how well he did but maybe we should save some energy for the last lap, before I could finish my sentence he was off - on the fast line of course.

We managed three laps in total and I'm proud to say we stayed on two wheels for the rest of the ride. He learnt to dig deep on the hills and left with the cycling bug. I quickly became aware of how amazing this sport is, watching a child learn so much in one ride but also what I must have put my parents through.

As a parent you want your child to learn new experiences that help shape their future, small life lessons to prepare them for what is to come. Falling is a key part of childhood, it is neatly designed to ensure we begin to learn where limits are, how far we can push things and how to get back up and move on. It is our job to make sure we apply the limits we have already learnt to their learnings to be sure they remain safe. Cycling is remarkably hard to control when you do not have physical access to their brakes. There are countless moral lessons encased within the world of cycling, so many can be translated into everyday life and I honestly believe they assist with shaping a well rounded individual and yes there is a fear element involved, a lurking danger that always remains but truth be told most things we do have that element of danger. 

The hardest part of my job, as a parent, is learning to slowly release the reins and letting my kids learn for themselves as they become more curious about life. There is a lot I can learn from watching Charlie embrace that swooping right turn at full speed. I think it is safe to say we will be riding again!

Next stop, the Tour de France... apparently,

The Quarter Masters

Some people are just cooler than others - The Quarter Masters

I have passed the shop numerous times, located in Folkestone in the perfect location - the old high street. The clothes match the owners unique personality and cleanly demonstrate that less is more.

If you are in the area pop by, they also run bespoke orders - you can have your face on a t-shirt if needs be!

http://thequartermasters.net/

Why do we fall?

I have been riding my bike for just over three years now but recently experienced my first 'off'.

I had decided to become a #Festive 500 Christmas Athlete and brave the winter roads, after all I had my nice new shiny Kinesis CX bike that can handle anything - with added comfort too!

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Day one was a disaster, I was 60km from home and double punctured. I had no choice but to call the support car, which was currently still in bed and not happy about trying to locate me in Kent lanes she had never seen before. I went home, got an earful about mud on the car seat and disappeared off into the mist of Christmas TV. I was not happy.

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Day Two... was worse! A lot worse! I packed three tubes this time, cookies, apples, gels, a pump, a sneaky chocolate bar and set off listening to my bespoke Weller playlist. Positive vibes. The plan was to ride along the coast for 50km and then head back the same way, see how the legs felt and then head 50km the other way! The first 50km was achieved, after a gingerbread man cookie, sip of ice water I headed back in the direction of home feeling pleased and satisfied today was going well!

Legs were feeling great. The playlist had changed from Weller to Velvet Revolver, the cadence was picking up in response to the new tunes and the thoughts of a warm bath were beginning to settle in. I rode at a relaxed pace, attempting to take in roads I have ridden hundreds of times, people and buildings creating short stories being played out in my head - I start to indicate, the car behind is some distance back, I approach a small roundabout to turn right....BANG!

I woke up with a 6ft bloke tying a knot in a bandage around my head, my right eye had been covered like some mummified pirate - I had been out cold for 7-8 minutes. At this point I have no idea how I got onto the path, where I am, what has happened or how I am standing up ... "Where is my bike?!?!", "Who hit me", "Where am I". I catch a glimpse of my bike up against a garden wall, stumble over checking it is OK -  it appears alright! "My Garmin is still running, I need to save my ride". 

A police car turns up to assist. An ambulance can't come as they are too busy (must be a Christmas thing). An old lady takes my bike into her corner shop and promises to look after it. I am suddenly on the phone to Victoria (my partner) trying to explain what happened, where I am and to bring the drugs (Haemophilia - Factor 8). Blue sirens flashing, we fly down the motorway and the next few days are spent eating cold custard, MRI Scans and listening to Mr Browning talk about falling out of his bed to end his life (bless him!).

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It turns out a pot hole was the cause of my accident. Those that ride will know you generally look through a corner when on the bike. I was not travelling at high speed, I was aware of my surroundings but failed to see the pot hole on the exit of the corner - evidently it was too late and a bump to the head later. That fall was enough to crack my crash helmet in two, scar my face, rip a muscle in my shoulder and pebble dash my legs.

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Cycling is amazing. Do you remember a childhood program where the boy could pause time with a magic watch? To me cycling replicates that feeling - there are moments where time feels frozen, I forget the world is turning. It is this and many more reasons that cause the following mind set to the majority of cyclists, "When can I get back on my bike again Doc?".

This week was that time. I was allowed off the turbo and out into the wild. I have to say my confidence has been knocked, I descend with utmost caution and have found myself searching for routes that have more grass than concrete but this is OK! I expect to be nervous and I respect that. I want the bike to remind me that I was lucky and things could have been worse. I know I have a couple of weeks work to do to sort that out.

I have new goals for 2017. I have plans and desires I wish to complete, some that involve the bike and some that don't. My crash has not changed my life, thank god, but merely reminded me that things do go wrong but that is OK. As I tell my children (and stole from the Batman movie!!), "Why do we fall?"..."So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again".

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Complete not Compete

It was hard work, a lot harder than I thought it would be if I'm honest.  I have spent a year photographing CX events, always thinking to myself "Yeah! I could do that". My first race was an eye opener. I learnt so much!!

You get the chance to try the course in between races, which I knew would be key for me to put my three weeks training into practice. For those that follow my twitter account you will probably be aware (by my persistent moaning) that I was struck with the dreaded cold two days before the race and dribbled snot throughout most the day- it made breathing even more of a chore!
As I attempted my first practice lap there was one key problem, an area I had over looked during training - off camber sections! These are basically small slopes you ride across rather than up, mix mud into that and you spend a lot of time running or slipping. I knew I was in trouble, I was going to have to learn as I went round.
 

Ben Bartlett Photography

Ben Bartlett Photography

 


I nervously crawled to the start line, taking my position at the back of the pack. We had the race rules sung between gulps of gel and adopted our well rehearsed starting positions. To my surprise I had a great start, shot through the pack and felt good! I followed the wheel of Glenn, who I knew was a great rider, he is also the dude that build the bike I was racing on - cool hey!! Glenn carved a neat hole in the group and I followed with little stress... that was until we hit the first technical section!

I jumped off my bike with the goal of completing a tiny off camber section with a little run, it did not go to plan. I ran into the guy in front who had stopped dramatically due to a traffic jam on the course! This pushed me from around 12th to pretty much the back of the pack. I was secretly pleased, the last thing I wanted was to be near the front and for people to assume I knew what the hell I was doing - lets be honest I was always destined to just complete the race, not compete the race!

From there on each technical section presented more and more problems. I was learning on the job but loving every second of it. 

It worked out to be roughly 5 laps. Each lap was harder and harder. The mud was chewed up by riders in front, which caused a sticky strength draining ride. There were times I jumped off the bike for a run up and couldn't get the energy to jump back on the thing. With one lap to go you hear a bell. The sound of joy, the sound of freedom and release. I now know why the crowd frantically wave bells at riders throughout the race, they are being kind to the soul - giving you that glimmer of hope and reminding you it will be over soon!

I have no idea what position I finished in. I have no idea how far ahead the rider was in front. I crossed the line, headed back to my car and texted my family straight away, who were waiting nervously for my reaction - "I bloody loved it! Cannot wait for the next race! Bring it on"

Ian Brookless Photography

Ian Brookless Photography