“Men must endure. Their going hence, even as their coming hither.”
– King Lear, by William Shakespeare
Professional cyclocross is intense, the action so intimate that spectators can all but smell the toil, hear the thumping heartbeats and taste the adrenalin. It is, in some ways, the struggle of life in microcosm, the drama ebbing and flowing, the plot thickening as the athletic actors race past, carrying their hopes and fears at full speed.
And yet, for all the theatricality of race day, some of the greatest arenas in this uniquely testing cycle sport are little more than local football fields, public parks or dilapidated running tracks. Which, for one or two energy-sapping days a year, are transformed, ringing to the echoes of screaming crowds and panting riders, the clang and hum of machinery, the watery blast of power washers and the clink of empty beer bottles.
Each year, these places, the windswept sands of Koksijde in Flanders, or the dusty trails of Gloucester, Massachusetts, feature in the minds of riders and fans for just 48 hours. When the cross circus rolls out of town, however, the communities that inhabit these places return to their daily lives again. These locations are, without exception, hard places, characterised variously by struggling industry or extremes of weather. The people that live in these locations are hardy, too, and every bit as passionate as the fans that line the velodrome in Roubaix, or trek up mountains in the Nobeyama Prefecture in Japan.
Photographer Ben Ingham visited these settings for Rapha, these Theatres of Cross, to capture their respective characters. In these places, for one autumn or winter weekend, cyclocross racers must endure for an hour or two; for some of those who call them home, the race goes on.]]>
1. What came first, the bike or the camera?
The camera. I first picked up a camera at the age of 13 and have been taking photos ever since. I can still remember my first roll of film – Ilford FP4, black and white. I walked round the streets pointing the lens of my Olympus OM1 at interesting details, learning how to frame-up what you see in the viewfinder. After the last exposure was made I poured the chemicals into the processing tank. When the photos emerged with most of the fames exposed correctly I was hooked!
2. If you had to give up one, which would it be?
That’s a tough one, it’s like asking which leg I’d like to keep. I think I would have to say the bike – I think I would go crazy without it. My photos try to capture the feeling of riding. Maybe I would take up sketching or watercolours if I couldn’t take photos anymore.
3. Tell us about the featured shot. [A portrait of a man in a bandana, featured above.]
This image was taken during Stage 15 on Plan di Montecampione at this year’s Giro.
The final climb of the stage was nicknamed ‘Pantani Mountain’ in memory of his win there in 1998. I spotted this guy near the finish and thought I was seeing Pantani himself. All the details of his outfit, peroxided beard, the sparkle in his eye. That level of admiration, 10 years on, shows just how loved Pantani was by many Italian fans.
4. You have a very distinctive style, how have you nailed this technique?
As a photographer I consider myself a storyteller, I want to create a narrative in my images.
I use natural light and sometimes backlighting to create dramatic shadows and silouhettes.
I use a shallow depth of field for portraits to emphasise the subject and help the viewer understand the story. I am no stranger to photoshop and use it as a tool to get the most out of my files. I want my images to pop so when people see one they know it’s mine.
5. What’s your most challenging photo taken?
There seems to be a close relationship between the best images and the toughest conditions. For example Stage 16 of this year’s Giro d’Italia. I was perched high on the Stelvio Pass in subzero temperatures. It was challenging enough trying to focus on the riders as they came flying past in the blizzard-like conditions, without the added difficultly of trying to protect my lens from the snow and clearing the condensation on the viewfinder. But it’s these images that best captured the suffering the riders endured. And they weren’t the only ones!
6. You’ve photographed numerous places around the world – Japan, Italy, France, New Zealand, Tasmania – where to next for Beardy McBeard?
I’m really looking forward to photographing the Tour Down Under in January. I was in Adelaide to shoot a story for Cyclist Magazine Australia and had the honour of being shown the sights by a past TDU winner Patrick Jonker. He knows the place well and I’m itching to get back. I’ll definitely be taking my bike too so I can get in a couple of rides. It will be good to share the experience with others on one of the Rapha organised rides.]]>
Such was the case when Chris Froome, wearing yellow, crashed in the final 10km of Stage 6 in the Critérium du Dauphiné. By the time the camera moto caught up with the crash, the riders involved were already remounting their bikes and setting off in pursuit of the peloton, who had eased their pace out of respect for the fallen yellow jersey.
Froome finished the stage with bloodied skin showing through the rips in his jersey and shorts. Froome’s crash was, like the hundreds of other crashes in professional racing each season, part of the drama of road racing – and something that could happen to any rider, whether they’re a pro or not.
This is why Rapha provides a crash repair service – our kit looks after us, so we believe we should look after our kit. Through stitching, patches and, in some cases, replacement panels, the crash repair service can bring damaged garments back up to their original levels of quality and performance.
Chris was wearing a pair of Team Sky Pro Lightweight Bib Shorts when he fell heavily on his left side. The tear over his left was four inches long, and stretched across two panels. After the soigneurs laundered the shorts, they sent them back to us for repairs – you can see the results in the photos in this blog.
We’ve held on to the shorts – although we normally return crash repairs within a fortnight – and will be on display in the Rapha Cycle Club London. Chris is now preparing to ride the Vuelta a España, with a couple new pairs of Team Sky Pro Lightweight Bibs.
See the Rapha Service page >>]]>
First of all, can you give us a little background on how you became involved with House Industries?
I met Rich Roat about ten years ago and we stayed friends. From that point forward, I followed House Industries by way of their ever-changing website and became a fan of their style. Coincidentally, the alliance became a formal one in 2009 when the company came onboard as a sponsor of the Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team. From that alliance, I got up the nerve to ask them for some design work. I was producing my Piccoli Gioilli cast dropouts and needed a way to get my name patched into the art files we were sending to the casting house in Taiwan. They wrapped the twelve letters perfectly around the raised area where the skewers interface with the dropout. It’s clearly there to enjoy when you look at a finished frame, but covered up when the wheel is in and the bicycle’s assembled. Whatever.
Roughly two years ago a long and nagging anxiety I was feeling bubbled over. I woke up one day and said to myself, “Self, I am sick of the red and white thing atmo.” I had been painting the frames some version of these colors since 1982. There were countless combinations of shades, and hues, and toners, and whites, and ink changes, and also several graphic design edits too. But essentially, from a distance, these were all red and white. I took it as far as I could. In the last few seasons little had changed, and I was convinced that this was the end of the line. I contacted Rich, asked him if House Industries could do a job for me (I didn’t mention the project at this point), and waited for a reply.
The task was this: change it. Change one little thing, change all of it, start from scratch, or simply wave a wand and somehow make me like what I already have. Anything. Just find a way to transform it into whatever’s next. Almost twenty months passed between that initial call and the finished concepts (the current saffron and off-white schemes with House Industries Neutraface font used for my name…). They did a perfect job. I didn’t see any of the intermediate sketches, and have no idea how many ideas never made it before the final one was selected, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I couldn’t be any happier with the aesthetic than I am now.
The re-skin of the bicycle led to a stronger alliance between us all, and they took on the team kits, some accessories, and the design and branding has continued on.
Part of this show is going to be the official launch of the 2014 Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team – what is that shaping up to look like? Same roster?
Yes, sorry for the short answer, but the roster is the same as 2013: BrittLee, Dan, Dan, Deb, and me.
A couple years ago you “shook up” the cycling world by unveiling a new color that House helped you with. Rumor has it there is going to be even more this year? Can you tell a little about this? Will it be available to customers?
Yeah, nah, and yeah.
Are there any new races on the calendar that you’re looking forward to this year? Or do you have a favorite that you always enjoy returning to?
I like all of them except maybe the last one. Seriously, I love these cats (and kitten) and bleed for them and the sponsors. When we get to the final weekend wherever that venue happens to be, it’s hard to let go.
The Sachs cross team will just be one part of the show at the Rapha Cycle Club NYC, there will also be a bit of a look back on what you’ve been doing over there years. What is the focus of the bikes and ephemera that you’re bringing with you?
I am looking forward to that too. But I won’t know either until I arrive in New York. Bondé, Adam, and several others at House Industries are creating the exhibition and I don’t know what’s in it, where the boundaries are, or what it will look like.
What is the one thing that we have to see from this collection?
The future. Whatever is on display is something that’s already been done. I can’t get too wrapped up in what was. So let’s have a nice time, see our pals, make memories, and start over again on Saturday morning.
House – Sachs Team Presentation and Party
Friday, August 22
6pm – 9pm
House – Sachs Exhibition
August 22 – September 21
Rapha Cycle Club New York City
64 Gansevoort St.
New York, New York 10014
View the map »
Tell us a bit about the origins of Mamnick, and the ethos behind the company.
I was frustrated at how difficult it was to find a shirt that I liked for an honest price; something that wasn’t mass-produced and didn’t shout its designer label at you. Finding a well-made shirt in a quality fabric that fits well isn’t easy. That’s where I started and since then I’ve designed and manufactured shirts, jackets and a few leather and steel accessoris.
I had lots of ideas, and had designed clothing and other products in the past without going into manufacturing. The challenge was getting my ideas to market. I like a challenge so I established Mamnick: The name comes from the road that goes up Mam Tor in Derbyshire, one of my favourite places to ride the bike.
You produced the KoP Bottle Openers using Sheffield steel, tell us something about that.
My Grandad worked in Sheffield’s famous steel industry and I wanted to dedicate some part of Mamnick to him. That’s how the ‘Made in Sheffield’ collection came about. The chip-fork/bottle-opener really helped put the brand on the map and I feel proud to be making things in Sheffield’s finest export.
The inspiration for the bottle opener came from the days when riders would raid cafes, do you think pro racing has lost its soul somewhat?
I don’t know. Like many sports nowadays, money talks and many of the riders seam to be media-managed with sponsorships on the line and reputations to uphold. Many of the interviews seems drab and rehearsed… you know like “the team rode great today”. That said I still love watching the classics and the big tours. I always will. But it would be good to have some charisma every once in a while. I like Wiggo’s dry humour.
You’re a keen road rider and have interviewed a lot of interesting riders for the Mamnick Journal, who’s your King of Pain?
I have several, probably one from every era of the sport. I’ve always loved Anquetil for his form on the bike and his suave appearance off it. I’m also a big fan of the 90s and 2000s with Frank VDB being one of my favourites from that era. It’s a shame that everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon regarding riders of that period. I love the look of those times in the pro-ranks; the time just before helmets came in. It’s all gone downhill now aesthetically for me. That’s not to say the modern-riders aren’t cool; you just have to look harder.
What’s your favourite ride or route?
I live in Sheffield and the Peak District is on my doorstep. Ride northwest and you’ve got Strines, which is great, especially since the Tour has just passed through and many of the roads have been resurfaced. Head south towards Cromford and Matlock and there are some great little roads and villages with ace food and beers. We’re lucky up here, there’s so much to choose from whether you’re doing a couple of hours or an all-day adventure.
If I had to pick one (to answer your question), it would be an all day ride on the lanes taking in the Goyt Valley, a cafe stop at Longnor or Cromford and finishing with a couple of well earned pints near home.
Are you happy with the final product – the bottle opener – will you use it out on the bike?
Of course (although I would say that). I love the compact nature of the thing and how something so small and light functions so well, it’s practically indestructible. It was also nice to make something using the electro-blackening process, I’ve been thinking of doing something with it before but the bottle-opener worked so well and seems to fit in with the Rapha aesthetic perfectly.
There is no secret at Team Sky, they simply do all the little things better than anyone else — focusing on the details that matter. This season we bring you films, photos and words from the people that make up the Team — from the chefs to the mechanics to the riders — discussing all the little things that make Team Sky one of the world’s best.
The Little Things »]]>
There is no secret at Team Sky, they simply do all the little things better than anyone else — focusing on the details that matter.
This season we bring you films, photos and words from the people that make up the Team — from the chefs to the mechanics to the riders — discussing all the little things that make Team Sky one of the world’s best.
The Little Things »]]>
“Of course a ride from Manchester to London within the twenty-four hours has no sort of rank as a physical feat. Any long distance cyclist who counts would jeer at an average pace of ten miles to the hour for nineteen net hours of riding. “You loitered on the road too long,” he would say, like the Rossettian princess’s maid, rebuking the laggard in love.”
Let’s remember though, C.E. Montague was pretty ‘nails’. When he rode from Manchester to London in 1924 he did the whole thing on gravel roads with only one gear. The more I’ve read about C. E. Montague though the more I can imagine that this was just a scenic jaunt for him compared to scaling the Alps in a knitted suit and ropes.
For the riders on their Manchester to London Challenge however it’s something far greater, the distance for some will be scaling new ground, new ways of preparing, eating, drinking and riding. The North and South training rides are a great way to share knowledge and learn skills. It’s also a chance to meet fellow riders, share stories, share fears…
I must add that I have no qualifications in training and nutrition, I do however have a history of endurance, sometimes for events, mostly for fun. I find pure pleasure in riding a long way. I thought I’d write this to share with you some of the things that I do, some may be right for you, others not. There’s no rulebook.
Comfort is of course paramount on long rides, so points of contact with the bike especially so; favourite gloves, socks and shorts are essential. Jerseys with good pockets will make everything as simple as possible, and knowing what’s in which pocket really helps. Strange things happen when you get tired, it’s easier when things are familiar. Chamois cream, plenty of it and one that you’re used to, it’s a long time to sit in the saddle.
Keeping flexible and not feeling like you’re a creaky monster will help your comfort levels too. Getting off the bike and not ending up bike shaped is the challenge, when you stop, stretch. Mills Physiotherapy has prepared an animated stretching program for those who are unsure of what to be stretching and how. It can be found here.
Bikes are personal, we all have our favourite things, I always build my bikes so that they can be easily repaired at the roadside if need be. I will confess that I’m a geeky bike cleaner, especially before a big ride. It gives you a chance to check everything for wear as well giving it a lovely, pride-inducing sparkle. Really big rides get new bar tape, then I drive myself nuts when I get it dirty whilst doing them. I always have a set of spares including – multi-tool with spoke key and chain breaker, two tubes and patches, tyre levers and a pump.
With only a few weeks left before the big ride I’m hoping you all have at least a couple of centuries (100 miles) under your belts, hopefully some longer rides too. By doing these you get to know yourself and your pace, try not to get dragged along by faster riders, it’s a long way and it’s your ride as much as theirs.
I’ll always study a route as much as I can before doing it, obviously the Manchester to London Challenge is fully signed so it’s not navigation that will be the issue. However, the mental game of ticking off the places in your mind can be very helpful. It’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one, keeping pedalling, keeping alert. I indulge my love of funny place names, it makes me smile as I ride along. I rode through a place called Clowne once, it wasn’t funny.
Now this really is a point where everyone is different, some can do a day of gels and others prefer real food. Experimenting here is key; personally I do a mix of real food and energy food. Too much sugar too soon and you’ll blow up and it’s hard to recover from that. Same for caffeine gels, save those for later on, sometimes I don’t use them, just carry them about like spare batteries for my legs, it’s the psychological tricks that can pick you up the most. Pies and sausage rolls are great, I could make something up about them being a delicate balance of carbs, protein and fat but hey, pies are nice and this isn’t the ride to be on a diet! Sometimes I’ll eat an apple in a long event, purely for the fresh feeling. Often at later stages in a long ride it becomes harder to eat, this is when I’ll swap onto chewy sweets, they’re easy to get down, pack quite a punch too. Later in a ride cans of Coke are incredible. I could probably murder a nice cup of tea, too!
Most of all, enjoy yourselves, enjoy your bike and when it all feels horrid, remember that really, we’re all lucky to be able to do events like this, the kids at Ambitious about Autism’s Schools probably never will, but we can help them to have the best chance in life by supporting them.
Manchester to London is a charity ride supporting Ambitious About Autism. To find out more about then event and the charity’s work, visit »]]>
“The USA Pro Challenge will be the ideal place for them to show themselves against riders from the biggest teams in the world.”
– John Herety, Rapha-Condor-JLT team manager
Rapha-Condor-JLT will be travelling to America to take part in the USA Pro Challenge, which takes place from the 18th to the 24th of August.
The seven-stage race, which is based in Colorado, is one of only two 2.HC-ranked races in the United States, and is regarded as one of the most important races in the U.S. This year’s event will see 16 world-class professional teams participate. Rapha-Condor-JLT will line up against the likes of World Tour giants BMC racing, Garmin-Sharp and Tinkoff-Saxo.
For Rapha-Condor-JLT’s predominantly young team the race promises to be a hugely important proving ground against some of the best riders in the world and the eight-rider team will include: Tour of Korea winner, 19 year-old Hugh Carthy; 2009 British National Road Race Champion Kristian House; Rydale GP winner Richard Handley; 2012 National U23 Road Race Champion Mike Cuming; Tour du Loire et Cher winner Graham Briggs; as well as Elliott Porter, Daniel Whitehouse and Tom Moses, a representative of Team England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Rapha North America will be there to support the boys in black in the Rockies, and to help celebrate Rapha’s final year as co-owners. If you’re in the Rockies, join us for a series of rides and the opportunity to meet the team, including a pre-race team training ride around Aspen.
The first ride with the team will be on Saturday 16th August, leaving from the Wildwood Hotel in Snowmass Village. Espresso at 9am, rollout at 10am. Route details are here »
For the remaining stages, Tillie – Rapha’s roving Mobile Cycle Club, will be at the following locations:
For exact times, locations and ride details, follow the Mobile Cycle Club on Twitter / Instagram.
You can also follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #RCJintheUSA]]>