It’s been a very long year. It started strong, the last bits of the 2009/2010 ‘cross season provided me with some traveling and all of us with a lot of excitement. Then I published my book and after the British ‘Cross Nationals, I took off a couple of weeks to prepare for an even more demanding season: the mountain bike World Cups.
In the meantime, I switched jobs, said goodbye to the lovely guys at vzaar and started to work at Evans Cycles, as a social media guy. I had thought it was the perfect job and it has turned out to be just like that, it feels like the perfect match. It makes writing this blog much harder, but more on that later.
The MTB World Cup season started in late April and four crazy, action-filled month followed: lot of traveling, wonderful places all around Europe and then some more overseas, in the US and Canada.
Throughout the year, I have travelled 20 171 miles, have been to 14 different countries and have spent 75 days on the road altogether.
The first race of the year was the ‘cross World Cup in Roubaix. While there was a torrential rain on the day before, we were lucky enough to have wonderful sunshine on the race day. Niels Albert had a particularly bad day and the strongest man of the day, Zdenek Stybar won his third race of the season and took the overall leader’s jersey.
This is one the favourite photos from last year – it shows the sheer concentration you can see the on the riders face just minutes before the race, how they shut everything and everybody out and concentrate at the job at hand.
Hoogerheide was special for many reasons. Finally, I’d managed to use both flashes the way I’d wanted to use them. I met fellow photographer, Kristof Ramon face to face for the very first time. It was the last race before my book was published, so I had to be superfast to process the photos after the race and have them sent to the designer and the rest of the production team.
The Worlds are always a very special event and the ‘cross Worlds wasn’t any different. After tweaking the 2008 World Cup course somewhat, they had put together a challenging course and the massive snowfall made matters worse. This was the iciest descent on the course and you could be sure to catch some action (read: crashes) there, though on this frame Tom Meeusen’s superb bike handling skills saved him from touching the ground.
After a dozen international races, the British ‘cross Nationals were my first domestic cyclo-cross race and it was a great day, it was a shame that Gabby Day punctured right at the start and thus couldn’t really contest Helen Wyman for the title.
After a three month hiatus, the MTB World Cup season started and on home soil. The drive from London was long but the organizers had put together an amazing course. It was a shame that after the race it took them two hours to clear the parking lots, making leaving the place a nightmare.
Sometimes you just get lucky and you are in the right place, in the right time.
The first couple of races were too easy, in terms of the weather, so the heavy raining caught me unprepared in Maribor. While it’s one my favourite courses with the chairlift that takes you to half way through the course, on the first day I got absolutely drenched in an hour in 10 degrees. I really hated this whole thing back then, as I was sitting in the mud, but it was nothing but my own unpreparedness, that had wreaked havoc.
When I recce a course, I always try to see the final image – whether the actual photo turns out like that or not is a different question. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse than I imagined. This was one of those pictures where the photo exceeded my expectations, this is one of my favourites from 2010.
If I wanted to catch the cork and frame it like this, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Sometimes you just get lucky.
Sarsha Huntington’s horrid crash was painful, even to watch. Luckily, she emerged mostly unscathed, she had had only minor injuries.
I’d been to Fort William before, but that was during early autumn and I wasn’t prepared for the swarms of midges. They were around constantly, almost irregardless of the time of the day or the altitude. It was an epic fight with gazillions of tiny monsters. And mostly humans lost.
Sometimes you’ve got a shot in your mind and you are willing to do anything to get the shot. I was standing ankle-deep in a small pond for roughly 30 minutes to finally get the shot I wanted. It wasn’t as good as I had thought, but I still included it so the effort wasn’t entirely wasted.
This photo was taken during the final runs. I wanted to stay close to the finish and I had had limited options if I wanted even a half-decent photo. I was sharing this spot with two fellow photogs and I just couldn’t find my rythm, I couldn’t find the right spot, the right lighting setup. But then I managed to catch the right moment when the World Cup overall leader, Greg Minnaar hit our spot.
Brian Lopes is one truly brilliant rider. While he generally excels in gravity disciplines, he doesn’t mind every now and again taking short trips to other areas, like XC crit. After competing in the dual slalom race at the Bikeradar Live festival on Saturday, he had had enough energy on Sunday to enter the Dirt Crit race with the very same bike he tackled the dual slalom course and he was a serious contender right until the end. Certainly, he’s one of the biggest personalities of the sport.
End of Part 1 – more to come soon!