What Destination?

Every journey has an A and a B, but so often we forget what is inbetween. What Destination? is what this is all about, the bit inbetween.

Paul Davy Cycling Photographer - spent three days at the Tour of Britain taking photographs of the Giordana Racing Team in race and behind the scenes. This is his story and photo gallery. 

Phil Griffiths’ racing team have gone through numerous incarnations over the past few years, and this year they are known as Giordana Racing Team. Originally this story was to be based around rider Richard Hepworth but unfortunately he came down with a virus and didn’t make the selection. 

With Richard out I needed a new angle, and Bill Nickson - former Ti Raleigh rider and Milk Race winner - came to the rescue. Having reached out to some contacts, I got a phone call late one night a week before the ToB was due to start, and it was Bill the team DS asking who I was and what my intentions were. I explained I was a small time photographer looking for a story and a team to cover. 

After a long chat, with Bill’s blessing I collected my accreditation and was on the Tour. 

Giordana Racing Team is steeped in cycling history from ownership through to management, mechanics, clothing and riders: 

Phil Griffiths – Team Director 

Many will know him from the days of the ANC-Halfords’ attempt at the Tour de France made famous by the British writer Jeff Connors’ ‘Wide-eyed and Legless’. Those relatively new to cycling may know Phil from the company Yellow Limited, which he set up in 1984, importing top- end cycle clothing from brands such Assos, Giordana, Pinarello, Rudy Project, Corima and D.M.T 

Phil has also had a cycling career to match that of some of the top British cyclists today, with yellow jerseys in the peace race, stage wins in the Milk Race and having competed and won medals in both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. 

Bill Nickson – Team Manager 

Bill was the manager at this year’s Tour of Britain but there is another manager who I didn’t get to meet. Malcolm Elliot was the team sprinter for ANC- Halfords at the Tour de France with a pro racing career spanning from 1983 – 2011. After retiring he then became manager at Team Motorpoint which was run by Phil Griffiths, and is now the team we have at ToB. 

Although ANC-Halfords were the first British based team to race at the Tour de France they certainly weren’t the first British riders. Many have been there and Bill Nickson was one of them. Racing for the Ti Raleigh team based in the Netherlands, Bill has a palmares just as impressive, winning The Milk Race finishing in his home city of Liverpool, racing in the Olympics and winning numerous British races during his time as a pro cyclist. 

Then we have team Mechanic - Dudley Heyton who raced for a number of teams between 1978 and 1998 including Holdsworth-Campagnolo, Viking, Linda McCartney Racing Team and ANC winning stages in the Milk Race and coming close in races in Belgium and France.

Now enough of the old guys, this is about 2014. With a strong line-up of Rob Partridge, Steve Lampier, Marcin Bialobolocki, James Moss, Brad Morgan and Nathan Edmondson, each one of the riders have a good chance of finishing high on at least one stage during the Tour of Britain.

However,Giordana are a super low budget team punching way above their weight with just a sprinter van and team car, one mechanic, two soigneurs, Bill as DS and his daughter helping out. 

On the day before the Tour began I headed to Liverpool and introduced myself to Bill, who seems like a decent chap with his head screwed on, with the aura of someone who wouldn’t take any messing. Clearly occupied with Team Manager duties, he immediately told me to make myself at home and get acquainted with the riders, and sent me off into the hotel by myself to say hello. Off I went passing Marcel Kittel in the hotel lobby, sweet! 

Approaching the team, I could only recognise Rob Partridge at that moment and he was the one who took control of the conversation while the rest of the lads looked on as I tried to explain myself and what I was going to be doing for the next four days. 

Rob at that table was the clear leader, but how that would pan out over the next few days I didn’t know. Steve Lampier was out in the car park on his own warming up, I spotted him earlier struggling with his turbo trainer and thought it best to leave him to it. 

There wasn’t much going on at the hotel just swannies washing down busses and prepping bikes for the start the morning after. It was time for me to head to the team presentation at Liverpool One but first I wanted a photograph of Steve Lampier warming up, earphones in, sweat on –click: got it. 

Liverpool isn’t the easiest place to get around in a car and I eventually found a spot to park which –outrageously - cost me a tenner. Coming from Manchester stories about Liverpool aren’t the kindest but my experience of Liverpudlians is that they are a very welcoming and proud bunch with funny accents (sorry Bill). 

The Giordana team’s presentation was underway with Marcin Biaboloki the only non- English speaking rider having his little chat with Hugh and Ned, then a few photos and autographs and back to the hotel. I stuck around and got some shots of the big stars including Mark Cavendish. I’ve never seen anyone work the camera like him, I thought it was Victoria Beckham for a moment. Formalities concluded, it was time to prepare for the race…

Stage 1 

Today’s plan for me was to catch the start of the race, if I didn’t get to another start line this week it didn’t matter as long as I got Liverpool. The tension was high you could feel it in the air the riders were trying to look calm but you could see the nerves in both the smaller team’s and the bigger riders like Bradley Wiggins and especially Mark Cavendish. 

I had planned to walk the route as it was only 13k and meet up with my good friend Paul Rance from the Manchester Rapha Club, but I decided it was a long way out and as the next couple of days would offer lots of similar opportunities I would stay around the start/finish. 

I spotted a flag with Mossy and the Giordana colours emblazoned across it and thought that must be for James Moss of Giordana Racing. It turned out that it was his mum and dad, I had a good chat about how difficult it is to pick an individual rider out to photograph and that they have the same problem even to the extent of travelling all the way to Spain and not seeing their son in the peloton! 

There were more than enough accidents and weird happenings in today’s stage, Mark Cavendish stopped to adjust a cleat and I think had a puncture then crashed, Ian Stannard crashed and has a 

suspected broken wrist or hand. Both riders finished but not in great shape, but even so Mark 

finished third and Kittel took first place. The first of the Giordana riders was Rob Partridge, coming in 44th place which is pretty good considering the competition. 

Stage 2 

Stage 2 took the team from Knowsley to Llandudno and took me to the feed zone in Mold of all places - must be an in joke with the race organisers. Feed zones are always good spots if you want free stuff and to chat with the soigneurs. The feed zone was in Mold last year for the Tour of Britainand the teams that came last year had the same soigners. I’ve become quite friendly with a few of the lads from Movistar and a bloke from Rapha - I don’t even know his name but he keeps on bumping in to me in dodgy laybys and car parks all over the country. 

The Giordana soigneur and Bill’s daughter set up at the bottom of a hill next to Rapha-Condor- JLT the rest of the teams had set up half way up the hill. This way the lads wouldn’t get caught up in thescrum as riders fight for position to grab musettes and water bottles. Rob Partridge came up first with Ian Bibby - both in the breakaway - then half way down the peloton Steve Lampier and the rest of the team collect their musettes. 

The Rapha guy said I could follow him up to the finish in Llandudno, I got into my car and both the Giordana and Rapha vans had zipped off. They couldn’t be too far down the road but I didn’t see them again until Llandudno -they had gone the wrong way and so had to make a detour. 

I found my spot on a roundabout 100 yards before the flame rouge, hoping as it was suspected to be a bunch sprint that the peloton would split around it and I’d get riders either side but as it materialised it was strung out with Alex Dowsett coming through the roundabout first followed by Sylvain Chavenel with the OPQS team catching fast. The sprint was closely contested with a happy Mark Cavendish clapping Mark Renshaw over the line for the win. I didn’t get to see the Giordana team at the finish as they are usually first off to the hotels but I did get to see another of my good friends Mike and his wife from Popup Bikes in Manchester at the podium. It was Steve Lampier’s turn today to cross the line first out of the Giordana Team, and he came in 56th. 

After a fairly eventful day for both me and the team it was time to finish up, on my way back to the car I bumped into a TV moto rider Erick I took a photo of last year at Honister Pass he had a look at my photographs and we went our separate ways. It happens quite a lot, bumping into people. This is my third Tour of Britain and I’m starting to make a lot of friends on the race scene - seems like everybody knows everybody else and it’s nice that in a shitty world people can still be friendly. 

Stage 3 

Stage 3 was a long way from home for me and a long transfer for the Team. I was debating where to start the day as I could have gone to the start in Newtown, but my shots wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as those I took in Liverpool, and I could have gone to any one of the KOM’s or sprint points finishes but they are generally pretty bland affairs. I came to the conclusion that The Tumble would be my only spot today and if I missed this I would kick myself. The Tumble was, nearly 200 miles from my home in Manchester so a 400 mile round trip for a handful of shots – some would say I’m crazy, but chasing the race is half the fun. 

I got to the hill in Abergavenny early and had no contact with the team since the morning before so wasn’t totally sure how they were getting on. I knew Rob Partridge had got some good telly time in the break but other than that I didn’t really know what kind of form they were in. 

The climb was filling fast with spectators from all over, it was hot and bright with shadows everywhere not great for taking photographs, but every problem is an opportunity and all that. I found a gap in a boulevard of trees when the riders passed I would expose for the lighter part and hopefully illuminate the riders from the side and cast some great shadows over the road. 

I got my shot with a struggle as the attacking riders were so close to the TV motos I struggled to geta clear shot I managed it though luckily. My next question was how to get to the top 4km up for some final shots of the Giordana Racing Team. Three vans beeped at me, first it was my buddy from Rapha, next it was Darren Top Mod I could see they wanted to give me a lift but the convoy was moving too fast. Then luckily the TV moto guy I had met the day before was driving the van today and he stopped and waved me in the cab. To top it off he had race radio tuned in to his CB. I heard every attack from Nico Roche and counter attack from Edoardo Zardini and Bradley Wiggins moving up slowly, all the while I was taking photographs of the tens of thousands of fans flanking the road and then a Netapp Endura straggler popped a wheelie on his way to the finish. 

Edoardo Zardini took the stage win and Steve Lampier came in 12 places behind him in 13th what a result. 

Now to get some final shots of the lads then back home job done! 

Thanks @wardy25uk for nominating me. Heres my #icebucketchallenge I have nominated @burge32 Alex Bell and Lee Davy #als #mnd #ccmcr

This is Paul Rance. 

He’s a bike messenger or was until 06-08-14. This is the day he became free.

People wax lyrical about how being a bike messenger is being free, being your own boss. Well it is part of the time – mostly summer time - but when it becomes time to pay the bills and win the bread so to speak it can be a different story. 

I’ve worked with Paul “the grump” Rance now for over 6 years, in which time I have learned many things from him, but one thing I have learned is that family comes first - without a doubt he is a family man. If it wasn’t for his son Joe and partner Justine he would have quit this game long ago. Unlike most bike messengers Paul works as an in house messenger and although it offers a certain amount of security it comes with the corporate bullshit which I have also had the pleasure of enduring. Some would say well just give it up, but if you can ride a bike for a living and be paid a salary would you?  

People have come and gone, some good some not so. This one though is special, he’s had some pretty tough times in his life, but you would never know. As the name suggests he can get grumpy but that’s as far as it goes. Some would be surprised by this statement, when it comes to others he can be the most optimistic person in really crappy situations and would be the person at your side when the time came.

I remember the first two weeks when he started as a messenger in Manchester he looked like death, white face, black eyes and positively chubby having already done a stint in Leicester and spent three months in San Francisco. The Manchester winter had taken its toll, but gradually his legs grew and he learned how to feed himself the right food to sustain such a demanding work day. In fact 6 years on, he probably looks younger now than he did when he started.

I only see Paul on the inside, now and again I spot him out on the street but very rarely do I get to see what a typical day is like. Until I was asked to cover. Paul was on holiday (most messengers don’t get holidays) and Paul’s cover Mark had an altercation with one of our customers so I was asked to step in. It was the middle of summer and the weather was fantastic. For three days I got an idea of what it was like. It was the best three working days of my life and I couldn’t believe I was being paid to do this. I was soon reminded of what it is like in the depth of winter when you only get six hours of day light and it’s battering down with freezing rain and dripping down your neck. Hmm! not for me thanks.

Looking over at the back of the kitchen while I type this I noticed that 50% of the components on my bike I have acquired are from Paul. Seat post, brake callipers, crank, handle bars and there are countless more in the garage: saddle, chain rings, tools and even wheel sets - some bought but very few, that’s the kind of person Paul is. I would be riding a bike of some description but certainly not this one. My bike is mine, was put together by me and has my personality in it, but if you look closer it has a little bit of Paul in there too.

I hope he’s not too embarrassed by this but whether he likes it or not Paul has been a big influence in my life. Everybody has shitty times in their life but with Paul’s infinite wisdom and advice or bullshit as he likes to call it, I’ve come to this point in my life. I spend most of my time photographing bike races which I would never have done without the help of Paul, so it’s your fault that I’m doing this J  

After six long years of moaning about one thing or another, a good thing has happened to a good person finally. He was first of all asked to interview by Alex of Carhartt - who he is pretty good friends with - for a role at Rapha. He said he was perfect for the role, he must have known it was time to move on. Notice dropped on the boss’s desk, I’m leaving for better things an opportunity like this can’t be passed up. Initially he was shocked but when its time its time. Having read a little about Paul you can imagine how the last four weeks must have been: hell. Crankiness gone into over drive, expletives flying around the studio I wouldn’t dream of repeating - my wife would kill me.

Three days to go before D-Day and the mood has changed, why so? Kit list, uniform and some Rapha ride info comes through I won’t go into detail but happy is not the word.

As Alex said this is perfect for you, he was not wrong.

Good on ya Paul you did it.

The Great Swim

Two weeks ago Lindsay my wife decided that she was going to do something great, it was The Great Manchester Swim. Inspired by a friend of hers who is one of only seven women to have swum the English Channel there and back in one go - Pretty epic. 

Lindsay has had some pretty tough times in her life which has left her confidence a little worse for wear. She has now got to a point in her life where she can say I’m doing what I like. This was a personal goal but also to raise money for a fund very close to her heart.

A few years back a young family close to Lindsay lost their father and husband to cancer. This hit Lindsay pretty hard. She couldn’t understand why this should happen to such good, warmhearted people. 

After Wayne’s passing a fund was set up in his name, and over £10,000 has been raised by his family and friends through various charity events on behalf of The Christie.

Lindsay managed to raise £600 in a little over two weeks and the money is still coming in.

The swim consisted of one Mile around Salford Quays. Having only swum in a pool this was a little daunting to say the least.  Not just for Lindsay but all of us supporting her. The Manchester Ship Canal has a reputation for being one of the dirtiest waterways in the world, although in recent years has improved so much so that it actually has wildlife now living in it again.

On the day of the swim the rain was coming down in buckets not that it would affect the swim but, all of us standing on the side line would be just as wet if not more so than Lindsay when she got out. 

It was kind of nice to see Lindsay doing something which was out of her comfort zone but enjoying it at the same time.

There were moments as I was walking around chatting to Lindsay in the water where I felt really happy and proud. I think it was because of all the things that have happened recently all coming together at this one moment. The fact that she was doing this for Wayne, Lisa and Lauren, the tough times that Lindsay has had and the fact that we have just had our own recent addition to our family, which hasn’t been the easiest but has turned out to be one of the things which has made me the happiest in my life so far Ewan.

Proud of you Lindz you’re doing a great job.

http://hopefunds.christies.org/smartweb/funds/view/74/event/267

Chasing the Race

British National Road Race Championships 2014

It’s that time of year, when riders fly home to their respective countries to compete for their national jerseys. 2014’s race here in Britain was to be held in Abergavenny and the surrounding countryside in South Wales. The town is no stranger to bike racing, as the original Milk Race, past national championships and numerous crit races have been held here, not to mention Stage 3 of this year’s Tour of Britain to come.

Over the past few years I have been building a portfolio of cycling photography, and forming valuable relationships within the cycling community. Most recently I have become involved with Starley-Primal Pro Cycling, and although I have worked with the team before, this would likely be the biggest race in the calendar - not just because it is the national championships, but due to the calibre of riders competing. Two such riders would have been Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, but both failed to line up. To some more than others this would be a godsend, but it was a shame not to see these big names in the race as it would be the only chance for some of the smaller teams to ride alongside TDF and stage winners. Despite this the race was full on - every man for himself, no messing.

The ladies would race in the morning and the gents just after lunch. The women’s race was very tightly contested, unlike the men’s with teams like Sky, Orica-Green Edge and Garmin-Sharp taking the lead early on. 

My plan for most races is to get out to the start and photograph the warm up, signing on and roll out, then jump in the car as the riders are leaving to a point where I can easily get to before the riders do.

On this occasion I was heading to a town named Ursk just south of Abergavenny about 20k out and as I pulled up to a T junction ready to turn right on to the course the women’s riders burst past at 30-40kmh. Balls, I’ve missed them. Luckily one thing that I have learned is never to put the camera away and I got a few shots of the peloton as it flashed down the country lane.

Next stop was Monmouth, I got close to but not quite there.  I set up my shot and sat in wait like a wildlife photographer waiting for a herd of wildebeest to come thumping across the tarmac. Only it wasn’t a herd of wildebeest but 55kg girls on super- light carbon road bikes with silk tubular tyres.  A profound silence, then the police rolling road blocks came hurtling through with their massive v twin engines. Commissaires, then neutral service. There they are: 10 seconds of rubber on tarmac click, click, click and they’ve gone.  Hurtling 40km through the countryside trying to beat the peloton for 10 seconds and a handful of images.

Back to the start/finish before the peloton arrives for the final four laps of Aber town centre. I got a perfect spot just to the right of the bank of photographers and got the winning shots of Laura Trott, Dani King and Lizzie Armitstead.

Back at race headquarters there was a bit of a problem.  I didn’t have the correct wrist band to enter the team areas, so I had to convince the security guy that I was actually with Team Starley-Primal which I was of course. He believed me and let me through but I needed to get the correct accreditation. With that sorted I could walk freely within the race headquarters, I only needed to access the Starley-Primal team camp to get my pictures. The men’s race was due to start 30 minutes after the women’s finished. 

I grabbed a few warm up shots of the guys, had a chat with Jack Pullar - Starley-Primal and James Gullen - Velosure-Goirdana and headed out to the start. By this time the crowds were huge, nothing like the women’s in the morning. I barely got to the start line when I got a phone call from the organiser of the event, having left my number with the media centre when I got my accreditation. He told me that someone had made a complaint about me and that he needed to see me urgently, so I panicked a little but couldn’t think why someone would complain.

I met the guy and got a roasting before I knew what was going on. It turned out that they had handed out two identical tabards and the other photographer had forced his way into the hospitality areas acting aggressively. I assured the organiser that this wasn’t me and thankfully he was happy with my explanation and went away to investigate the incident with a handful of my business cards and a book of mine, with the hope of working together in the future. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.

Delayed and a little shaken I headed back out onto the course. This time the men had a longer route of nearly 200km and I knew the area well now so I could take it easy. Over to Monmouth with plenty of time to scout the area, then for the most decisive moment in the race which would be the hill climb at The Tumbles. I couldn’t find the spot but found a neat little bend on a steep incline. Perfect. The riders passed through, I got my 10 seconds worth of photographs but then I spotted a punctured rider, great! Punctures always make for interesting shots mostly because they are difficult to catch and of course happen at random.

There was nothing left to photograph, the peloton had passed in fragmented groups with Peter Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and a few other riders at the head of the race. It was clear domination by Team Sky, in fact there could have been two races going on at the same time and the level split was enormous.

Back in Abergavenny I had my accreditation with my own tabard, and now I could join the bank of photographers on the finish line. First I wandered around the circuit - which the riders would complete ten of before finishing at 5.30. I got some cool shots of G powering down the straights trying to catch a lead group of seven riders, it was very impressive. The first five laps he was gaining - on the first lap he was a minute down,  then 50 seconds then  45, 40, he was gaining but then it went back down to a minute. It was obvious that he was tiring and you could see in his legs that he’d given it all. This is what Geraint does over and over and is why he is such a beloved rider:  he works hard and doesn’t whine.  Although he didn’t come first that day he gets my congratulations.

Peter Kennaugh took the win over Luke Rowe and Bury lad Simon Yates who came second and third respectively. My job done, it was back to the hotel with a t-shirt suntan and possible sunstroke, ready for some good grub and a sleep.

 

Matt vs Fred

This is Matt Kendall, who I met over 12 months ago while I was attempting to spread the word of my photography.

He had organised an Artcrank ‘Poster Party for Bike People’ and he kindly let me put on a slideshow of my work at the exhibition.

Over the last 12 months we have met up for coffee and had plenty of (mostly rushed) conversations at lunch, but the more I find out about Matt the more of an inspiration to me he becomes. He is the owner and founder of digital creative consultancy Retro Fuzz based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

As a youngster Matt beat cancer and after being so ill took to racing bikes and became fairly successful at it. Much of his racing and growing up was done in the Lake District, so on a rainy Sunday morning in May 2014 Matt set off on one of this country’s toughest sportive’s (The Fred Whitton Challenge) to help raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. 112 miles to ride with over 13,000 feet of climbing taking in Kirkston, Honister, Newlands, Hardknott & Wrynose Passes. It was going to be tough for both of us.

I managed to get up to Honister Pass from Manchester by 8.30. Hundreds of riders passed me but I couldn’t spot Matt so made the decision at 9.30 that he had passed me and I should move on to the next pass which would have been Whinlatter Pass.

As the riders would arrive there at 10.00 ish I would be better off moving on to Hard Knott Pass with plenty of time to scout the area. I was there for well over 2 hours but I knew he hadn’t passed me as the first rider came through, so he should be behind unless the the worst had happened. I had to just sit tight.

I had plenty of time to practice the shot and get ready for Matt coming through: I would only get one attempt at this so it had to count.

After a while I was starting to think maybe he had abandoned which would have been perfectly acceptable as the ride was bonkers tough. I must have looked at each rider in detail as not to miss Matt - my eyes starting to ache from the strain - when at last there he was in his NoWhereFast.cc club kit.

Click, Click, Click and he’d gone. I got three shots - right I can get back to the finish and set off home. Unbeknownst to me there had been a serious accident further down the pass where Mountain Rescue and Air Ambulance had blocked the road. The rider was airlifted away but was said to be in a stable condition.

I was stuck on Wrynose Pass for over an hour. I got to the finish line hungry and tired, said my congratulations and made a move for home.

Matt and I have made a deal that next year we are going to do it together. Oh what have I done!

Matts story can be found here at www.nowherefast.cc

My first time out in the team cars with Starley-primal.

I think we may have a future time trial star. I can’t keep him off the thing!

I think we may have a future time trial star. I can’t keep him off the thing!

Mission Flanders

Over the coming months I’ll be documenting Matt Kendalls preparation for the Fred Witton Challenge one of this countries toughest bike rides as stated by the legend and tough man Sean Kelly. Check out his story and make a donation here: https://www.justgiving.com/Matthew-Kendall/