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.

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.


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/

I know it was only third but still cool to get a medal.

I know it was only third but still cool to get a medal.

So thats what I look like on a bike.

I managed to scrape third place on the Rollapaluza at the Matrix-Vulpine team launch Wahoo!