Le Tour

A long time ago I was on a trip round Europe with a good friend, sleeping on overnight trains and park benches, living off bread and cheese and generally covering thousands of miles with only one pair of socks. At one point we were at a music festival in Belgium subtley titled the 10 days of techno and I had the fantastic idea that I would go from the club to the train station, get an early morning train to Paris and go watch the Final stage of the Tour De France. Well, I actually left the club extremely bleary eyed as dawn broke, staggered through the streets to the house we were staying in and promptly crashed out. I was shaken awake by my travelling companion with words to the effect of 'Oi, didn't you want to go see the end of the tour? Well, get up and come watch it on TV.'

So much for my amazing plan. Anyway. I like cycling, and watching some of this years tour on TV (I've come a long way in the past decade) I was wondering if there were any good photo projects on the race. I've seen lots of great individual shots but couldn't recall seeing any lengthy projects. Of course, they exist. Flicking through some posts on Andrew Hetherington's blog I came across this interview with Brent Humphreys, who has been following the tour for a while. You can see a bunch of his work on this dedicated website and though personally I think he gets a bit heavy handed with his lights and stylistically the most succesful ones for me are those where the flash is at it's most muted, I think there's a lot of humour in the work and I can almost hear the crowds along the road shouting 'Alle Alle!' as they fill up on red wine and get in the way of the cyclists..

Team Time Trial - photograph by Brent Humphreys

My own bike has been quietly gathering dust since I moved to the U.S. (thanks to a combination of car culture and my own laziness) and as a result my fitness level has dropped so low that a slight incline is enough to get me out of breath these days. If I ever want to bomb around France for a couple of weeks taking shots of the tour with my 4x5 I think I'd better follow Humphrey's advice and get a van. Somehow I don't think I'll manage it with a couple of panniers and a backpack.

The last long ride I did was a 60 mile stint from London to Brighton on the south coast of England for the British Heart Foundation. Here's a shot I took of one of my housemates as we raced along the seafront at the end of the ride (and no, I wasn't actually looking where I was going as I took this picture...)


Not quite as Glamourous as Le Tour but a hell of a lot of fun.

1 comment:

Stan B. said...

One of the great things since moving to San Francisco has been getting back on a bicycle. It took me three months and several screaming charlie horses (while sleeping) till I finally got my legs. It aint the Alps, but the hills are steep enough here. Love getting around in a bike though- something I'd never attempt in NYC...