A Vicious Introduction To Cross

Firstly apologies for the seemingly baron virtual space that is bianchista, I concede the updates have been thoroughly lacking these days, and can only offer the excuse that life seems to have ramped up to around 200% on the busyness scale, well that and im actually riding my bike/attending bike type things!
So without further ado, let me launch into today’s blogpost which will be a hearty congratulations to all the Vicious Velo crew for organising such a fantastic day of gnarly cross racing down at Herne Hill Velodrome. I had my first practical introduction a few weeks ago to the muddy & intense world of cross via the lovely Konrad Manning (more on my virgin knobby-tyred outing to come this week on the blog), but was yet to head down and actually watch a race… I mean, sure, iv streamed my fair share of begian uber-cross fests when the office is quiet, and im pretty au-fait with the riders and courses on the world cup (thanks in no part to an excellent cyclocross photobook by balint hamvas, in which you can read a review this week), but a rare Sunday off work meant a perfect opportunity to taste all things vicious at Herne Hill.

Boom was in residence on the airwaves, utilising the ‘Megamouth’ for epic heckles and commentary, the like of which may be shunned by the cycling establishment as it was literally 200% HILAR. Goading riders into grabbing curly wurlys and passing seat height judgements were amongst the best. Respect! 

Ben did a fab job designing the course, with crazy turns, a pretty gnarly looking wallride (I think I saw 3 people attempt it, of which two crashed and burned!). The technical sandpits became real leg-crampers towards the end of the race, and the section outside of the velodrome proved tight and pretty unforgiving.

Massive congrats to all who raced today, I was so impressed by the amount and variety of riders out on what was honestly a brutally cold day. You have so much respect in bianchistas book, I feel shattered after just turning up and shooting a few pics.

I managed to fire off pretty much a frame or two of every rider, but as you can imagine its a pretty mammoth job to get them all edited and uploaded. But keep an eye on my flickr towards the end of the week and il be adding them all into the Vicious Cross set.

Nice to meet Geoff too, who kept everyone going through the corners with his awesome drum skills, got to hand it to a man that’s willing to come out and play a session (gloveless) on a freezing December morning! Anyway, if you missed it, there’s always next year, this is Ben’s annual event, and it really is such a wicked atmosphere. I implore you to dig your wellies out, grab a camera, maybe a flask of tea and head down to your local cross race. It needs everyones support, and I don’t mean financially, just get down and cheers a few of the guys on, I know they will appreciate it…

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Vicious Race!

The very ViCiOUS crew are holding a mega cross-fest on the 18th December at Herne Hill in London. Bianchista & JR will be donning out wellies and getting amongst it with some brewski’s and grabbing some snaps. All bikes are welcome and there are a variety of categories to enter. Just turn up & have a go! 

Balint Hamvas – CX Photographer

Recently the amazing cyclocross photos of Balint Hamvas caught the eye of Bianchista. Balant’s work is presented on the website http://cyclephotos.co.uk. An extremely talented freelance photographer based in London, Balint has documented the world cup series from 2008 in an impressive and punchy fashion. It was my pleasure to pick the brains of the man, and he kindly answered some questions and let me share some of his images (Click for full size).

Hey Balint, thanks for taking the time to talk to bianchista… so how did you stumble across cross and how long have you been shooting Cyclocross?
It all started in 2008. I had been an avid cyclist since my teenage years and I followed most disciplines of cycling quite closely, but somehow cyclo-cross had always eluded me, flying under the radar somewhat. But there was this World Cup race in Tabor, fairly close to where I lived at the time, and I thought that I should head out and take a look at it. And you know what? it was love at first sight! The kind of event when you enter the room and lay eyes upon a beautiful woman at the other end of the room. You start talking to her and it turns out that she is not only a vision of beauty but also intelligent and funny. Well cyclo-cross was that lady at the end of the room for me! I think the reason I love ‘cross the most is its intensity. The luxury of stealing a second to relax just doesn’t exist in cross – take your eye off the ball and you will be punished. Not just for the riders, but also us as photographers.

Do you cycle yourself?
I started as a mountain biker, but the inevitable happened when I relocated to London – I became a roadie, starting to even shave my legs, which is always fun! I dabbled in the world of mud and sweat myself and raced ‘cross last year in the London League. I always loved racing but it’s always been just fun for me, not too competitive. I’m too tall and fat for proper racing. I just enjoy turning the pedals immensely. (I can relate to that! – bianchista)
What has been your favourite moment so far in shooting cycling?
I can get very emotional when a rider I really like wins or rides very well. I have a good relationship with a few riders and sometimes I get to catch a glimpse of how hard they work to get where they are and when all those efforts come to fruition, well, that’s always a great moment.
Balint, im always interested in what a snapper thinks are his best images. What is your favourite picture of your back catalogue and why?
It’s probably the photo below that features on the cover of my book: Its Zdenek Stybar in the second lap during the Igorre round of the World Cup in 2009. I didn’t have much time to set up the lights and I wasn’t sure they were even pointing at the right directions, but I knelt down regardless and started to shoot, and that was when Stybar ran past me. I like the photo because it perfectly demonstrates the essence of ‘cross: the mud, the intensity, the atmosphere. It’s all there to read on Styby’s face.
What event has you the most excited to shoot this season?
Koppenbergcross – I’ve never been there before. The crowds at races in Belgium never fail to create a special atmosphere, and it is said that Koppenberg is even more special than the other races. I guess I’ll see for myself soon enough!

To contact Balint or view his upcoming race schedule please click here
Balints Twitter
Bianchista will be reviewing Balints CX book in the next few weeks