A Couple of Reads

I recently picked up a couple of real nice books to enjoy over the festive period. First up is a wicked photo book chronicling the UCI World Cup Cyclocross season of 2009/2010 by a really awesome snapper, Balint Hamvas.

The format of the book is a great introduction to the world cup racing scene, with each round of racing summarised nicely in prose, with a bit of pre race background about the riders and their standings, before launching into a succint edit of great photos from that leg of the competition. 

The photos capture the real essence of the race, with some cool key moments. I also love that Balint shoots the ladies equally too, and he has some truly cracking pics of girls shredding it on the circuit.

This is a great little reference book, useful and enjoyable for both hardened mud fans and newbs like myself. I really hope Balint plans to produce one for this season which has been so far really cool to watch (its probably the first year iv bothered to follow the races and riders that much, being a self-confessed die-hard roadie). The book can be ordered from Balint directly, shoot him an email through his website

Next up is the unique offering from British bike stalwart, Condor Cycles, a beautifully curated collection of stories, history and ideology of the brand and their racing heritage. Entitled “Past, Present and Future”, the book serves up delicious anecdotes from such names as Eric Clapton, Jon Snow, Monty Young and Kristian House. Delving deep into the brands history as well as referencing the current rise in cycling popularity and exposure, the book serves as a perfect anchor point for all things Grays Inn Road.

The range of articles is great, and I was honoured to be asked to submit a short personal story for the book, and there are some other awesome personal customer stories, all unique and interesting, bound with the common thread of riding condors.

I love the inclusion of stories from all sphere of the brand, from racers, staff members, old school heroes , Mr J Herety himself, and a piece on the new-school resurgence of the steel frame (something condor have truly mastered in the acciaio IMO). Its a truly really interesting read, having dipped into it a dozen times since receiving a copy, I find myself going back to it for more stories again and again…

The book is priced at £15 and available instor or via telephone from condor or online at rapha.

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

Nürburgring Race

I recently had the privilege of riding the crazy ‘Rad Am Ring’ event for Rapha. Kieran had asked if i would be up for it during my visit the the cycle club Mallorca earlier in the year, and to be honest I thought he might of forgot. How wrong I was when the email came through with the details in July… no backing out now! The racing format was simply an 8 man relay around the Nürburgring race circuit… for 24 hours! We managed to come 4th out of 49 teams, not a bad feat when riding the bulk of it with only 6 bodies.

The vibe was amazing, haning out at the mobile cycle club and slowly poisoning my insides with an unhealthy amount of their nudie espresso’s and generally enjoying some epic banter. Come 2 am those coffees were sorely needed. You can read a blog on the team and how we fared over at Rapha. I rode the acciaio as I couldnt bear to leave it at home and it miss such a special event, and im so glad I did. The thing truly excelled at cornering and descending. 
A huge shout out to Ben, Jack, Strefan, Florian and Michael for what was one of the most fun days/nights I have ever had. And so many thanks to Kieran for organizing such an amazing experience….(and the extra photos) alles klar! 😉
 Kieran leads us out on a reccy
 Pit Lane
 Jack brews up
 Ben 
 Ben awaits the transponder
 The relaxed handover
 Keeping warm
 Nightfall
 attempts at sleep
 Chillin
 Banana boy
 Stefan of 8bar bikes
 Kierans recovery program
 The mist over Nurburg
 Jack does his best cheeky barista pose
 Ben makes a new friend
 Flag
 The boss fires up the bbq
 Stefan waits for his lap
 Lost in Germany thanks to minimal trainline understanding
 Yum
 Michael warms up
 Chillin
 Some race number adjustments
 Clocking up on the descent
 The rain starts
The ring. Beautiful

Jersey Pocket

Below is my entry into Raphas Jersey Pocket project. Kind of like the Everday Carry/Burning House blogs, but… cycling related! Be sure to upload your entry onto their facebook page for a chance to win some sweet little treats.

Ride:
Solo 70k out to Bushey/Stanmore then home to Castelnau.
Jersey:
Womens cream longsleeve
Contents:
* Spare clear Jawbone lenses for changeable conditions
* £5 coffee stop kitty         
* Commemorative royal wedding oyster travelcard. In case of emergency il be basking in levels of untold patriotism as I shamefully take public transport
* Getty Press Card, should I find myself ensconced in (another) riot
* One solitary manky tasting gel, quickly substituted for a Cadburys Crunchie upon arrival at corner shop in Harrow
* Rapha Condor Club RR patch
* Nail polish for the cafe stop (girl has to multitask)
* Joker ‘bike’ card, found on the floor & given to me by a dear colleague on a trip to the township of Soweto in South Africa in 2010.