After studying cinema and growing up in the world of ballet dancing, photographer Emily Maye was inspired to turn her lens on bike racing after playing fantasy cycling during the Tour de France. From the Tour of California to the Spring Classics in Europe, she has shot the preparations, the excitement, the action, and the aftermaths with a distinctive eye for tone and emotion.
Portrait of Nick by
Launched just a few months ago, Vulpine make stylish, yet still practical, bikeware. Inspired by British tailoring, their products use natural fabrics with technical properties (such as Epic Wear waterproof cotton, and of course, an abundance of merino wool) – they’re for cyclists who want to integrate cycling into their everyday life without having to compromise on style.
I’ve known Nick Hussey, the man behind Vulpine, for a few years now through riding with our club the Kingston Wheelers. I’ve followed with interest the hard work he’s put into turning Vulpine from an idea into a reality. That he’s launched with a range of such desirable products makes the journey even more inspiring. I managed to grab a coffee with him during a temporary lull in his hectic schedule to chat racing as a junior, dodgy backs, the high and lows of launching a new start-up, and cycling fetes…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I grew up in a crappy mining village in Nottinghamshire, and had a rough time at school and was pretty crap at sports such as football – I felt like I needed an outlet. It sounds really ridiculous, but I’d always been very skinny but at the same time also had big legs. I watched the Tour in ’86 when Channel 4 was showing it with LeMond and Hinault, and although I didn’t necessarily understand it all, I got an enjoyment out of it. And then I started reading Winning magazine and in ’87 Stephen Roche won the Giro, which was a particularly mad edition of the race, and so this folklore of cycling started to seep into me. Watching the Tour later in the year Charly Mottet who came fourth became my cycling hero, and still is even now. Those moments, such as when Roche collapsed at La Plagne after chasing down Delgado, it blew my mind. I’d always been a weak sickly kid, but I wanted to do something really tough that required self-discipline – cycling seemed like that could make it possible for me to do that. And being so skinny it seemed like the right fit.
I started off with a crappy bike, and then graduated on to doing evening time trials which luckily started only a few miles down the road – the East Midlands Championship circuit was literally round the corner from our house. And got further and further into it, almost like a forcefield was dragging me in! By the time of my GCSEs I was completely obsessed, which drove my mum crazy. Instead of revising I’d go out on massive training rides instead. I gravitated more towards time trialling just because, as a small guy, I got bashed around a bit in road races.
But eventually I just completely wore myself out. Wrecked my back, slipping my first disc when I was just 19. Then managed to get glandular fever, going from 9 stone down to 8 stone, losing all my strength. When I recovered I still wasn’t able to cycle because of my back, so went about fixing it through yoga and pilates and better posture and all that sort of stuff – and had a short period later where I was with the Kingston Wheelers and could get back to riding semi-seriously. Unfortunately I ended up using the last of the brownie points I had with my body before my back put a halt to it all again.
Vulpine Cotton Rain Jacket. Made from Epic Cotton – a fabric made by applying a microscopic coating to cotton before weaving – the jacket is both wind and water-resistant. It has a tailored structure and is packed with clever details such as magnetic neck and pocket closures, reflective cuffs, and a pull down splash guard to keep your bum dry in the rain.
How did you come to set up your own company? And as a cyclist I’d have to ask whether one of the reasons might have been to fit in a bit more time on the bike? It wasn’t a motivation. The reason I started was because I wanted to do something in cycling. I was frustrated working for other people, for bosses who always had a veto over me. Previously I didn’t have the time or the idea, or even the money to do it. Eventually my wife Emmalou said to me, because I was miserable at work – my dad was really ill, my back was in pieces, really stressed – that I needed to do what I really wanted to do. By that time I was basically on my knees, so I said ok, and quit my job.
Emmalou still had her salary, but we had to change our lifestyle and remortgage the house. There was a lot of risk involved, and of course there still is. That’s why I know now why so few people start their own business because it’s so full on. Having said that, I’m very rarely stressed, because I’m not dealing with the frustrations of someone saying ‘You can’t do this’, or sitting by watching opportunities being missed. Everyday I make decisions that fundamentally change the direction of the company, which is very satisfying. It’s tiring and incredibly hard work, but it’s not stressful.
Starting a cycling company everyone asks if I’m getting in plenty of time to ride. Even if it wasn’t for my back I probably wouldn’t be able to get out much, but I’m hoping to gradually change that. So I deliberately chose to set up my office around Box Hill because of all the great riding around there – another advantage of being your own boss! – and will be doing some more mountain biking around there, with my dog Lily chasing after me.
Jered leads the bunch up Paris Mountain during the USPRO in 2008: “David Zabriskie was already up the road, but I got a big enough gap on the field to get a chance to enjoy Paris Mountain and its thousands of fans all by myself. It was special. It would have been special just like that, but it hit unforgettable for me, because a lot of my friends, including Ashley, were in the first kilometer of the climb.” Photo by Darrell Parks
Jered Gruber left behind a career in America as a pro cyclist to pursue a life travelling with his wife Ashley across the roads of Europe. Since first picking up a camera just two years ago, the duo have photographed and reported from Grand Tours and the Classics, capturing some stunning images along the way. His work can be seen in magazines such as Peloton and Bicycling Australia, and on the official poster of the 2012 Giro d’Italia. It may sound like a dream come true, but as Jered reveals, it’s taken a lot of hard work and perseverance to get this far…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I started riding in 2002 after spending most of my childhood playing golf. After graduating high school in May of 2001, I traveled to Europe with a friend, Teddy. We did the European Trip and one day ended up mountain biking with my uncle and Teddy. Teddy kicked my ass. He always kicked my ass though, but for some reason, this time it stung. I wanted a bike, so bought a bike at the very end of the year for $400 from a guy in Athens. Shoes, bike, wheels, pedals, everything.
After that, it was a slow, slow process to getting reasonably fast. Cat 5 to Cat 4 in 2002, Cat 3 in 2003, a year studying and racing out of Heidelberg, Germany in 2003-2004. Cat 2 at the end of 2004, Cat 2 and 15th at U23 Nats in 2005, Cat 1 in 2006. In 2007, things started to pick up. I had been working hard since about 2005, but it took until 2007 for things to start to come together. I signed on with a great squad, the TIME Factory Development Team, and suddenly everything clicked. The people behind that program really made me the bike rider I became (plus of course my good friend, coach, training partner Jacob Fetty).
How long have you been writing about and photographing cycling? I’ve been working with PezCyclingNews since the end of 2003. I can’t believe it, but that makes for eight years now. I started working with PEZ while studying in Germany for the 2003/2004 school year. I began with Homeboy articles, then went to EuroTrash, articles, etc etc. I didn’t make any money until 2005, and at that time PEZ offered me a little something to take on some more responsibilities. That stipend of sorts really got me through those lean years when I raced full-time and made no money on my bike.
The magazines didn’t come until I met Ashley. We moved to Europe in 2008 and that’s when things really kicked off. Ashley’s continual desire to travel got us on the road and taking pictures. We got lucky and made a contact at ROAD Magazine as well as Bicycling Australia. They were happy to have our work, and we were so happy to have the chance to see our pictures and words on paper! We moved over to Peloton Magazine at the end of 2010, and that brings us to our current set up: PEZ, Peloton, Bicycling Australia.
Exploring the many fascinating facets of cycling and bike culture, Jack Thurston’s The Bike Show is a weekly radio broadcast on London station Resonance 104.4fm. But just as the content isn’t confined to its London setting, the show reaches a global audience thanks to its popular podcasts with several years of shows, and hours of entertaining listening, available to download. If you’re discovering the show for the first time then you’re in for a real treat as you wander through the archives – Jack’s enthusiasm for all things cycling is infectious and makes for both charming and insightful radio. Just as the latest season hits the airwaves, we chat about his passion for touring, love of Moultons, and his thoughts on Boris Bikes…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. My earliest cycling memory is riding behind my mum as a young boy, across Midsummer Common in Cambridge, where we lived; to me she looked huge on this giant upright Raleigh, while I zipped along on my little red bike. Then in the sixth form at school in north London my friend Daniel Start was granted permission to start a cycling club as a way of getting out of doing normal games which by that point, we hated. An understanding and rather eccentric chemistry teacher supervised a small group of us on touring rides in Hertforshire, and the school even provided us with pack lunches. I didn’t regard cycling as sport but as a way of getting around independently. As a fifteen year old I remember riding down to the West End to the Virgin Megastore and Ray’s Jazz Shop, and as I was getting there for free without having to pay for a bus or tube fare it meant I could buy more records. I was quite taken by that idea. I also remember being about twelve and my parents allowing me to do the London to Cambridge ride (a mass participation event much like London to Brighton) on my own – they seemed to think nothing of it. They took the train to Cambridge to meet me at the finish.
How did you first getting in cycle touring? My first touring trip was with a group of friends to Ivinghoe Beacon in the Chilterns after doing our mock GCSEs. We made all the basic mistakes and were totally unprepared, not bringing warm enough kit or any waterproofs and allowing our tents and sleeping bags to become drenched on the back of our bikes. It was February and at night it was snowing and got so cold we couldn’t even light our stove, and all we could eat was some raw tinned ravioli. I imagine some of us were very close to hyperthermia. Strangely that experience didn’t seem to put me off.
What bikes do you ride? Luckily I have a bit of storage space near where I live so at the moment I have eight bikes. I think I’ve just bought a tandem too – a friend is bringing it down from Manchester. The collection also includes three Moultons which I have a particular interest in. They make for fantastic touring bikes, incredibly comfortable and well designed to carry a touring load. Their smaller wheels actually make them faster than normal bikes, particularly on the downhills. Tom Simpson even raced one on the track until the UCI banned them.
Is southern California the perfect place to ride your bike? Yes, according to racer and photographer Jordan Clark Haggard. His intimate photographic journal The Blue and Red documents a life of riding and racing to a backdrop of beautiful landscapes, unfinished roads, crashes and punctures. From the epic to the mundane, all of cycling life is captured through the lens.
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I suppose the story of how I fell in love with cycling is pretty typical. I began riding as a kid and spent a lot of time charging up and down the dirt trails around my house. In high school I saved up enough money to buy a full suspension mountain bike and rode it every day. Then when at college I signed up to the triathlon team and it happened that I was pretty good at it. After graduation I started racing crits and on the road, and though it has its high and low points, bike racing has on the whole been a great experience. At the moment I race Cat 2 on the road. I have bounced from team to team over the years. This season I’ve landed with the Riders One team, which is focused on cycling and sustainability.
Above right: Camille winning the bunch sprint (in his pre-raving days). Above: Le Métier, the book Camille collaborated on with Team Sky pro Michael Barry. A new updated second edition is now available.
After racing at the top level as a junior, Camille McMillan swapped his bike for the camera to become one of the top cycling photograpers around. Le Métier was published last year, with Camille’s photographs illustrating Michael Barry’s story of life as a pro, and his work has featured in magazines such as Rouleur and their photography annuals. He is currently embedded with Team Sky for the classics season, shooting and blogging for The Times. The photographs below are from this year’s season openers Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. As a little boy my life was peppered with watching Six Days and the classics. After watching the Worlds at Goodwood I started racing cyclo cross as a school boy. I left school at 16 and signed on, trained, raced my bike and slept. I raced all year round, up and down the country with excursions to Europe.
What made you quit racing and take up the camera instead? I’d been racing and training since I was a kid – my Dad had me out riding behind a motorbike after school. At 20 I was burnt out, living in London and out raving. I won my last race, got home, chucked my bike in the shed and didn’t touch it again for years. I’d been in a race, saw a break form up the road and thought ‘I might as well get in it’ and bridged across – but I was just going through the motions. Then the sprint came and I won. But I didn’t care, all I was interested in was who was coming to the pub afterwards. After I quit I eventually managed to get myself to St Martins College of Art, had some more fun for five years and left with a camera in my hand. The camera is still there… and now so is the bike.
Ben clinches 3rd place in the recent Red Bull Hill Chasers event. Photography by Roman Skyver
Condor Cycles is a London institution, with their own iconic brand of bikes, and long-standing shop on Gray’s Inn Road. They’ve been serving the local cycling community since 1948, and have strong ties with the racing scene, their bikes having been ridden in the Tour de France and by the likes of Tommy Simpson and Bradley Wiggins. They’re also currently co-sponsors of the Rapha Condor Sharp professional team. Ben Spurrier has the enviable job of designing the Condor range, and with his own racing pedigree, the brand is in good hands…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I grew up in London and cut my teeth racing at Beastway and in the London Cyclo Cross League. I got my first job in a bike shop at 15 which I kept going through the holidays when at university. I did a block of time as a workshop manager in a large chain where I gained a Cytech 3 mechanic’s qualification, then in 2005 I started at the head office working on the up-coming own brand. This wasn’t the most creative role but it was my big break and it got my foot in the door. It gave me the opportunity to travel to the Far East and I racked up a lot of invaluable experience. I also did a stint in the Product Department at Madison, the importer and distributer of Shimano and other brands such as Cervelo, San Marco and more. I’ve done ten 24hr MTB races (one solo), the Paris-Roubaix VTT stage race twice, Cape Epic MTB stage race, 3 peaks Cyclocross race 3 times, I race cyclocross at league level and in the National Trophy and I have worked as mechanic and tech-support on a UK pro road team.