I had planned to get a cover photograph last weekend but the weather forecasts were so shocking that we just didn’t bother. Today’s forecast was better so we decided to give it a go.
One good thing about this whole project is the resurrection of old friendships from my school days. During last years ride, Wayne May put me up at his house in Cornwall and Penny Mumford made the effort to feed and water me at Ludlow train station to name two. Today I hooked up with David Clements, he still lives and works locally and hasn’t really changed that much since 1988. We played a lot of school rugby together but, as we left school to pursue their own lives, friendships went on hold for a bit. David is a keen photographer so I pitched the idea of getting a cover shot for the book.
Thinking myself just a bit clever for checking the forecast on Sunday and deciding that tonight would be bright and sunny, we planned to meet at 5pm on Chain Hill, just south of Wantage on the Newbury road. I had prepped my bike at the weekend with things like racks and bar bags; the panniers were stuffed to make them look full and my summer gear was neatly piled up ready to go. The brief for the picture was ‘long, winding and undulating road, solitary cyclist struggling with kit on a sunny day’…no problem with the struggling bit as I am still trying to shake off a liberal dose of fatal man flu; the weather changed it’s mind around 3pm which buggered up the simulated summers day a treat.
Not to be beaten, we decided that the shot would be a moody weather scene instead. I cycled off down the hill for a few hundred yards, turned around and selected a big gear to add to the effect of struggling up a hill. So far, so good, no cars in the shot and the rolling hills appeared in the background. The cold was making itself know by the pain in my fingers; despite wearing gloves, David still struggled to operate the camera. Having got the first run of pictures out of the way, we did another couple of run throughs and seemed to get some nice shots. By this time, it was getting very unpleasant and I was relieved to get back to the car.
The beauty of this picture revolves around the fact that I am in it but my face will not be visible, always a bonus when you are trying to get people interested with a photograph. The cover shot should make people pick up the book and read a little further (hopefully turn it over and read the blurb). If I could have ordered up the weather, I would have gone for blue sky, sunshine and fluffy white clouds but this was not to be. A more threatening sky and landscape with a lone cyclist would fit in nicely with how I felt at the end of Day 9 near Dalwhinnie in the Highlands. It was cold, damp and windy with a definite sense of being the middle of nowehere.
I’m looking forward to seeing the results once David has worked some magic on the raw pictures, I can then move onto the next stage of getting the cover designed. Thanks for your help mate, another debt of gratitude to be repaid in the bar!