I couldn’t think of a more apt statement in relation to British Cyclocross. A sport that embraces racing in the autumnal cold, wet and mud. I had wanted to photograph a cyclocross race for a while, so when the opportunity to document the Western League series was presented to me I leapt at the chance.
As with virtually every cycling event I’ve attended, the atmosphere in Bristol was friendly and upbeat for both races. The athletes taking part in the stage would go through their final bike checks and then a few pre-race laps in order to get a feel of the course before finally assembling on the start line, ready for the chaos to ensue.
Both races featured a steep, mud strewn uphill section of the course that presented the rider with a choice to plough up in the saddle or get off and run. This is an archetypal feature of cyclocross circuits and provided the catalyst for multiple overtakes and the odd crash (without serious injury).
Cyclocross is a physically demanding sport. The riders’ race around the circuit full tilt for an hour, facing numerous terrain changes and man made challenges in the form of Belgium style pens and tight cornering. The sport is arguably the ultimate test of bike control, endurance and the ability to adapt to the conditions around you. You also have to be very aware of your fellow riders, I was struck by how considerate and responsive the competitors were when it came to deciding who had the racing line in tight corners or who had priority when coming down from one of the many steep sections.
I really enjoyed photographing the Western League Series and was even tempted to try my hand at the sport in 2017. It’s a bike race that has the lot and I look forward to photographing many more races.