On a cold rainy winter day, while I was climbing a mountain in solitude, ideas were floating through my head as my heart rate increased with the effort. I thought about the ride. I was alone on a road in the pouring rain. It was a moment in the life of a cyclist that the public doesn’t see. There are thousands of such moments.
Camille McMillan, a photographer who is also a good friend, and I had just finished working on a project together. His photos are unique and we had worked well together.
At the top of the mountain I pulled over and sent him an SMS. “I think we should work on a book that will tell the story of a pro cyclist’s life. The book will follow him through the year. With your photos and my words I think we can tell a story that hasn’t been told and give people an understanding of what the life of a pro cyclist is all about.” Moments later he wrote back. “I’m in.”
Before he became a professional photographer and I a professional cyclist, we were childhood friends. Camille’s father, Rhett, rode in a local club in London with my father. They were best friends and with cycling as a common passion. Camille and I grew up immersed in bike magazines and books. And, as a result of all of that, we see the sport similarly. Due to that childhood friendship there was a level of trust, which allowed us to work more honestly and intimately.
Camille followed me as often as possible through the cycling season. He spent time in my home, in the hotel room, in the team bus, and followed the training rides. Many of his photos capture the moments in a cyclist’s life that are routine to us but are exceptionally abnormal to most people.
To attain the level of fitness necessary each rider in the professional peloton has committed his life to his bike. The roadside spectators, the media and the television audience, who watch us from a distance, cannot see the professional cyclist’s commitment, suffering and sacrifice. We have told this story in Le Métier. The seasons of a professional cyclist.
The book is on sale now: http://rouleur.cc/le-metier and will be released 29.04.2010. Below are some snaps Camille took late last week of the printing presses in action.