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20 January 2016 2 comments

Chased by Dogs - The Transcontinental 2015

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Chased by Dogs - The Transcontinental 2015
[caption id="attachment_15960" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Just before the start of the Transcontinental, Austrian, Walter Reiterer, In his printed Lederhosen"][/caption] For a time bike racing had lost its shine for me. I was beginning to resent the bicycle and in particular bike racing. The gloss of the Tour de France, the hyperbole of the spring Classics, Super teams with P.R banality, with brand guidelines, overkill!   I was bored of it all. Something was missing. Was it racing that was killing my bicycle love? The overarching hype of the peloton? The social media uproar from the neo-bike riders, frenziedly telling me what a real cyclist was? For years, I had followed the races, taken the pictures, watched the race, explored it, breathed it, lived it. I followed the managers, mechanics, the off season, the life, I had drank coffee in Girona. It felt done, all that was left was the adrenaline. When the peloton was moving at full speed toward me, it gave me a rush, an adrenaline kick. I loved the chase of a photograph. In that short time frame, the world fell away, just leaving me, the race, the camera, the moment, an adrenaline fuelled moment, but that is now not enough. I needed to bring my love of images and transit together. Together without the adrenaline fix, something ‘Mindful’ (I know, It’s a dreadful on-trend expression, but it fits). I need to be where I am, rather than riding a wave of adrenaline. I needed something more. Then came the Transcontinental Race ( TCR ). The Transcontinental put the poetry back into bicycle racing for me. No more having to strip away the gloss from 21st Century Fox, no trying to escape the politics of the U.C.I, and the boring stories of doping all left behind. The narratives of the TCR run and run, so many seemed to emerge, each rider has a story, each rider has rich stories. With so many KMs; so much hunger; complicated route variables; punctures; sleep deprivation; mechanicals; and stray dogs it is inevitable everyone has a story.   [caption id="attachment_15977" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Frenchman Stephane Ouaja with his prized blood stained cap. Stephane rode the TCR on a fix wheel and finished in 12th place"][/caption] The TCR, taps into the past, and points to the future. It is social media, it is in real time... it escapes the tyranny of of Television ... it is the wild west of bike racing. It is a dot on the computer screen! [caption id="attachment_15976" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Border crossing from Montenegro to Albania"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_15964" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Looking down from the Colle delle Finestre"][/caption]   Compare this to a TV interview of the Tour de France… The picture at the top is Walter Reiterer, in his printed lederhosen cycling kit. It is just before the start of the TCR, in Geraardsbergen, a confident, energetic, smiling figure. The Austrian was to my trained eye... mad as a brush. I liked him. Like many of the riders I got to see the lederhosen printed racer several times over the route of the race, I watched his lycra leathers take on new colours and textures. He had stories to tell like all the rest, he told me he started to carry a rock along the route and by the end he had the best metaphorical, maybe real story of the race. Riders were blurring dreams and reality by the end, delusions were welcome after 400 KM. I had heard of racers riding with Alberto Contador on climbs, someone had become Eugène Christophe in the 1913 Tour de France. Walter however had used his rock! Everyone had their problem with the stray dogs, barking chasing and putting the fear into everyone. Walter had the solution, the rock.  As Walter said in his own words 'the dog was no more'. A swift blow with the rock to the head had dispatched the dog back to hell*. And that’s what the TCR did for me, it dispatched my dogs back to hell. [caption id="attachment_15974" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Walter Reiterer at the finish in Istanbul"][/caption]

(*Note: No dogs were actually hurt in the riding of the Transcontinental Race 2015 - this is merely a metaphor.)

I love seeing the race through your lens and I really hope you'll be back to cover TCR No4!
Darren Franks 23 May 2016 at 20:16
Congratulation to all of the finisher and also you Walter!!!
jacob zurl 23 May 2016 at 20:16