Two Great Tastes

Remember the two great tastes advertisements that talked about how great chocolate and peanut butter go together?

For me, photography and bicycling are two great tastes. Not that you can eat either. They are two passions, more aptly, that go together as well as chocolate and peanut butter.

There are three places where the two combine deliciously and powerfully right here in Portland: Rapha, Embrocation and PDXCross.

Rapha is a British company that makes some of best cycling clothing in the world. I started buying their pieces soon after they started making them because they combine performance, quality and style with equal voracity. Not long after I bought my first jersey, Rapha launched its North American presence here in Portland, of course – this being the cycling epicenter of North America. And this being a small world, their office is a 5-minute bike ride from my house.

They use photographs not just of products but of epic rides, races, builders and the people who make cycling what it is. You can see the work on their site and on the pages of Rouleur, a quarterly magazine and annual book.

Slate Olson took Rapha’s helm on this side of the pond. Of their embrace of photography, Slate says: “Cycling is a beautiful sport. Cycling is an emotional sport. The clothing, the bikes and equipment, riders, roadside fans, architecture, sites and landscapes that come to life during the span of a race or ride are really special. There's a long history of cycling photography capturing the beautiful struggle of the cyclist amidst some of the most breathtaking and captivating parts of the world. Photography brings to life those moments or those places where we, as cyclists, all wish we could experience — the thrill of the break, the beauty of a winding, quiet road, a reverence to the great monuments of our sport.’ 

“Beauty and emotion, that's what we hope to capture and share and we have been fortunate to work with some outstanding photographers skilled at bringing to life the sport we love so much.”

Here are the photographers who contribute to Rapha’s ongoing body of work: Ben InghamPete DrinkellDaniel Wakefield PasleyDan SharpChris Milliman and Brian Vernor.

And here are a couple of Daniel's photos from Rapha's Continental rides, with riders in and out of Rapha kit.

Both photos © Daniel Wakefield Pasley

Pasley sold Rapha on the Continental Rides as an idea – you’ll see them on Rapha’s site. Daniel made pictures and handled logistics for a lot of those rides last summer.

Check out Dan Sharp’s work on the Giro. He created a magazine from the work last fall that is mighty fine. Both Daniel and Dan live in Portland.

Jeremy Dunn produces Embrocation, the Cycling Journal. He’s now in Portland, too, after moving here from back east more than a year ago. The magazine is a wonderful glimpse inside Jeremy’s mind. You should get a copy. He works for Rapha, too, and somehow manages to manage a cycling team, the magazine and a blog. If you don't know what embrocation is: a goo used for rubbing on the body to prep muscles for prolonged exertion or relieve them pain from sprains and strains after the fact.

PDXCross is a group of friends who make pictures of Portland’s cyclocross cycling scene. We go to every weekend race from September through December, including the national championships in Bend, Oregon, and make pictures of what we see, people we’ve gotten to know. My cohorts at PDXCross are Torsten Kjellstrand, Jamie Francis, Pamela Royal and Tim Labarge. Rob Finch is on hiatus from the group after having a baby a year ago. Well, it was really his wife, Fran, who had the baby.

Our merry band made pictures for Oregon Manifest last fall, too. Manifest a group that brings together the hand built cycling world for focused events that vary year to year. This year’s focus was a bike design challenge that included a grueling 77-mile ride that was the maiden voyage for the 32 custom bikes.

And to wrap up the small world connections and add one more: Last night was the issue launch party for Embrocation. Many folks from the Portland bike scene and a few photographers were there, including Chris DiStefano, the marketing director for Chris King Precision Components, which was the primary sponsor for Oregon Manifest. Among many other things, Chris King serves free coffee and cider at cyclocross races here and created a calendar to benefit breast cancer using photos.

The Embrocation launch party was held at a sweet photography book store and gallery called Ampersand Vintage. Myles Haselhorst owns the store and his wife, Carey, works for Rapha.

Slate, Carey, Jeremy, Daniel, Dan, Myles, Chris, Torsten, Jamie, Pamela, Tim and Rob all race cyclocross. And we all like photography.

And you thought the photography world was small.

To complete the small world lineage, here's a cycling site created by Brian Palmer called The Washing Machine Post. Brian doesn't drink but he lives on and writes from the Ilse of Islay, the island off the coast of Scotland where more single malt Scotches are crafted than any other island, including Laphroaig, my favorite. You'll see the connection to Portland and photography once there.

Two Pictures: Devin Wagner

Two Pictures: Louis Hebert