Bicycling (South Africa)

It's All About THE LEAN


I’ve been riding bikes all my life, and photograph­ing cycling for 15 years. It hasn’t led me to conclude whether I’m more a cyclist or a photograph­er, but the qualities of my perfect road are the same regardless.

I recognise the tropes in cycling photos, one of the most celebrated being the empty curvaceous road cutting through a landscape. We see the flowing line of tar traversing an otherwise natural space, and can’t help but imagine ourselves on it – aspiration­ally, as great cyclists conquering the mountain climb, or smoothly threading our way down the treacherou­s descent. As a seasoned photograph­er I’m wary of the obvious and overplayed, but as a cyclist I fall for it. I see a picture of that kind of curving road and I immediatel­y imagine the qualities of the surface, the degree to which the corner’s radius decreases and requires more braking, and above all, the lean.

The moment of lean is the experience of cycling I love most. In that moment I am thinking only of riding – gripping the tar, making a smooth arc through the corner

– and all other thoughts are gone. In the lean I experience a moment of pure simplicity, an experience in great contrast to an otherwise complicate­d modern life. Some find joy in propelling themselves forward – speeding away from others or from their demons, or relishing speed as evidence of fitness. I can appreciate those motivation­s, but I have no passion for them. If I could ride in a continuous lean, I would. My perfect road never stops turning.

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