Shooting in London, shooting in Switzerland
After five weeks off the bike resting my dodgy back, the second week of October I was given the go ahead to get back on the bike and get on with my life. I’m still not 100% and at this point in my injury/recovery, I’ve basically given up hope of ever being fully fixed, but that’s a different story for a different time.
The first thing in the diary was a four day video shoot with British Cycling in London, filming a series of 13 videos aimed at commuters, to help make things easier for those already cycling as well as provide tips for those thinking about it.
Commuting is how I first got into cycling myself, turning the drudgery of travelling to work into something I’d actively look forward to and ultimately leading me to the position I’m in now, so I’m passionate about helping more people to factor something fun, healthy and environmentally friendly into their day.
Having previously worked at the London Cycling Campaign, I am well aware of the issues city cyclists face and the reservations some might have about travelling to work by bike. But I feel like things are looking up. Whilst no British cities can compete with some of the most well known ‘cycling cities’ such as Copenhagen, a great deal has been done in recent years to improve things for cyclists in the capital, with some fantastic, entirely traffic free cycle superhighways that are a real pleasure to ride when you find them.
In the videos we demonstrate safe riding in tricky junctions, good road positioning, clothing and luggage options, how to train on your commute and heaps of other stuff. My hope that these videos will help make things a little easier, or more fun for commuters – I can’t wait to see them!
After four days shooting in very cold conditions in the UK, I jumped on a plane and flew to Switzerland (well, Italy actually, the nearest airport is in Milan) for a shoot with my clothing sponsors, Assos. I’ve now been working with the brand for nearly two years, during which time there has been a whole load of exciting developments so it was a thrill to head back to beautiful lake Lugano to catch up with the guys at HQ.
Whenever I visit Assos, I always stay right by the lake in the aptly named Paradiso, just out of the city centre and facing Monte Bre, which I climbed at dawn last year. After arriving in the evening, I took a stroll on the shore and up to the centre, enjoying the mineral scent of the crisp, mountain air. Dave and I used to live virtually round the corner, on Lake Como and it was nice to see those familiar mountains that I’d circle on some of my rides.
Luckily, I’m not big on going out, preferring instead to spend my time either outdoors or resting up having a bath, reading or watching films, which was somewhat fortuitous – Switzerland has always been expensive but holy moly, thanks to Brexit the prices were startling. To put it into context, a Burger King meal was about £12 or £13 (not that I had one!!!) and a cup of coffee was about £4. The only thing cheap was supermarket wine!
The first day of the shoot, we drove out to Sustenpass, a high mountain route that connects Innertkirchen in the canton of Bern with Wassen in the canton of Uri. Obviously we were shooting photos, which means lots of stopping, starting and repeats so I was unable to do the 18km climb in it’s entirety without pause but I can’t wait to give it a go another year, slightly earlier in the season. The average gradient is 7.4%, so it’s long and steady, and what’s nice (depending on your viewpoint) is that it’s quite open rather than being switchback after switchback so you can really enjoy the descent because you can see what’s coming next.
Day two was the video shoot, the aim being to produce a film next year that will introduce some new women’s Autumn/Winter 2017 pieces. I’d already been warned that the crew was hoping for disgusting weather, so we could really showcase the performance of the clothes and the conditions they allow you to ride in and we were ‘rewarded’ with torrential rain, minuscule temperatures and even snow. We based ourselves at Rifugio Lago Ritom in the Piora valley, a lovely mountain hut run by an easy going chap who could not have been more accommodating.
I imagine the area would be very beautiful and popular in summer, filled with wildflowers, orchids, marmotts and eagles, but as it was, all I could see was snow! Bypassing the terrifying looking Ritom funicular (which has a gradient of 87%!!!!!) I rode along the delightful little road hugging the hillside, weaving through the occasional tunnel on my way to the lake. I think it would be a fab ride in summer, stopping at the lake for a picnic. It’s now been added to my vast list of places to revisit – I have been to some incredible places but I’m often busy shooting or filming so vow to return. At this rate, I’ll need about five lifetimes to fit them all in!
Post shoot, I swung by the ASSOS store in Lugano to grab some clothes and was surprised to see Elena and I on the wall, just about life size. There was also a video on my playing on a large screen behind the counter, making there more images of women riding bikes in there than of men. Win!!!