A fixed-gear bike is an integral part to any hipster’s wardrobe, but the sleek, beautifully simple machines are more than just a fashion accessory. When in the right hands (and feet) they are incredible transportation devices and this has been demonstrated beautifully by a crew of six riders called CTRS who recently cycled from London to Paris. Documented in a film by Grace Ladoja, David Proctor and Ryan Hopkinson – the journey is a fascinating one, and the portraits taken along the way by Ryan are fantastic.
Hey Ryan, so to the untrained eye these are portraits of people on bikes – what’s the project about?
A crew of six riders called CTRS, from around the World, cycled from London to Paris on fixed gear bikes. With no brakes and no lights. I work a lot in film, for David Procter and we where both asked to come aboard the project by Grace Ladoja. To film the riders journey from start to finish. I brought a medium format camera with me and started taking portraits of them from London to Paris, mostly when they had breaks from the killer hills they had to cycle up. Not all the riders here though are associated with CTRS even though some of them cycled all or part of the journey.
Did you cycle with the guys as you photographed them?
I didn’t cycle any of the journey unfortunately, as I was under a blanket keeping an eye on focus, composition, exposure, etc. While David was strapped in the back of the 4×4, with a custom rig filming with the boot wide open. Pretty safe…
Fixed gear seems to be a bit of a big deal at the moment – why do you think that is?
Grace would be better at answering this than me, as she headed up the Bicycle Film Festival in London this year. But i’ve heard a few people say its a trend. Although I dont feel the same, I hope its going to be something that sticks for a long time. All the guys who cycled on the trip, and the people I’ve photographed since then are so clued-up and ridiculously skillful riders with a proper enthusiasm about fixed gear bikes and riding bikes in general. I get the feeling its a lot to do with the freedom you have when riding, as your not confined to pavements and skate parks. A lot of the people I know who ride fixed, love going on long journeys for the sake of getting away, so I think it has a different tone to something like skateboarding. I couldnt imagine a documentary about skateboarding to Paris, but it wouldn’t suprise me if some of the CTRS would be up for that.
Did you meet Lance Armstrong?
I didn’t get the chance to meet Lance, and would have loved to. As I have a huge amount of respect for everything he has done, but I was working with David filming the guys meet him. As I’m sure you will agree, his presence was definitely felt when he was in the room. It was great seeing Lance knocking shots back with the CTRS on Tom Sach’s bike, a really great ending and a huge highlight of the journey.
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