Magnum Photos opened their archives to Guy Andrews, founding editor of Rouleur magazine, so he could curate a book of unique photos chronicling the history of cycling. Andrews supplements the photographs gathered from the archives with insights into the lives of the people in the front of and behind the camera. Readers will discover many unfamiliar photos and gain a new appreciation for what it takes to be a professional race photographer.
The book is grouped into thematic chapters, featuring works by a range of Magnum photographers—who are among the most prestigious in the world—expertly curated and accompanied by descriptive captions. Each chapter also features a series of photographs by a single photographer, telling the story of an iconic moment, event, or scene.
The second chapter profiles photographers John Vink and Guy LeQuerrec, two photographers who followed the 1985 French and Belgian winter and spring cyclocross racing season. LeQuerrec’s training photos capture rugged, helmet-less riders on the icy streets outside Paris. John Vink’s photographs show a frenzied mix of mud and screaming spectators juxtaposed with photos of the serene Belgian countryside. Vink’s photographs have a certain musicality to them; some elements are as loud as a holler and others as soft as a whisper. In one particular photo, a man washes his bike in a river against a backdrop of lush trees. At that time, cleaning your bike meant removing mud “with a bucket and sponge” in any “nearby source of clean water,” which sometimes meant the nearest river.
Chapter 6 takes a look at the spectators who made cycling the “people’s sport”. The candid portraits of unbridled enthusiasm are unique and rarely published, as the lenses were typically focused on the athletes.
While reading Magnum Cycling, you’ll gain access into some of the more undocumented photos and revealing moments in cycling history. You will lose yourself in the stories and settings of each chapter; this is a coffee table book you’ll actually read. -KO
Magnum Cycling, Curated by Guy Andrews. Thames & Hudson 2016 $50 thamesandhudsonusa.com