i'm not the first and i'll definitely not be the last to make comparison between an over-riding enthusiasm for cycling and that of religion. it is surely no coincidence that many a cycle club holds a sunday morning bike ride; while others find themselves squirming on uncomfortable pews, we're all out on arguably even less comfortable seating, demonstrating our own religious fervour. of course, such obsession is hardly confined to matters velocipedinal. those partaking of alternative forms of physical activity display every bit as much enthusiasm for their own particular poison.
however, we at least have our own commandments as proscribed by the fine fellows at velominati, despite there being considerably more than ten, more than just a few of which must be adhered to with tongues firmly planted in sunday morning cheeks. just what constitutes the bible is a subject open to much discussion, at least as far as road cycling is concerned. when it comes to cyclocross, however, there really is only one candidate, that of photographer balint hamvas' annual pictorial dissemination of the previous season's european racing.
though hamvas' website declares the book began shipping to prospective customers at the end of june, it's arrival at the washingmachinepost croft in the past week was particularly apposite. this is entirely because, as september creeps onto the horizon of august, to quote the inimitable richard sachs: 'cross fugkinc rules'. and who can argue with that?
i have some sympathy with those (mostly mrs washingmachinepost) who contend that one race looks very much like another, and one cyclocross bike looks remarkably similar to those travelling in its wake. those of us who like to think of ourselves as amongst the cognoscenti when it comes to such matters, know different, a knowledge that mr hamvas caters to with remarkable perspicacity. apple computer have often been identified as a company with a knack of providing us with items that we scarcely knew we wanted or needed.
this year's cyclocross annual does precisely the same for cross addicts. witness balint's visit to the home of dugast tyres; enough to make your kneecaps crinkle (in a good way). the very fact that i pored over pictures of tread patterns for far longer than is seemly in polite company no doubt says just as much about me as it does about hamvas. and it's not just the stars and watercarriers who gain their fifteen minutes of fame. balint has paid tribute to the volunteers who allow us to indulge our religion whether that involves racing or scoffing frites and mayo from the safer side of the barriers.
in a break from tradition, the cyclocross annual includes all the relevant results from the races depicted. in balint's own words "Now there is no need to visit the UCI website if you want to know who won the second round of the World Cup." and additionally the book has been separated into three big sections, one for each main series. happily, milton keynes features both pictorially and textually.
it would be remiss of me to contend that the annual is entirely the work of hamvas; a solo album if you will. though the imagery is indeed from his lens, many of the articles emanate from the word processors of esteemed others: paul maunder, caroline cardinaels, mark legg-compton, nicholas lemke and more all contribute to the beautifully illustrated epistles.
i can't underline just how essential this annual is to even an enthusiast-from-afar such as myself, and i think it worth my pointing out that last year's edition is still sat prominently amongst my current reading material, though it will slowly be replaced by the latest edition.
a bible, of course, has need of being at least a tad contentious, if only to point out the iniquities prevalent in the society we currently take for granted. thus the disparity in financial earnings between the male and female competitors is examined in depth, perhaps with the approval of the riders, but doubtless to the consternation of sponsors and race organisers. that being the case, however, it is a factor of modern day cyclocross that has need of being addressed and it is of great credit to balint that he had the considerable temerity to allow dan seaton to approach the subject so forcefully. scandalous would be a good description.
though it would be nice to think that the sport of cyclocross is considerably bigger than any one individual, there's an entire chapter given over to examining quite how spectator numbers might fare after february 2016 at which point sven nys will retire from active duty. ever since i've been following cyclocross, nys has been involved, and though his disappearance won't prevent me from continuing to watch on sporza, even though he no longer rides a colnago, he'll be sorely missed.
though balint's photography is quite glorious, it is remarkably magnanimous of the chap to hand over one of the opening pages to illustrator henry mccausland. when your copy arrives you will understand why. i'd be the first to admit that i have a particular liking for illustration, one that easily equals my enjoyment of other folks' photography, but such is the graphic skill of mr maccausland, that i rather hope balint asks him back more than once for next year's edition.
the cyclocross annual 2014/2015 can be ordered directly from the link below at a cost of £29.99, plus postage and packing. i mention this because not ordering a copy really isn't an option, especially if you wish to keep the faith.
sunday 23 august 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................