Thursday, October 23, 2008


lauraisagoth 002Laura wanted me to take some photos of her with a Gothic theme for so we went to West Norwood cemetery on a Saturday afternoon to get some shots. The place is amazing - real higgledy piggledy grave stones combined with grand mausoleums. It's all very imposing.
On the walk down to the cemetery we spotted a house in amongst the suburban redbrick terraces called simply "Gothic". Big and white, with ornate turrets, it certainly looked the part - I got a snap of the name to set the scene.
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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Long time no see

Hi there, not been posting for a while; weather's been crap and there's been nothing to take pictures of. I've been riding a bit though, first in Durango in the States on a Fisher/Trek camp, and here, back on the North Downs on a very slippery DH track. This shot is for the last edition of my longterm test bike thing for MBR. My (tubeless) front tyre was a bit soft when we were doing this shot and after the next pass through it burped and went flat. Bugger. I was just beginning to work on my wide knee steez too. Next time...Picture copyright Donny Milner

Sunday, July 13, 2008


To quote (badly - I'm going on memory here) Tim Krabbe's novella, the Rider:
“Cycle racing is life without the corrupting influence of civilization: in daily life, if an enemy collapses in front of, you offer him your hand and help him up; in cycle racing, you kick him to death.”

Never has this quote felt more apt than with reference to Megavalanche, particularly the qualifying race.
Being press, the organisers had flattered us with front row starting positions. Behind me 200 salivating, body-armoured riders waited impatiently to mow me down. The gun sounded and all nerves were forgotten as we stamped on the pedals and raced into he first series of switchbacks. Elbow to elbow we jostled for position, no one willing to give in to the intimidation we each tried to dish out.
Never in normal life do you find yourself in this psychological state. It's a return to the jungle, survival of the fittest – an escape from the “corrupting influence of civilisation”.
The quote returned to me as we chased across a vast rock plateau in search of the one or two viable escape routes. It occurred to me that if I fell down here and died, my body probably wouldn't be found for another three hours, by which time I'd be covered in the tyre marks of the 1000 remaining riders, currently at the top of the hill. Would I object to such treatment? Of course not. It's a race, and nice guys come last. I'd do the same, you have to, it's a race after all.
Onto the fireroad I sprinted for all my worth. Danny was still in sight, I must still be in the top 25. I just needed to keep people behind me on the singletrack and I'd qualify in the top 50 no problem. I overtook a couple of riders through the loose, drifty turns before the first stretch of rocky singletrack. This is my weak point, and I needed a clear run to be able to hit my lines and avoid crashing.
As soon as we hit the rocks, I hit my brakes. I'm a wimp, and an unskilled one at that. I got called every name under the sun, in every language common to western Europe, as I gingerly hit all the lines I'd worked out in practice. In the two days practising this course, I had never ridden it as clean or as fast as this. Still, it wasn't fast enough for the guys pursuing me on DH race bikes. In my weakest stretch of the course I lost only three spots.
Through the compression where Mick nearly killed himself the day before; over the roller where I nearly killed myself the day before; down the loose rocky chute – it was going perfectly.
Then it happened. Coming out of the penultimate rocky corner, before the safety of the fireroad and fresh, green, pastural singletrack, I clipped a rock: the tyre went bang, and that was it. Hopes of qualifying over. To make matters worse, in the melee of the rocks, I'd lost a contact lens.
I started to walk down the hill, dejected. I had 20 minutes of descending remaining with one good eye, and one eye that can barely make out a car at 100ft, plus I had to fix a flat. I might as well give up now.
Anyway, long story short: after much soul searching I fixed the puncture and rode down the hill like an angry pirate. Needless to say I didn't qualify for the main race or even the support race, although I was welcome to ride down the hill at my leisure the following day to post up a time. Danny, bike tester Mick, MBR designer Ben Smith and Cycling Weekly's Hannah Reynolds and Stu Bowers all qualified and would be up at 5.30am the following morning to scale the mountain for a 9am kick off.
Later that evening it transpired that young Ben would be unlikely to join the gang the following morning as what he had initially thought was a minor crash in the race, had resulted in a collapsed lung! Ben gets a lot of stick in the office for being a bit of a pushover, but we might have to change that opinion since he tried to self medicate the collapsed and fluid-filled lung with bruise cream. How the Doctor laughed...
He's now in hospital in Grenoble and should be out Monday – although we doubt his girlfriend will let him out riding again any time soon.
The night before the race, storms clouds gathered on the horizon. Thunder, lightning, wind and lashing rain prevented the nervous from sleeping, and probably caused the organisers a restless night too.
Dawn rolled around although it didn't bring a change of conditions. Danny and Mick rolled out the door at 5.30am to wearily join the lift queue for the mountain top. Except there was a change of plan. Conditions were so dismal that the organisers decided against taking 900 riders up to the 3300m high top lift station. Instead, they would start at the qualifying start, and take the riders cross country to join up with the Mega course proper.
The problem was, no one seemed to have told the lift operators, which resulted in hundred of riders standing around in the cold for a good couple of hours while a solution, and lift operator, was found.
Eventually, at 10am, an hour later than scheduled, the race began. Danny punctured twice and had to stop in Alpe d'Huez and buy a new tube, while Mick broke the hour and finished in the 70 somethings. At the front end, Renee (Zelwegger) Wildharber won. Again. This guy is like the Lance Armstrong of the Mega. Formidable!
Me? I didn't ride. I couldn't see the point. Instead I pushed up the mountain and took photos, then drove down to the finish to shuttle the boys back up the hotel. By mid-morning the sun had come out and sky was an awe inspiring combination of dark blue and low lying clouds. Perfect material for an MTB snapper.
I'll be back to Mega next year for sure. To say I have unfinished business is an understatement – un-started is more like it. With Brits making up 64 per cent of this years 1600 strong entry, maybe I'll see you there?

Friday, July 04, 2008


I'm doing a little MegavaBLOG for the MBR website to keep everyone up to date with my preparations for the most frightening race I have ever done. Here's the link. I'm dreading it. I think this vid from the boys at Dirt will explain why — and apparently there's even more snow this year.

More Mountain Biking Videos >>

In other news, I just picked up an Aspire 4211 from PC World. It is Sooooooo sweet. It's basically a rebranded MSI Wind, which by all accounts is THE ultra mobile PC to have. I can now update my blog from anywhere in the world. Ace!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Crystal Palace evening races

More great racing at Palace, this week I decided against taking a kicking and went and shot some photos instead. This is my favourite, below is a slideshow. Enjoys!
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Friday, May 16, 2008

MBR Cover: July 08

I've got my first cover — should be hitting the shelves just about now. Unfortunately there's a great big bog brush covering up my shot, but it still looks good. And for once, the colours look right — not always the case with our printers...
The shot is from the cover shoot Danny and I did on the South Downs way back in February. Three flashes, one bright sun and my Canon 10-22mm lens were used here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Battersea Park, last Wednesday evening

London's such a nice place to be when the sun's out. If only the weather was like this all year round...

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Just back from three days at Afan forest in South Wales. We had great weather and rode loads.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Finally, I've finished a race

After a month punctures, lack of fitness and general despondency, I finally finished a race. And not just any old race, Crystal Palace, a circuit that I used to be alright at as a 3rd category rider, but have failed to make any impression on in the E/1/2 category.
It was hard but it always is. And took some time for me to throw caution to the wind and ride the bottom corner without braking. I've realised I'm OK at cornering, but only if I can see the exit. At Palace, you can't, and I'm correspondingly rubbish.
Here's the numbers: we covered 25 laps, or 32.9km, in 49mins 50secs, which makes an average speed of 39.6kph. My maximum speed was 54.7kph. My average heart rate was 171, max was 184, and my average cadence was 90 - quite high considering how much of the time you're not pedalling (cornering etc). According to my Garmin 705, I burnt off 1319Kcals in the race.

Picture © Phil Jones

Monday, May 05, 2008

New lens (not new bike...)

I just picked up a Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens. Pretty good deal: saw a price on camerapricebuster through Jessops, so ordered online, got an online discount price, and picked it up in the Croydon store an hour later. Sweet. Sigma lenses get pretty mixed reviews so I didn't really want to get it online incase I got a soft version and had to return it. This one seems ok so far.
I went and rode Bracknell today. Considering how hot it's been the last few days it's incredibly muddy in the woods. April showers taking their toll. I rode my longtermer (Giant Trance 1) whilst Muldoon broke in a new Specialized Stumpjumper carbon.
Here's where we rode: we spent quite a lot of time playing on the new(ish) jumpy trails, and in the jump gully. I'm getting better at getting my wheels off the ground but I still suck. Must try harder.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday - Herne Hill

Kirroughtree - Scotland

Just back from a four day trip to Scotland. We rode the trails at Kirroughtree, Drumlanrig and Glentress. All were really good, and really different to each other. And the sun even came out a few times.
I'm getting really into shooting everything wide open at the moment to get nice background blur (it kinda started when I discovered thesartorialist who shoots really nice fashion portraits). Next on the camera shopping list are some fast primes - 28mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8 are my current choices. This shot is from the cheap and cheerful 50mm 1.8, shot at f2.2.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Last week we rode from Cwmcarn to Afan off-road. We had great weather and the trails were fantastic the whole way. I can't wait to go back and ride them again without my camera pack.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


This is an outtake, the rest are pretty good (if I say so myself). Shot on the South Downs.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Coed Y Brenin

That was tiring - Coed Y Brenin and back in 26 hours, including snowstorms, a kip in a travel tavern, lots of coffee and lots of riding. We had a nice time.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


It's been pretty wet the last week and the North Downs are pretty waterlogged. Good fun though. Just playing with Photoshop CS3 - mostly the black & white function and the noise reduction filter. Quite impressive so far.