Travelling by bicycle has long been something I enjoy. Why though had I decided on a bicycle trip to York? A long time cycling friend of mine moved to Edinburgh a few years ago and we’d worked out that halfway between his house and mine was York! A weekend bike ride of 210 miles each would mean a proper catch-up over a decent meal and a few (too many) beers.
The bicycle and the camera work well together, it’s easy to stop when you’ve spotted an interesting subject to shoot; something that’s harder when travelling by car: plus you can still travel a decent distance in a day by bicycle with relative ease.
If you keep things fairly simple, cameras are easy to carry. For my ride to York I decided on my 1954 Voigtlander Vito II 35mm folding camera which has a Color-Skopar 1:3.5/50
It seems to be a perennial favourite more often to be found with a film inside than not. This time I chose to load it with Kentmere 400 as I was to have differing weather conditions over the course of the ride, plus I’m a real fan of budget emulsions! I absolutely love the small size and pocketability of this camera.
As part of my obsession I’ve spent countless hours absorbing information from online sites and the ‘YouTube university’. The most important thing I’ve learned is how to apply the rules of, sunny 16 to their full potential. Something which is often overlooked. I never manage to pack light for any cycling trip but I was determined that my camera gear would be minimal, hence forfeiting the light meter in favour of trusting my own perception of light levels.
My route followed as much of the national cycle network as was sensible, a significant portion of this is ‘off road’, often on repurposed former railway lines or following minor roads, almost guaranteeing picturesque scenes, villages and interesting landscapes along the way.
Just a few miles from my home I stopped to take a photo of numbers 28 and 29 High Street, stunning grade II listed properties in the village of Whitchurch, many is the time I’d driven past and thought about stopping but couldn’t easily find a safe parking spot.
My lunch stop on the first day ended up being at a cycle shop belonging to another friend I’d not seen for a while. I took the opportunity to catch a photo of him outside his mecca for delinquent bicycle riders.
On route toward Melton Mowbray outside Northampton I got to cycle 20 miles along a former railway line, happily a short section of this is being used as a preservation line. Giving me an opportunity to shoot as if the camera was brand new and I’d slipped back to the 1950’s
Day one had been a long day of 95 miles on legs that hadn’t pedalled very far in a while, oddly though on day two I’d been riding faster: possibly at times through fear!
What was my favourite part of the ride? The arrival is always fantastic, arriving in York was fabulous. So much so that I completely forgot to shoot any pictures with the camera (I switched to my Fujica 605n SLR the next day: my wife having brought it up with her, in readiness for our exploration of the city; before we returning home in the comfort of her car)!
In terms of lasting memories though, I’d say Leicestershire was the surprise county for me. The gently rolling landscape and large open fields, between pretty little villages that are quiet and unspoilt by the encroachment of excessive modernity.
I loved the experience of documenting my ride on film. I’ll always have a film camera on any cycle trip, and I hope that for many years to come it’s the little Voigtlander Vito II.
More of my photography here: https://www.instagram.com/samsoutdoorlife https://flic.kr/ps/2ckpMb
Share this post: