The bike links rider with nature in a tactile way - you’re acutely aware of kilometres, metres and minutes. The landscapes are more rewarding because you earned them, the air is unfiltered, although this is not always a good thing! The only thing separating you from the world is a tyre. There’s an elation in the gentle triumph of person over nature that keeps us all coming back despite the unforgiving nature of cycling.
We are in that shoulder season once more. In Melbourne, where The Pedla was born, we are lamenting the sun’s later rising time and the memories of Summer ebbing away. In the darkness of morning, we pause in our short sleeves, glancing back at gilets and arm warmers – the first signs that we are submitting to Winter. We reach for bold shades as additional visibility becomes an important feature of the way we ride.
In the Northern hemisphere, you are coming out of the darkness. Seeing the sun peeking over the horizon as you start your morning rides, and shedding layers as you welcome the warmer days ahead.
This time of the year always feels like we are ships in the night, passing by on familiar but opposite paths. It is during this time of the year that Pedla launches BOLD.
This is a standard shoot weekend. Four heads, four helmets, four bikes, one photographer, a couple of product experts doubling as B-roll shooters and navigators keep us all on schedule. The destination is a new one for us, a seaside region about an hour and a half South-East of Melbourne called Kilcunda.
It’s a stones throw from the iconic tourist destination of Phillip Island. But rather than the chaotic hustle of a tourist town, Kilcunda is the sleepy neighbour.
The team has product shoots down to a fine art now. We are usually done within a couple hours, switching garments across the riders throughout the day, working with the light and the landscape to make designs come to life. It is in the infamous golden hour, as we roll along a gravel coastline, that we first see BOLD.
Simple design that allows the seasons colours to shine, designed to be layered by the rider as we move between seasons. It’s always incredibly rewarding to see kit lifted from two-dimensional renderings to the real world. Gold against the afternoon light, magenta reflecting off the cliffs, soft blues against the foam on the breaking waves.
Kit, rider and nature feel more integrated and deliberate in these moments, and I hope that this is captured and conveyed in the images. We keep things light – short sleeve jerseys with open gilets as we feel the sun on our backs and salty breeze on our faces. We talk later about what Part Two of this shoot will bring.
We dare not look at one another or mention how we are feeling, and instead look for the fluorescent orange markers that count the kilometres down to the summit. As we climb, the temperature gauge drops and clouds engulf the Wrangler – the calendar may say summer but the alpine region does its own thing.
The group puzzles over how to capture the sweeping landscapes in limited visibility. The shots from the first day see the colours of BOLD – this time with more layers and longer sleeves, shot against the cloud. We are standing on a dam wall, the wind is howling and the metal fence is squealing.
Visibility is twenty metres at times, and it is eerie to watch each rider appear from nothingness and into a flurry of shutters clicking, the colours of the kit breaking through the grey.
On day two, we are greeted by clouds once more - and determined to find some better visibility. We descended the mountain for the valley and the town of the aptly-named Mt Beauty. The valley is well known for Autumn colours but we are a little early for its full flourish.
We have emerald jerseys against the pastures and a stone shade that matches the tannins in the Kiewa River. My hope is that riders who eventually wear this kit will notice this deliberate visual relationship between themselves and nature. We return to our accommodation at the summit and announce that it’s a wrap, but it sounds hesitant.
We hurry into our BOLD kits again and set off – we’ve got an hour. The air is cold as we whip around the dam again, long sleeves and jackets giving us some endurance against the cold, still morning.
We’re tired – although we don’t cover enormous distances on these weekends, we work hard – early mornings, long days and high intensity riding always looks better in photos.
We’re behind the car, beside the car, ahead of the car, zipping and unzipping layers as we race that dawn light. It’s the morning I think we wanted to capture all along, the type of Winter morning a cyclist dreams of waking up to. Nature doesn’t care about our running sheet, and sometimes that results in a better shoot than the one we planned.
Cyclists talk about views a lot. They are the backdrop to adventures, the distraction from pain, a convenient excuse when we need a moment to rest. We’ll pick a route because we know it’s pretty, or because it has those take-your-breath-away moments at the summit. Extremely important, but often the supporting character to the person and bike relationship.
Working with The Pedla on some of their collection shoots over the years has been an opportunity to flip the narrative, bring the background to centre stage and focus on the harmony between rider, bike and the world.
With thanks to Tim Harris for the epic images.