Guest Anatomy of a Photo: Here We Rest

photo by Camille McMillan

@steampunk dropped this beauty of a photo on us. Volumes being spoken here, none of which makes being a pro look so great. Thanks Steamy.

VLVV, Gianni

I’ve waxed lyrical on the darker side of le métier on these pages in the past””on the physical and psychological demands that pro riders endure. But this photograph requires even more of the cycling fan. Tan lines? Check. Eye wear? Well placed. These are pro, right?

But this kind of voyeurism almost inspires an awkward kind of guilt. Witness: the still-open door; the suitcase stand still leaning against the wall””suitcase dumped on the floor beside it; shoes (as beaten and worn down as the rider) askew in the general vicinity of the shoe mat. How do we process these? Dingy hotel. Emaciated rider. Sun-burned face. Chapped lips. Hunched shoulders. Heavy head. Distant eyes. Broken. Total, utter, complete fatigue. And tomorrow they expect panache. Again.

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100 Replies to “Guest Anatomy of a Photo: Here We Rest”

  1. That brings things into perspective a bitty. And I bet he has to share a room too !

  2. Having just finished David Millar’s Racing Through The Dark, this photo really resonates.

  3. I have to say that this image evokes no pity from me.  We are all trapped in a lonely hotel room, cubical, crowded airplane seat, etc.   We will all have to go home tired and beaten down only to return the next day with expectations of our best.  The difference here is that there is no political silliness, no schmoozing, no posturing that decides who gets the promotion, only the limits of your body and mind.  While I see a lot of worry in this photo over whether it was enough today, I also see the satisfaction in knowing it was everything, and what more can you do than leave it all out there today.

  4. And with the back story, this photo is chilling. 

    The things that he did for the sport that he loved.

    All this photo needs is a large crucifix on the wall above him and it would be pulitzer prize worthy in my opinion.  Serioulsy.

  5. Wow, what a photo. It is honestly amazing to me that such a body, such legs & arms, can carry a guy so far. Just as a modern NFL lineman doesn’t really seem to be an athlete to me because of how simply fat some of them are, I would not necessarily see this fella at the beach and think he was a PRO. What they can wring out of such a frame is crazy.

    On another note, how often does a typical PRO swap out shoes? Seems like you’d stick with ones that feel good & have broken in a bit, but maybe not. And helmets. I’ve always wondered how often they swap those out too.

  6. I wonder if he had to wash his own jersey and hang it on the back of the chair to dry like the Prophet did in “La Course en Tete”…

  7. I find the photo very evocative. Barry has a way of sitting that makes him look quite, for lack of a better word, “broken.” There is a photo of him sitting similarly outside a café with Hincapie and Millar that is printed in the Summer chapter of his book. In this photo, I find the contrast between his slumped posture and his still clenched toes to be particularly telling. It’s as though, as exhausted as he is, he still cannot relax, even for a few moments.

  8. Considering he was near the end of his career and in light of his subsequent confession, I find interesting his regard in the opposite direction of the slightly-opened door of the dark closet and the mirror…

  9. @steampunk: As you say in your previous article on Barry’s book, Le Métier, “…milking every last ounce of power and energy from his body and soul,” and “I can no longer begin to believe that I can even come close to achieving any modicum of  Rule #5.”

  10. @Buck Rogers

    And with the back story, this photo is chilling.

    The things that he did for the sport that he loved.

    All this photo needs is a large crucifix on the wall above him and it would be pulitzer prize worthy in my opinion. Serioulsy.

    Yes, a crucifix would beg two questions for me:

    Suffering king or suffering servant?

    Where is the redemption?

  11. @Buck Rogers

    And with the back story, this photo is chilling.

    The things that he did for the sport that he loved.

    All this photo needs is a large crucifix on the wall above him and it would be pulitzer prize worthy in my opinion. Serioulsy.

    I was JUST about to add a crucifix post when I read yours!  Man, that pic is a shitstorm of awesome.  Completely spent, and knowing he’s gotta find some nourishment and rest before doing it again tomorrow.

  12. ah, Le Metier….the book was just returned to me this week, after I loaned it to a training partner.  I can’t help but stop and look at all the photos, everytime I hold it.  The photos are beautiful and as mentioned above strangely compelling in their voyeurism: watching the riders sit in a cafe, in their hotels, or out in Rule #9 winter conditions.  This Barry picture is always one that seems to catch me the most. His face tells the whole story of the craft: absolute bleeding yourself dry for this obession.  Nice work, Steampunk

  13. Just finished this lovely book a couple of days ago, I got it for Christmas and enjoyed the entire thing. It is a worthy work and a great piece of writing.

    A great passage to go along with this photo:

    Page 173 of the 3rd Edition:

    “Cyclists who are en forme can look ill when compared to an average human – we become gaunt with hollowed cheeks; our ribs protrude as muscle and fat have been stripped from our upper bodies; and flushed veins run across the skin’s surface. The French say: “Un homme en forme est un homme malade.” A cyclist at his peak is a sick cyclist. Not because he is unhealthy but because his body has been pushed to the limit. Like a Formula 1 car that can fly on a racetrack but can’t cope with a bump in the road, our bodies are so specialized they are useless off the bike.”

  14. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    @Buck Rogers

    And with the back story, this photo is chilling.

    The things that he did for the sport that he loved.

    All this photo needs is a large crucifix on the wall above him and it would be pulitzer prize worthy in my opinion. Serioulsy.

    I was JUST about to add a crucifix post when I read yours! Man, that pic is a shitstorm of awesome. Completely spent, and knowing he’s gotta find some nourishment and rest before doing it again tomorrow.

    Yes, and all for what.  Almost like a heroin addict.  Painful, sublime photo.  Speaks volumes about our sport over the last decade and about Barry, whom I have always liked, and still do.

  15. The only think that would make this picture more awesome would be if it was in black and white or sepia. Composition and ambiance are the principal elements, color is not. Cyclops, with your photoshop skills, can you give it a shot?

  16. It is a hard life, but I’d give my left nut to have lived it.

    And yes, someone please, put this one in B&W.

  17. The look is actually “oh crap. They put the room together with 2 beds shoved together to make a king, and my teammate is gonna wanna snuggle again tonight.”

  18. You guys are reading too much into this. Barry is merely wondering how he’s going to get some proper maple syrup into his gullet before the start of tomorrow’s stage. He’s going through withdrawal, having been gone from his home and native land for so long.

  19. on a lighter note,see this team sky rapha unveiling,

       The range consists of more than 130 items, of which every rider will receive multiples – a staggering figure of 703 pieces per pro. Along with the expected bits of cycling kit for every weather condition, they’ll also receive jeans, trousers, shirts, and even branded merino wool boxers

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/gallery-team-sky-unveils-rapha-2013-team-kit   703 piece of kit,for each rider,wow.

  20. @allezfignon

    I wonder if he had to wash his own jersey and hang it on the back of the chair to dry like The Prophet did in “La Course en Tete”…

    Nope – Sky have a washing machine and tumble drier built in to the team bus – roughly where the suitcases go on a normal touring coach…

  21. I think he is worried about getting stuck in the Formula 1 Hotel shitter…

  22. Yup, he looks like a man who’s finished a day’s work and has another one to look forward to tomorrow. However he’s got to get rid of the photographer; get his kit off and with the soigneur pronto and then have the shower and the crap he’s been putting off since he rolled over the finish line an hour ago – five minutes after the stars had started their press interviews.

    Then it’s in to the team casual kit and downstairs for that well balanced meal and a meeting with the DS with or without coffee – depending on how the day went.

    Massage will be fitted in when the GC men have had theirs.

    Maybe there’ll be time for a call home and the opportunity to have a “domestic” before a non-air-conditioned night. Leave the window open for air and get eaten by mozzies or shut the window and sweat?

  23. @razmaspaz No politics in pro cycling?!  Think again, amigo.  Or read the accounts of Lance and his teammates, or of the aging Hinault when he didn’t want his young teammate Lemond to overshadow him…..

  24. I seem to have failed to credit Camille McMillan for the photo (which also appears in later editions of Barry’s Le Métier).

    @wiscot

    Not sure I agree””B&W or sepia would likely remove the impact of the dull faux-wood colours in the hotel room. What I like about the colour is that there are plenty of sepia tones in here already. I think it’s the utter absence of ambience that gives this picture its real character. That said, @brian seems to be seeing it in pretty B&W terms, so you could ask him what it looks like from there.

    @razmaspaz

    I think that’s precisely the point. But nobody romanticizes your cubicle. And yet: we romanticize the shit out of pro cycling. When you get home from the office, you go for a ride to clear the cobwebs and frustrations. Imagine riding to the point where you lose all pleasure in it.

  25. @Steampunk

    @razmaspaz

    I think that’s precisely the point. But nobody romanticizes your cubicle. And yet: we romanticize the shit out of pro cycling. When you get home from the office, you go for a ride to clear the cobwebs and frustrations. Imagine riding to the point where you lose all pleasure in it.

    Precisely what I was thinking. The pathos of the image is in the sickening distance between a harsh reality and something we fantasize.

  26. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Absolutely spot on. I’m lucky enough to make my living making music and believe me that changes things. When you take something you love and decide to make it your business it brings both great satisfaction but also an attitude extremely different from those who enjoy that same thing for pleasure. My relationship with my work is very rich and rewarding, but also by turns exhausting, frustrating, infuriating, and depressing. It’s not the sort of thing that can be grasped by a hobbyist, I think.

    An important teacher in my developing years told me that “it’s not enough to love it, you have to be crazy”, and he was right.

  27. @razmaspaz

    I have to say that this image evokes no pity from me. We are all trapped in a lonely hotel room, cubical, crowded airplane seat, etc. We will all have to go home tired and beaten down only to return the next day with expectations of our best. The difference here is that there is no political silliness, no schmoozing, no posturing that decides who gets the promotion, only the limits of your body and mind. While I see a lot of worry in this photo over whether it was enough today, I also see the satisfaction in knowing it was everything, and what more can you do than leave it all out there today.

    Excellent summation …….   I agree ……  my office is also dark and small ….. expected to return and perform flawlessly day in day out ………

    that photo speaks volumes for not only cycling but daily life in the general rat race…

  28. A great photo, and brutally honest. The mundane colours of faux wood and dingy linens are pure Bill Eggleston; B&W or sepia would overly romanticize/heroicize.

  29. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Steampunk

    @razmaspaz

    I think that’s precisely the point. But nobody romanticizes your cubicle. And yet: we romanticize the shit out of pro cycling. When you get home from the office, you go for a ride to clear the cobwebs and frustrations. Imagine riding to the point where you lose all pleasure in it.

    Precisely what I was thinking. The pathos of the image is in the sickening distance between a harsh reality and something we fantasize.tivit

    Completely agree, except nobody romanticizes computer programming (my job) because its not a leisure activity.  You would have to be sick to do that for fun.  Cycling on the other hand, sure it has its grind, everything does, but the good days are unmatched.

  30. @brian

    i’m canadian.sorry,all i see is a cheat.

    Man, I gotta change the name I post under.

    I’ll never cast a stone at any of these guys. Pro sport is not a pretty place.

  31. @brian

    I would expect that  Rapha will sell a bazzilion of the Team Sky kit courtesy of  Sir Wiggo and the increase in cycling exposure in UK.

    Overall it is not a bad looking kit, is not for me, but will sell well I think.

    Is a lot more stylish than the Greenedge kit that’s for sure.

  32. @Brian

    @brian

    i’m canadian.sorry,all i see is a cheat.

    Man, I gotta change the name I post under.

    I’ll never cast a stone at any of these guys. Pro sport is not a pretty place.

     mines a little b. sorry i’m new here and don’t know the site stance on cheating. if i’m out of line,please delete the post.

    @anotherdownunder

    @brian

    I would expect that Rapha will sell a bazzilion of the Team Sky kit courtesy of Sir Wiggo and the increase in cycling exposure in UK.

    Overall it is not a bad looking kit, is not for me, but will sell well I think.

    Is a lot more stylish than the Greenedge kit that’s for sure.

      yeah,you count on that,it was history after all. i kinda like it as well. but i really like omega-pharma-qs,new kit,you can see it here   http://www.omegapharma-quickstep.com/en/news/show/opqs-cycling-team-new-jersey-for-2013/978  or maybe its just me imagining boonen in it,haha,cheers.

  33. @Steampunk Great photo! For all the V, and my fellow Canadian V, I am a shattered fan and still impressed with Barry all at once. He really is a great cycling wordsmith and from the inside of the big show. The biggest show in fact, on a number of occasions. I hurt because I love the sport at all levels. I love the way Barry slogged for years for better masters. Pantani, DeKaiser, Mr 60%, Roberto Heras, Dave Z, the fucking list goes on. I can get excited watching any of these guys do magic, but yet I always hurt a bit inside like the kid on the steps, “say it ain’t so Mikey.”

  34. @Dan_R

    @Steampunk Great photo! For all The V, and my fellow Canadian V, I am a shattered fan and still impressed with Barry all at once. He really is a great cycling wordsmith and from the inside of the big show. The biggest show in fact, on a number of occasions. I hurt because I love the sport at all levels. I love the way Barry slogged for years for better masters. Pantani, DeKaiser, Mr 60%, Roberto Heras, Dave Z, the fucking list goes on. I can get excited watching any of these guys do magic, but yet I always hurt a bit inside like the kid on the steps, “say it ain’t so Mikey.”

      i know that makes all the worse for me,i stopped watching/caring about racing in 2002,after spending most of adult life on a bike,but after lance won that tour,i believed he was cheating or i believed frankie and besty.my last year of competive cycling 1990, i raced against lance once,here in vancouver ,the gastown gp.and guys (other american pros) were talking about him telling, them he’d done steroids,truthfuly i didn’t believe them,but that was the first time i ever heard anybody ever mention drugs,for performance enhancing purposes, i mean olympic’s etc i knew about it,after ben jonhson in 1988 every canadian did,and i suppose being in canada(we didn’t much history with cycling),i believed that they merckx,hinault,kelly,bauer,lemond.roche etc all did clean. cycling was so pure,i mean you watched every calorie you,you trained in the pissing rain,it was,you know,to see how good you could be.so much suffering,for fleeting glimspes of glory and i don’t just mean winning,finishing spring races in sleeting snow/rain,glasses fogged up ,can’t see,sucking the wheel in front of you. damn i miss those days

     sorry to go on and on. cycling is a privilege not a right. also its not just lance,the festina affair,op. purto etc  i had just had enough,but this year i had to watch ryder in the giro,and it all came back( the love),i even bought a new bike,then the lance stuff started,and there seems to be a real effort to race clean. i just hope it suceeds,again sorry for the rant

  35. also dan pretty sweet wheels you built frank,are you going to get similar in a clincher?

  36. @brian

    wow,i guess i had some shit to get off my chest,sorry guys. i guess i should concentrate on Rule #5 abit and HTFU.

    IMHO, your post is exactly what makes this site what it is. The V isn’t about being an emotionless robot. If you love much, you’re gonna hurt much. Cycling is all about passion, and that doesn’t require an apology.

  37. Great picture! Always amazes me just how scrawny some of these guys are and they still manage to grind it out for weeks on end… respect!

  38. Looks like what he really  needs, is one of  Belgiums best brews too finish off what looked to be a good day in the saddle! Great picture !

  39. @razmaspaz

    I have to say that this image evokes no pity from me. We are all trapped in a lonely hotel room, cubical, crowded airplane seat, etc. We will all have to go home tired and beaten down only to return the next day with expectations of our best. The difference here is that there is no political silliness, no schmoozing, no posturing that decides who gets the promotion, only the limits of your body and mind. While I see a lot of worry in this photo over whether it was enough today, I also see the satisfaction in knowing it was everything, and what more can you do than leave it all out there today.

    Indeed. I often find myself in the same meditative state after having endured a self served purgatorium – the bittersweet mix of exhaustion and satisfaction.

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