Tag Archives: cycling

Photographing the PrudentialRideLondon 2014

UKPhotogallery_001Have you ever heard of the Prudential RideLondon?
Ok, let me tell you about it. The Prudential RideLondon  is a festival of cycling events that takes place in London and Surrey around mid August. The key events are the two main races: the London-Surrey 100 (open to amateur cyclists via a ballot) and the London-Surrey Classic (for professionals).  It’s great to watch! Well, it’s not as popular as the Tour de France – yet! – but it’s a fantastic event.

Around 23,000 cyclists took part in 2014. I was going to be one of them. I had won a place.
Then things changed. And I ended up as photographer for one of the charities!
It all started with a series of emails and a portfolio submission. Then  an email saying “Yes you are in”. A meeting in a pub on a Friday evening, with a printed brief of what the charity expected and a map of the allocated sites, sealed the deal.
Uh, and there was also a t-shirt to pick up.

And then Sunday 10th August arrived. The day of the race! The weather forecast was terrible so I packed up rain gear and a change of clothes. Then Wimbledon Hill, here I come!

The rest is history: six solid hours of sports photography, mostly in torrential rain, always looking for the best spots along the cycling route as it unwinded in the Wimbledon area, never taking my eyes off the road so that I wouldn’t miss opportunities. Soaking wet after an hour but not giving up!
Here’s the tired cyclist who is puffing after climbing the steep Wimbledon Hill.
There is a sprinter who whizzes past the crowd all focused on the timing.
Over there a mother with two kids who are trying to spot daddy in the group of cyclists that’s arriving. Their smiles as he cycles past and waves at them are priceless.

All my praises go to the cyclists who braved the adverse weather conditions and defied rain, wind and hurricane to take part in the race. When the sun finally came out, the atmosphere around was incredible!Chiara

I will leave you with some of the photos I took on the day. And a mention about the charity I did this for: it’s called Bliss and it gives vital support & care to premature babies in the UK.

The amazing landscape around Ninh Binh

When Tom and Norma, whom I met at the Nguyen Shack homestay in the Ninh Binh area, asked me if I wanted to join them for a half day trip to Trang An I said Yes even if I had no idea what was there to see. After all I had no plans for the day.

We rode our bicycles for about 5Km on very muddy and rough terrain (Tough Mudder, here I come!) and when we arrived at the Trang An pier we paid 150,000 dong entrance fee and got on a small boat, joined by a Vietnamese men.

For the following two and a half hours, our boat woman took us around (rowing sometimes with her hands and sometimes with her feet!) amongst amazing limestone hills. We visited several grottoes, where we often had to duck down, we got off the boat to see pagodas dotted along the river, but mainly we enjoyed the fantastic scenery.
This is Ha Long Bay on land!

Inside one of the grottoes
Inside one of the grottoes
On the river
On the river
More limestone hills
More limestone hills

There were several other boats on the river, but overall it wasn’t busy. The area is mainly visited by Vietnamese tourists, while Westerners seem to go to Tam Coc instead.

After the boat tour, we cycled further to reach Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam (10th-11th century), but we decided not to visit. We had been advised that there was not much to see there. So instead we turned into a side road and through two tunnels to reach the “secret valley”. In front of us another set of limestone hills like a natural theatre. Absolutely stunning!

Your travel blogger in the "secret valley"!
Your travel blogger in the “secret valley”!

After this, I think I will give Ha Long Bay a miss! ;-)

Update 27 June 2014: at the 38th session of the World Heritage committee (15-25 June 2014, Doha) Trang An was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

Postcards from Con Dao

For an active person like me, beach life doesn’t always cut it. So this morning I rented a mountain bike and headed off to Ben Dam fishing port, a 12 Km ride from Con Son Town, up and down a hill.

From Con Son Town to Ben Dam port
From Con Son Town to Ben Dam port

The scenery was absolutely fantastic: white sand beaches, blue sea, mountains in the background! Ben Dam fishing port appeared very active (it was 9:15am when I got there), with lots of boats coming and going.

The ride back was a killer, first gear most of the time and the scorching tropical sun above my head. But it was definitely a ride worth all the sweat and effort!