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Nowhere to Nowhere

A rare look at how two professional cyclists handle the mentally exhausting downtime between races

by Graham Hiemstra in Culture on 27 June 2013

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At its core, professional cycling is a beautiful exercise in pairing physical fitness with mental strength. While the majority of media coverage given to the rigorous sport focuses on efforts to cut time and win races, the difference between claiming a stage and falling behind often depends as much on what happens while off the bike as it does while in the saddle. For a rare glimpse at the rituals and routines that fill the many preparative moments of down time between races, filmmaker Andrew Telling traveled with the celebrated Rapha Condor JLT team as they wound their way through the UK, chasing each criterium race of the 2013 Pearl Izumi Tour Series. While in tow, Telling spent time both with the riders and in the periphery—capturing the riders at every stage of their day. The result is "Nowhere to Nowhere," a new short film, which Telling has graciously given us the exclusive first look at.

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Relying solely on the riders' words, crowd audio and the natural near-silence of the aforementioned downtime for narration, the film creates an honest, intimate portrait of veteran rider and team leader Kristian House and up-and-comer Felix English. The moments captured create a vision that surpasses what is seen in the press, delivering a uniquely personal look at the difficulties of professional cycling. "Kristian House sums this up really well—in order to succeed in what you want to do, it's inevitable that you will face compromises and sacrifices in your life," recalls Telling. "I think this is something we can all relate to."

As the rigors of the races meld into the scenes of mundanity—as riders meticulously clean equipment or sit around—the battle to keep their minds sharp becomes even more apparent. For younger riders like English, the traveling required for the crit races that make up the national Pearl Izumi Tour Series can be both exhausting and exciting. For veterans like House, the thrill of competition and draw of fan admiration only just outweigh the difficulty of being separated from family for lengthy stretches of time. While the struggles are individual, the drive to withstand them is universal. Discipline is the key.

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Keep an eye on Rapha and team Rapha Condor for more traditional coverage of the team's impressive 2013 series performance. Visit Andrew Telling's site for a deeper look at past work—including "Sella", his first film with Rapha Condor—by the London-based filmmaker.

Film stills courtesy of Andrew Telling

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