Graeme Obree rides again

Image courtesy  Jonathan Worth
Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

I read recently that Graeme Obree, the cycling legend is not only back on the bike ( to be fair he’s hardly been off it of late ) but he’s also vying to break the human land-speed record of 82.3mph on a HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) called The Beastie that he’s constructed from spare parts, some from his kitchen. Of course anyone who knows Graeme should know he’s got form when it comes to going all guerrilla in the kitchen!!

Back in 1993 and 1994 he broke the world hour record on Old Faithful, a bike he built himself, using parts of a washing machine. For anyone to break the world hour record is something special but to do on a bike constructed yourself without the aid of modern technology, well that’s something else. He is a true maverick.

It should also stand as a reminder that it’s not always the case that the latest technology is required to accomplish great things, it’s about the drive, the life and ambition that people give to projects.

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth
Image courtesy Jonathan Worth
Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

Jonathan Worth photographed Graeme Obree in 2004, on spec. I don’t recall where I saw these images initially, but they’ve always stayed in my mind as the epitome of a great set of portraits: I thought they really captured the essence of what makes the cyclist such a determined and true champion.

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

I asked Jonathan for his thoughts on the shoot, he said:

“I finished his book (The Flying Scotsman)  and without moving from the table where I was drinking my coffee – called the publisher got a contact number for his agent, called her and got his home number, called his home, spoke to Anne (his then wife) and asked if I could come up and make his portrait. She said yep no problem. I called Bill Borrows and gave him a synopsis (pitch), he got psyched and we both travelled up.

He is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. Bill said the same after the meeting. Inspiring and utterly humbling.

Bill then sold it the story to the Times I think – this was back in the day when it was much easier to pitch to newspapers/mags etc through the writers – as I’ve been told on too many occasions “photographers decorate, whereas writers create”.”

Image courtesy Jonathan Worth
Image courtesy Jonathan Worth
© Courtesy Jonathan Worth
Image courtesy Jonathan Worth

Jonathan Worth is one of the UK’s top portrait photographers, you can see more of his work here

He is also the author of the open undergraduate classes #Phonar and #Picbod which he teaches on the Coventry University Photography courses

His work developing new and sustainable working practices has won acclaim from a wide audience, as have his lectures; both on his work, and on levering the social web.

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Graeme Obree by Jonathan Worth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.