It has been a long time since the first set of Spotlights and even a proper blog post- there have been many things going on (incase you hadn’t noticed) and even though we thought we’d have more time, the opposite was true. But we’re now at a point where we can refocus and move to the next stage of TCC.
We set out at the start to share our passion for riding bikes, go on adventures and create something to add value to the cycling community. Our Spotlight series was designed to share stories of people that we wanted to give a (albeit small) platform to, in the hope that it may inspire and interest others- just as they do to us.
Season 2 is really exciting and we can’t wait to share the different stories and riders with you all. We are going to be bringing guests onto the podcast for Season 3- titled ‘Send them in’ (as opposed to our ‘Send it out’ feature from locations whilst riding). So keep an eye out for those!
First up is Calvin Cheung- also known as Calvinoooooo on Instagram (yes I did check the amount of o’s- they’re hard to count!). He has been someone that we’ve followed for a few years now and his photography and attitude towards riding has always been something we’ve loved. I highly recommend you check out his Instagram (@calvinoooooo) and his website https://www.ccheungphotography.com/ for his brilliant art and Insta stories that never fail to entertain or make you smile. He’s also very handy on a bike (especially going up hills) so keep an eye out for him if and when the hill climb season starts. Anyway, let’s get to it…
Name: Calvin Cheung
Teams you ride for or clubs you are part of: Hub Velo
How did you get started in cycling and when? When I was 16, commuting to school.
Favourite places to ride? Any particular roads or segments? Costa Brava/ Blanca, along the Southern Spanish Coast. If the view is nice and the road goes up, I’m game.
What disciplines do you ride? Do you have preferences? Road and track. I’ll dabble with the odd fixed gear crit and cyclocross race too. On the road I specialize in hill climbing.
You first came to the attention of TCC with your brilliant photography and since then we’ve followed your Instagram and loved it. How do you balance both of these passions? Especially since one also pays!
Thanks! There’s a lot of art in cycling. Bikes looking good, kit looking pristine. For many, if not most of us, our bike and how we ride is a form of self-expression. With each ride there’s a story to tell and I love telling stories! I often find I don’t need to ‘balance’ between photography and cycling, for me living and breathing is enough to keep me going.
Do you ride with any sort of training in mind at the moment or is it just for the joy and general fitness?
I am still training for the British hill climb season that runs from approximately end of August through to the end of October – still positive they will be going ahead. It does mean for the bulk of my training I do ride on my own.
How do you approach events and races when it comes to photography? Do you have certain disciplines you prefer? Your SixDay pictures are always incredible and the Cyclocross ones capture the mud, sweat and cold extremely accurately I feel! You can also see the passion and determination in the riders’ faces which gives it such a depth.
It does depend on the race. Shooting a CX race is going to be really different from a Road Race, and similarly Six Day is completely different to any other bike race. The atmosphere and emotions will vary a lot. As a photographer you try and anticipate a lot of stuff – like walking the race course at a CX race, finding highlights and angles and working with available light before the race, but at an indoor track event it’s far more fast paced and you need to constantly think on your feet.
The past season/year
What were some of the highlights from last year for you? Both in regards to cycling photography and your own riding.
I had never been to Belgium to watch any of the big CX races there and last year and shooting for Trinity Racing. If you’ve never been, you really should. It’s like nothing here in the UK. The photos only tell you half the story. In terms of riding, it wasn’t my racing or any results from that – I was invited on a training camp and trained with some pro’s and upcoming riders in Spain for almost a month early in the year. That was quite eye-opening to see how they trained, how they took life as full time riders and understand the problems they faced. Told you I liked a good story.
What did you learn from the season that you are taking forward?
Funnily enough not really related to riding bikes or racing. Over the last year or so, cycling itself has showed me the importance of community. What unites us together, what divides us. The problems that exist in the sport – gender equality, power dynamics, diversity – tell us we’ve still got a long way to go. I’d also like to do my part in highlighting this too in what I do.
Which riders impressed you the most when racing or behind the lense?
2019 was probably the year of Mathieu van der Poel. The way he tears up a CX course like it’s nothing is just a real joy to see and capture. Likewise with Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, what a breakthrough year it’s been for her!
What were your goals at the start of the season/year? I remember you talking about hillclimbing again at some point last year, is that on the cards?
Yep, very much so. Looking at getting into and competing at the British National Hill Climb Championships and hopefully a good result from that..
How has lockdown affected your plans for riding and working and what have you done to adjust?
Massively work wise. It’s been the same for pretty much every freelancer in the creative industry with minimal to no work for the last two months. But I didn’t want to keep shooting content, so I kept shooting stuff for the hell of it. My neighbour and good friend @georgmewjensen would just go on walks or a ride about town just to shoot some photo and short videos to keep the old Instagram feed going and preventing my camera from going rusty. I also decided very recently to start ‘Enjoy The Ride’ – a YouTube channel as a separate outlet for my creativity that focuses on cycling and the community: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG1QONPoEMhtM-TbojI5usQ #shamelessselfpromo
Do you think racing and riding will change once things are back to ‘normal’?
For sure, the pandemic has changed everything. I see it as a brief reset on humanity, and we’re at a crossroads whether we want to take the easy option and decide to go back to business as usual, or take it as an opportunity to evolve and make changes to every facet of our society and not just cycling. The ASO finally bringing out a Women’s Paris-Roubaix is one such wonderful surprise – and I hope the trend continues. I’m sure at the grass-roots level things will resume soon – club runs, sportives, local crits. But I also hope more developments into promoting women’s cycling and diversity take place so it’s easier and more accessible for them to get involved.
Are there going to be more Calvin days out on your Insta stories?!
Ha, maybe. It’s a bit harder trying to ride around town now that traffic levels in inner city London have gone back to pre-lockdown levels and that there are people everywhere, literally. We shall see..
Do you appreciate just how much the ‘sorry I crashed’ feature is loved by your followers?!
Quite hard to get my head around initially! For those who don’t know, Georg (my neighbour and good friend) crashed on two occasions and both times writing off an expensive carbon bike. I was at the scene to document both and the photo/video was an instant hit with big cycling accounts sharing it. We had a quick glance the other day and I think they’ve had somewhere over a million views across everywhere it was shared.
The caption was ‘Sorry I crashed’ and since then people have been taking photos of crashed cars and bikes and tagging me in them for me to share. It’s just a great way to make turn something that’s inherently negative into something that’s a bit more light-hearted.
What are your plans for post-lockdown?
Cycling wise, not much. I’ll keep the same training regime and race bikes. Maybe go on a little roadtrip somewhere and shoot a few things for some people/brands. Who knows? Spontaneity is beautiful.
How do you go about choosing new goals for the next season/year?
It really depends on what I go through whilst I make that decision. I often think ‘what if’ a year, or two or three into the future but then maybe a few months down the line I’ll scrap that and think differently. No one can predict an impending Coronavirus too it seems, so I’ll go with the flow and do what feels comfortable and achievable.
Do you have any plans or aspirations away from just racing? Adventure rides etc
Absolutely! I have done mini adventures and I’m hoping to do more of these soon. There’s definitely one coming this summer. It’s gonna be spontaneous and you can bet it’ll be well documented!
Current bikes: Viner Mitus 0.6 / Cannondale CAAD9 / Custom Moda Forte Track Bike / Brompton M3L
Anything custom/special? The Viner is my weightweenie project and hill climb racing bike. Weighing at 5.5kg, it’s kitted out with SRAM Red Etap, with ridiculous carbon parts and even a stripped down and drilled out saddle. I’m sure there’s no real gains with saving 11g doing so, but the psychological gains are immense.
Future purchases: I won’t bore you with details of stupidly expensive carbon bike parts or camera lenses. N+1 is more than applicable for bikes and cameras.
Nutrition and fuelling whilst riding: Energy drink. Most of my rides these days are 3hrs or less, so two bidons of energy is usually sufficient. Back up gel that I’ve never really used in jersey pocket. Anything longer I’ll bring a flapjack, or a Stroopwafel, the most energy dense snack there is.
Quick fire round
Favourite pro and why:
Maybe Fabian Cancellara. He’s just an absolute machine, and he’s got style.
Best bike shop and why:
Hub Velo in East London. I’m definitely not biased. I won’t need to explain why.
Indoor training or outside?
Flat or hilly?
Hills, all day any day.
Giro, Tour or Vuelta?
Viva il Giro.
Best event outside of ‘pro tour’:
The OG Six Day.
Any songs you sing in your head whilst riding?
Energy by Skepta.
Describe your riding and cycling style in 4 words:
Those who know me:
Zone 2, Zone 6
Finally, please recommend 5 riders to follow on Instagram:
@yewie_a – an inspiring, ongoing story about being a black cyclist
@charbroughton – for telling the truth
@georgmewjensen – wannabe model that crashes bikes and happens to be my neighbour
@tompidcock – cos he’s gonna be our National Hero
@cykel_cille – cos she’ll brighten up your day
A huge thank you again to Calvin for his time- we are going to be bringing you guests to the podcast very soon and Calvin will be one for sure- there’s plenty more to discuss and go into further detail and we can’t wait.