Charlotte Barnes | Hard Riders

Hard Riders

I'm a long distance cyclist.  Most of my adult life, I've enjoyed riding bicycles further than most people would consider normal or sensible. I'm not alone, either - there's an awful lot of people who think that riding two or three hundred kilometres in a day is a fun thing to do.

Every four years, the UK's long distance cycling association, Audax UK organises London-Edinburgh-London, a non-stop 1400km event, an out-and-back course between the English and Scottish capital cities which riders have to complete in less than 167 hours.

Hundreds of participants come from all over the world to ride in this flagship event and to test themselves on the roads and in the hills of the UK.  They push their bodies to extraordinary feats of endurance, napping only enough to avoid falling asleep on the bike.

During LEL2013, I set up my studio at the finish control in Loughton, Essex and as soon as they had completed the event, asked a number of the faster riders to sit for me.

These portraits were all taken within moments of their arrival at the finish control and with them, I aimed to show the road-weary faces of some of the hardest riders in the world.

LEL is a physical as well as a mental challenge and these riders have all faced and completed one of the most arduous ultra-distance events in the cycling world.  They may not look like Tour de France athletes but each one of them has triumphed against a course that would leave most professional cyclists behind.