"Les Deux Cols" at LMNH

As the cycling season cranks up with Milan San Remo this weekend and Paris Roubaix three weeks after that, you can also get a taste of the Tour de France at Look Mum No Hands. They are exhibiting a collection of stunning photographs from last year’s stages in the Pyrenees.

In July 2016 the London based fashion photographer and cycling enthusiast, Ciaran Spencer spent three days following Le Tour on his bike and capturing the essence of the carnival that follows the greatest bike race on earth. He was joined by Beth Hillier, owner of cycling brand, Bon Courage apparel.

Ciaran decided to shoot on an old SLR using black and white film and focused on the spectators as well as the riders. The result was a ‘photo essay’ of the Tour entitled “Les Deux Cols”  as the peloton passed over the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet. It’s an intimate insight into the passion, fun and excitement of the throngs who migrate to the mountain passes to party and celebrate life and cycling.

It’s an original and intriguing collection of photographs with a slightly old-fashioned and retro flavour, no doubt enhanced by the decision to shoot on film rather than digitally.

The shots of the riders themselves have an informal character, seen from a spectator’s eye, rather than the privileged position of the official photographers.

Tony Martin flings himself down a mountain pass while onlookers cheer him on, no doubt with shouts of “Bon courage” while a bare-chested Geraint Thomas peaks out of the team bus with that cheeky grin we’ve come to know so well.

Meanwhile the French onlookers set up their tables chairs, parasols and picnics in the way that only the French can do, villagers pose in traditional dress bearing accordions and the local gendarmerie strut in their big boots and funny caps. A shot of a mountain top hotel has the timeless quality of a view that could have been taken decades ago.

LMNH is always worth a visit for a taste of their delicious coffee, food and beers, but if you need an added incentive, this exhibition is as good an excuse you could get. “Les Deux Cols” will be showing for the next few weeks until May.

The prints are for sale through Bon Courage Apparel where you can also find a range of tees, hoodies and accessories with a cycling theme.