Detour: And The Winner Is…
In August, we asked you to send in your artistic submissions for Detour, our collaboration with Ritchey and 7mesh. We’ve received some incredible submissions, but we’ve finally chosen our rider for this year’s Japanese Odyssey — read on to find out who it is.
When we started Detour — a collaboration with Ritchey and 7Mesh to send a rider to The Japanese Odyssey, a 2,600km ride through the cities and deep forests surrounding Tokyo — we knew we’d receive some great submissions. That said, our mission to find riders, adventurers, and creators to document their experiences of bicycle travel through art was accomplished to an unprecedented extent.
Of course, that didn’t make the judging process any easier.
With such an array of talent and so many entries both polished and brimming with potential, we needed a way to whittle down a shortlist. Who had the most original approach? Which style would work best with the reflective nature of the Japanese Odyssey? And which riders would be best equipped for the rigours of what’s essentially still a tough ultra-distance ride?
When we came across James Robertson’s images, we immediately knew he’d be a contender. His photographs of Transcontinental racers at the moment they crossed the finish line were contemplative and haunting in equal measure, and the more we returned to his submission, the harder we found it to tear our eyes away. That he captured said images on an old dental polaroid camera made the execution of said images even less plausible, a fact that, somehow, made us wonder what he’d be capable of given more time and freedom.
When we got in touch with him about what he’d focus on if he was selected, he said:
“I’ve spent the last few years documenting multiple self-supported bikepacking races and I have recently been working towards shooting more of them from the inside looking out. [Detour] is the perfect opportunity to take a more artistic, and less bicycle-focused approach. I’m interested less in the act of cycling and more in the interactions it forces you into with the country and environment you travel through. I’m also very aware that the act of taking photos has to become an intrinsic part of riding, otherwise it won’t happen.”
James will fly out to Tokyo at the end of October, with just enough time to rest and acclimate to the local surroundings before he heads out on the tour.
We’re thrilled to be able to send James to Japan, but it’s equally important to note that he was far from the only entrant who impressed us.
Both Parker Jones’ maximalist illustration Viajes en Mexico and Marika Latsone’s gentle, reflective piece Detours stood out for their highly individualistic, thoughtful and original portrayals of personal journeys and the sheer, unadulterated joy of travelling by bicycle. As Jones put it, “to me, traveling by bike is the purest way to experience an unfiltered, raw reality, as if releasing the kink from a garden hose. With no bus windows or hostel sheets to hide behind, every day you expose yourself to new landscapes, challenges, and the seemingly unending kindness of the humans around you.”
We were also astonished by Jamie Vickers’ Sketches, a series of vignettes pulled from his personal sketchbook that illustrate a very personal, loose style and an eye that’s equally adept at capturing the details of a day on the road as telling a story through a cinematic lens. All three will receive a copy of Josh Cunningham’s Escape By Bike.