I spotted the flouro bibs first. There were already bib-sporting marshals at cross races but this pair seemed to be lurking in the undergrowth, or at improbable points along the course. After a race or two, I realised they were photographers and that they weren’t casually snapping friends and family. No, they were taking pictures of each and every rider, lap after lap.
Welcome to the North West’s hardest working photographers of amateur sport – David and Laura Bradshaw from Sportsunday Event Photography. David and Laura cover not only every North West Cyclocross League event, but also pretty much any other outdoor endurance sport you care to mention – triathlon, fell running, ultra running, mountainbiking as well as road sportives and other mass participation cycling events. Apparently, photographing winter cross is what they like to do on their days off……..
Professional photographers of many years standing, their town centre studio in Burnley was the base for many a wedding and portrait shoot but they were drawn into cross after beginning to cover local fell running in March 2010. Their portfolio has now expanded across the endurance sports spectrum and they have a team of 8 other photographers with whom they work to cover all the events. True to form, there don't appear to be any pics of the pair themselves in action. I shall have to get some for an update.
I recently asked them what drew them to the North West cross scene – ‘what we really like about the cross scene is the family aspect. Lots of dads and daughters/sons all playing together. Competitive yet friendly, we’ve met lots of NICE people.’
And they echo the clear signs that the local scene is growing too:
‘The cross scene looks set to burst into life. The 2 things that get a lot of kids are Tri & Cross. We would like to see cross become even more popular. Sunny warm with mud would be good. Perhaps a couple of evening events, louder with music and sponsors. Make it something where people would stay longer.’
Last year, in the run up to my annual social ride, the Ronde van Oost Lancashire, I got a call from David and Laura. They asked if they could come and photograph the event and if I wanted any support with running it. Slightly taken aback at the offer of support, I mumbled something about cake and from that point possibly the most legendary cake provision in any cycling event was born.
‘We got involved with the Ronde because it was something new. The cake was a way of us putting something back. Defo our fav event last year. So really looking forward to it this year.’
The Sportsunday Ronde Cake Stop, at the top of the cobbled climb through Heptonstall, whilst about to have only its second running, is spoken of in those revered tones reserved for those true pillars of the cycling world – ‘did you go on the Ronde the first year of the cake stop….?’
Apart from the most amazing collection of cakes to greet 70 hungry and breathless cyclists, it featured David and Laura’s daughter Clare and her friend dressed in fairy costumes whilst dispensing cake. Many of us were speechless…
So if you're out and about at any two-wheeled or two-legged event where weekend warriors are putting themselves through their paces, be sure to look out for David and Laura and say hello. Chances are, they'll have taken a great shot of you along the way....