After two years in the photo studio, it was time for something different. But little could prepare the RoadCyclingUK team for what we would walk into on our final location scouting recce for the 2017 RCUK 100 photo shoot.
The Printworks is a cavernous disused printing factory in south London, where millions of newspapers, including the Daily Mail, Metro and Evening Standard, were printed on a daily basis until 2012. Now the 119,200 sq ft factory – a cathedral of 20th Century industry – lies dormant.
Our ambition for this year’s RCUK 100 was to not only showcase the very best road cycling products of the year, but to take them out of their natural habitat and present them to you in a truly unique, captivating and inspiring environment.
Few words can do justice to the scale of the Printworks, formerly known as Harmsworth Quays, but it was once the largest print factory in Western Europe. Now it’s an eerie graveyard of metalwork, abandoned machinery and a maze of corridors, walkways and vast floor space. What was once a thriving factory, packed to the brim with machinery working day and night, now lays silent.
And, with that, we made the Printworks our home for two weeks within the depths of February, exploring the 12-acre site – from the simply enormous paper store, which previously held 300 paper rolls each weighing 1.6 tons, to the three-storey printing presses – to bring the 2017 RCUK 100 to life with thousands of photographs.
All told, the RCUK 100 is a six-month project, from scouring trade show halls, attending product launches and testing the latest kit to whittle down the final shortlist, to the shoot itself, and we quickly swapped frozen fingers and toes for sun-kissed roads and short sleeves as we touched down in Mallorca for part two of the production.
With nine of the latest machines in tow, we put each bike through its paces on a loop which included the iconic climb of Sa Calobra in order to shoot select video for the 100. Thanks to the Pearl Izumi for providing the clothing and Giro for supplying the Factor Techlace shoes and Cinder MIPS helmets.
If the Printworks was something out of the ordinary, then Mallorca is an island which needs no introducing to cyclists. It’s little wonder riders – us included – flood to the Mediterranean each year, with silky-smooth roads, meandering climbs and lightning-fast descents.
Now, with the 2017 RCUK 100 live, let us take you behind the scenes.