As has now become something of an Albion tradition, at the end of each year we ask Rupert Hartley, co-founder of the brand and the man behind the Albion lens, to reflect on the year using some of his favourite pictures.
Rupert’s pictures usually do his talking, so it’s always an enjoyable moment each year when he adds some words to a choice few.
2021 was another exciting year, and despite the constant challenge of Covid we’ve been busier than ever.
Below is a snapshot of our year – the rides we’ve done, the people we’ve met, the races and events we’re proud to partner with.
“The first morning light goes across the hillside, out the back of the house we were staying in for the AW21 shoot. I’ll never take for granted the places I get to go with Albion, especially in the last couple of years. Spending time with friends, seeing beautiful places, it really does keep me sane and grateful for the little things.”
“This was the first time I’d met India in person. She’d invited us for a short ride near her home on the South Downs, to show us the riding she’d been doing during the lockdowns in preparation for upcoming events. India had said that it was a nice loop but ‘we might have to walk a bit’. We definitely walked. I could immediately see the get-it-done attitude which had seen her through Further last year, and would see her well in 2021.”
“In March we visited Great Dun Fell, to shoot a film for our new Ultralight jacket. England’s highest road, surrounded by beautiful views. As it turned out, driving rain and near zero visibility meant we didn’t see any of those views. At times it wasn’t possible to see more than about 6 feet. Best laid plans and all that.
This image of Marlon reminds me that wearing jeans to ride up England’s highest road whilst trying to take pictures was a poor choice.”
“fforest Farm in Cardigan is idyllic. If you ever get the chance to go, take it. We were lucky enough to go for their first Gran ffondo weekend in September. A couple of days of great riding, food and company in the beautiful south west of Wales. fforest were showcasing their project ‘Spirit Cymru’ which is an effort to reclaim abandoned Churches and turn them into bothy-style accommodation, which can be linked together via cycling routes.
The route took us via three of these churches, which served as checkpoints and food stops. I’d earlier stopped to take a picture of the headland, and it was an hour before I caught up again with my friends here at lunch. The camera stayed in the bag after that.”
5. David, Bwlch y Groes
“The top of Bwlch y Groes during the Pan Celtic Race. I’d sat up here for an hour or so, hoping to see a couple of riders. There was no reception so my ability to check the rider trackers was gone. The evening was drawing in and I was starting to think maybe the rider I had been waiting for had in fact stopped for rest at the bottom of the climb. There had been a lovely pink sky, which I hoped would make a nice picture. I was a bit disappointed that it had almost vanished when I heard the sound of a freehub going over a cattle grid in the distance. As he rounded the corner, the headlight flared into my lens and ultimately made the image. I won’t ruin the scene by repeating what David said to me as he went past.”
“In April, we were back under Covid restrictions, and unable once again to easily take a weekend away for our SS shoot. We visited White Horse Hill, near my home, for the day instead. This was a beautiful evening, where you feel the sun and really think Spring is round the corner. Bringing out our first women’s collection was a fantastic moment for Albion, and as much as anything this just represents a proud moment in the history of the brand to me.”
“Further East. Josh Ibbet gets out of his tent at around 4am in preparation for the self-supported 650km mixed-terrain race. Further East started in a copse, in the garden of race director Camille McMillan. Riders were not allowed to drive to the start. There was one tap between them. I like this picture as I feel it gives a sense of the lo-fi nature of the event – camping out in the woods before heading out into the disorientating wilds of East Anglia.”
“This was a quiet moment late-on whilst we were shooting the Zoa campaign in the Lake District. I’m grateful for almost everything Boru has brought to Albion this year, although giving me nightmares of this is not one of them.”
“I found myself at Checkpoint two during the Pan Celtic for almost three days. This was a new experience, as previously I had always been on the move during these events. It gave me the chance to see riders drift through over that time though. All grateful for a ‘rest’ after the first 750 miles on the road. I enjoyed making a series of portraits in the fairly uninspiring canteen, wherever the riders decided to sit/lie down for their cup of tea. They made a nice series of some weary people, which I processed in black and white. Seen here is Chris Pitblado, who at that moment was second on the road.”
“In July we headed North for a long weekend of riding. Blessed with beautiful weather, we spent three big days on the bike exploring the The Moors, The Dales, The Lakes, The Forest of Bowland and The Pennines. All amazingly accessible from where we stayed. We also made it back to Great Dun Fell, which was magnificent that day. Second time lucky.”
11. India, masked
“This is from Glastonbury, during the Pan Celtic Race. This was one of only a couple of times I bumped into India during the race. Masks are a bit of a nightmare for image making. They hide so much of people’s emotions and expression. For some reason though I always liked this picture. I think you can still get a sense of exhaustion from her. Exiting a shop with an arm full of questionable snacks before pressing on, is also a well known feeling to all long-distance cyclists.”
“This is from an as-yet-unreleased Daytripping film. I won’t lift the lid on it too much, but setting off in the dark, finishing in the dark, and getting soaked whilst traversing an entire country is the recipe for a tough day out.”
“In September we went to where it all started for Albion, the Cambrian Mountains. We were making a short film about the area and staying in one of the most remote places in Wales, Dolgoch, a hostel with no electricity hidden away in a valley. Being able to facilitate people having a great time exploring somewhere special is part of the joy of Albion. Here Emma Jane, India and Holly are showing exactly what the vibe of that trip was. Film coming soon in January…”
“Jack and I decided to combine our ‘12 Hours of May’ ride with a trip to visit our friends and organisers of the Pan Celtic Race in Snowdonia. The plan was an overnighter and two days on the bike, camping out. It had been very wet in the days leading up, and in the end we were grateful for the offer of a local friend to let us sleep in the room above their garage. The shelter over our heads made having a couple of beers easier too.”
“The start of the 2021 Pan Celtic Race in Plymouth was wet. Comically wet. This image is a bit rough because my camera was soaked and would soon have to spend the next 24 hours on the windscreen heater before it could be used again. Luckily I’d had the sense to leave one camera inside.
The dedication and character of those involved with the Pan Celtic is what makes it memorable and unique to me. The riders were set off by race director Mally Ryan, dressed in Gladiator gear, stood on a camper van in a thunder storm.”