Rouleur Cover Stories: issue 17.8 – Yes It Hurts by Russ Ellis

“Basically, just a group of undernourished cyclists craving cake and a beer, riding bikes that have been on even more of a diet than they have.” 

I’ve photographed this very British event for the last two years. On both occasions, they were held close to my home in Yorkshire, so it was always a no-brainer to go along and capture the pain and suffering. You can almost guarantee to get great pictures of people flat out in a hedgerow gasping for breath, or walking wobbly-legged over to check their times… 

This year I had to travel a little further up north to the very cold Hedley on the Hill course in Newcastle.

I parked my car on the road at the bottom of the hill having found the start by following the yellow and black arrows that had been fixed to various lamp posts throughout the village, grabbed my cameras and set off walking up the one-mile climb.

Gallery: Drillium and sawn-off bars at the national hill-climb

I was on the very first section, no more than 250 metres from the start line, when I saw that someone had scrawled on the road in chalk the phrase – YES IT HURTS.

As a photographer, you are always on the lookout for something that will tell a story within a still image and this was perfect – three simple words that not only sum up this specific event brilliantly, but cycling in general. 

Russ Ellis 

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