Cyclepassion: Behind the scenes, behind my eyes

by Sonya on June 18, 2012

A couple weeks ago, my bike case and luggage were back out – the glorious theme of the year. Go to new races, try new things, and enjoy. I wasn’t planning to go to Germany until I got a request from CyclePassion to be in their calendar. They had asked me the year before, but I told them no because I did not approve of the theme of the 2011 calendar. I told them if the 2012 edition was different, I’d consider it. The 2012 calendar was given to me at Interbike last year. I thought it was well done, so I told them I would come to Germany the next year and give it a try. I admit, I was nervous about going. Sexy photoshoots were not really in my repertoire and there are a lot of mixed feelings on the calendar in the US. In Europe, the calendar is famous. If you google any famous athlete, there are a slew of different photos including action shots and sexier shots as well. I know I search for shirtless pics of my favorite male athletes. :) I had a choice. Admittedly, I was not entirely comfortable agreeing to do the calendar. I told myself I’d try new things this year, things that expose my weaknesses (in racing) and things that make me a little uncomfortable. Getting flown to Europe for a photoshoot sounded surreal, but I decided to give it a go.

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I was glad they had make-up to cover the jet lag fatigue you see here that was all over my face. :)

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I don’t look like your typical “athlete.” No matter how many hours I spend on the bike, I still maintain a womanly figure (except for my legs which get more muscular!) I get harassed for it, if harassed is the correct word. It draws attention, in both positive and negative ways. Harassment aside, I’m not sorry for who I am or what I look like. I’m not sorry to be feminine and to have curves. I used to be ashamed of it, but not anymore. I decided that I would do the calendar to portray that you can be a “pro” athlete who pushes herself to the limit on the bike in the outdoors, but still be girly and look like a woman. I find there is a pressure to be more masculine as an athlete… to dress a certain way, to be boyishly skinny, to not wear jewelry and makeup, to be tough… that is completely fine if that’s who you are…but I like being a girl. I have struggled to find a balance. I can be tough as nails, a true hard ass on the bike, and I enjoy that. Yes, I actually ENJOYED hiking my bike up to 18,000′ in March… in the snow…. in the dark! Off the bike? I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to let people take care of me, to wear clothes that maybe I wouldn’t want to hike a mountain in! Why was I trying to look and act tough all the time? I didn’t like to be that way. It had even taken over in relationships. I tried to be an unbreakable, emotionally solid person all the time. It got to the point where boyfriend after boyfriend would tell me that dating me was like dating a guy. That rung a bell… over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to find that balance I’ve been looking for. Ironically, the more I allow myself to be vulnerable and the characteristically “female” traits, the tougher I’d get on the bike. The balance of masculine vs feminine traits in an individual and all the variables that influence a personality and a motivation are a whole other topic, but it was something I thought about. Anyway, back to the photoshoot.

That said, there is pressure from the other side if you’re doing a photoshoot. What do you wear? What is ok for me? What am I comfortable with? Will I be sorry? That said, if you’re looking for tons of skin in my photos, you’ll be disappointed. I was probably the more difficult of the athletes to work with because I didn’t want to show as much skin. I wanted to keep it classy and fun. So we’ll see what turns up in the calendar in September!!

Here are a few teaser shots:

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It was really fun to work with Daniel Geiger(the photographer). He is very artistic and talented and I hope I get the chance to do some sort of shoot with him again. I had a newfound respect for models. It’s hard work to pose, turn your head to have the perfect tilt and angle, open your mouth just the right amount, all while flexing, have people rub oil on you, not sweat under the lights, and trying to balance in high heels! :) It was a really good experience for me, and I had fun! Once I relaxed, I didn’t want to stop taking pictures. haha!

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Standing in these shoes was harder than racing!

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The make-up process was pretty serious! I like this shot because both Henri(who was in Nepal with me as a journalist racer) and Markus (Cyclefilm) are in it.

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The photoshoot was at this HUGE studio in Pforzheim. They actually use it mostly for shooting photos of nice cars.

(Thanks to Markus Neuert from Cyclefilm for the behind the scenes photos!)

I will get 2 months in the calendar. There will be one sexy “fashion” shot and one on the bike action shot per month.

I also visited Ergon in Koblenz, spent some time near Kempten, raced the Trans Germany, and went to Munich and Heidelberg. I have lots more to post about!

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