Now we come to the podium places in our annual writing contest! If you have not taken a look at the honorable mentions, please do, because they are all just terrific.
Before announcing the winning entries in each category, we need to acknowledge four other written submissions that were podium quality but which did not make the final selection. These four essays were very strong competition and are worthy of their own, separate mention.
A piece of writing that could certainly be expanded into a lengthier piece of work, that has a lovely travelogue style with a delightful personal touch. A disciplined piece of writing that we all enjoyed.
"...I had to wrestle hard to overcome the lure of the performance-enhancing crystals in the witchcraft shop. But I couldn’t risk losing my British Cycling racing licence – after all, it makes a very handy beer mat."
Energetic, honest and humorous, one man's love affair with the bike, and hate affair with a rock. Great stuff.
"I even remember bending down to give a cute pucker to the Hart’s new baby and seeing the poor little thing squint at me for a moment, then turn away in repulsion. I’d thought the kid was just passing some gas...now I know the truth. Good lord, probably scarred the little bugger for life."
Those Spanish magpies have an eye for silver, but very sadly miss the podium - just barely. This is a marvelous tale of the cyclist's enemies - on road up Montgó Mountain, many reside within...
"Somehow when I start to climb it, a process normally only seen in horror movies takes place..."
When bravado meets bike. And that bravado nearly put Javier onto the podium. We like the refrain that runs through the piece, that gives the writing a song-like quality. A killer final refrain too:
"Call me corny. Call me flippant. Call me happy. But THIS is why I love cycling."
And now to the winning entries in this year's contest!
This year we included two additional categories rather than just a single essay category - we also accepted submissions of an essay with one photo, and photo-essays of up to three photos with captions only.
We are pleased to announce the winners in the first two categories: Louise Fink Smith for her essay with photo Life is Good, and Mark Johnson's photo-essay The People of La Redoute.
The Winning Essay with Photo - Louise Fink Smith
Louise weaves the touching tale of life seen from the other side of the race - the support side.
"As I look around, surreal awareness wakens me to the realization that there are more racers than there are spectators."
The Winning Photo-Essay - Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson's unique shots of racing fans on one of the world's most famous climbs garners top photo-essay honors.
"138 clicks into Liège-Bastogne-Liège’s 160 miles, La Redoute lies in wait all year..."
As is customary in the sport we love, the top three places are acknowledged by a step up to the podium. Without further ado, here are this year's top three written submissions!
Third Place - Paula Andrist
Paula makes the final selection for the second year running! A child on a bike commands the world...this piece reminds us that the ultimate simplicity still remains...
"Early sun lit morning.
Ruffles my hair,
Tickles my knees."
Second Place - Trevor Scott
A heart-wrenching tale - one man's ultimate defiance of a life lived and lost...but regained for a brief instant.
"...that simple, yet profound, most natural calm and singular passion of the ride."
First Place - Hans Taufen
A compelling tale of "Madame Roubaix," with excellent pacing and action, giving a movie-like impression. Just as "locked, loaded and full metal jacket" make reference to films of action, the writing seems to recall images of "A Sunday in Hell" with a very well observed love affair between a rider and the race...
"Like a giant wave continuously cresting and crashing into itself, desperate riders were scrambling up the flanks of the pack and filtering back into the sea of the peloton.
Congratulations to Louise, Mark and Hans, and many thanks to all the talented individuals who took part in our contest!