Brian… Haven’t we met before?
“My name is Brian Megens and I am a freelance photographer, fixed gear crit racer, and I also should graduate my MA study at Maastricht University this year. I know Iris from when we both represented the Rabobank Cycling Team. I met her for the first time when we had to give a cycling clinic to leisure cyclists together. I was a shy U23 cyclist and I don’t think we talked much. After that season, I decided to quit professional cycling to focus on my studies. In those years, I fell in love with photography, with a passion for black and white street / documentary photography. My personal highlight so far is the project I did in the West Bank, Palestine. I stayed there for 3 weeks with locals throughout the West Bank. Staying 5 days in a refugee camp was a very intense experience. Another, and more related to cycling, photography project is “Life at Sixday Rotterdam” which will be published in next issue of Bicycling Magazine NL and the online gallery of Soigneur.”
So, in short, you were a promising U23 rider turned photographer turned fixed gear crit star! Why did you leave the sport and what’s different now?
“In those years away from the bike I honestly didn’t miss the professional cycling world. It’s a very interesting world but I had the feeling sometimes that a lot of people from within the scene live in a world wherein their universe revolves around professional road cycling.
Anyways, in my fourth year away from the bike I came in touch with fixed gear crit racing and fell absolutely in love with the sport. Because I started road cycling at the age of 18, I was never a great bike handler, so riding a fixed gear bike was a real challenge which also forced me to improve my bike handling skills. That’s also why I think fixed gear crit racing can be very beneficial for every road cyclist. What I also really love about the sport that, in general, the community is way more laidback, and open to having and enjoying a life next to riding bikes. Another thing that is really important to me is that everyone regardless nationality, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality is welcomed in the scene, and although this should be something taken for granted in any sport, unfortunately in practice it often isn’t. I have to admit though that I think that this mind-set is also slowly setting foot in the professional road cycling world with the new generation taking over, which is a very good thing.”
What’s next for you?
“So, after 6 months racing my fixed gear crit bike and slowly becoming a ‘cyclist’ again I had the idea to create an online platform to bring the community together online as there was no central place where news, results, or crit data could be found. Together with Red Hook Criterium (the biggest series in fixed gear crit racing) I started Fixedgearcrit.com to bring the community together online.
Four years after Iris and I met, we came in touch again. I already saw her clothing line of 2017 and was super impressed, I think it best can be described as a breath of fresh air. Then I also saw that she handcrafts leather bags. I just bought a new Leica camera and for the assignment I had during the Sixday Rotterdam I needed a small bag. Obviously, I would also like it not to only be a functional piece but also something you are actually proud to wear. Iris made me a custom-made leather bag for my Leica camera and lenses which I used during the Sixday Rotterdam but also came in super handy during my trip to India.
Regarding my ‘second cycling career’, for the upcoming season I took my preparations up another level and started training with a power meter and training plan again, basically just to see what I still can do in fixed gear crit racing. It won’t be easy because the level is increasing season after season. I am also doing some cool road races that I never did as a ‘climber’. For example, I will start the Dutch classic race ‘Ster van Zwolle’ which will be a whole new experience as well.”
It looks like we have a match with two adventurous and like-minded people. Keep an eye on Brian’s work and, hopefully, a joint-adventure from Iris & Brian!?
(photocredits: Wouter Roosenboom, Tornanti.cc, Shivaji Achrekar and Brian Megens)