1103 – Bon Courage is the photographic documentation of the adventurous journey of Constantin Gerlach, from Brest to Dieppe. Along the French coast, unsupported, over 1,103 km and 8,500m of climbing in 12 days on a track bike.
We don’t need to introduce Costantin, but for those who don’t know he’s such great photographer with a huge passion for bikes. He develops during the year many different photographic works about Lifestyle, Products, Advertisement, Sports and Portraiture. Based in Berlin, Constantin lives in first person the fixed gear passion and, in our opinion, is one of the most gifted and focused artist you can find around.
Personally we can say that is such a great and funny dude. His work speaks for himself. We want to give a special attention to his latest work, because is a very personal project. It was his final work to receive his bachelor art’s photography degree.
“In the beginning I had to think about what I wanted to work on for my final project. Since I was doing a lot of commercial and product shootings in the last time, I decided to work on a personal project and try something new I never did before.”
He probably took the “wildest path” choosing to try to make something new, and “1103 -Bon Courage” the result is just amazing.
“I never traveled by bike, I never traveled alone and I never rode such a long distance before, so this was a big adventure for me, unsure where it would take me. So the essence of this trip is to combine two passions: cycling and photography.“
I think the first time I got the idea to cycle from Brest to Dieppe was when I saw a documentary on arte about the French coast and it just looked amazing. I was looking for an interesting shoreline to cycle and take photos at in the autumn with rough sea and bad weather. The French north coast is very interesting since it changes all the time from shorelines with thousands of small islands in the Bretagne, wide sand beaches in the Normandy to high cliffs in the north east of Le Havre and it wasn‘t too far from Berlin so to get there wasn‘t to expensive. An important point if you are an art student.
In the beginning it was really tough. The Bretagne is pretty hilly and it goes up and down the whole way. As soon as you got up a hill, it goes down again and you can already see the next hill coming. It‘s like doing interval training the whole day. That was something I‘m not used to since Berlin is flat like a pancake and the baggage I carried with me didn‘t make it easier. I had only two gear ratios with me: 49 in the front and 17 or 19 in the back but to be honest 49×17 was pretty optimistic, not to say stupid, and I rode 90% of the time the 49×19 ratio. That was still tough uphills, but okay.
After the first week the weather got pretty bad, I had a lot of rain and wind and the temperatures were only about 10°C in the day time and about 5 in the night time. Even my camera was not amused and quit it‘s job. Luckily I carried a second, backup camera body with me. But once you are wet, you don‘t really care anymore as long as you keep warm what worked out pretty well thanks to the good clothing I got from my supporters. Actually the hardest thing was to motivate myself getting up in the morning and getting out riding in those shitty conditions. But taking a French hot chocolate after riding through the rain for 8 hours is just amazing.
I really liked the meditation thing going on while riding for so many hours, every day. Your mind gets clear and the only thing you are thinking about is the here and now. But that made it a little difficult to take good photos, because every time you stop pedaling it gets you out of the flow of riding somehow. But otherwise, in the end, I only took 1,500 photos in two weeks what results in less scrap, what makes the editing much more easily.
Being alone was great, to be honest, I love being for myself. I only met a few people and you get a quick connection to strangers if you are riding alone. I think this allows you to get closer to the locals and not being just a shitty tourist photographing sight and not really caring about the local people and their culture. I think I never had as much free beer and wine like in these two weeks in my life.
THE MESSAGE BEHIND “1103- BON COURAGE”
Since this is a very personal project and some kind of a self-experience I would be very happy, if my work is an inspiration for other people to start their own adventures. In my opinion people nowadays are too often saying words like I could, I would. Stop thinking about it, just grab your bike and go for it!
The whole process of making 1103 was pretty intense. From the trip itself over the editing of the pictures and printing the book to the exhibition concept. It was an early decision to not create a simple photo book, but to generate a layout that transmits the loneliness and melancholic moments of cycling on empty roads and the more personal experiences I had on this trip on the other side. To achieve this whole book is made out of folding pages. On the outside there are always empty roads to transmit the melancholic aspect. If you open the folded pages, there are 4 smaller photos inside, that show my personal experiences on the trip. So basically 1103 is two books combined in one and there are two ways to look at it.
Cycling is the closest you will ever get to flying.
SUPPORT AND SPONSORS
I want to thank all supporters and sponsors. First of all, my parents, my girlfriend and Michael Danner.
The Premiere of ” 1103 – Bon courage” was at LEHRTER SIEBZEHN last January. Thanks to all the people that came by and made this event memorable.
I‘m very happy to announce that there will be a solo exhibition of 1103 in cooperation with Standert Bicycles at the Berlin Bicycle Week in march. So if you are in Berlin, come around and have a talk with beer!