Imagine being called out for a race on another continent a few days before the event itself, with the gear needed arriving just the night before flying there. For Finley Newmark, his participation in the Migration Gravel Race last summer was completely fortuitous, but nonetheless, it paved the way for his current approach to cycling, combining his passion for photo and video with his talent on the bike.
Born in 2001, the Irish rider started the last season wearing the colors of Trinity Racing, a development team competing across a varied range of cycling disciplines. With Tom Pidcock as a clear example, athletes in this team are used to racing in different scenarios, although there is also a block of riders fully focused on the road. Finley was part of the latter, but when his teammate Cameron Mason broke his elbow, he was the one chosen to replace the Scottish rider in the Migration Gravel Race, an off-road event in Kenya.
He had never ridden off-road before, so it was a big shock to the system. Funny enough, being in Africa was the thing he has most used to about it. He has family in Botswana, and at 20 years of age, he has already been to the south of the continent several times. Trinity Racing gave him the opportunity to race in East Africa, and he returned with so many stories and experiences to tell, some of them later documented on the channels of the team.
By then, his social media channels were already full of high-quality media content he created himself. Finley is really into film photography, as at that point he even developed and printed his photos at home. While most riders in his situation were fully focused on their path to professionalism, Finley didn’t mind spending a bit of his time editing photos and videos. “Not letting a bit of training get in the way of some creativity” is the caption of a set of photos he posted at that time, signaling that pro cycling was not the be-all and end-all for him.
A chance of direction
After a truncated 2020 because of Covid, he still took part in relevant races for an under 23 rider like the Tour de Mirabelle, but he felt the effects of a long period without racing in combination with a change of category. Without knowing it, that was his last UCI race on the road.
If before that first cycling trip to Africa Finley was still doubting about what to do next in the cycling world, that life experience was all he needed to pursue a future in which he could use the bike as a tool to go on adventures with interesting people, keeping an open mind about racing and bikepacking. In late July 2021, not long after his trip to Africa, he told Trinity Racing that he was not interested in continuing.
Nowadays he takes part in some events as a rider and in some others as a photographer. On the racing side, he mostly attends gravel races, whether long one-day races or multi-days ones. On top of that, he does some freelancing for race organizers and more.
As a rider for a team, he did not have to worry about sponsoring, but during his transition to a privateer, he had to find cycling brands that could support him in his next chapter. Given his young age, Finley found a lot of hesitation in the brands he approached, but during this season so far he has proved that there is an audience for what he does.
For this year he has joined the Ride Beyond Crew, a group of cyclists supported by FOCUS bikes. He actually meet them while doing a photoshoot for MAAP last year, and because they already had a clothing partner in the Aussie brand and other types of collaborations, he could benefit from that, in addition to the individual sponsors he had brought on board.
Leaving no stone unturned
While in past years he used to spend a period of time in Girona to prepare for the road season, in 2022 Finley has made the most of his stay in the cycling-friendly region by going on solo adventures to the Pyrenees and riding with old and new cycling buddies, without the pressure to perform on his shoulders. During his time in Catalonia he lined up in The Traka 360 to explore the limits of what he is able to do, but he was too conservative, aware of the long day ahead. “I could have fixed everyone’s punctures given the number of unnecessary tools I was carrying”, he said.
He recently went to the US for two weeks to race Gravel Locos and explore Texas by bike while traveling with an RV. Bikes take you places, eh? Not long after returning from America he will go back to East Africa, where his journey started. He will race the Migration Gravel Race and then be one of the press photographers for the Evolution Gravel Race.
The best memories he has about his stay there last year were the time before and after the stages themselves, with people sharing life experiences while having breakfast and enforcing camaraderie after all the hours spent together.
He is now very involved in the different projects of Team AMANI. He met Mikel last year, who saw his enthusiasm and invited him to go bikepacking in Switzerland together with the East African riders that traveled to Europe to participate in Gravel Epic.
We have mentioned several organized events and races, but do not think that he will be resting in between. There are many trips and adventures in his head, and now that photography and videography are another source of income, he is even more motivated to go into the unknown.
When in one of his first videos he said that in the future he wanted to explore the world by bike and encourage people to start cycling he really meant it, and at 20 years of age, he is already doing it. Finley has the physical ability to say yes to any crazy plan involving bikes, so he is going to take advantage of it and keep ticking things from his cycling bucket list.