Rasmus Pellizotti is a Danish veteran cyclist with experience from some of the most challenging amateur multi stage mountain road cycling events out there. Rasmus has been riding for more than 25 years, and busy outside of cycling with a full time job and raising kids. His passions are hard and long days, photography, and a post ride beer when not challenging himself with #NoBeerForaYear. For his next major event he will be riding about 12,000 km to prepare for the challenge. Joining him for this experience is an amazing list of strong likeminded riders - follow his IG account and hashtags for more insights on the event and the other riders. #returnoftraedekongen
Mainly a roadie, but I have been picking up gravel over the past few years as this offers new roads and a different and more remote kind of riding. I know a coach who previously helped me get ready for some really hard ten stage mountain events with many miles and a lot of climbing. He told me I have little talent for cycling, but a lot of talent for training hard. That's funny and probably true. I was never good at breakaway, sprints, or sitting in a bunch and only made very few points the years I was racing. I am good at repetitive long days and terrible in short races. I learned that I do well the harder and longer it is; probably a mix of legs and mindset.
Q: What’s the significance to the traedekongen name?
“Traede” means pedaling in Danish and “kongen” is king. It started as a joke nickname we used for riders with panache, strong legs or style - so I picked it up from there. I am really not the king of anything, and with the years adding on you need to take it with some Danish sarcasm. I do however still value the old values of the term and just cannot stand riders who show up with two different socks or talk more than the legs can deliver.
Q: Why did you start riding and how has your riding grown or evolved?
I grew up in a place where school or football was not close by and my only way to get there was by bike year round, so I always cycled since I got my first Silverhorse at the age of 4. I played football for 16 years but got injured and never made it back to the level I wanted to be at. After soccer, I was looking for another sport and had a year of body building before picking up cycling. I found that I can grow my upper body, but my legs were still skinny which looked really weird so I stopped :). Since then it has been all about the cycling with a bit of running on the side.
Q: On your personal website you have a gallery with travel and street photos from Japan. Was that prior to cycling becoming a real passion for you?
More the other way around. My cycling photos were really bad in the beginning. Then I found inspiration riding with some guys who knew their stuff like Jered and Ashley Gruber, Marius Nilsen and a few others. I sort of picked it up from there, but by no means am I a pro and never learned more than the basics other than just testing things out. Taking photos of bike stuff only can be boring, so I extended it a bit, but I've a long way to go. See more of Rasmus' photo galleries at traedekongen.exposure.co
Q: What is the connection between cycling and photography for you?
Capturing the beauty of road and gravel cycling and sharing the beauty to inspire others. Other than that its a form of documentary of my cycling life for personal use or memories with friends.
Q: Do you now travel to a destination more for the cycling than for the opportunity to photograph that destination?
Usually these things are closely connected for me. I normally bring my bike everywhere I go if possible. Any road or cycling experience can be beautiful in its own way where ever it is in the world. For me the cycling comes first and then a potential good shot.
Q: Why did you start photographing on your rides - photographing for clients, publications, or purely for your own enjoyment and to share your experiences?
Mostly I photography for my own stuff and as I am not a pro and not photographing for money. I do some shots in my brand influencer roles that are used on various sites but there are so many good photographers out there so I would let the pros make the money. The key is the process from taking, choosing, editing and sharing a photograph - and then sometimes get recognition for a good shot.
Q: What kind of photo gear do you carry when you ride and do you use anything different when you’re off the bike?
On the bike I usually bring a Sony RX100 or if bad conditions are expected I bring the smaller RX0 that is waterproof. For small stories I bring just the iphone X that actually has a pretty good camera if Instagram pictures are the only purpose. Photography off the bike is a different matter. I own a Leica Q that is a fantastic camera for almost any situation. I also have a few film cameras that I use mostly for experimenting, portraits and parties. I love the grainy film look, but it is more work and doesn't really work on the bike for me.
Q: Do you always carry a camera and think about making photos on a ride or do you sometimes go out just for training rides?
It is always about the ride and getting out first. I bring a camera to document what I see and what gives me a tick or I find interesting. I mostly go alone, so you will probably see a lot of “boring” roads taken from the handlebar or other things because they have some emotional value that inspires me. I look for photos when I'm out there and sometimes take a left turn just to see what happens there. I always bring a camera of some sort on rides and it has become my process to review, edit and post photos after.
Q: Do you have shots in your mind that you’re looking to create when you’re on a ride, or are you a photographer of opportunity - you stay aware and ready to make a photo when you see the right conditions?
Q: Is your photography only focused on the experience on the bike; do you enjoy and spend time photographing other things as well?
I photograph a lot of things. I'm interested in photos of my kids, nature, architecture, people and things a bit out of the ordinary. I do not post these things, but maybe I should share them? My online profile @traedekongen is all about cycling with an occasional bleep into other things that are on my mind; however, the cycling people don't really care about that stuff. I was in Japan with my oldest son last year and took maybe a 1000 photos that I really enjoy. None of them has a bike in them.
Q: Your photos pretty consistently have a gritty and contrasty style. Is that a look you have consciously worked on?
I grew up in the synth age with Depeche Mode, The Cure and the likes. Moody and Grainy dark universes always appealed to me more than light love songs and sunsets. To me the photography; like music, reflects how I feel about and talk about things. The photos don't reflect a deeper meaning to everything, but more like bringing forward emotions and inspiration. I am probably a moody person and sometimes a bit of a loner. I have always spent much time alone. In 2014 i rode 12,000 km of training alone as a mental test. Though I enjoy some social things I am likely not the first one to invite for a 50 person group ride. I admire the hard and challenging efforts mixed up with a bit of pain and fatigue, and I like to document those.
Q: Is there a feeling you want people to get from your photos?
The bike pictures are simple. They are all about inspiration and showing off your new steed with a mention of the new Di2 groupset or wheels or whatever. I am doing an apparel ambassadorship for a brand I believe in alongside other collaborations with cycling brands so you will find some commercial things in my photos. I would like to share the passion for cycling and the respect for the sport and surroundings. I think road shots, mountains and all year rides with different weather does that better than brand shots.
Q: Do your riding and photography serve the same purpose in your life or they both do different things for you?
Outside the #baaw etc. they are an extension of my current state of mind - not more or Less. I enjoy the process and capturing something that is simple yet beautiful - in my head at least. Some people think the same way. Others don't.
Q: Do you have any cycling events or goals you are working towards next?
Together with a few selected riders, from all over the world, we are doing a celebration tour called #NoBeerForaYear in September 2019. It is sort of a reward for me not drinking in a year. The trip is starting and ending in Bilbao over eight really hard stages in a row above 200 km and 5000 vertical metres each day. The route is designed by locals and will take us to the most amazing places and backroads of Pyrenees, Basque country and Cantabria. The route is amazing but also very hard. I hope we will pull it off as a team and this will for sure be the hardest event for me to date. You can follow us on #NoBeerForaYear to get a better idea (look for the cycling photos ;-). This event is about riding your bike all day with respect for cycling, the surroundings and each other. Very special.
Q: What was the motivation behind #nobeerforayear ?
I wanted to do something special with likeminded friends that I have ridden with before and this idea took shape. I rode some Cent Cols Challenges before (100 cols in 10 days) and was inspired to do something similar yet different for a closed group. I love those long days and the rewards they offer on so many levels. This becomes sort of an addiction. I wrote about it before in “The unmatchable Ups and downs” and though it might sound religious - the people who have done it would support me in saying that it brings things to perspective on a whole different level.
Q: Do you notice a marked difference in your performance or endurance with the absence of alcohol?
Not really. Maybe I wasn't drinking enough before :-). I am probably just a bit more boring at parties and in the social agenda in general. We are heavy drinkers in Denmark and if I don't consume alcohol the main question I receive is something like, “Are you sick?”; or, “Are you recovering from being an alcoholic?” It's funny in a way, but I will be back in September with a nice glass of Bourgogne. Maybe I thought a miracle would happen and my FTP would skyrocket; but it hasn't happened yet.
Q: Will you be documenting and photographing the closed event yourself or will someone else be responsible for making the photos of your suffering?
We are lucky to get the support from Pas Normal Studios. That sponsorship enables us to have a professional photographer with us in the support van to document to progress and the ups and downs during the eight days. This allows us to focus on the riding and taking care of our bodies and equipment. For sure there will be time for us to shoot a few selfies and roads along the way. I want to do a small write up to match the photos in the end. Maybe this can inspire others to do something out of the ordinary too.
Final Question: If budget were not a barrier where would you most want to ride and photograph in the world?
I have many ideas but with work and family; time is often more the constraint than the money. I would love to go to the Andes and see what it is like to ride in really high altitude. I have also heard a lot about Taiwan and for sure I would love to explore more remote places in the US.