For most people, the Cyclepassion calendar really needs no introduction.
First launched in 2005, the calendar has featured some of the fastest and hottest women cyclists from road and mountain bike backgrounds strutting about with expensive bikes and generally not wearing all that much clothing.
We wanted to find out more about the creation of the calendar, and what its secret to success has been as the latest calendar launched just recently, so we had a chat with Anke Wilken, the woman behind Cyclepassion.
Bikemagic: Cyclepassion has been around for a few years; remind us why you started it and what prompted it?
Anke Wilken: The idea to make a calendar like this was born in 2005 during bike holidays on the Canary Islands. My former husband was a maniac cyclist. So I have been confronted with his hobby over years. As a technical engineer he loved to care and repair his bikes in a way I could never understand. This does not mean I do not love cycling myself.
So we always had this typical controversial topic in our relationship. Producing a calendar was just a crazy idea to respond to his love affair with cycling. I wanted to incorporate more than just mechanical beauty by adding in real emotion. Back in Germany I found a photographer and we started without a real concept and planning. It was really naïve to start something without any experience and connection within the bike industry. To be honest the first year was a financial catastrophe, but we had a lot of fun.
BM: The calendar has proved very popular, what do you think is the reason for its success?
AW: One of the key factors was the cooperation with Daniel Geiger. He has a wonderful personality and is a brilliant photographer. Within the bike industry he has great contacts, so it was possible for us to convince Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja and Sabine Spitz to participate in our shootings.
It made a great difference to switch from models during our first shooting, to real athletes in the following years. It is much more difficult to produce professional photos with athletes, who normally are not used to flirt with the camera. But it is really worth to admire their wonderful muscular bodies.
We also changed from studio locations to cycling locations like UCI Worldcups and the Tour de France. Since 2010 Markus Neuert from Cyclefilm completed our team with his talents to produce great films. This makes our work much more visual and alive.
BM: What would you say in answer to some of the criticism that it portrays women cyclists in a negative light?
AW: Since we started to ask professional female cyclists we always had more applications than we could accept. One reason therefore is the way we do the photography. We are not taking nude photos and I personally do not want to cross that line.
The calendar shall show the beauty of women but in a classy way.Being a professional female bike rider is a very hard job. Hard training, a lot of travelling, small income and a permanent search for a good team. So I think it is a good opportunity to get some personal exposure by participating in our calendar shootings.
BM: Have you ever considered a men’s version?
AW: I was asked for a men`s version many times, but have not had the time to move forward on this. Being a business consultant, I am travelling a lot and the production of the calendar is just a part-time business, which already keeps me very busy! If someone wants to do it, get in contact with me for some support.
BM: Do you have plans for any other cyclepassion products or events?
AW: There are many things on my mind, but it is always a race against time.
Once a while we discussed the production of a smaller version of the (desk) calendar which is cheaper to ship and easier to find a space for. Also each year I do have my favorite photos and I would like to make a best of calendar featuring this shootings.
Cyclepassion in 2012
The 2012 calendar, which is the seventh edition, features road riders Veronica Andréasson, Liz Hatch and Marion Rousse, and mountain bikers Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Hanna Klein, Katherine O’Shea and Maja Wloszczowska. Remind yourself of the highlights in our photo and video preview here.
WIN a Cyclepassion calendar today
We’re feeling generous. We’ve got one Cyclepassion calendar to giveaway today, all you have to do is answer the silly easy question below, post your correct answers in the comments box below to be in with a chance of winning. We’ll pick a winner at 5pm on Wednesday.
Question: In what year did the first Cyclepassion calendar come out?
Post the correct answer below. Good luck