The women of Harrogate’s Cappuccino Cycling Club love a challenge. Each Saturday, they pedal between 50 to 100 miles fuelled by a stop for cake and coffee.
The hills, the Yorkshire weather and the traffic are tough going but they were nothing compared to posing in bra and pants in public, even though the lingerie was by Rigby and Peller.
The decision to strip came after they were approached by renowned photographers Paul Berriff and Michael Dunne, who wanted to do a Tour de France take on the famous Calendar Girls.
The plan to create the best imitation yet of the Rylstone WI calendar was inspired by Yorkshire’s successful bid to host the Tour’s Grand Depart next month.
“We wanted to do something different to mark the Grand Depart and we thought it would be great to get girls on bikes in key locations on the route. The idea is to raise money for the Air Ambulance and to show off Yorkshire at the same time,” says Paul.
The result is that the half-naked women are not always the focal point of the pictures, depending where your interests lie. The model fights for attention with the glorious Dales landscape and a fine flock of sheep in Muker, while the stockings and suspenders will barely get a glance from ardent cyclists, who will be sighing over the bikes or tutting over the lack of cycling helmets.
During the shoots, there was laughter, hugs and tears as the women were forced to confront their various body hang-ups while letting it all hang out for the camera. “Does my bum look big in this?” was the most common question.
“There were tears and times when it was quite emotional,” says Rachael Bateman, 42, a lawyer. “Women are over-critical of their bodies at the best of times. There were days when some of us lost our confidence and the others would rally round. What’s nice about this calendar is that we are all different shapes and sizes.”
The new Rigby and Peller store in Harrogate supplied the underwear and each shoot had minders for moral support when the gawping and wolf whistles got too much. Rachael was on hand in York when a passing student took a photo of a scantily clad model on his phone. She ran after him and ordered him to delete the image immediately. He did it, no question.
It was one of many laugh-out-loud moments. Another was when Liz, in a corset and high heels, and Elaine, in bra and knickers, were cycling up a hill in Marsden, near Huddersfield. Rachael was on traffic stopping duty and that included flagging a double-decker bus full of teenage boys to a halt while her half-naked friends cycled by. In Muker, the sheep escaped and a Landrover got stuck.
“It was fun and looking after each other and reassuring each other has brought us all closer,” says Elaine.
The Cappuccino Cycling Calendar 2015, inspired by the Tour de France in Yorkshire, is on sale now. It costs £12 and is available from www.cappuccinocyclingcalendar.
The pictures were taken by photographers Paul Berriff and Michael Dunne, assisted by photography students Mandy Assheton and Gabrielle Ruffell.
Locations include East Witton in Wensleydale; the Black Sheep Brewery, Masham; the moors near Muker; Buttertubs Pass; the AA box at Aysgarth; the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey; Montpelier, Harrogate; Marsden, Huddersfield; Victoria Quarter, Leeds; Clifford’s Tower, York; Yorebridge House, Bainbridge; a factory in Sheffield; Embsay steam railway and Lunds Viaduct on the Settle Carlisle railway.