Chasing Races: The stories behind the photos of Karen M. Edwards

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A new photographer making a strong impression this year is Karen M. Edwards, an Irishwoman who has been shooting races at home for several seasons but who is now stepping things up. She has a background in art, fashion and design and is using that creativity and experience in her photography.

She has worked at the Spring Classics, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France and recently published Chasing Races, a book showcasing her work.

Here are a selection of photos from that book.

Saddlebags (feature image)

“I went over to a NFTO training camp in February of this year. It’s the team that the talented young Irish rider Eddie Dunbar was with. I spent Thursday to Sunday with them, eating with them, staying with the team and getting to know them pretty well. It was a great experience, giving me an in-depth sight of the team, how the bonding and training comes together and everything. I really enjoyed it, and did some photos for them this year.

“The guys had just come in from a training camp. They had hung their bikes up and that caught my eye, with the saddlebags in a row.”

Nikon D5100, 55-200mm lens. ISO 400, 1/1500 sec at f/4.8


NFTO bottle:


“Another from the same training camp. I was in the team car, following the guys around on a freezing day. Luke Rowe’s dad Courtney is the coach and was handing a bottle to one of the guys, Sam Harrison. I caught the moment of the bottle being handed, it was an image that I liked.”

Nikon D5100 camera, 50mm lens. ISO 250, 1/4000 sec at f/2.2

Shoes and cobbles:


“This was a photo taken of the Ag2r riders at the sign on at Flèche Wallonne. They were standing around having a chat. It was a nice, casual moment before the race, very relaxed. The shoes are so clean, and you have the Belgian cobbles in the same shot.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 2000, 1/180 sec at f/19

Crowd on climb:


“A second photo from the same event. It was my first time on a motorbike in a race this big. It was great, a fantastic experience. The photo was from my first time going up the Mur de Huy on the back of the bike. The crowds were just swarming.

“Shooting from the moto is great, although I will always say to the driver that the rider safety should be first. I’m always aware of that.

“When you are on a bike you are really right there in the race, you are capturing everything. It is the only way to go, really. You can go with the break, come back, see what is going on in the peloton. If there are attacks going off, you are right there…you capture everything. The suffering, the emotion…that’s what I love about the moto.

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 400, 1/1500 sec at f/6.7

Aaron Gate wins for An Post Chainreaction in the team’s home race:


“The New Zealand rider Aaron Gate won stage two of this year’s An Post Rás into Tipperary town in Ireland. He also took victory three days later into Ballina. This is a photo from that first finish. Personally, I prefer capturing images before races and during. As for the finishes – I’m okay about them, but I think there is a lot more to the race than that final moment.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 400, 1/1500 sec at f/5.6

Ryan Mullen cornering in Skerries:


“Another photo from this year’s An Post Rás in Ireland. This was taken on the final stage in Skerries. It was a fantastic day, the atmosphere there was unreal and huge crowds came out to watch it. The An Post team had done so well and Ryan is there, close to the front with his team-mates.

“I think he’s striking on the bike, there is something about him. He is also a very strong rider – he was second in the world under 23 time trial championships in 2014 and will turn pro with Cannondale-Garmin next year. That’s fantastic for him.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 400, 1/1500 sec at f/4.8

Sugar rush:


“This is the bike of one of the riders preparing for stage two of the Rás na mBan in Ireland this year. I had never seen it before, but I noticed that she had stuck these jellies up on the top tube of her bike. She was preparing to go out on this hard course – stage two is savage, going along the Atlantic Way coastline, and was clearly well prepared for that.

“I’m not sure if she would actually race with them sitting there, but they were ready to eat as soon as she wanted.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 400, 1/1500 sec at f/4.8

Roche, Martin, Deignan and Bennett:


“That was from the Evening With the Pros event in 2014. The four lads had each done their interview with the host Cian Lynch and then they got together. I wasn’t getting what I wanted shooting from the front so I slipped around the side of them. The photo captures the mood of that evening. Everybody was so relaxed and they just spoke so openly of their life as pros, what they expect for the future and all that. I just thought it was a nice casual shot of them.

Of the four lads, I suppose I would be more familiar with Sam Bennett as I’d know him from Carrick on Suir, where he lives. I’d also worked with Nico before. It was my first time meeting Dan and Philip.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 800, 1/30 sec at f/5

Cliffs of Moher:


“Another two photos from the Rás na mBan. I wasn’t on the bike this day, but was in a car. I decided that I would go up to the top of a field to get the peloton coming along. It was amazing watching them – when the peloton was strung out in front of the Cliffs of Moher, the image was iconic of the Rás na mBan.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 110, 1/250 sec at f/8

Leg shot:


“I’m not sure who the girl was, but the shot was taken in Scarriff in torrential rain. The riders were frozen standing there. Despite that, she just seemed to relaxed, getting ready to get out there and race.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 800, 1/1000 sec at f/4

Healy Pass:


“A landscape shot from the Healy Pass. This was on a training ride, taken on the descent down into Glengarriff. This area always attracts riders for its magnificent views and spectacular climbs and descents.

“I head back here few times a year. It’s a different world in those mountains.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 400, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6



“This is taken from a Fermoy league race during the summer. They run them every year. Everybody comes together, they do their league racing and there is a great atmosphere. I love all that, the camaraderie and how everybody comes together for the social aspect of racing.

“It was a beautiful evening outside Castlehyde, near the house of Michael Flatley. He’s the famous dancer behind Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.”

Nikon D5100, 70-200mm lens. ISO 800, 1/1000 sec at f/3.3

To see more of Karen’s work, check out her site here.

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