10x (ten by) is an occasional Far Ride feature where photographers we admire are invited to share ten of their favorite images. Kicking off the series is the much-traveled friend of the magazine Donalrey Nieva: a creative dynamo with a beautifully observed style of documenting rides whether they be on city streets or high mountain passes.
"Ages ago, when I was first visiting New York, my friend who was into photography encouraged me to buy a camera for the trip. So I got one of those cheap Sony Cyber-shots and actually discovered how much I enjoy taking photos."
Having come full circle and now residing in Brooklyn, photographer Donalrey Nieva once again reached for a camera when he returned to New York on a more permanent basis and decided to document his life in a new city. Recording everyday aspects of everyday life, Don remembers learning a lot from this daily ritual—a creative response to city-based living that was aided by his love of riding.
"I enjoy using bikes as a tool for exploration and when I first moved here I set out to discover the different New York neighborhoods before taking the train upstate and venturing farther afield."
With this network of remote, country roads now committed to memory, one of Don’s favorite routes crosses three states - New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts - and allows him to indulge his love of dirt and gravel. It's a ride he’s done twice before on the eve of Daylight Saving Time as a final (and reluctant) farewell to summer.
"I have two and a half bikes to be exact. The half is a Brompton which serves as my daily commuter around the city. I just love how compact it is and that I can take it literally anywhere: bars, restaurants, grocery shopping, even to a museum. My other bikes are both by Firefly, a custom titanium bike builder in Boston. One has a traditional road geometry and the other was designed with more mixed-terrain riding in mind with a dynamo hub, racks and bags, and the flexibility of switching between 700c and 650b wheels."
This love of adventure has furnished Don and his partner Karen with a host of memories from past trips, from getting lost on a tea farm in Sri Lanka, riding one of the world’s longest dirt climbs in Colombia and a bucket list trip to Peru in the company of fellow The 5th Floor teammates. These experiences even include an improvised route to the north of Nice that saw Don lose his footing on a cliffside with his fall fortunately broken by the branches of a tree.
"We decided it would be fun to take a Komoot mountain bike route home. When we came to this narrow ledge, I was being cautious so I had one foot clipped in and the other free but I lost my balance and fell straight down with my camera taking the brunt of the impact."
Currently favouring a Sony RX100 VI for on-the-bike shots, his images often depict a ribbon of road or the interplay of light and shadow with Don setting rider against landscape to beautifully convey a sense of narrative on an epic scale.
"I started taking photos to share them with others and I think that still holds true today. And because I used to draw and paint, the same philosophy that I expressed through those mediums I now apply to my photography. My camera has just taken the place of a brush and I take photos much like I would paint them."
From snow-capped South American peaks to his now native Central Park in full springtime blossom, Don’s body of work reflects a passion for travel but also acknowledges that exploring by bike doesn’t necessitate an exotic location.
"I think it’s really great that everyone’s getting into adventure cycling. And because I get inspired by a lot of people, I only hope that my work inspires others to get out on their bikes and explore. The only real challenge is trying to figure out where to go next."
Portachuelo Llanganuco Pass
This is the road that inspired me to go to Peru and it was just as
good in real life as it was in the pictures I’d seen (if not better!).
Portachuelo Llanganuco Pass
This is the road that inspired me to go to Peru and it was just as good in real life as it was in the pictures I’d seen (if not better!).