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Degenerative bone condition forces Camille McMillan to sell 'Dream Machine' bike

Custom 'Demi Porkeur' built by Hartley Cycles is an absolute one-off...

A degenerative bone condition is forcing acclaimed cycling photographer Camille McMillan to sell a custom made utility bike that won best in class at last year’s Bespoked UK Handbuilt Bike Show, having ridden it just twice.

Former Rouleur editor-at-large McMillan, who is based in the Ariege department in the French Pyrenees, commissioned the ‘Demi Porkeur’ bike from London-based framebuilder Caren Hartley.

Why the name? Well, he wanted a bike capable of carrying his photographic and camping equipment plus other kit when out working in his local area, including in winter; the result is part old school porteur French cargo bike, part fat bike.

There’s a full description and picture gallery of what is a unique bike on the Hartley Cycles website. The framebuilder also has another of her one-off bikes on display at the current Cycle Revolution exhibition at London’s Design Museum.

> Hartley Cycles shows new 953 gravel bike at Design Museum

“I wished the bike was to be a part of me, I wanted the bike to be part of my everyday working life,” McMillan wrote in a blog post poignantly entitled ‘Dream for Sale’ that referenced, among others, the French symbolist Alfred Jarry, artists Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, and Motörhead frontman Lemmy, who died last week.

“The plan was to make a machine that would bring together my love of image, love of bicycles and the landscape I live in.

“Where I live is the Pyrenees Ariege, very beautiful and an almost wilderness. I don’t live in the high mountains, I’m at 1,000 metres and within riding distance of the Haute Pyrenees.

“There is snow in winter here, a metre last winter… good for ski, but not for bicycles.

“So the bike was made to carry my kit, cameras and tents, skis and pans.”

But last year McMillan, who collaborated with ex-pro Michael Barry on his book Le Metier and who has successfully crowdsourced a book of his photographs on Kickstarter, was told he had the degenerative condition, psoriatic arthritis.

> Camille McMillan crowdfunding a book

“I have had psoriasis for over a decade,” McMillan continued. “The standard, run of the mill psoriasis skin condition. It’s a bastard auto immune disease. I’m kind of attacking myself. The last few years it has moved internal.

“Psoriasis is cyclical, it comes and almost goes to varying degrees. Sometimes my joints would hurt.”

Then, in late summer last year, he continued, “there came a huge wave. So huge the future possibilities were revealed to me.”

A doctor recommended McMillan to undergo a course of pain management until he could have a hip replacement, but the photographer wrote: “The idea of spending a few years bombed out on a diet where codeine is the hors d’oeuvre is not something I relish.

“The bike is bringing on the pain and joint wear even faster…

“Riding the bicycle is no longer an option, the constant has gone and the mountain dream vanishing.

“The way I make work and look at my work must change ... the Morpheus bike has to go.”

He concludes: “Dream bike for sale, make me an offer.”

You can contact him via his blog or Twitter.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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