Miguel Veterano is an accomplished photographer with a career spanning 20 years; across multiple countries and photographic disciplines. From an early age Miguel has found a type of peace and balance in solitude and through physical exertion; first with competitive surfing and recently with ultra distance, multi terrain cycling. We caught up with Miguel post his latest trip to Iceland.
( The Rift is a 200km off-road bike race through the dark lava fields in the highlands of Iceland )
Any nicknames we should know about?
Not really People in Portugal, they call me Mike. Here in Dubai some people call me Migo. But I’ve never had like a strong nickname.
What was it like growing up on the coast in Portugal?
I was born and raised in south of Portugal, a small city, like five minutes from the beach. My childhood was Summertime going fishing or getting stuff from the river, spending all day on the beach, cycling around and mountain biking.
The early eighties was pretty special. No cell phones. No video games, not much TV. Like we only had two channels and only on the weekends, there was something to watch for kids. So we spent most of the time outside.
Your early passion was surfing right?
I was a teenager in the late eighties. Surfing was my main thing. Back then, Portugal was not like US or Australia, at that time surfing wasn’t main-stream, or at all established. It was difficult to get a surf board, and the international surfing magazines would make it to Portugal with like six months delay.
You’re a man of many talents — you’re a photographer, art director, ex-professional surfer and endurance cyclist — am I missing anything from your resume?
A father. My baby ‘Ocean’ is one year old.
You’ve done some pretty extreme cycling in the last couple of years.
I road the seven emirates in 2019 - 467km, which was a personal challenge that I created with a close friend of mine. I’ve completed two The Biking Man races - Ultra Events of 1,000km. I’ve done Portugal and Oman.
Tell us about the latest race in Iceland.
Iceland was a 200km race on gravel roads around a volcano. Going into it I was confident that I could do it, as my previous two races were much further - 1,000km each. But this was my first long race on gravel, and 200 km on gravel is probably the same effort as 400 km on the road. I suffered a lot from cramps in the second 100 km, because of the cold. At the marker of the first 100 km I was in 10th position. I was pushing, and then I paid a lot for that in the second half of the race. I hit a headwind, and rain and I ended up doing like a long stretch into the wind alone. I lost the group that I was with, I didn't have the legs to go with them. So I suffered a lot, but it was a beautiful place to suffer.
The cornerstone of the rokpool ethos is our belief that a thoughtful routine of small positive habits, when practiced consistently holds the key to unlocking the mindset to do amazing things. What are your thoughts on this idea?
Yeah, I totally agree. I only recently started a meditation practice, but I feel that this is now an important part of my day. I have searched for years to find some peace from my thoughts, or from the stress of life or work or whatever. I found it in surfing and on the bike, but now I’m also looking to find it within my everyday.
What is the relationship between cycling and creativity? Do you feel that there is any connection for you?
The ultra races are in such epic places, and in 1,000 kilometers you see so much, you think so much, your mind goes in so many different places. Negative and positive. Since I started doing photography, everything in life inspires me, the negative things as well as the beautiful moments.
What's next for you?
For cycling, I will do Rwanda 1,000 km in Africa, and then possibly Kenya - It's a four days gravel race. And I'm going back to do Iceland again next year.
Any departing words for the people?
Be true to yourself, be kind. Get inspired. Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. And then enjoy as much as you can.