Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tour de Ephrata, 4.25-26.09

Thinking about this day holistically, or partly so.  We drove up Friday -- my fourteen year-old (racing age 15) son Avery and 17 y.o. teammate.  Slogged through Friday night traffic north.  Stayed in Lititz, a small village in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Woke early, at race registration by 7:30 AM.  Avery and teammate launch in Category 4 event at 9 AM, a 40 mile race through farmland.  Slightly overcast and cool in morning, so shot at ISO 800 until about noon, then dropped to 400.  Haven't done post processing yet, but probably a few nice ones.  In afternoon, served my team's Elite squad in feed-zone, passing out bottles of water as they raced past during their 72 miler.  Nobody I know did particularly well in the races.  It seems the newly seasonal heat -- racing in 85 degree air temp on hotter roads -- sapped everyone.  My son and teammate had a mechanical (broken spoke) and flat tire, respectively, on their first lap, and they dutifully slogged on to the end of the race.

I am always struck by how good folks are in the cycling community.  The sport is lots of fun but trying, and racers, parents, and supporters are giving and tight.  More folks should find a path like this.

After the Elite finish, we returned to the hotel and Avery showered.  I padded him with a couple twenties so he could have dinner with teammates and folks; I put on my bibs and L'Abitibi jersey and headed out.  From about 5 - 6:30 I rode the race course.  I was blown away.  Very beautiful venue.  On my second lap, I worked reasonably hard and probably turned in a not too embarrassing lap time (for a Cat 5 newbie).  There were so many great scenes I wanted to hop off my bike and grab a shot:  A little Amish boy on the front swing of his hundred-year old stone house; horses charging across fields; flatulent cows; Amish buggies; kids on old bikes pulling wagons filled with fishing poles and buckets, headed to the creek; a young couple laying about on a creek bank; fields and farms in rich light cast by low angle sun.  I was inspired, so after loading my bike on the trusty CRV, I dropped to a couple spots to take some shots -- a covered bridge, fly fishermen (missed them ... they left after I pulled in), stream wash.

My job inside the Beltway can be stressful.  It was good tonic to cruise through the fields and grab some shots -- maybe, later, antidotes to hang on office walls.

Tomorrow, Pain Mountain time trial early morning, then downtown Ephrata criterium races.  Last year's pics are here.  Monday, Nathan flies to El Paso, gateway to the Tour of the Gila, a monster road race in New Mexico.  I'm tempted to push out there for some additional tonic (and incredible scenery), but probably not practical.

More to come.

Pretty socked-out.  Big story for me was intensity and success Avery had in Cat 4 races Sunday.  Pictures tell all:  A beast at the front of the pack.  Other notes were a number of crashes in downtown criterium.  Funny, I was talking with fellow NCVC U19 father, Linc Brookes, as we sat about the second corner, a 90-degree turn after a downhill.  I said, "Linc, you know in the Cat 4/5 race, there's a 50% chance of a crash right here."  Soon enough, the riders came around the corner on their first lap, working hard, and smack, a rider went over the curb and down.  Coincidence was, it was Linc's son, David.  David dusted himself off, took a free lap, and powered on to win 8th -- a damn good result, all considered. [Nb:  It wasn't just juniors who crashed.] Left not long after Cat 4 race with Avery.  Pulled about 100+ photos from the till and post-processed.  Results pretty good. Selection here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Carl Dolan Memorial, 4.19.2009

Slept in, rode 22 miles with Carolyn mostly on Arlington's squirrel loop, and showed-up at Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic after lunch to watch and take pictures of final, senior category 1/2/3 race. (Son Nathan was in Kelly green.)  Overcast but warm.  Soft light.  Pushed to ISO 800, driving aperture to  F8-F11 at 1/1000.  Much higher depth-of-field; pleased with results -- high percentage of keepers.  Posted 100+ images here.

Also caught paparrazo shots of DC Mayor Adrian Fenty.  (I was born in DC in 1959, grew-up in Ward 4 ... Mayor Fenty is the best thing that ever happened to city government.)  Appreciation to DC Velo for staging this classic.

Update: DCist picked-up Fenty pic, back-story ... here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Syn-Fit Criterium, 4.18.2009

Pretty nice weather at Syn-Fit criterium, promoted by Evolution Cycling Club.  Bright, high-contrast day, so subjects didn't look too soft ... harsh shadow lines on faces.  Posted about 100 images here, a couple nice high tone backlight shots like this one of Ben.  Some blems in blue sky shots, so guess it's time for  a sensor cleaning.  Need to be more rigorous about keeping at F8 for sport shots ... otherwise, seems to get blurry (one guy sharp, rest muzzy).  Will try to track these lessons at Carl Dolan 1/2/3 race tomorrow (4/19).  Fond of big brother shot -- Nathan and Avery.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tyson's Corner Circuit Race, 04.05.2009

Pretty mellow but long and diverse day at Tyson's Corner Circuit Race.  Carolyn started on site at 6:30 AM and I followed about seven with Avery.  We helped Tom and Judy Kendall and NCVC Junior parents set up food tent, barbecue etc.  Because ambulance was late, I was tasked with serving as EMT so the first 8:00 AM race could get started.  Unfortunately, I was on and off duty all day because ambulances had to run various folks to the hospital, a few with serious injuries.  (I covered while the ambulances were off-site.)  Finished about 6:00 PM, following 1/2/3 race and clean up.

Photos were pretty good, selected posted here.  Weather was sunny and warm (about 65 degrees).  Used favored 70-200 F4L lens on Canon 5D, ISO 400.  During the high-end 1/2/3 race, my friend Myron compelled me to get into the Carrera race lead car. I turned around in the convertible, hung over the back and shot a lot.  Pretty bouncy ride, but a few interesting pictures came through.  Hopped out after three laps, feeling nauseated. 

Had good fortune to spend time with my hero Kevin Dillard, sharing photo thoughts and stories.  Whilst we were at Tyson's, 18-y.o. Nathan was in Philadelphia grabbing third in the prestigious Lemon Hill Criterium Elite race.  All good stuff.