Dispatch from the Field…Colorado_Dispatch2

As I sit here in the kitchen of my cabin, staring out aimlessly at the front range of RMNP I can’t help but be reminded about how small a part of the universe I am.  I spent half of the past week covering the US Pro Challenge for one of my clients and it was definitely a massive adventure.  There were multiple days where, as I waited for things to happen, I would get to talk extensively with the folks who are responsible for the day to day operations of that event.  It’s a huge, far reaching event that has so many facets it will spin your head.  Again, it was just another thing in Colorado that reminded me how small, yet important, a part of this universe I am.  Here are some of my favorite shots from the event.

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Team Sky warms up at the Vail TT on Friday.

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The best Shot from the Vail TT

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Jelly Belly Rider Sean Mazich reunites with friends and family before the Ft. Collins Stage

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Jelly Belly’s team tech preps bikes for the next day’s stage.

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Dispatch from the field… Colorado_Dispatch1

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So, I’m sitting here, on a deck, outdoors in Estes Park Colorado watching a very typical mountain storm roll in over the Front Range of Rocky Mountain National Park.  I grew up with this view, so it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that while I’m here I have to work.  Yes, while the view in the picture looks serene, it is a facade that hides chaos.  I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my shoots, and not having control over all aspects drives my completely crazy.  I mean, nail chewing eyebrow pulling crazy… the kind of crazy that normally gets medicated.  The shoots I have coming up are split about 50/50.  I have some control, but not enough.  While I sit here thinking about it, it’s maddening.  Its the kind of madness that tells me “Hey, drive to the client right now and have them get everything sorted out for you”… It’s 5:30.  I’m in the mountains.  It’ll take me two hours.  But I just might…. or might not, I don’t know yet.  So I sit here on a deck.  Staring at the mountains in the near distance watching a light rain fall on them, and I find myself overwhelmed with calm.  I remember that I’m not saving lives.  The cool mountain air and the smell of pine sooth my madness.  One of my most cherished adolescent memories was sitting on a large granite outcrop on the Camp Cheley grounds staring at the stars one clear night and listening to the wind whip through the trees.  I could see the mountains black against the sky in the distance and I realized at that point that I’m just a very, very small part of a very, very, very big universe.  Nothing really matters when you’re this small.  It’s that feeling that saves me. 

I drove to Estes Park from Los Angeles in a day.  16 hours on the road.  There were point  where I was so close I could taste it.  I was grinding my teeth and shouting at the empty road.  In a way, this trip was an anniversary for me so it was important to do it in one, ridiculous 1000 mile marathon.  10 years ago I let everything go and moved to LA for what I thought was love.  I told myself I would make it, I didn’t know what I would make it at, but I knew I would make it.  And I have.  I made it both professionally and personally in LA and I love being there in my life. I’ve grown a lot both professionally and personally over the past 10 years and I have a couple specific people to thank for that who’ll remain anonymous.  The time I’ve spent in L.A. has been invaluable to me, but it would have been time wasted if it weren’t for some basic foundations that were laid here in Estes Park Colorado.  

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Career Highlights… CX Worlds

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I keep it real. I mean, like, really real.  I have life long friends who will pay witness to that.  So, it makes me proud for a few minutes at a time when I look back and think, retrospectively, that I’m exactly where I would like to have been, when I was 17.  When I was a senior in high school I was getting ready for college with bold dreams of becoming a world renowned professional photographer, or graphic designer, or something like that… and working at a bike shop.  I was watching closely the exploits of Missy Giove, Tinker Juarez and Myles Rockwell while trying my best to keep it real in the rough and bustling streets of Lawrence Kansas.  There were few things that weighed heavy on my mind during those days, but one thing that always stuck with me through the years was “World Championships”…

For some reason, even with the grand spectacle of the Tour de France, World Champions were something that always captivated me.  And thus, World Championships were an event I always hoped to be a part of.  Not from an athletic point of view obviously, I liked my beer WAY too much even then… but one day I did see myself being there, in some capacity.

So fast forward 18 years and I find myself getting off a plane in Louisville Kentucky of all places on an assignment with Challenge Tires to cover the 2013 Cyclo-cross World Championships.  I’ve always known of Cyclo-cross, but have only recently developed a deep love and respect for the sport over the past 4 years while living and covering CX racing in Southern CA (Ironic I know).  I’ve come to be sort of a specialist with CX.  I was embedded with a particularly rowdy CX team over the season and gave a lot to cover some of the bigger Mountain State and West Coast races.  So, this wasn’t one of those situations where the opportunity to cover CX Worlds just fell in my lap.  No, I worked my ass off to get to Worlds.  I worked that event and gave it everything I had, which was a lot considering how “Travel Weary” I was.  When I returned, I found myself at a loss for what to do next. In my mind, the 17 and 35 year old me had accomplished a major life goal, covering a World Championship.  So, recovering from that took a few days… or months really.  Now, with CX Season fast approaching I find myself anxious to get to work covering the sport I love most.

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This photo sums up Cyclocross for me in a pretty definitive, final, way.  Cross is hard.  It’s why I shoot it, but don’t participate as a racer.  It’s basically the most grueling and unforgiving of all the cycling disciplines and it’s the one that undoubtedly gets the least respect.  Do you see Cyclocross at the olympics? No.  Should you?  Yes.

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I have no idea who this is.  He just kept showing up in my frame.  He looked exhausted.  I was shooting with a Nikon 50mm 1.4 and he kept walking aimlessly, almost zombie like through my frame.  He was quick enough to flit out of focus, but thats about it.  Clearly he wasn’t interested in getting my attention, or in me getting a photo of him.  It was almost like he was a lost child who had been abandoned for days, lost and looking for his mother, or anyone to give him something recognizable to grasp onto so he could survive.  I have probably 20 frames of him that look basically like this.

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The men’s CX world champion, was Sven Nys… one of the most captivating people in the sport.  Now a 2 time World champ, Sven has a race named after him already in his home country of Belgium due to his shear domination of the sport for so many years.  Many had discounted him recently… but I was always a fan.  Watching him win so dominantly in America, at a historic World Championships (This was the first time the CX World Championships were held outside of Europe) was pretty cool.

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Awesomeness

I skipped my normal Tuesday post this week due to the anticipation of something happing later in the week.  It happened.  So here’s the link:

Click here for awesometown. 

Yup… I’m in Outside Magazine.  Well, Outside Online, but Outside none the less.  I’m a little proud.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it with out the hard work and dedication of the WD-40 Bike team so I owe a great deal of thanks to those guys.  It was an awesome experience all the way around!

 

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Ragbrai… Looking back

I can’t really express with words how I feel about RAGBRAI.  The experience was completely overwhelming on almost every level.  Yet as it was coming to a close I found myself in a sort of mourning for not wanting it to end.  The days were grueling.  16 hour days filled with a morning meeting at breakfast, shooting on the road, shooting at the tents shooting in he towns and then transferring by car to our next stop. Stop for a minute or two to inhale dinner, then shot review and filing until midnight or 1:00 am most nights.  I’d get no more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night yet wake up ready to go to work the next day.  I met a thousand interesting people all of which had incredible stories about their journeys both at RAGBRAI and in life but I can only remember a handful. I kept telling myself to swing for the fences with every frame, that this was make or break time due to who would be publishing the work.  Not every frame was gold, but a few where, and I proved to myself that I’m not a static artist.  I stepped far outside myself and my style for this project and now I’m invigorated.  I feel like that naive teenager who thinks he can do everything, and that there’s nothing to stop him… Probably because that is in fact, the truth.

Below are a few images, one or two from each day of the event along with what is probably an overly wordy explanation of what was going on or why I think its impactful.

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Other than the sometimes oppressive heat and humidity, the thing that was most surprising about RAGBRAI was it’s immensity.  The never ending rows of port-o-potties was just one example of this

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In each of the “Thru Towns” or towns that the route went through, but didn’t technically stop in, there was stuff going on.  Riders drinking in bars at 9:00 a.m., bands playing, people dancing in the streets.  Inevitably there were locals looking on.  These two had what seemed like a disapproving glare over the whole event, but when asked about RAGBRAI were both surprisingly positive

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The culture clash was pretty amazing.  From a distance RAGBRAI looked like a high-viz fabric manufacturers factory had exploded all over some lightly traveled country roads, and then you had the locals.  I saw Amanda and followed her through the crowded streets of Dallas Center back to her family’s pie stand.  Clearly she wasn’t used to having a camera in her face, as every time she looked up to see me taking her picture she’d start laughing.

ImageThere was a log of beer drank.  Literally everywhere, all the time.

ImageTurbo.  C’mon, I had to include this.

ImageI drove around a lot.  I definitely crossed Iowa twice and probably a third time with all the back and forth.  A lot of it felt like this to me while I was transferring and leapfrogging back and forth along the route to take photos.  There’s a lot more to Iowa than corn fields of course… but there are A LOT of corn fields.

ImageThis shot is a good example of what I dealt with all week. I spent a lot of time saying “Just pretend I’m not here…”.  But there were times I wanted people to look at the camera.  Inevitably the people I wanted to look at me wouldn’t, and the people who I needed to ignore me would wave.

ImageAs the week went on we all became more and more road weary.  We grew more and more punchy.  Nothing exemplified this more than when Bill Marshall, one of the WD-40 Bike techs gave me this cross eyed grease covered look as I took his picture with my iPhone while he was powering through a can of Budweiser.  Later that night my creative director and one of the WD-40 Bike Tech’s were going through photos and they saw this one.  We decided that a funny prank would be to make hundreds of copies of that photos and post them up around the finish town where the WD-40 Bike tents would be set up.  So we did.  That’s Bill in the background working.

ImageProbably the best part of the trip was getting to work so closely with the WD-40 Bike team.  I’ve known a couple of the guys for a while, but some where new.  I don’t think I could have put together a better team of guys to spend that much time with.  There weren’t really any tense moments or times where frustrations boiled over to conflict.  There was always time for a little ribbing and fun and everyone was good natured when the ribbing was directed at them.  I put this little multi-pane together as a tribute to the guys and one of their running jokes.

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Dispatch from the Front… Ragbrai

I’ve been embedded with WD-40 Bike here in Iowa since Saturday and it has been an interesting 3 days.  From a cycling support perspective, RAGBRAI is completely different than anything most of the WD-40 guys or my cohort Maynard Hershon would expect.  RAGBRAI is like Mardi Gras mixed with Bay to Breakers mixed with a County Fair mixed with Sturgis, mixed with Burning Man with some bike riding thrown in there to help combat all the calories you drank. It’s also the place where old school busses and close out cycling jerseys go to die.  So, needless to say there’s been some interesting photography.  Here’s a quick look at the happenings so far….

 

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A Day (Or Two) Late…

Well, I thought there was going to be at least some ability to communicate over the interwebz at Sequoia National Park considering how modern it is.  That, however, is not the case.  While I was bummed to not be able to post from the mountains, NOT having the ability to communicate while there was actually a big relief.  I never set an alarm, but was up at 7 a.m. every day.  I didn’t check my phone or e-mail the whole time I was there and I let my phone die, not charging it until I got in the car to leave.  So… Here are a couple shots from 7000 ft. and above.Image

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