The chaos and danger of a whirlwind cyclocross start at USGP Bend 2012. Canon EOS 7D EF-S 10-22mm at 11mm f/4 1/800 ISO 100
You sit at the start, one foot clipped in, sitting on the top tube of your bike. You are trying to look casual, unworried, yet focused but the nerves in your stomach belie the calm exterior. Your mind pushes around the course searching for the right lines, the small advantages, the wider places to pass until you hear the starter’s warning. You stand up your left foot still clipped in ready to propel you forward. You shake your hands and then calm them, bringing them down to the hoods. You feel the solid response of your bike as let your weight settle on to the bars and you love this machine. You know that it will take you where you tell it, that it will jump forward when you mash down on the pedals and together you will fly with grace and speed over any obstacle that lies in front. And then… you hear the horn…
My daughter and I went down to Bend, OR last weekend for the USGP Cyclocross races, it was an amazing weekend with a lot of fantastic racing. I really wanted to capture the frantic energy and chaos of the start of a cyclocross race. At this point the racers are all still packed together very tightly and to capture all of that I knew that I needed to get close. I positioned myself inside the corner of the first sharp left hand turn of the course and chose a wide angle lens. A wide angle lens shot up close gives a very interesting perspective and immediacy to the image. There is, of course, some distortion and stretching of the image but the ability to pack so much story into one frame is worth it. You do, however, have to get very close. The front of my lens is probably something less than 4 inches away from the woman’s shoe in the foreground. They are going by so quickly and they are so close that you have to trust your preparation, make sure you have a good angle and have memorized the sweep that you want to make with your camera as the cyclists go by and then hammer down the shutter and hope you get something great. I got several good frames but I really like the wheels within wheels effect that this one produced and the fact that the lines of the photograph and lead you towards a very clear image of the rider out front. (Who, by the way is Wendy Simms, a fantastic local Nanaimo rider.)
For more of my images from this event check out the gallery here.