A racer launches up a hill as spectators heckle at USGP Bend 2012. Canon EOS 7D EF-S 17-55mm at 42mm f/4 1/400 ISO 1600
The panicked crush of the start is behind you and you can feel your breathing start to regulate as you settle in for the race. You feel strong and steady as your bike tracks well through the turns and you feel good about your choice of tire pressure as you power out of the turn without loosing traction. The first big hill is around the next corner and you see the first three racers ride it successfully but it is a tough hill and the next group of riders hits the hill in a clump of six, the racer at the front wobbles as he hits a rock in the hill and sticks his foot out right in front of the next rider who is charging hard to try and create some separation on the hill. He hits the leg and his front wheel slides out from under him. Suddenly three riders are down and everyone else is swinging their legs over to dismount and run; run around, over, through the fallen mass of elbows and wheels, calves and handlebars but they will reach the top.
More photos from USGP, Bend 2012. I went back and forth on the cropping of this image. I really felt like the most interesting story here was of the 3 old guys yelling at the top of the hill and the to a lesser degree the boy below the rider. Cropping the rider’s head and shoulders out of the image lets your eye rest on the old guys yelling and then drift down towards the boy who is watching so intently. Somehow those parts of the story were diminished when I left the rider’s upper body in the the image. Cyclocross has its roots deeply planted in Belgium where old guys who have been drinking most of the day yell at younger guys as they race around the course. Heckling is part of the sport. I wanted some of that old-timey feel to this image so I put converted it to B&W and increased the structure and the grain to give it a slightly older feel. I also like the way that the increase in structure helped to bring out the impressive musculature of this rider’s calves and thighs.
For more of my images from this event check out the gallery here.