Photography Travels: 2014 Sea Otter Classic – Day Two

Going to bed at midnight and being wide awake at 4:30 left a mark. The melatonin and ear plugs weren’t able to overcome my internal clock that is set to get up at 5:30 Mountain Time. I tried to rest until the 6:00 alarm went off, but I was too amped. I wanted to get going!

I stayed up late the night before feeding SD cards into my laptop, importing images, delivering jpegs to clients, cleaning lenses, and charging batteries. There is a lot of maintenance to do when you are going out for back-to-back-to-back very full days.

Today started out cold and foggy, and stayed that way well into the afternoon. It turned out to be perfect racing conditions, and the fog added a neat element to the photos.

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I would be covering Jason’s race on the circuit course in the morning, then focusing on the road races in the afternoon. The circuit course was entirely on the racetrack, and almost made me wish I was racing insted of taking photos. It looked like fun! In a slightly scary and painful kind of way…

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The track had some good elevation gain, followed by a bomber descent down the world-famous corkscrew feature. Hold on tight!

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After the circuit race I hopped in the car and traveled out to the far end of the road course to catch the women’s P/1/2 race and some of the Team Novo Nordisk riders. The race maps were lacking in detail, and I made a few errors trying to get to the right spot. Thankfully I made it in time, and I loved being out away from the crowds for a while.

For some reason I pictured the road course in my head as a barren wasteland. It was lush and green, with lots of tree cover and small winding roads. It was nice!

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Geoff and Karl were slated to ride the road race for Team Razik in the late afternoon, and they held up their end of the bargain yet again by providing several great photo-ops.

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It was another great day. I was working hard and loving it.

Photography Travels: 2014 Sea Otter Classic – Day One

Great thing #118 about being a photographer – Having a legitimate reason to wear a ball cap backwards at 44 years of age!

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Photo credit:  Philip Boyack

I slept great despite the five guys, three bikes, and piles of gear in our hotel room. A melatonin pill and some earplugs ensured I didn’t even twitch until the 6 AM alarm sounded. I don’t use either of those techniques very often, but given the circumstances it seemed like a good call.

We hit the continental breakfast offered by the hotel before loading up for the day and making the drive back up to Laguna Seca.

Navigating around the venue proved to be a frustrating endeavor at first, with miles of chain link fence everywhere. Once you figured out the passages, it was no problem. I scurried over to the site of the Pro/1/2 criterium to get some warm-up shots of that race and scout locations for the races I would be shooting later in the day.

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While I was shooting the pro crit, I had the good fortune of being approached by the Director of Elite Racing and Outreach for Team Novo Nordisk. They are a group of diabetic athletes showing the world what can be done in spite of having the disease.

They had traveled with 11 riders from the Atlanta area and were looking for someone to provide them with photos for their social media campaign. Would I be able to do that?? Absolutely.

We compared schedules and worked out five different events I would be able to shoot for them without impacting my other responsibilities. They were great to work with and I really enjoyed the opportunity!

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Meanwhile, Philip and the crew were back at the booth managing the crowds of curious bike riders checking out the new frames. They got some good press, here he is giving an interview to Road Bike Action magazine.

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The Razik coverage starts at 1:30:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mjIodowQz8

Now it was time for the Razik riders to put the bikes to the test with the first race of the weekend. Jason, Geoff, and Karl were a photographer’s dream to shoot – between the nice red kit and their ability to jump to the head of the race at just the right time, I had no problems keeping them in my viewfinder.

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We hung out and swapped war stories from the day, then retired to the parking lot for a feast of burgers and dogs grilled up by Doug and served out of the equipment trailer. It was an awesome day!

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Photography Travels: 2014 Sea Otter Classic – Day Zero

Eyes pop open at 4:20, well before the alarm was set to go off. Anticipation rules the morning, as I am about to head off on a new adventure.

I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve raced a lot, and I’ve done a lot of photography – but I haven’t ever traveled to photograph a race before. This would be new territory for me. If my 49 pound suitcase and bursting-at-the-seams backpack were any indication, I have a long way to go in the ‘travel light’ department. Two laptops, power supplies, trail running shoes, a sleeping bag (?!?!), two DSLR camera bodies, assorted lenses, batteries, and about 8,000 cables and chargers take their toll on the airline weight allowance.

I feel like I’m going on safari for a month, not a five day trip to California. I tell myself I need more practice figuring out what to pack for this kind of thing, but it seems like I already left a huge pile of gear behind that didn’t make the cut. How can I take even less?

I’m in the air right now, smiling at my good fortune of a south-facing window, an empty middle seat next to me, and the incredible view of the Rocky Mountains. It was cool to see so many of the peaks I have climbed, lakes I had camped near, and feel the memories of my footprints on the ground below.

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I picked up a rental car after landing in San Francisco and swung by the San Jose airport to pick up Jason who would be racing on the bikes for the next three days.  After the mandatory stop at In-N-Out for some burgers, we made our way another hour south to the Laguna Seca Raceway which would serve as the venue for the 2014 Sea Otter Classic.

We met up with our crew and all pitched in to get the booth set up in record time, then it was off to get some pizza.

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I’m making the trip to support my brother in the launch of his new company, Razik Bicycles. They organized a team of guys to race in the Sea Otter Classic near Monterrey, and I will be trying to get some good images of their exploits on their wicked cool racing machines.

As much as I hate being nervous, I love doing stuff that tests me and pushes me to get out of my usual way of doing things. I am geared up to deliver my best and to do it with a good attitude and help the team any way I can. Go time!

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