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!

Cover!

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While I was cleaning out my inbox a while ago, something jumped out at me while I was zipping through the messages. Is that?? My shot? Sure looked familiar. Colorado Runner Magazine had used one of my images from the USATF Cross Country National Championships in Boulder this February as the cover shot for the most recent issue. Cool! That was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

That event was my first official work as Colorado Photo Company. I was keen to get out and break in a new camera body and lens combo, and looked to the championships as a great way to do that. There were multiple races due to the different age groups, and with the course being packed into a tight area I knew there would be plenty of shooting opportunities.

I secured a media credential with the backing of Colorado Runner Magazine and was set for a great day.

I worked my butt off running all over the course to catch the action multiple times per lap. I ended up covering almost 7 miles on the day and took over 2,200 images with the new rig. Definitely a worthwhile break-in.

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The funny thing is I only took about a dozen shots with my old beater camera body. Guess which one produced the cover? It just goes to show that nice gear helps, but doesn’t guarantee anything.

I think my friend Jason put it best when he said if I didn’t have the new camera, I never would have gotten the shot with the old one. He’s right because I would have had my long lens on the body then, instead of leaving the wide angle attached which allowed me to grab this shot.

Can’t wait to do it again!

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