Results tagged “California” from spare cycles

Video: Strobing the field

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Thien took this video of me shooting at the San Rafael Twilight Crit tonight. It's pretty cool to see the stroboscopic effect of my flash freezing the riders as they zoom past. I'd love to show you the photos that came as a result, but they're garbage, unlike Thien's cool video, shot with nothing more than an iPhone 3GS.

The basics of how I shoot a corner like this is I target one or two riders in the lead pack, usually riders I know. I then shotgun the rest, just to see if I get any freebies. I usually don't, but you sometimes you get an idea for a future shot when you take out the garbage.

Nevada City Classic 2009: Pro Women

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Shelley Olds Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Shelley Olds Solo - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Click here for more Nevada City Classic Photos

I followed most of the Women's race from the moto. The fireworks started on the first lap with a group of five getting a gap immediately. Proman had all the cards as they had three of the riders in this group -- Shelley Olds, Helene Drumm, and Rachel Neylan. TIBCO's champ Brooke Miller and mountain biker extraordinaire Katerina Nash seemed to be working together as best they could, but they were put under immediate pressure as Rachel Neylan launched an attack. Miller and Nash put in a lot of effort to bridge it back, but that only setup Shelley Olds' counter-attack.

Olds had the advantage on the hilly course and was soon lapping riders left and right. Miller and Nash strained to chase her back, but the tight turns were not friendly to chasers. It took a full lap at motorcycle speeds to bridge the gap between Miller/Nash and Olds, so there was little doubt that the move was decisive.

Brooke Miller and Katerina Nash - (c) Ken Conley Nevada City - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Click here for more Nevada City Classic Photos

Transitive Panda

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A reason to bike out to Half Moon Bay

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I've always wanted places like this for the cycling crowd:

I wanted to let you all know of The Bike Hut which will be of value to Bay Area cyclists. My wife, Christine, and I recently bought a farm on Tunitas Creek Road in Half Moon Bay which we're transforming into a non-profit dedicated to the food justice movement. We'll grow organic vegetables and offer nutrition and cooking classes for local low-income families, provide environmental education programs for all ages and more.

But we also have a one-car-garage-sized building right on Tunitas Creek Road which is now named The Bike Hut. Since this road is so popular for bicyclists, we wanted to provide you a rest stop and homemade energy snacks and drinks. At the moment, there's just a small picnic area for your use and we'll always have free water there for you. It will probably take us a few months, but we're working on recipes for organic/vegan energy snacks and drinks which we'll sell. For now, feel free to stop, picnic, get some water, etc, and keep an eye out for more developments.

We're one mile inland from Hwy 1. You can't miss The Bike Hut - it's bright red - and a great place to take a pause before starting the ascent up Tunitas Creek Road to Skyline Blvd.

We'd appreciate your passing the word to others in the bicycle community. If you have any ideas on how we can get the word out, please let us know. Also, if any of you are planning any rides or events where we could be a pit stop, please contact us.

Thanks, Bill and Christine

Potrero Nuevo Farm, 1045 Tunitas Creek Road, Half Moon Bay, 94019

SF Twilight: Men's Race

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The men's race was too chaotic for me to even begin to narrate, so here's a jumble of photos that you can attempt to sort out. There was a whole lotta Team Successful Living and Time Pro duking it out, breaks going away and quickly reeled in, and then Daniel Ramsey off the front in a two-man break with two laps to go. All of us who saw Ramsey trounce the field at Sea Otter had a feeling it was game over at this point.

Adam Switters took a gentle ride into the hay bales right in front of me -- turn 2 was a bit messy. He crashed too close for the lens I was using, so all I can offer is this:

Switters takes a dive into the hay bales

... Switters was soon back in the mix:

Switters bridges SF Twilight20080912_4355-1

I've been studying Mark Johnson's reels for some time now, so the over-the-shoulder, 16mm wide-angle shots were me starting to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Mark had some great photos from the Interbike crit, so I've been practicing in anticipation of shooting it this year. Mark used two flashes: one to light the rider (possibly snooted) and the other to light the ground. I stuck with one flash, but set it to 70mm zoom to spotlight the rider in the center and create some interesting flash-shadow artifacts.

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SF Twilight: Women's Race

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Not feelin' like prose tonight, so lets recap in photos.

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Race starts as the sun starts to set.

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Kat Carroll goes with a break and jumps free.

Kat Carroll Breaks Free

Kat Carroll collects a lot of laps while Christine Thorburn, Shelley Olds, Laura Van Gilder, and Chrissy Ruiter chase.

Kat Carroll SF Twilight20080912_4278-1 Shelley Olds SF Twilight20080912_4263-1

SF Twilight20080912_4293-1 Vanderkitten SF Twilight20080912_4286-1

Kat Carroll is reeled in and soon the whole field comes back together.

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Somehow Shelley Olds still finds the legs to follow the attacks on the uphill before the finish and take the sprint.

Shelley Olds Wins SF Twilight

And my flash fails to recycle fast enough, so you'll have to make do with these better lit shots.

Shelley Olds SF Twilight20080912_4323-1 Shelley Olds SF Twilight20080912_4263 Shelley Olds SF Twilight20080912_4508

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix photos

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Brooke Miller - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Rahsaan Bahati Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Rahsaan Bahati - (c) Ken Conley Amber Rais - (c) Ken Conley

Apologies for the brief post. We flew into LAX at 9am this morning, had fun at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, took some so-so photos, and flew back at 6pm. Photo upload is now in progress and on autopilot. I'm off to bed.

Congrats Lauren!

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Lauren - (c) Ken Conley
Lauren, not at Santa Cruz

Cat 3 ripping up the pro crit:

Winning a pro race, in a solo break no less. Dang.

Ronde van Brisbeen Circuit Race 2008

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Freddie Rodriguez - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Men's Cat 3 - (c) Ken Conley Men's Cat 3 - (c) Ken Conley

BMC Break - (c) Ken Conley BMC Break - (c) Ken Conley

yes, I blew the finish shot and tried to hide it with bad creative photoshopping...

Ronde van Brisbeen 2008 Circuit Race Photos

Stage 2 of Ronde van Brisbeen is a 1.7-mile circuit race in the Brisbane Highlands. This year's event was brutal with its smack-you-in-the-face headwind on the climb to the finish. Gusts were strong enough to knock over the hay bales used in the turns.

BMC led an attack on nearly every lap up this climb with Cal Giant covering, which quickly shelled most of the pack. Surprise entry Freddie Rodriguez looked fairly comfortable in the lead group, having just finished off a burrito 15 minutes before race time. BMC sprung a two-man break with Nathan Miller and Brent Bookwalter that quickly gained a minute lead. A Cal Giant rider tried to bridge but the windy conditions were too much. Fast Freddie tried to pull it back, but he eventually found himself accompanied by only two riders: one of them from BMC.

I used this race to practice for the Tour de Georgia. You can probably tell from the gallery what shots I was practicing. I don't like going for the special effects shots too much, but they're fun in small doses.

Results

Ronde van Brisbeen 2008 Circuit Race Photos

Copperopolis 2008

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Copperopolis - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Women's Finish - (c) Ken Conley Copperopolis - (c) Ken Conley

Copperopolis 2008 Photos

Scene: sitting on a hill overlooking the finish, a bike is laying still in the grass. "Popssssssssssshhhhhhhhhh..." One of its tires gives up -- it bore its rider to the finish, but Copperopolis took its toll.

I went out to Copperopolis this year, billed as the Paris-Roubaix of California. Intead of pave, there are roads that were never properly paved, cattle grates, and water bottles dislodged by the bumpy descent. The course itself features beautiful climbs up canyons, a lake, farm lands, vineyards, and rolling green hills. As a photographer, I couldn't be more thrilled that I wasn't riding, especially after I saw so many riders carrying their broken bikes.

Several winners were disqualified for crossing the yellow line at the finish, making it the most decisive part of the course. The yellow line started in the final 100m to the finish and was a bit like putting a driving test at the end of a brutally difficult day.

Pro 1 - (c) Ken Conley

Taylor Tolleson - (c) Ken ConleyThe Pro Men's race was a BMC vs. Cal Giant slugfest. BMC brought Taylor Tolleson, Mike Sayers, Jackson Stewart, Jonathan Garcia, and Scott Nydam among others. Cal Giant brought their armada of 14 riders. Tolleson and Sayers were among the four BMC riders and four Cal Giant riders in the lead break of eleven that started the final lap. I left before the actual finish, but I hear that Tolleson won.

Copperopolis 2008 Photos

Gough and Peterson Memorial Ride

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Memorial Site - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

On a day that was both beautiful and sad, thousands of riders showed up to pay their respects to Matt Peterson and Kristy Gough. Riders moved in a slow procession down Foothill to Stevens Canyon, with the Sheriff's department pitching in road closures and a rolling barricade.

Memorial Ride Photos

Beat the Clock photos

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Christine Thorburn

Today was cycling photography day. I woke up early to go to the Beat the Clock charity time trial and then drove down to Laguna Seca to shoot the 24 Hours of Adrenalin World 24 Hour Championships.

I put myself through the grinder mainly because I wanted to test my new camera equipment before I head out to Missouri. Overall I'm pleased, but I do need some more practice with the new lens. The 70-200 f/2.8 is much heavier than the f/4, so my reflexes are lagging. The autofocus also reacts a little bit different, which will take some getting used to. The image stabilization is having a greater affect than I thought it would -- my images seem to have a higher average sharpness while tracking, even when shooting at fast shutter speeds.

Pictured above is Olympian/former National TT champion Christine Thorburn. I didn't get a good shot at her in the first pass because she was passing someone, so I drove like crazy to get in front of her -- again she was passing someone. She was pretty much always passing someone, but third time was the charm -- even at 50mph it was hard to get far enough ahead.

Beat the Clock Photos (100 photos)

Another bikerbert race report, in which the life of a little girl is spared and bikerbert learns that the bodies of other riders are cushions

Pescadero Road Race 2007

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Pescadero Road Race 2007 (94)

Stage Road

Gallery

Pescadero Road Race is a fun race to shoot as (1) it's not an office park crit (2) there be lots of scenic country and (3) there are multiple laps. My assignment for myself this time around was to break in my new equipment: my 580EXII flash, and 16-35mm II haven't justified themselves yet, and my Photoshop CS3 prize was still waiting to be unwrapped.

Former USPS rider Dylan Casey rode the M35+ race and won the final sprint, except he got relegated for crossing the yellow line into oncoming traffic. Crossing the yellow line in front of the judges table wasn't a problem in the Pro 1/2 Men's race: second place Chris Lieto flatted and MTB Pro Barry Wicks was able to coast across the finish line with arms raised in victory.

Sarah Bamberger of Cheerwine took the victory in the Elite 1/2 Women's race.

Pescadero Road Race 2007 (427) Pescadero Road Race 2007 (487)

Official Race Results

Pescadero Road Race Photo Gallery

For your entertainment: my friend Al/bikerbert describes his most recent crit experience. You might enjoy reading if:

  • You're into the 'elite' world of Cat 5 crit racing
  • You're thinking of ordering oatmeal at Denny's
  • You're too much of a wuss to race crits (like me) and enjoy other people's pain

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Damian Gonzalez has posted his Cat's Hill video on the Delta Velo site. I talked with him at the race about the logistics of shooting from a motorcycle and, frankly, I'm a bit terrified :).

Cat's Hill photos

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I had to cancel my South Bay Invitational MTB plans but I got plenty of photos at Cat's Hill. It's a fun little course that throws rider repeatedly up a steep climb, so there's plenty of dropped chains and riders running uphill on foot. It also turned out to be an ideal place to practice my zoom panning technique.

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Many of us (photographers) got fooled by the Mike Sayers effect. After watching Sayers crank it up Cat's Hill again and again, we all immediately thought the victory was his as he jumped for the sprint. So it is that at least three of us had our cameras trained on him as Safeway rider Dan Martin came up the inside through the shade of the tree in his stealth-black uniform for victory (sorry).

Cat's Hill Photo Gallery

Events this weekend

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My camera has been picking up dust since Sea Otter so I plan on shooting at Cat's Hill as well as the NorCal High School South Bay Invitational -- the latter to practice my MTB shots and poison oak identification.

Levi wins Copperopolis

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Levi made another appearance at Copperopolis (aka Cali's Paris-Roubaix) this year and took the win. Greg Drake of Alto Velo has a race report. My hopes are up that this means Levi will make another appearance at Sea Otter as he's been a good photo subject for me this year.

Apparently, Levi had attacked on the final climb and popped Kevin Klein and Andy Jaques Maynes with Kevin continuing alone and Andy being absorbed by the chasing group containing his teammate, Jesse Moore... Needless to say, Levi took the win. Kevin Klein was nipped by the chasers from behind right at the finish after being out there all day long.

Menlo Park GP

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menloparkGP2007b.gif The Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix was a bigger event this year with more sponsors, etc... I went to go watch Dan race the 45+ and 35+ events as its much more interesting to take photographs when there are particular riders that you are targeting -- it's easy enough to point your camera at a peloton and get a photo of some rider in focus; it's much harder and more important to pick out a particular rider. Of course, Dan made it easy by driving a breakaway for almost the entire race.

Menlo Park GP Photo Gallery

I also used the criterium as a chance to practice shooting sprint finishes as well as 'trick shots'. Pans are easy enough, but I really wanted to start getting the hang of the zoom pan as I'm planning on trying it out on the corkscrew at Sea Otter. I've included my results below.

Zoom pan, aka Dolly Zoom, aka "Hitchcock zoom": I don't know what the right name for this is, but I've been enamored of the technique ever since watching Hitchcock's Spellbound. With a Dolly Zoom, you move the camera backwards as you zoom in to keep your subject the same size while weird things happen with the background DOF. With cycling photography there is no dolly but the rider is coming towards you. All you have to do is zoom out while keeping the oncoming cyclist the same size. If you pull it off, you're subject will look fairly normal but you'll get interesting streaks around. If you go to fast, you'll get weird sorts of distortion, which I guess can be fun once or twice.

I shot these at 1/30th - 1/50th of a second on my 70-200:

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Pans: this is a simple technique, not hard to execute. It's the bread-and-butter of cycling photography techniques. I'm snobby enough that I don't like taking these sorts of shots. I took a couple for fun, but most of my time was spent on the zoom pans. I shoot pans at around 1/160-1/200, which keeps it fairly easy.

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See also: Menlo Park GP 2006

Menlo Park GP Photo Gallery

Ivan Dominguez

CSC was doing an excellent job controlling the peloton on the final lap up to the final kilometer... and then lost it. CSC only had two leadout men left to pull JJ Haedo the final kilometer, which isn't nearly enough. The pack became chaos.

CSC's Stuart O'Grady was forced to jump over to the Liquigas train to keep the leadout for JJ Haedo going. Rabobank had a stunning acceleration to pull Graeme Brown all the way to the front. Liquigas's Luca Paolini couldn't come off of Brown's back wheel and ended up becoming the launching pad for Ivan Dominguez.

Dominguez jumped off Paolini's wheel to the left with Ciolek and Hushovd behind, but both could only follow as Dominguez nicked Brown on the line.

Stuart O'Grady tried to jump to the Gerolsteiner traint to given JJ Haedo a leadout but ended up gettng stuffed. Haedo jumped over to Paolini's wheel but got boxed in behind with Gerolsteiner's Forster to his right.

The peloton let a breakaway sit off the front for most of the race, which gave some of the other teams a chance to get some final press. Slipstream was particularly eager with the breaks, having sent Bill Frishkorn on a flier at the starting gun. They had Danny Pate and Steven Cozza in the main break of the day. Discovery got BMC's help up front and CSC did the final reel in. It was the easiest stage for Discovery this Tour and Levi got the overall win that he coveted.

Photo by Mike Shimahara, BikeZen.comPaolo Bettini, I apologize. I noted your apathetic form in the prologue and stage 1, thinking that you didn't have form yet. But clearly you had a strategy to win because you took today's stage and quite nearly yesterday's as well -- if Mick Rogers hadn't gotten a flat on the descent, your chase group may have had enough power to reel it it.

photos by Mike Shimahara, BikeZen.com

It was a very different stage from last year's and not just with the deluge of rain. While there was a flurry of early attacks, Discovery Channel seemed to do a good job of letting a break get away and then keeping it on a three-minute leash. As the finish line approached, the sprint teams did their part to reel it back in and setup the finish.

Great Mark Shimahara shot of Basso leading Levi down along the ocean

Tour of California Stage 2: JJ

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Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

right: JJ Haedo takes the stage over Luca Paolini and Thor Hushovd. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

JJ Haedo takes the sprint victory. It was a familiar result from last year's ToC, but Haedo did it under CSC colors this time around. Yesterday was a disappointing day for Haedo, who finished back in eighth place behind his own teammate Stuart O'Grady. This time around Haedo put several bike lengths over both Luca Paolini and Thor Hushovd -- no photo finish necessary. Kudos to Bobby Julich, Stuart O'Grady, Jens Voigt, and the rest of the team for their leadout efforts. They're going to have to switching gears tomorrow: none of the sprinters (including Haedo) had the legs to make it over Sierra Road with the lead pack. With Zabriskie out, it's time for CSC to start positioning Julich for the overall.

It was good to see that yesterday's crash didn't seem to effect the riders too much. Chris Horner went down hard yesterday but was able to lead Freddie Rodriguez up to the front. Christophe Laurent also spent most of the day flying off the front (with Omer Kem and David McCann) before being passed by Danny Pate on a futile late breakaway attempt.

Discovery did a good job of protecting the lead today. It's still mind-boggling to see images of Basso pulling at the front. Discovery was also there in the sprint with George Hincapie giving Allan Davis a good leadout for fourth. Luckily for Levi, Navigator's Hilton Clark was only able to manage a ninth place showing and won't be taking the overall leader's jersey away.

Note to Versus: please recognize that many of your viewers use TiVo/DVRs. In addition to marking shows as re-runs, this time around they started 15 minutes late, cutting off the final sprint.

Tuesday updates

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  • Podium Cafe and tdfblog have their takes on Stage 1's Levi Rule. A lot of attention has been paid on Ben Jacques-Maynes, a different local California rider who could have been in the overall lead today instead. But we should also note that Bobby Julich and Michael Rogers would have also been really big winners. I like Ben -- I shot him at the ToC, Sea Otter, and Burlingame Crit last year (photos) -- but Priority Health isn't exactly having a stellar Tour of California this year. Six of their riders got dropped off the peloton prior to Santa Rosa in stage 1 and three of their riders have already been involved in crashes in today's stage 2 (including running into a spectator). With Zabriskie out of the picture, Julich is the highest placed rider from last year, and Michael Roger's time trial ability is a big strength for the ToC course.
  • Brown won yesterday's stage cleanly, but Tom Steels has filed a letter of protest for his sprinting behavior at the Tour of Qatar that ended with Steels getting a broken collarbone and head stitches.
  • Christophe Laurent has spent lead the long breakaway today, which shows the amazing resilience of these riders. Laurent is the same rider who was one of the last to get going after yesterday's pileup. I think he was waiting for a bike, but I detected a touch of pain as well:

Christophe Laurent

Skipping stage 2

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I'll be watching stage 2 with the rest of you on Versus as I have a proper job to attend to tomorrow. TiVo screwed up and didn't record stage 1, which I was hoping to watch because there was simply too much chaos to take in all at once. I'm putting my TiVo on notice now that it better behave (it's actually Versus fault for marking all the showings as reruns).

Personal photographic coverage will resume on Sierra Road and, if my bike descent skills permit, the finish in San Jose. The latter is much less likely as the riders are simply too fast to keep up with, even in a car.

Team Discovery roster for Tour of California

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I'm countin' down the days to the Tour of California. VeloNews just posted info from Disco's training camp, including their roster for the Tour of California:

  • Leipheimer
  • Basso
  • Hincapie
  • Danielson
  • Cruz
  • Vandborg
  • Jason McCartney
  • Tomas Vaitkus

Should be awesome.

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This was my first time out shooting with my new Canon 30D. It was also my first time shooting a race under tree-shaded conditions. Although many of the photos didn't expose properly, these are some of my favorite photos that I've ever taken at a cycling race. The lighting created such interesting contrasts in the photos, the trees are a much better backdrop than business parks, and there is so much more detail with the ambient lighting. It's much more... dramatic.

These photos got buried under a pile: the next day was the Burlingame Criterium, then next week Al and I did a time trial, and then I had to shoot two weddings in the following weeks. Rather than bury them any longer, I've decided to go ahead to post them without processing.

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Pescadero Road Race

Six-month-old Burlingame Crit photos

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It only took me six months, but I've finally processed a set of Burlingame Criterium photos (30 photos). This was the first race that I shot with a Canon 30D, so it took some getting used to. The improved focusing of the 30D also allowed me to attempt some new shots, including some cornering close-ups.

I'm also testing out some new processing styles for my photos. I've gone high contrast + warming filter on most of these. I also tried a couple of soft-focus filters for grins, which are meant to hide the fact that many of the highlights are blown out I'll see what style I prefer come Tour of California time.

06-25 Burlingame Criterium-07

Crashes:

Burlingame Criterium-1 06-25 Burlingame Criterium-18 06-25 Burlingame Criterium-19

Soft-focus tests (post-production):

06-25 Burlingame Criterium-06 Burlingame Crit - Soft Focus-1

Cornering close-ups:

06-25 Burlingame Criterium-15 06-25 Burlingame Criterium-25 06-25 Burlingame Criterium-24

More Burlingame Criterium photos

Levi @ Lombardi Sports

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NOTE: lots of video in the extended entry

update: forgot to thank erik the first time around for the heads up about the event. Thanks!

d and I went up to SF to watch Levi speak at Lombardi Sports. It was primarily an event held for Colorado Altitude Training's Shaun Wallace to promote his products, with Levi chiming in on how he uses altitude tents in his training and how they've improved his metabolism and recovery.

But I was there primarily to hear from Levi, so I was happy when Q&A came around and talk of altitude training died down a bit. There were of course plenty of questions and rephrased questions as to Basso vs. his role on the team. Levi admitted he was surprised that Discovery signed Basso, but he hasn't given up his hopes for the Tour de France. Noting that many teams run with two leaders, Levi seems to be taking a two-phased wait-and-see approach: wait and see if Basso/Discovery survive the current uproar, and wait and see who is the strongest come Tour time.

I couldn't resist my own take on the question: "much has been said about the tension with Basso, but I'm more concerned about the Tour of California. If I recall correctly, George hunted you down on Sierra Road. Is there going to be a little West Coast vs. East Coast this Tour of California? Are you going to uphold California's honor?" Levi answered my joking question with an interesting fact about the route: he tried to get the organizers to have the route go up Sierra Road twice and finish at the top, instead of the long, open boulevard run into the finish. As for the rivalry, "George owes me one."

Levi was surprised by one questioner who had inside information on Levi's wind tunnel session. Apparently, Levi's new time trial position has the lowest drag they have ever seen in that particular wind tunnel. After getting over the surprise at this 'top secret' information getting out, Levi noted that he can only use the new position on straights and he hasn't quite figured out if he can really ride it outside the wind tunnel.

(continue reading for video)

amgen.tour.2007.route.gifThe route for the 2007 Amgen Tour of California has been released. It shares similar elements from the 2006 event, such as the Coit Tower prologue, stage finish in Santa Rosa, and a stage 3 climb up Sierra Road with finish in front of San Jose City Hall. Other details are quite notably different. The time trial has been shifted from stage 3 to stage 5, most likely due to the decisiveness of the stage last year. As a result, the TT will occur in Solvang, so us Bay Area folk will have a bit more of a trip than last year's San Jose doubleheader. There are still no mountaintop finishes, which means that the TT will probably maintain its decisive role.

Summary of changes: * Prologue and Stage 1: appear to be identical * Stage 2: Added new stage between Santa Rosa and Sacramento. Last year stage 2 started in Concord and featured the Sierra Road climb * Stage 3: Sierra Road climb shifted to this stage, with stage start in Stockton instead of Concord. Time trial moved to stage 5. * Stage 4: Appears to be identical to previous Seaside/San Luis Obispo route. * Stage 5: New time trial in Solvang. Still mostly flat. * Stage 6: Instead of 4 KOM climbs from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks, it is now 4 KOM climbs to Santa Clarita. * Stage 7: Conclusion now in Long Beach instead of in Redondo Beach

Amgen Route Announcement and Details

Local cyclist killed by drunk driver

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Al told me the sad news that Alto Velo elite team rider John Peckham was killed by a drunk driver on Old Page Mill Road. It's sad to recognize a rider in a photo, know how skilled they were, know that the road is one of the safer in the area because of its lack of cars, and know that skill and low-traffic road weren't enough to prevent a random, reckless, and tragic incident.

Mercury News article
ABC article

I'm really looking forward to the Tour of California next year. The crowds were big this year, but think of the Floyd Landis effect. There are In-n-Out Burger chains in/near all the new host cities (Sacramento, Stockton, and Long Beach have In-n-Outs, there's one nearby Santa Clarita in Newhall, and Salinas is 20 min from Seaside), so Landis will be unable to resist entering.

The route itself is still under wraps, but here the basics are below. It was previously announced that San Jose would not get two stages this year; now we know that the time trial has migrated south to Solvang.

  • Prologue: Sunday, Feb. 18 - San Francisco
  • Stage 1: Monday, Feb. 19 - Sausalito to Santa Rosa
  • Stage 2: Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Santa Rosa to Sacramento
  • Stage 3: Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Stockton to San Jose
  • Stage 4: Thursday, Feb. 22 - Seaside to San Luis Obispo
  • Stage 5: Friday, Feb. 23 - Solvang time trial
  • Stage 6: Saturday, Feb. 24 - Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita
  • Stage 7: Sunday, Feb. 25 - Long Beach circuit race

The definites for me are the prologue and stage 3. The most curious for me is the stage 5 Solvang time trial -- they probably moved that later as the time trial was too decisive too early in the 2006 event. Stage 6 also looks like it could be really exciting -- my guess is that it will swing up through Ojai and top a mountain or two. I'm thinking of driving down Thursday night and taking in stages 5-7 in addition to the prologue and stage 3. (To all you Tour of Georgians -- next year might also be the year I make it out to Brasstown Bald).

Amgen Tour of California Press Release: AEG Announces Host Cities for 2007

Crazy fun bikes at Maker Faire

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Maker Faire-10

There were a lot of great bikes at Maker Faire, including a lawnmower bike, LED bikes (one, two), and wooden bikes. My favorite, though, was the Harry Potter boom bike you see above. I wasn't good enough to hold my own on the bike -- the maker made it look so easy.

Menlo Park Grand Prix 2006

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Menlo Park Grand Prix-19

Al, Jill, and I went to the Menlo Park Grand Prix to get our pre-Tour-de-Georgia fix. It was fun watching a bunch of local cyclists -- some of whom I had recognized from the Alto Velo club meeting I attended -- racing for club and personal glory. I was tempted to hop on my bike and attempt to finish a Cat 5 race, except I didn't bring my bike because I'm terribly afraid of crashing.

I was surprised by the number of crashes for such a flat circuit (1km around an office park). There was at least one crash in all three of the races I watched and if you look closely in the photo above, you'll see a rider going down on the straightaway. One Cat 3 rider I talked to said she had her very first crash, which was caused by someone running into her in a turn. The worst I saw was at the end of the Men's Elite 2 race when an Alto Velo rider went down hard crossing the finish line. Another rider was sent flipping over him and managed to leave his cleat attached to his pedal. Both riders were fine, though the Alto Velo rider had some nice road rash.

We chatted with one of Al's former clients that raced in the Men's 5 35+. This was his ninth event and his wife told him that he could shave his legs when he made some money off of his racing. After all the crashes I saw, that seems like some really good motivation to start winning (or to quit).

Menlo Park Grand Prix Photos

Sea Otter Road Race Video Recap

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cyclelicio.us pointed me to steephill.tv's latest multimedia contribution: video recap of the pro men's road race at Sea Otter. There are even interviews with Matty Rice and Levi Leipheimer. Quite a nice bit of citizen media.

People dig the Specialized Angel

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Specialized Angel-1I ended up near the Specialized Angel for two of the Tour of California stages. In all that time, I only took one photo of her when I saw an amusing moment at the top of Sierra Road. That photo: 1634 views. None of the other hundred or so photos I took at the Tour of California got half as many views. The next nearest photo in popularity? This one of Bobby J, Floyd, and DZ, which got 300 views by virtue of being posted on bobbyjulich.com. I told the Specialized Angel as much when I ended up near her again at the Sea Otter Classic: she's more popular than Bobby J, Floyd, and DZ combined.

She's rocketed to popularity in a very short period of time. I first saw her standing along the Coit Tower climb at the Tour of California Prologue. By the end of that short stage she had already been elevated to prime positioning at the finish line. By the end of the Tour of California she was standard montage material in the television coverage. Her popularity definitely carried over well into the Sea Otter Classic. Everyone passing by her on the course paid her homage. Riders would nod, fans would take photos with her "for the bikeshop back home," drivers in the motorcade would slow down and blow kisses.

I remember one rider that we were cheering up the climb because he had fallen way off the back. His gaze seemed locked towards the top of the climb, determined to make it, except that as he got closer, his head rotated, and rotated, and rotated, until he was looking backwards over his shoulder at the Angel on top of her van. He didn't make it back into the pack.

I took a lot more photos of her this time because who can turn down 1600 instant hits? It's ten times harder to get a crisp shot of Levi, but lazily point your camera at the Specialized Angel and suddenly everyone's viewing your photo album. Who knew a female model could be so popular? (Potential suitors: she's married)

Stairway to Heaven-1 Specialized Angel-3

Specialized Angel-Sea Otter Classic

Update: A new photo from the 2007 Tour of California. More photos in the Prologue and Stage 3 galleries.

Specialized Angel
Photo by Ken Conley

Tour of California: Stage 7

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Olaf Pollack again! Seven stages with three riders (Pollack, Haedo, Hincapie) getting two stage wins a piece. CSC and Lotto tried to get their rides up through the sprint but were outsprinted by Pollack yet again. Pollack's win came with an additional prize: the green sprinter's jersey, which he took away from Hincapie.

Navigators, Prodir, Colativa, and Kodak/Sierra Nevada put riders into an early break that got way ahead due to a crash in the field that was one of the few downpoints of the Tour -- Tom Peterson (Best Young Rider) and Sebastian Lang (yesterday's Most Aggressive Rider) were among those that got scrapped up and Lang had to abandon. The breakaway built up a lead of 7:50 before the peloton started to nail it back.

By all accounts, this looks like it was a very successful inaugural year. The riders were gushing in their post-stage 6 interviews, the California towns were loving the extra visitors, and the attendance may break a million, which makes for both happy organizer and happy fans. And what's not to like? It's freezing cold in Belgium, where many of the pro team teammates are off racing Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Omloop Het Volk, and, as Floyd Landis put it, where else can you race everyday and eat an In-n-Out burger afterwards?

Stage profile (from official Amgen Tour of California site):

stage 7 profile

Tour of California: Stage 6

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Olaf Pollack got T-Mobile on the stage winners podium as they outgunned the other sprinter teams for the finish. T-Mobile had been looking strong in the sprint setup but found themselves twice beat by Haedo. Olaf Pollack was last seen gritting his teeth as he got trounced by Haedo in stage 1, so this is sweet revenge for him. This is also T-Mobile's first victory for the season.

It was almost a Gerolsteiner day from start to finish as a Rene Haselbacher of Gerolsteiner attempted a last-minute breakaway at 500m to go that was caught just before the finish line. Gerolsteiner was out to protect Levi's lead in the King of the Mountain competition and they managed to win nearly every mid-stage competition except for the first KOM climb:

  • Second KOM climb: Sven Krauss
  • Intermediate sprint: Sven Krauss (Kopp second)
  • Third KOM climb: Fabian Wegmann (Leipheimer second)
  • Fourth KOM climb: Sebastian Lang (Wegmann second)

Stage links:

Stage profile (from official Amgen Tour of California site):

stage 6 profile

Tour of California: Stage 4

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Haedo again! Wow, and to think that after his first victory Bob Roll was still having trouble pronouncing Haedo and now the rider has two of the five stage victories so far. I know that this is early in the season for the pro teams, but second-place Freddie Rodriguez and the other big pro sprinters have got to be feeling a little stung, especially as Haedo rode Fast Freddie's wheel to victory out of the final bend.

The live text feeds for this race were crazy to follow The hilly Pacific Coast Highway provided endless opportunities for riders to attack and there seemed to be an endless barrage of attacks. The peloton wasn't letting most of the attacks last very long, but a ten-man breakaway managed to sneak away that was whittled down to a two man break of Discovery's Gusev and Navigators' Chadwick. It was Toyota and CSC that reeled in Gusev and Chadwick with about 6km to go so that their sprinters would have a chance -- Toyota's effort was the most rewarded. A partial list of riders who attempted a breakaway includes: Horner, O'Grady, Barry, Danielson, Voigt, Raisin, Creed, Bak, Zampieri, Savoldelli, Pinotti, McCormack, Ekimov, Kreipel, Gusev, Chadwick, Lewis, Johnson, Frattini, and Marino. Don't even ask me to count how many breakaways there were.

The race organizers definitely didn't expect the queen stage of this Tour to be so fast. The official site lists the finish ETA at 3:22-4:19 PM. The actual finish time was about 3:10, which is a screaming pace (25mph) for such a long and undulating stage. Apparently the Broom Wagon collecting riders abandoning got full enough that it had to dump riders off at a feed point.

In the stages mini-KOM battle, Leipheimer outbattled Kohl for the first KOM point, which may mean that Levi is interested in walking away with a KOM jersey before all is said and done. Levi gained one point on Kohl and is now trailing 20-15.

CSC has three stages left to pull something off. CSC rider Lars Bak was voted Most Aggressive for his presence in five breakaway attempts, but Chris Horner's presence ruined the break with the best chance. CSC also did a lot of work up front near the end protecting Julich/Zabriskie and trying to setup Stuart O'Grady for the sprint, but was unable to place.

Stage links: * VeloNews Stage 4 Summary * Stage 4 Results * Daily Peloton Stage 4 Rider Comments * Levi Leipheimer Stage 4 journal * Graham Watson Stage 4 photos * Grassy Knoll Stage 4 media

Stage profile (from offical Amgen Tour of California Site):

stage 4 profile

Tour of California: Stage 1

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The collective wisdom today was that today would be a finish for sprinter's and that Freddie Rodriguez would make a go of it. The pre-race analysis was correct, but I don't think anyone put Juan Jose Haedo of Toyota on their short list of potential winners. The sprint setup was led by Fast Freddie's Lotto Davitamon team, which couldn't keep the pace fast enough. T-Mobile took over going into the final bends and seemed to have the advantage, but, as the sprinters emerged from the small dip before the finish, it was Haedo who was far in front of the rest of the pack and took the win easily (online video ). T-Mobile's Davis took a distant second and CSC's Stuart O'Grady third. Toyota is a brand new team and this is a very big first victory.

Kodak's Jackson Stewart made a go of it today. Stewart's name was already getting ingrained in my head as he was the first rider up the hill during the prologue and also one of the two Kodak/Sierra Nevada riders that was at the introduction of the San Jose stage routes. Stewart and Jean Marc Marino of Credit Agricole broke away from the pack today and built up a lead of over three minutes. Discovery's Gusev and McCartney attacked the peloton on the final climb before Santa Rosa, which pretty much spelled the end of Stewart's/Marino's breakaway as their lead was slashed. Stewart and Marino were caught as the peloton reached Santa Rosa.

If it's any sign of the popularity of the Tour of California, I'll note that both CyclingNews and Amgen's official Tour site had trouble keeping their live update feeds running. Amgen's site was completely knocked out and CyclingNews was up and down. The crowds were reportedly huge in Levi Leipheimer's hometown of Santa Rosa -- possibly in the 30,000-50,000 range -- and Leipheimer's home crowd got to see him don the leader's jersey for another day as he was able to finish with the pack and maintain his overall lead.

No Flickr photos from me for this stage. I had to pass on this stage as four hours of driving for a probable sprint finish was a bit too much and I'm already taking time off work to watch Stage 2 and 3 in person.

Tour of California Full Route Announced

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Tour of CaliforniaThe full route and maps are available on the Tour of California site. They include departure times, estimated arrival times, elevation profiles, and both Google Maps and pdf versions of the road route. Stage 5 goes through Solvang, where both Discovery and CSC are training. It should be a good test of who knows the Cat 1 San Marco Pass better. If work dies down a bit I may just have to road trip down, but if not I'll have to be content with the Cat 1 climb up Sierra Road in San Jose for Stage 2.

Barclays SF Grand Prix 2005

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Al, Jill, d and I went to the Barclays San Francisco Grand Prix on Sunday. There was no Armstrong this year due to retirement, but there were plenty of big names to go and watch: Basso, Hincapie, Leipheimer, Horner, and Zabriskie. Zabriskie only did a couple of laps due to prior injury to his right hand and Basso dropped out as well, but the rest raced strong.

The race was dominated by Team Discovery, which sent Michael Creed on an early breakaway as a carrot for the other riders to chase. Creed stayed away for nearly 50 miles before being caught by a breakaway that included his teammates Jason McCartney and Ryder Hesjedal, along with HealthNet's John Lieswyn. Hesjedal and Creed couldn't hold on and it was McCartney and Lieswyn that looked in control of the race. They were caught on the final lap by Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann, who had tag-teammed with his teammate Andrea Molette to catch the lead pair. Wegmann had better sprinting legs and became the first non-North American to win the race.

Finishing Sprint

If you want more of a summary, I suggest reading the VeloNews article.

For all intents and purposes I had an all-access pass to this year's race. The security guards seemed not to notice me sneaking past them, though I had help from Al and Jill who had tickets into the VIP section. They fed me food from the VIP tents and we shook hands with OLN commentator Bob Roll. d and I both managed to sneak into the grandstands to watch the finishing sprint (Al scouted out the position of the guards) and then we jumped into the photographers-only area in front of the podium for the prize presentation. We then went over to the CSC tent and managed to get autographs from Dave Zabriskie, Ivan Basso, and Bjarne Riis. Al had found a wristband on the ground and decided that sending in Jill was the best strategy, which turned out beautfully. Their CSC hat has got a bunch of great signatures on it and my backpack has a left-handed Dave Zabriskie signature (his right hand is injured), which is charming in its own way.

autograph autograph hat

(note: I didn't have any photos of Basso to get autographed so I printed this one taken by Flickr user wuertele)

Partial photo listing (full photoset). d should also have photos of the event, which will hopefully be posted as well:

Morgan Hill Grand Prix 2005

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The Morgan Hill Grand Prix was two great races -- both the Men's and Women's pros turned in great efforts. In the women's group, Christine Thornburg barely held onto a breakaway to take the race -- she was nearly caught on the final climb, and on the final straightaway the entire pack was breathing down her neck.

In the men's group, it was an example of one rider completely outclassing the rest -- Dave Zabriskie, the winner, races for CSC, an international team, whereas many of the other riders were locals racing for local teams. Despite the complete domination, it was entertaining to watch as he executed his tactics without fail. Zabriskie was racing without support from his team, so he first brokeaway from the pack to get some of the better riders to chase him and form a virtual breakaway team for him. He then attacked that breakaway group to break off some of the Webcor riders (there were 3 in the breakaway), and with one final attack he was able to solo multiple laps to victory.

As usual, I took quite a few photos of the races, though it was a lot easier than usual to filter the photos, as a large percentage of them were out of focus or contained shots of bare road. I thought my fancy new telephoto lens would solve all my difficulties shooting photos at bike races -- I would have beautiful, crisp, close-up shots of bike racers battling for victory. It turns out that you actually need talent to shoot photos of people moving 40 miles/hour, but I'm happy to get the practice. I have a far greater appreciation for Graham Watson now. I uploaded a small set of the photos that you can checkout:

Morgan Hill Grand Prix Photoset

Morgan Hill Grand Prix-03 Morgan Hill Grand Prix-15