Category: NCNCA

July 13, 2009

Gallery: San Rafael Twilight

SRT Sunset - (c) Ken Conley
Bahati BW - (c) Ken Conley SRT Church - (c) Ken ConleyCoryn Rivera Wins - (c) Ken Conley San Rafael Twilight - (c) Ken Conley

Click here for more San Rafael Twilight 2009 Photos

16-year-old Coryn Rivera brings her winning ways from SoCal up to NorCal.

Rahsaan Bahati finally gets beat on NorCal soil by TT1's Ken Hanson, with the likes of Ben Jacques-Mayne, Jackson Stewart, Chad Gerlach, Bernard van Ulden, Fast Freddie, and Daniel Ramsey in the field.

Good times and many photographs

Update: Podium Insight's Race Report and Photos

July 12, 2009

Video: Strobing the field

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.

June 27, 2009

Nevada City: Tales of Champions

Shelley Olds Solo - (c) Ken Conley Lance Armstrong Group - (c) Ken Conley

Ben Jacques-Maynes and Shelley Olds both wrote up race reports and their great performances, with Ben providing the appropriate car analogy to compare Lance vs. Levi, and Shelley showing how one team had a plan that unfolded perfectly.

As a bonus, there's Podium Insight's Interview with Ben Jacques-Maynes at the American Velodrome Classic

June 22, 2009

Nevada City Classic 2009: Pro Men (aka Lance Fest)

Lance Armstrong Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Lance Armstrong Post-Race - (c) Ken Conley
Lance Armstrong Attacks - (c) Ken Conley Lance Armstrong Attacks - (c) Ken Conley
Ben Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley Levi Pre-Race - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Click here for more Nevada City 2009 Photos

The Nevada City Classic can add another awesome event to its storied book. I don't know how a tiny little historic town like Nevada City does it, but they had no trouble absorbing the throngs of Lance Armstrong worshippers that transformed the 1.1 mile cycling stadium. I've never heard a crowd at a cycling race as loud as I heard when Armstrong came across the finish line solo and it may be long before I witness something that awesome again. Michael Hernandez compared it to a football stadium -- which is about right, but imagine that on a city street instead. Sorry Tour of California, but I think the little town has you beat for premier California race of 2009.

The circuit is an excellent course that starts the riders going downhill before quickly turning back uphill, winding through the historic district, out over the rolling hills of the surrounding neighborhood, and then plunging back downhill into the historic district. It's a course that will break your legs and puts teams at the disadvantage. Even Astana's big three -- Armstrong, Leipheimer, Horner -- couldn't figure out what to do with Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes. They shed the rest of the field and pressed their advantage again and again, but it took a final assault from Mr. Seven-Time to put in a gap. Any day that you go up against two of the best time-trialists in the world and come away second is a victory.

Armstrong is looking in pretty good shape for the Tour de France. He looked 'fat' at the Tour of California, at least in a relative sense, but I didn't get that impression watching him this weekend. I still don't think he stands a chance in hell of winning, but he's in good enough shape that I think the Astana team dynamics with Contador won't be so healthy. As for Horner, he had trouble keeping pace and I wonder if he's healed-up enough from his recent crashes to make the Tour cut.

As for my own preparedness for dealing with LanceFest, I scored poorly. At the end of the womens' race I managed to sprain my quad while standing up (yes, that simple). I went from having the opportunity to shoot from moto to hobbling around on the sidelines. My injured quad meant that I could really only shoot from two points out on the course, but thankfully it's a pretty course. Lesson learned: always stretch, even for taking pictures.

Click here for more Nevada City 2009 Photos

Transitive Panda

Lance Armstrong, virtual PotW


Roman Kilun, PotW

see Panda of the Week

May 11, 2009

San Francisco Twilight 2009 Cancelled

SF Twilight20080912_4332-1

This sucks, what else is there to say: San Francisco Twilight Criterium canceled for 2009 (via podiuminsight)

April 27, 2009

Crash landing (Front and Rear Views)

Woo's always contributing to the NCNCA scene like no other, but no one expected him to pony up his shoulder to take this excellent footage -- both front and rear camera -- of this crash at the Wente 4+ Crit. You cross your fingers that poor Woo's gonna make it around... but that rear footage shows that even when you're good you need to be lucky.

April 19, 2009

Sea Otter Classic 2009 Gallery: Men's Circuit Race

Andy Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley
Daniel Holloway - (c) Ken Conley
Bissell - (c) Ken Conley


It was the Bissell and Levi show, with a dash of Colavita. Bissell, because they owned the race, Colavita, because they tried but were outmanned, and Levi, because he's Levi. With the Tour de Georgia gone, Levi's schedule was freed up to drop on be Sea Otter for some laps around the course -- SRAM's sponsorship seemed to help entice him to come (as well as convince him, Lance, and Horner to go to Gila).

Bissell and Colavita made the first major break of six, which got a huge gap on the field. The two Felt U23 riders and Garmin's Holloway tried to contain it, but the break was too big. Apparently Bissell didn't like the makeup of that break, which contained two Colavita riders, so they were soon helping Levi chase it down. You knew that Levi was starting to hit it when the peloton came down the Corkscrew in fragments, slowly regrouping to prepare for another dose the next lap.

Bissell made two riders the next break, as did another Colavita rider, but with the odds 2:1 in Bissell favor, they were ready to let this one play out. Alex Howes of the Felt U23 team tried to bridge the gap, but it was far too much for a solo effort -- unless, perhaps, you're Levi Leipheimer, but Levi didn't seem terribly interested in towing a large group of riders up to the break.

Click to see more Men's Pro Circuit Race Gallery Click here for more photos from the Sea Otter 2009 Men's Pro Circuit Race

April 11, 2009

Copperopolis 2009

Ben Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Copperopolis - (c) Ken ConleyPhoto by Ken Conley
Ben Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley Ben Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley
Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Ben Jacques-Maynes loved the break today and it paid off. After an earlier two-man break helped whittle the field, BJM attacked with Scott Nydam at the end of the penultimate lap and stayed away until the end. On the final turn up the hill to the finish he was able to look back, see that Nydam lost his wheel, and coast to victory. Levi Leipheimer was part of the chase group but was unable to repeat his victory from two years back -- he noted with amusement on Twitter

Rachel Heal of Colavita took the women's race in a sprint with Touchstone's Olivia Dillon. I got to Copperopolis and missed most of that race, so don't have much to add in the way of details.

officially DQ'd for crossing yellow line somewhere:)! What an amateur! Hard race though, 5hr 270w av

My gallery for this year is a bit smaller. I was mostly motivated to go to Copperopolis to procrastinate on doing my taxes, but I was only willing to procrastinate so much...

Click for more Copperopolis 2009 Photos

April 5, 2009

Santa Cruz Crit 2009

First lap

Santa Cruz Crit-8

Today was a testing day for me. I hadn't used my camera or flash since getting them back earlier this week from the repair shop, so I wanted to make sure everything in order. My conclusion was that I was in worse working order than the equipment.

My time was limited today so I mostly focused on the Womens 1/2/3 race and left before the Men's Pro race was over. TIBCO really came to play in the women's race, constantly sending riders off the front. Kat Carroll spent quite a bit of time off the front before Alison Starnes took her place and rode solo all the way to the line. Katheryn Curi Mattis nearly single-handedly spoiled their day, bridging up to Carroll and still having enough left in the tank to nearly bring back Starnes.

From what I saw of the men's race, it looked like Daniel Holloway was lighting it on fire.

Click for more Santa Cruz 2009 photos

March 8, 2009

Menlo Park Grand Prix 2009

Menlo Park Grand Prix

Holloway Wins-12

Menlo Park Grand Prix-16

Click to see more Menlo Park Grand Prix 2009 Photos

Brooke Miller, Daniel Holloway, case closed.

September 1, 2008

Giro di San Francisco 2008 Photos



Brooke Miller, national champion twice over. Christine Thorburn, 2-time Olympian training for her farewell ride at World's. And many more. It was a great field at the Giro di San Francisco today. It's been too long since I've shot a race, so it was a great course and great field to shake off the rust.

Giro di San Francisco 2008 Photos

April 7, 2008

Congrats Lauren!

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.

March 30, 2008

Ronde van Brisbeen Circuit Race 2008

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.


Ronde van Brisbeen 2008 Circuit Race Photos

March 23, 2008

Copperopolis 2008

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

June 25, 2007

Bikerbert race report: Burlingame crit, Time to Pay the Piper

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

Continue reading "Bikerbert race report: Burlingame crit, Time to Pay the Piper" »

June 9, 2007

Pescadero Road Race 2007

Pescadero Road Race 2007 (94)

Stage Road


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

June 3, 2007

bikerbert race report: Crits and Oatmeal

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

Continue reading "bikerbert race report: Crits and Oatmeal" »

May 8, 2007

Delta Velo's/Damian Gonzalez's Cat's Hill video up


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 :).

May 6, 2007

Cat's Hill photos

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.

IMG_6249 IMG_6416 IMG_6078

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

April 8, 2007

Levi wins Copperopolis

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.

March 11, 2007

Menlo Park GP

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:

IMG_2334 IMG_2386

IMG_2413 IMG_2444 IMG_2435 IMG_2420 IMG_2378

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.

IMG_2306 IMG_2467

See also: Menlo Park GP 2006

Menlo Park GP Photo Gallery

December 29, 2006

Six-month-old Burlingame Crit photos

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


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

April 17, 2006

Menlo Park Grand Prix 2006

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

April 10, 2005

Morgan Hill Grand Prix 2005

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