Tour of California 2009 Stage 8: A Day On Palomar

Palomar - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

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The shot you see above is what got me up early in the morning to spend nearly an entire day on Palomar. I shot it using a remote, which can be very stressful. The emergency crews had roped off an area for helicopters and they felt my camera position was too close. As a result I had to set the camera three hours early and had to hope everything worked out, i.e. the batteries don't run out, the rain doesn't get on the lens, the helicopters don't blow over the tripod. You also have to stay within range of the remote, which limits what you can shoot with your other camera.

The number of fans was also stressful. Crowds were non-existent when I got there and was setting up the camera. They improved by not to the expected number 10,000 -- it was much less than that and much less than needed to push the framing I chose above from good to great. I've heard the early road closures blamed for the smaller crowds. I've added a full-frame camera body to my list of future purchases: I had to position the camera much higher than I should have, which kept the cyclists too small to easily see at Web sizes.

I'm always trying to think of how I could have done a shot better as I'm rarely satisfied, so this perhaps gives you a peek into the things running through my head.

Chalk Fun - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Chalk Fun - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Chalk Fun - (c) Ken ConleyThere was plenty of fun to take my mind of my precariously positioned camera. Drunk fans took to using the Livestrong chalk to chalk up their hands then slap the butt of everyone that passed. Not even the cops were safe.

I was hoping to see Floyd going full at the top, but Astana was too much to battle. The riders were haggard and edgy -- Mick Rogers gave a fan a punch in the neck. The fan probably deserved it.

After the peloton came through, photographer and local Mark Johnson hoped in my car to show me the back way out. We descended down a sketchy dirt road that my car barely survived. There was some sliding and bottomed-out suspensions involved. Thanks to his route, we were able to make it to Cole Grade. I snapped a couple more shots, though by then I was too exhausted to take a descent photo. But as a cycling fan, I always enjoy the opportunity to see more of the race and it was interesting to see the effect the monstrous closing day had on the riders. Everyone appeared to be on fumes.

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Comments (1)

The handslaps on the CHP -- wow.

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