Monday, February 16, 2009

Race Report

When I planned out my day around the race today, I knew there were plenty of question marks and uncertainty as far as potential roadblocks to being where I wanted to be when I needed to be there. As far as the technical details went, today was perfect. I arrived on the climb at Tunitas Creek Rd. early enough to stake out a good spot. The climb was packed with hundreds if not thousands of people by the time the race came through - and it was probably one of the most remote sections of the course. It was pouring hard and I spent the morning soaked, but it was well worth the wait. It was extremely exhilerating to be on a packed climb with people going crazy cheering on these racers with everyone involved soaking wet. Definitely the atmosphere I was hoping for.

After the race came through I immediately headed south and got to Santa Cruz about an hour ahead of the racers. I was lucky enough to get a spot right on the railing at the 200 meter mark before the finish line, right when the sprint wind-up generally happens. Even more random was running into Karl (from the UO team) who ended up only feet away from me before we noticed each other.

The racers came flying through - Levi Leipheimer did his superman thing and broke away from the pack, caught the disintegrating breakaway, and then dropped them too. Except for Thomas Peterson, the stage winner, that is. So now Levi is the overall tour leader.

I took 550ish photos today, so that's just a little teaser of what's to come. I'll probably have one or more posts in the near future of nothing but pictures, but no time to sort and adjust tonight.

The photo report is mixed. Of those 550 photos, probably about 100 are of the actual racers racing, as was to be expected with the short amount of time I had to see them go by. The beer cup lens hood/plastic bag cover surpassed all expectations and drew a ton of attention and compliments, including a lot of really impressed photographers who had real hoods on their cameras. The lighting on the climb was much too dark for my liking, but I mostly made it work. In the finish area, I had a nasty shadow/sunlight combo, but I got decent shots there as well.

The one problem was that I was almost too close - with racers coming less than 10 feet away at high speed, even with my best efforts panning at 1/200th of a second on the climb and 1/400th of a second at the finish, my camera's autofocus became its weakness. I doubt I could have done better manually, but often it just couldn't quite keep up with how fast I was taking pictures. That said, I did get a number of really nice, clear shots and a number more where the speed of the racers makes for a good photo, in spite of the fact that they're not quite crisply focused.

I'm going to have to do some race number lookups to determine which soggy racers I got pictures of (they all kind of look the same with rain gear on) but yes, I did get pictures of Lance. I won't spoil everything, but if you're a cycling fan I've got a couple more goodies coming too. Stay tuned!

Overall, the day was extremely exciting and everything I was hoping it would be.


  1. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Lance Armstrong framed through a beer cup; pretty cool!

  3. I'm copying your lens hood. :)

    Try painting the inside black since white reflects light.

  4. Yeah, black inside would be better. I was mostly worried about keeping rain off the lens rather than keeping out extra light.