31 August 2012

Friday Funny

What a GREAT way to raise money for a favorite charity! To keep from getting dizzy when the aircraft begins spinning, focus on the budgies, not on the earth.

This project is raising funds for Children's Hospice South West. To support the project and have your name appear on the film, please use CHSW page here. If you would rather help a facility that serves children in your area, that's perfectly appropriate, too! Still, hats off to this group for coming up with such a unique idea, and to Crochetroo, who very well may be the source behind the trendy popularity of the crocodile stitch, for providing the budgie patterns.

30 August 2012

Spinning Wheels

Are we having fun yet?

This is my favorite image from this year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge. I will never forget the smile on Tejay's face as he climbed the steepest part of Independence Pass.

wheel men

All cyclists should have wheels at the ready, just in case of flat!

elevation profiles

No climbing on the final day of the race, but the pros must race full speed, with everything they've got, the entire nine miles while negotiating wild curves and summer heat pavement buckles.


It didn't stay this deserted for long.

Time Trial Ramp

Stage 7 Time Trial ramp.

from the amateur race

I had the most awesome view of the time trial in Denver. Until it got crowded. My view went from above to below...

Dave Zabriskie zooms by faster than the lens can see.

The pros are much faster than the amateurs, and I couldn't see around the hands and cowbells to pan my camera. I had to switch to the monster lens and shoot distant cyclists approaching.

Dave Zabriskie

Dave Zabriskie again, with the telephoto lens instead of the portrait lens. He's across the intersection from me, but my long lens makes him seem much closer, and no hands or cowbells are interfering with my shooting.

Captain America

Here's Dave again, coming from the opposite direction. I could still see the pros zoom by lightning fast less than five feet from me, and I had views of them in two other directions as well. A press photographer's dream! But the press didn't get there early enough to nab my spot. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!


22-year-old phenom Taylor Phinney receives a warm welcome as he sets a stage pace with a time no one else could beat. His mom Connie Carpenter (who nervously bit her nails the entire race, waiting in suspense to see if Taylor's time stood) is an Olympic gold medalist, and Taylor's dad Davis is an Olympic bronze medalist who rode for the first American team to compete in European cycling races, Team 7-Eleven. That's akin to having a royal pedigree.

the wheelman

Tejay's dad

Tejay van Garderen's dad Marcel serves as a neutral wheel man, favoring no rider, no team, replacing damaged wheels when cyclists crash (which two of them did right in front of us) and pushing them off so they can get going again, even if their legs are shaky. That is, until Tejay gets to the start line. Then Marcel disappears to a decidedly better view than what I had, watching from VIP seating with other excited and proud rider parents. (Mavic supplied a replacement wheel man so the final racers could continue if, heaven forbid, they crashed.)



awesomized with my iPhone

Tejay's fans' street message.

Jens Voigt

Jensie. A powerhouse. King of the Mountains. (Refresh the linked paged multiple times to see hilarious fan-submitted slogans.) "There is no such thing as global warming. Jens Voigt got cold and turned up the sun."

After Levi took off on his time trial ride, fans broke through the gates separating us from the street and the metal barrier lining the finishing curve of the race. Because that part of the route was finished, and they wanted to be closer to loudly bang on the barricades (like stomping on the stands in a stadium) in support of the three riders still on the road: Tejay van Garteren, Christian Vandevelde and Levi Leipheimer. We excitedly pushed forward so I could continue to shoot the riders MUCH CLOSER as they arrived back at the grand stand, but the four volunteers manning the location urged us to go back. We did because they asked us to. The four volunteers were sadly outnumbered. About 300 people had already flooded the street, and there was no containing them. As we stepped back toward the curb, another 300 or more people were pushing into the already tightly packed street. We'd lost our ace view. And the crowds continued to pour into the street from out of nowhere.

We walked away from the crowd to a section of fence where no one was left watching (because they scored a much better view piling into the street). I snapped one last shot of Levi as he returned across the four-lane street from me to finish the rest of his nine-mile loop, and then The Lizard and I made our way back to our car.

Levi in race-leading yellow


We escaped the concrete jungle of downtown before the crowds, and we escaped the city before the traffic (which included a Bronco game starting at virtually the same time) mutated into gridlock. We checked race results as we abandoned the metro and discovered Taylor Phinney indeed held onto first place in the Stage 7 time trial. Christian Vandevelde snagged the overall crown. Tejay took second, and Levi took third.

Here's how fast Christian pedaled around that first big curve in what must have been the ride of his life:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge overall winner Christian Vandevelde.

28 August 2012

Wordless Wednesday

stickered and belled

portable intercom

dressed to ride... horses or bikes

prepared for weather... or battle


waving colors

what a devil

what a pair

ummmm... dual sports

why ride when you can run

crazy hat


antler man






you bug me

Old, Gold and Hope

Stormy Twin Lakes

Storm clouds built quickly over Cottonwood Pass early Wednesday morning, the day of the Queen's Stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Last year, we'd pedaled up Cottonwood Pass to watch the pro cyclists summit the only dirt road portion of the entire week-long race, only to be chased back down the mountain by lightning before the peloton arrived.

We decided not to chance a repeat performance this year, particularly since I wasn't sure how far up the Pass I could even get. The Lizard drove us and our bikes to Independence Pass, hoping we could find a parking spot and that I could pedal up to anywhere I could obtain a primo view of the cyclists during their second monstrous climb of the day.

the valley

the climb

way down there

The weather on Indy looked much more promising, and we lucked into a great parking spot before the Pass was closed to motorized traffic. I successfully pedaled the mountain bike 1.2 miles up the steepest portion of the Pass and found a great lookout without big crowds where we would be able to watch the race for a mile below us before watching the riders climb a mile up to us. I couldn't have asked for a better photography perch!

the valley below

the climb

About half an hour before the breakaway riders, Tommy D and Francesco Colorado (yes, that's really his name!!!), came into view, the official mobile race announcer vehicle crossed the valley below us and then climbed up to where we were waiting, sharing awesome news that Tommy D had a three-minute lead on the peloton!


I had hoped George Hincapie could repeat last year's fete and win the Queen's Stage again, but Tom Danielson is a talented young rider from Colorado, and we rode with him last year in and chatted with him after the Durango Fall Blaze. He's a very down-to-earth guy, and we were excited to see him making his way up a difficult climb and making it look fun.

How can you go wrong when you have all of Colorado on your wheel!!!

Are we having fun yet?

Wednesday's race leader Tejay van Garteren (in the yellow jersey) was next up the climb, leading the first fragment of the altitude-splintered peloton. He not only looked as if he was having the time of his life, he made steep climbing in thin air look easy!

Tommy D went on to win the stage, as well as the Day's King of the Mountain, which means top climber of the day, an honor he held onto for three more days. (In the end, Tommy D took home the Most Aggressive Rider's jersey and sixth place overall.)

Tejay and Tommy D

That night we camped at Twin Lakes, at the base of Independence Pass. The next day's route would send the riders back up the Pass from the opposite direction, the very same way we had crossed the Pass in June during Ride the Rockies.

I like to take pictures of cyclists climbing because they aren't moving as fast, plus it's easier to focus the camera. Twin Lakes is such a picturesque venue, I decided I wanted to capture the riders with Colorado's beautiful scenery this time around. If weather conditions didn't deteriorate, we would have a spectacular view of Mount Hope reflecting in Twin Lakes as the riders sped by.

When Hope gets clouded over...

Mount Hope will shine again.

I practiced with the less-predictable iPhone shutter while The Lizard pedaled up Independence Pass prior to the start of the race. Clouds set in, and soon drizzle did wonderful things to my hair and skin. We hoped Mount Hope would shine again in time for our photos.

Golden Lizard

Hopeful Lizard

We were alone at this photo perch when the announcer silently approached. He had no one to announce to until he reached us. He delighted us with news of 39-year-old veteran Jens Voigt, another personal favorite, in a solo breakaway with a five-minute lead!!! ("Jens Voigt doesn't get road rash, the road gets Jens Rash.") Voigt went on to win the stage, proving age is no handicap! This guy can ride! And get this: he and his wife have SIX kids!!! And he has a sense of humor to boot.

Go, Jens!!!

the Boys beneath Mount Elbert

We opted to ride Waterton Canyon rather than fight the crowds Saturday during Stage 6 from Golden to Boulder via the Peak to Peak Highway and an uphill finish on steep Flagstaff Mountain.

gold everywhere

Upon our return from yet another photogenic tour of one of our favorite rides any time of year, we learned 39-year-old Levi Leipheimer, yes, you guessed it, another personal favorite, winner of last year's race and one of the best time trialists in the country, had smoked the rest of the competition and moved from fourth place to first place on the steepest climb of the day. (Oh, and Jens was in the breakaway yet again. Can you say, "Woohoo!") The final stage of the race would be a time trial through my work stomping grounds in downtown Denver. Levi won the time trial stage last year, and I hoped he could do it again this year. (He ended up taking eighth in the time trial and third overall.)

Levi in race-leading yellow.

Not only is Levi another of our favorite riders, but earlier this year he was hit from behind by a car while on a solo training ride. His fibula was broken, and his bike was destroyed. Complicating matters in both the Tour of Utah and Colorado's race, Levi's Omega Pharma- QuickStep team did not send a full team to support him. Nevertheless, Stage 6 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is Levi's first win of the year! He came back from what could have been so tragic, proving not only does age not matter, but pain, suffering, recovery, rehab and determination can take you higher than you ever thought possible.

In that respect, this man has inspired me in ways I hope will take me to new heights. Literally. Here's to climbing again one day. I'll never give up Hope.

downtown Denver, Stage 7 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
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