Thursday, July 30, 2009

National Champs

National Champs

Finally a week in half later I manage to pull it together to write and update my blog on my trip to the National championships. I have been soooooo busy (sarcastically) with stuff……. Ha ha ha more lazy than anything. But here it goes.

On Wednesday July 15th I was packing my things to head to Granby Colorado for the U.S. National Cycling Championships in Sol Vista Bike Park. I was excited that Nationals was in the Rockies this year and I new that Sol Vista was going throw a curve ball at the Pro downhill and 4X riders. There were videos lingering online on some features of the pro courses, which made some of the riders nervous.

Later in the day my buddy Chuan and I loaded up the car and embark on our journey to Granby Ranch Colorado. Trip road trip started out smoothly but we knew it was going to be a long 6-½ hour drive. We were trying to keep ourselves nicely entertained and then soon noticed that I was going the WRONG WAY!! I made a wrong turn which lead me to the out skirts of Littleton (Denver). Yeah that was totally awesome. A 6-1/2 hour trip turned into a 10-hour trip.

Finally at midnight we pulled into the base of Sol Vistas Bike Park. Even with our (as in me) wrong turn we still had to wait for our other friend Matson to arrive cause that was where we were crashing for the evening. I soon found out that he was still 2-hours away; so to pass the time we played on our bikes around the parking lot and walked around the pit areas. The evening finally starting to get a hold on us and we were feeling pretty sleepy. Chuan got in the car and made himself comfy in the back and I soon followed, but as always when I try to go to bed I happen to get a kick of energy and was wide awake. So to pass the time I pulled out my IPOD and enjoyed my self to a movie called “That’s it That’s All”. Just as I was falling asleep Matson called me and said he was finally here. We made our way over to the condo, unloaded our things and CRASHED OUT.

The morning came a lot quicker than I wanted to and with 4-1/2 hours of sleep was a good start to a day. I headed over to registration to pick up my media credential at 7:45am and there was already a line forming. Luckily Matson was at the front of the line and I snuck inline with him. But shortly I found out that the media girl had not arrived yet so I went back to the condo to get my camera equipment because Pro 4X was about to start. As I grabbed my gear I soon noticed I FORGOT my battery charger and my SOCKS. I know I am an idiot. But I made due with my mistake and headed up the hill.

I knew that practice was going to be a laid back with the riders just trying to figure out what is going to work and what isn’t. The 6ft pro 4X start gate was intimidating to many of the riders. They were also unsure about the Lander because it looked a little to close. Some would just ponder at the top of the gate just trying to figure out if it is due able but soon was answered when a ride manned up to try it. With the Lander being so close it did rule out sling shooting out of the gate so I knew that 4X was going to be anyone’s game. After 4X practice there was a short break and then it was off to the pro only downhill course. I hopped on the chairlift and up the lift I went. I soon came across the big doubles that everyone was talking about. I was amazed on how big the doubles were and I noticed many of the riders are standing at the tip of the take offs contemplating if the jumps were due able. I was nervous for the riders hoping that the jumps weren’t too big. Many of the pro men were very uncertain of the jumps but soon found out that they were easier to hit than expected. Even some of the pro woman hit the big jumps boosting many of the rider’s confidences. Besides the big jumps the DH course was loose, sandy and had not been broken in. Thursday was the first day that anyone had really ridden down the track.

At 5 o’clock the course was close and it was the end to day one. I went back to Matson’s condo to gather my things and moved my things over to Mike Kreger’s condo that I would be staying with for the remainder of the trip. After meeting some new people and hanging out it was time to get some shuteye because it was the beginning of a long busy trip. While pondering in bed I knew that shooting was going to be difficult. The mountain was bland and wasn’t exciting to shoot. I knew that strobes were going to be needed to make the image pop.

Friday was another pro practice day with many of the riders getting more comfortable with the course. There were a handful of riders that were unaffected by any of the obstacles that Sol Vista threw at them. Many knew that they were going to do well and most knew that the elite raced at a World Cup Level. With the day coming to a close it went pretty smooth. I snagged some good pictures and started writing my updates for pinkbike. After a few hours of work I was dehydrated and hungry. I headed back to the condo to get some grub and off to bed I went again.

By Saturday I was already exhausted from climbing the mountains all day and up late editing. I was excited for tonight because the pro 4x finals were going to be held at night and it was going to be a great show. Pro DH started out the day at 10 o’clock. Each day the course got better and the riders got faster. Still it was hard taking pictures because of the blandness of the mountain but I still worked with what I had. After DH practice many of the riders headed back to their pits to change gears because 4X championship was soon to come.

The sun was setting, pro qualifying was over and the show was on. Me and 5 other photographers hung out on the first turn where most of us new that it was going to be action packed in that section since it was the first turn out of the gate. As the sun fell behind the mountain it was harder to shoot with the low light. I ran out of batteries for my flashes, but still I was able to get some shots off. The night ended well with as 17-year-old Mitch Ropelato was crowned victories in pro men 4X and your woman’s champion was Jill Kintner. After the races I headed back to the media room to start dumping images and writing my update. Half way threw my work I started to get a little tired. I decided that I needed some food so I went back to the condo to fill my tummy. After I ate I felt energized but I was wrong cause I crashed out ha ha.

HE is only 17

It was Sunday and it was the last and final day. Pro DH was soon to come and many of the riders were keeping to them selves. Everyone knew that it was going to be a big show for finals and it wasn’t going to be easy. I hopped on the lift and shot the upper part for practice and qualifying. But after qualifying I decided to shoot the last section of the track because there was more to shoot in one area and you can still see the times. At 2pm pro DH finals for men and woman were a go. Pro woman were the first to come down followed by the men. There were some heart breakers this weekend, but your 2009 DH champions were Aaron Gwin and Melissa Buhl.

After podiums I headed to the ER to check if my buddy Vince was doing alright, but soon found out I lost my 189 dollar transmitter. I was not happy about that. But Vince crashed on his race run breaking his hand. He was ok but possible needed surgery so he would have to bail out on the whistler trip and head home (I would be bummed as well).

So about 6 o’clock Chuan and I were headed home. The drive went by fairly fast and the only real bad thing was my 3-week-old car check engine light came on, Wonderful Right? But all in all we made it back safe and I was home and in bed my 3am Monday morning.

On this trip I forgot my battery charger, forgot my socks, used over 30 AA batteries, lost my spare car key, lost a Pocket Wizard Transmitter, and my 3 week old car check engine came on. Pretty awesome ehhh?

P.S as you can tell my story got sloppy cause I got lazy typing. Hahaha. Granted it took me forever to write and post this blog. OOOO and here are some of the images from the race.

Here is a link for the write up

Here is a link to my Flickr to see other images from the race

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