Monthly Archives: July 2014

July 26th: Farewell to Deano (a.k.a. the 2014 Sheffield Grand Prix)

Wednesday (23rd July) night in Sheffield was FarewellDeano Night as anyone in the city centre around 9pm will know. Wrapped up amongst the farewell celebrations was the official event of the evening – the 2014 Sheffield Grand Prix which featured a Cat 3-4 race as well as the men’s Elite Race. Dean Dowling had won the 2013 event but the big question was could he do the same again in what was to be his final pro race?

The hors d’oeuvres for the main course was a mixed Cat 3-4 race which turned out to be, not unsurprisingly, hotly contested thanks to the fire power of some special order young guns in the shape of Thomas (Tom) Pidcock from Chevin Cycles.com and Harry Hardcastle of Kirklees Cycling Academy. Racing with the Cat 3-4 guns, the young ‘uns were allowed in as a ‘special’ – and what a special it turned out to be as it was down solely to Dieter Droger (Pioneer Scott Syncros) to hold the lads off the top spot. Nevertheless it was an inspired race for the youngers and as Dieter Droger said during the podium interview, it clearly shows that British Cycling has some real talent coming through. Here’s a gallery of images of the Cat 3/4 race.

The 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race starts out on its warm-up lapAnd they're off in the 2014 SCP Cat 3-4 raceSome big gaps in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race open up quicklyEarly leaders in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race sticking tight togetherRiders in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race working hardHarry Hardcastle punching out the watts in the 2104 SGP Cat 3-4 raceDieter Droger fixing the young guns Tom Pidock and Harry Hardcastle firmly in his sightsAnd the winner of the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race is Dieter DrogerThe 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 podium with Dieter Droger (Pioneer Scott Syncros), Tom Pidcock (Chevin Cycles.com Trek) and Harry Hardcastle (Kirkless Cyclig Academy)

The Elite race itself was also  hotly contested although there was an enforced ‘black flag’ break to allow the newly crowded Junior RR Champion, Tristran Robbins, to pick himself and his (de-chained) bike up off the cobbles. Once the race restarted a lead group got away leaving Team Raleigh working hard to bring them back although sadly they were unable to podium. In the end, Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) led home in the gathering gloom with local rider Adam Blythe (NFTO) and Toby Horton (Madison Genesis) following.

The night was clearly for Dean and he took to the podium with his daughter for an interview to the crowd’s delight…‘Farewell Deano’…

Finally then, a gallery of images from the mens’ Elite Race

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Posted in Cycling, Events, Photography

July 17th: It’s all over in a Second or Two – Roadside Shooting at the Tour du France

As most of Yorkshire knows only too well, it’s all over in a second of two! Or at least that’s how it seems if you stand by the roadside for several hours to wait for the greatest bike race in the world that is Le Tour (a.k.a. The Tour du France) to go past. Out of all the places that we could have watched Le Tour, Jawbone Hill in Oughtibridge was where we washed-up. As one of the top-ten places listed on the Sky website – we figured it would be good. For starters, it was on a hill so the riders would be going slow – right? Access wise – Jawbone Hill camping was right there too, with its built-in ringside (ok… roadside…) viewing. Double bonus. All we have to do was rock-up late Saturday, pitch the tent and wait up for the great show on earth to roll past. Piece of cake – what could be better or easier for that matter?

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There’s no shortage of erudite cycling commentators far more qualified than me to talk about the actual race itself – so this post is more about shooting Le Tour from a roadside shooters perspective. Thanks to Google Earth I had already driven up and down Jawbone Hill several times in the comfort of my own house to get an idea of where might be best to photograph from. I’d worked out where the sun (assuming it wasn’t cloudy) was gonna be in the sky (sic) and roughly which sections would be back-lit and where would be in shadow. Sadly though, there were still many known unknowns. How many others were going to be roadside too? Would the crowd all surge forward and block the view? Would the weather play ball or would we be treated to a day of interminable grey or worst still, rain? Would there be any restrictions to moving about as spectators? More questions than answers so it seemed like it was all going to be a bit of pot-luck. Walking up Jawbone Hill it was obvious that it had a number of steeper ramps and a steep(ish) finishing straight. By 10am on race day Sunday 6th, some 6 hours before the action, the frontline viewing spots behind the roadside barrier on the finishing straights were already taken! Folks sure seemed keen but I guess 6 hours for a ringside view of Le Tour might not be an unreasonable return?

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In the end I settled for a position on about half way up Jawbone, on the beginning of the outside of a bend which came after a decent straight. Waiting for the riders gave an opportunity to try out some angles and do some crowd watching. I was pretty chuffed with one shot especially which for me summed up waiting for the TDF when a young gent got down with the vibe and worked on his TDF Road Art. I would have been rude not to snap some of the more memorable aspects of the TDF ‘caravan’ has it rolled past and it was an opportunity to practice focus tracking and panning.  By the time the helicopters arrived and signalled the immenent arrival of the riders themselves I’d distilled my game plan and was sorted. Rightly or wrongly I’d decided to shoot the first group of riders as they approached my position with a 70-200mm then switch to a 24-70mm mid-range for the close up stuff as more riders came past. I added an on-camera flash, with a booster pack for faster recycling, to fill the shadows. I opted for a wide aperture for the telli shots – primarily to separate the action from the background but stopped down a bit for the mid-range shots to give more depth of focus.

Anyways, here’s my shots as the caravan and Le Tour tackles Jawbone Hill. I think my game plan worked ok although it nearly fell on its derier as I’d not factored into the equation that ahead of the first riders is the official red race car – complete with outriders – which nearly obliterated the long shot down the road look that I was after. Totally by luck than judgement as the opening group came towards me I was able to snatch a few shots of the riders once the lead vehicles had pulled past. It hard picking a ‘best shot’ but this one sums up what I’d envisaged.

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Apologies for the delay in posting – technology failure caused by the BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) took a wee while to get sorted – but here at last is a full gallery of the day…

Cote du Jawbone - race minus several hoursCycling RoyaltyBy heck lad, here comes t'caravan...She was still playing when she hit Sheffield too - apparently!Fruit never tasted so good?Part of your 5-adayAye - big hills and great teaNow thats a big teddyLovin' it...French strong armTDF road artEgh up - here comes TDF!French chips...Bear in the airYep - after 6 hours waiting, finally here comes to TDF!Le Tour is here!The openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawbonePorte and Froomy goes by...Way to go guys...Toni MartinClose-up and personal #1Close-up and personal #2Close-up and personal #3Eh up - is that a yellow jersey I see?Eh up - is that a yellow jersey I see?Yep - le yellow jerseyYellow jerseyPates brings up the rear (sort...off...)...

 

 

 

Posted in Cycling, Events, Photography Tagged , |

July 3rd… The Big Tamale…

After what seems like forever, tomorrow is the big tamale a.k.a. Le Grand Depart or in simple words, the start of The 2014 Tour de France, arguably the greatest bike race on the planet…

It been a long time coming, but it’s here at last, Yorkshire’s big moment on the big stage that is the TDF. For months yellow bikes have been hung on/off most conceivable vantage points the length and breadth of Yorkshire. Farmers have painted their sheep yellow.  One café owner has covered the outside of their emporium in monster red dots! The roads have been re-surfaced and hitherto common grazing fields turned into one-off campsites. Sheffield’s ‘un-known’ Jenkin Road has been dragged from quiet suburbia and trust into the lime-light and is (very nearly) rubbing shoulders with Alpe d’Huez, or Mont Ventoux!

It’s fair to say that many will be out there over the weekend getting involved but fair play to you if you’re staying at home watching the footie or Wimbledon.  I’m off to Jawbone Hill. Wherever you go, let’s hope it a good ‘un…

Not every bike will be on the Yorkshire roads this weekend...Yorkshire - the roof of the TDF?Opps - boot anyone?

Posted in Cycling, General