Friday, June 30, 2006

Kobzarenko Champion of 2006 Tour de Beauce

Let's step back from all the drama in the Tour de France right now and recognize some of the riders that make racing in North America so exciting.

Valeriy Kobzarenko is a tough and powerful rider that has earned success on both the road and track. A former Ukrainian National Champion, his soft-spoken demeanor is replaced with a singular focus, once he pins on his race number. The hard roads of Eastern Europe were his training ground and this 3-time Olympian uses the toughness he learned, to become a rock-solid and dependable racer. He can be counted on by his Navigators Insurance teammates to bring the speedsters to the line for a mass-sprint, or drive the bunch into the gutter on cold, wet and windy days in the north of Europe.
- Source Bio

Kobzarenko jumped into the yellow jersey on stage 4's 15km time trial by stomping down a sub-21 minute time, which was second only to Danny Pate of TIAA Cref. Navigators put 3 riders in the top 5 on stage 4. Kobzarenko would hold on to the yellow jersey for the overall win and splash some champagne.


During the Tour (if there's enough riders left to compete), you might want to keep up with what the Navigators team is doing:

07/05/06 07/17/06 National Road Festival - Silver Springs, PA USA NRC 1.2
07/12/06 07/16/06 Cascade Classic Bend, OR USA NRC 2.3
07/15/06 07/23/06 Tour of Qinghai Lake CHN UCI 2.HC
07/15/06 07/17/06 Tour de White Rock BC Superweek CAN NRC
07/19/06 07/19/06 Gastown Criterium BC Superweek CAN NRC
07/21/06 07/23/06 Tour de Delta BC Superweek CAN NRC
07/22/06 07/23/06 Owasco Stage Race - Owasco, NY USA NRC
07/22/06 07/22/06 Mt Holly - Smithville Invitational GP, NJ USA NRC
07/23/06 07/23/06 Freedom Tour of Long Hill - Stirling, NJ USA NRC
07/24/06 07/30/06 The International Tour de ‘Toona - Altoona, PA USA NRC 2.2

Back to some photography tidbits:

My gear for this Tour de Georgia ITT shot was a Canon Rebel XT; Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens; and a Canon 420EX flash. This is an example of what I've show before - get low and get the face in the shot. Not really a tough shot to grab with the right gear if you're also in the right spot.

Did a little post-processing too. Usually, I just make some minor adjustments in Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 and export the file as a JPEG, which I upload to Smugmug for hosting. Smugmug is the best photo hosting solution I've found. Check out their unlimited photo storage and sharing - FREE Trial of SmugMug.

I did Lightroom thing here too, but I also decided to toy with it in Photoshop too. I learned a new technique for sharpening the other day.

New Sharpening Technique: In Photoshop CS2, Dulicate the Background image from the layer menu; Select the new duplicate layer; Select Filters-->Other-->High Pass; Set radius to 10 - click OK; Select soft light and presto, you've got yourself a sharpened photo without the "funny edges" that you often see with the Unsharp Mask technique!

Not sure what I'm talking about? Want to understand post-processing with Photoshop a little better? Consider a good book by Scott Kelby - the best Photoshop teacher I've read. My personal favorite is The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers.

I'm open to comments on how the sharpening looks - also boosted the saturation in the blues for a little more punch off the background.

G'nite, the Prologue starts in a little over 8 hours!

Doping Scandal

If you haven't heard about it yet, check out the Tour de France blog for all the dirt.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tour de France Fantasy Team

I've got Dave Z. and Eki on my team, to name a couple. What about you?

Performance Bike sent me an email today about a sale they're running. I occasionally click these email deals. It's not spam - I signed up for it, but today they had a link for a Fantasy Tour de France game. It was fun to figure out how to spend my money on 9 riders. Here's who I got for my money:


  • Didn't spend a whole lot of time digging around on how the points work out, but there is a potential to win prizes from Performance:

    Grand Prize: 2006 Fuji Roubaix PRO - MSRP: $1,540.00
    2nd Place: $250 Performance Gift Certificate
    3rd Place: Performance Cycling Outfit - MSRP: $158

    Anyway, just thought I'd pass it along. May be a little fun for the Tour. Not that there isn't enough going on right now.

    On a lighter note, I took a mock multistate bar exam on Monday. I can officially confirm that July is going to suck.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    Go Floyd Go!!!!

    Here's a couple of shots of Floyd on the Nick-a-Jack climb at the Tour de Georgia this April - there's plenty more in the gallery. Sorry the updates have been slow coming lately. Also, sorry to the folks that are looking for their NORBA Showdown at Sugar shots. I've got some great shots of the downhill and slalom courses and quite few more from the XC race. Study time has cranked up a bit for a little test next month so cycling and photography has had to take a back seat - I do need a job. I'll do what I can to get the shots out - soon I hope. I've been overwhelmed by the response from the mountain biking crowd. Thanks guys. In the mean time, enjoy these shots of Floyd - sorry to the roadies for all the mountain biking stuff lately. I'll try to keep a happy mix from now on.

    Also, keep up with all the latest Tour de France developments at the Tour de France blog!

    (The Tour de France and the bar exam in the same month is gonna suck!)

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    I know it's not really a bike, but it reminds me of an unfortunate encounter. Last year, I did the MS Tour Scenic Mountain Challenge here in East Tennessee. On the second day, as I was checking out of my hotel, a was flew up to me, landed on my nose and stung me right between the eyes. You know that part of your nose near the top where your sunglasses rest? Yeah, it sucked. So that made my 75 miles so much more pleasant that day. Anyway, I saw these guys yesterday and they reminded me of that punk wasp. And, yes, if you're wondering - he died.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    The Sense of Speed

    Joey nabbed this shot of the Downhill course creek jump. The motion blur really makes the shot. Believe it or not, this shot was taken with a point and shoot digital camera by using the aperture priority mode. Most folks just use these point and shoot cameras on full auto and let the camera make the shot. It doesn't have to be so. Most point and shoot digital cameras nowadays offer a lot more options than the vast majority of users know how to use.

    So how did Joey do it? He set his 6+ megapixel Kodak camera to aperture priority. Set the aperture to f/2.8 because we were under heavy cover by the trees, so he needed all the light he could get. In turn, he got a shutter speed of 1/90 of a second and some killer motion blur as a result of panning the rider.

    Still a little confused? Want to know more? I've read a couple of books by Bryan Peterson that I'd recommend to anyone: Understanding Exposure and Understanding Digital Photography. I've read both and still frequently refer to them. There's a little overlap, so if you've just got a digital camera give the Digital Photography book a go. Either one is a great intro into the basics of photography that makes terms like f-stop, aperture, and shutter speed easy to understand. No matter what kind of camera you use or what kind of pictures you take, Bryan's books may be the best $15 investment in photography you ever make. What's a $500, $1000, or $2000 camera setup if you don't know how to use it. Happy shooting - and email Cycling Shots your shots and stories!

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    These Guys are Good!

    NORBA Showdown at Sugar Downhill Expert Finals.

    (Update 6/20/06 - See this shot in the Velonews Weekly Photo Gallery)

    At the creek jump, which was 2/3 or so down the mountain, these guys were really doing some crazy stuff. Turning the front wheel, kicking the bike sideways, and giving the spectators some commentation on how much fun they were having - er, something like that.

    Anyway, this was the premier shooting locale for the downhill course as far as I'm concerned. My cousin, Joey, and I made the trek to this spot a few times throughout the day. Joe nabbed some shots too. As soon as I get through all mine, we'll work on getting some of his on here as well. Kudos to Joe for marching up and down that friggin' mountain with me all day long. By the way, there's some more shots up in the gallery now.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    The Crash - Finale

    I told you it wasn't pretty. Here goes:

    Let me armchair quarterback this one a bit (from the guy sitting on his butt taking pictures) . . . . When presented suddenly with a steep grade on a cross-country course do not, I repeat - do not, try to stop at the top of the hill because it looks mean. Get your tail behind the seat. Don't use the front brake. Just ride it out. The girls did this hill just fine. Can't figure out for the life of me why the guys just kept tumbling?

    I think this shot perfectly sums up why Moveitfred is a roadie.

    The focus on this last one is a little soft - sorry. I just couldn't toss the finale of the spill.

    This series shot with the trusty Sigma 70-200 f/2.8.

    I'm in the process of uploading the first batch of about 140 shots. Count on the rest of the Showdown at Sugar shots trickling in over the next week as I get time to work on them. I'm working in the same progression as I shot. So expect the rest of the XC, then the downhill guys, and finally the slalom respectively.

    Things to do after you turn 50.....

    . . . Shred down Sugar Mountain on a NORBA Downhill Course.

    Here's a guy from the 50+ category hitting the table top jump at the bottom of the downhill course on Sugar Mountain during the Expert finals Saturday morning. Some of these guys were hitting the 5 and half minute range on the course. Granted, the 21 year old pros were in the 3:30 range - but, heck I'd do good to make it down at all.

    For the shot, I used the trusty Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens at the 135mm focal length handheld at f/8 and 1/320s.

    Creek Jumpin'

    NORBA Showdown at Sugar - Sat., June 10, 2006

    A shot during the Expert Downhill Final. These guys were launching off the rocks you see in the bottom right of the shot here, clearing a 4' wide creek and landing on the other side, which is about 4' lower. And, they made it look easy. Unfortunately, I couldn't get ahold of a roster to match the rider numbers and names. If you know any of these guys - or if you are any of these guys - let me know via comment or email and we'll give you some cred.

    About the shot: I actually used the kit lens (18-55mm EF-S) for this shot. Even though it's a relatively cheap lens, I've always been more than pleased with the performance. I got down in the creek and shot up while panning these guys as they were flying over me. This one was all the way wide at 18mm with 2nd curtain sync. on my 420EX flash. The 2nd curtain sync. gives you a more natural look to fast moving objects in dark areas - such as under the foliage above. To learn more about it, check out Canon Flash Work - a great "intro to flash" site.

    I've got a lot more shots coming. Post-processing is a bit of a bear though - I shot about 900 shots in RAW format. Lightroom is cookin' on the import process as I type - just wanted to give you another taste of what is to come. Once post-processing is complete (later this week), I'll put everything up in the Cycling Shots Gallery. 'Til then, I'll try to keep trickling a few out here and there. Enjoy.

    Showdown at Sugar - A long way down.....

    The NORBA Showdown at Sugar was fantastic. Unlike road races, there was something going on all day long - plenty of stuff to shoot - too much for one person really. Unfortunately, I was only there for one day (Sat., June 10). Sugar Mountain is fantastic though. Cheers to the folks that live up that way. I'm sure I'll be back - it's only about 2.5-3 hours from Knoxville.

    There's more coming soon. I've got about a thousand photos to post process. Check back later to see what happened to the XC rider above (hint: it's not pretty).

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    New Gallery and Store - HERE!

    Ok, I've made some improvements to the site. You can now visit my gallery, which is hosted by Smugmug, by clicking here or in the sidebar to your right. Feel free to link to, download, or use my shots for your personal enjoyment to your heart's content - read the fine print on the gallery intro page about other uses. Only one gallery up now ('06 TDG), but, as you know, there's more coming soon (like the Showdown at Sugar this weekend). Expect some Showdown shots on the blog this Sunday, with the rest coming later next week to the galleries. See a shot in the gallery you want to talk about? Email me, post a comment, etc. and we'll get it up for discussion!

    Also, there's a Cycling Shots store in the sidebar's links. Buy some shirts and stickers - take a shot of you sporting the gear and email it to me (guaranteed way to make it on the site)!

    Happy Shooting!


    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Zabriskie's Trying Times - Part Deux

    While Zabriskie shredded the Dauphiné prologue, he didn't fair so well on a hillier ITT at the Tour de Georgia a couple months back. Congrats to the American though, and thanks for representing us on French soil.

    I expect, however, that when they hit the mountains later this week, he'll be looking more like he did on Brasstown . . . sucking wind and losing time:

    Don't get me wrong, I really like Dave Z. - he's one of the more (how should I say) "interesting" American pro cyclists out there. He'll tell you just the same that he hasn't go the legs to run with the big boys on the climbs. Flat ITTs - for sure, bet the bank. Brasstown, the Alps, Mont Ventoux - not so much. Enjoy it for now Dave, and keep that grin on your face no matter what!

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Fast Freddy and Me

    Here's Fast Freddy on the ITT. You can also see a glimpse of him on the final sprint in an earlier posted shot just to the right side of George Fraser.

    One thing I love about pro cycling is how accessible the riders are. Even the top dogs don't mind to hang out and answer a few questions, pose for a shot, or sign some autographs - at least in my past couple years attendance at the Tour de Georgia.

    During the pre-race gatherings of riders and fans, I was continuously amazed at how open these guys are to signing autographs and posing for pictures. (By the way, that's me above with Fast Freddy.)

    Freddy must have signed 50 or more autographs here before the start of the final stage.

    Tommy D. signing a few before Stage 4 in Dalton, GA.

    Janez Brajkovic sporting the GE Best Young Rider jersey before Stage 4.

    Finally, here's Eki posing with some guy that must've gotten his (and his Coke's) pic taken with every Discovery rider before the start of Stage 4.