Pedal Dancer® - A bike travel blog for fans and cyclists. Interest, information and enthusiasm about being a fan, cycling, traveling, and riding a bike. Light on opinion, heavy on information and joy of the sport. Quality of information is very important to me as well as creating a sense of cycling community for visiting fans to any bike race. Pedal Dancer is a sport and travel guide with cycling photography, maps, stories and travel recommendations.

17 September 2014

My Photography

I love photography

When I was a rock climber it took me years before I would title myself as such to others. Even long after I had climbed El Capitan and some other very difficult climbs; I found it hard to proclaim "I am a rock climber." But I have noticed lately that I have no problem telling people "I am a photographer." I think it may be because being a photographer is not bragging or over-stating accomplishments. Being a photographer is a way of looking at the world.

I have looked at the world with an artist's eye for as long as I can remember.

To see the world in frame, sensitive to light and composition seems to be the way my brain organizes stimuli. It's not just that I want to hold time as I experienced it, I need to see beauty. I am so sensitive to ugliness that I intentionally tunnel my vision when I am in particularly ugly places, like freeway interchanges. It is true. The only real pain I experience when riding a bike is when I have to pedal through ugliness.

I started taking pictures at a young age, filling photo albums and boxes, always happy if I had a camera in hand, just in case something caught me eye. My shots are not about look at me, but more about me looking at. Did you know I do not have any of my own photography in print around my house (in a house very full of artwork)? Most of my photography resides in a great big file cabinet inside my head. I can remember almost every photo I have taken, the place and year.

After friends (thanks Anthony!) asked if I collect my photos into albums for viewing, I decided to scratch off an item that has been on my to-do list for, oh, about three years - create a photography website. So I am doing it, as in, in the process of doing it. I figure if I spend six hours a week, I may have it complete in a year and a half. That's a lot of photos.

Ironically, just as I began this big project, I fearfully dragged myself into the ophthalmologist's office for an eye exam. I had been experiencing blurred vision in my right eye. Sure enough I have some vision loss in both, but more so in the right eye, which needs further testing by a specialist. Bummer. Strange, and sad, to be an individual so sensitive to beauty and be experiencing difficulty seeing beauty.

I look through my camera with my right eye. Photography treats me to capturing the world as I see it. In a way, it records my uniqueness. I now have new solid motivation to share my photography and get this website organized. Perhaps others will enjoy the beauty as I have.

The inside scoop on my photography

Sharing tips on how and what I am using these days for my travel and sports photography.

Hardware:

I am a mac user, but rely heavily on external hard drives for photo storage. I use a specific one for travel, not wanting to risk loosing or damaging the other portable hard drives. I also use cloud storage, but photos can overwhelm that type of storage very quickly. A photo card reader rapidly uploads pictures directly onto the external hard drive from my photo card.

Software:

I like Lightroom for photo editing and file management. It allows me to advance through and edit photos very quickly. There is so much to this software that I could take a year learning all its possibilities (but then that is what tutorials or Youtube are for). With some simple keystrokes I can select and edit. Lightroom also offers good file labeling, with very fast uploads of fully edited versions back to my hard drive or directly into Zenfolio.

Zenfolio displays my photographs in a style that appeals to me, it is not only the look, but the layout and file management behind the scenes that I like so much. Uploads are very rapid, instructions helpful. I tried to use smugmug but I could not achieve the layers of slideshows, group, galleries, and unique pages that Zenfolio offers, plus I didn't want to look like everyone else. On Zenfolio the set up was quick, with many more features yet to be discovered.

I don't do Instagram, I sometimes do Twitter. One can only spend so much time on social media, and with pressure to have hundreds/thousands of followers on all sites, it is just too much for me personally. I'd rather be out living it. I remain a blogger. 

Photo Equipment:

I use Sony and Pentax products (although I am a believer in Canon as well). The end product is not all about the size of the camera, it is about buying the right camera for your purpose. My purpose is travel and action sport. I need portability, zoomability, ease of use, beauty in results, moderate cost. My Sony and Pentax cameras offer high resolution and beautiful images.

My choice of small camera for travel and cycling jersey pocket: Sony Cyber-shot Digital Camera (there are various models in the series depending on your price point and desired features.) My camera has a good zoom and wi-fi connectivity. Don't dismiss these small cameras, they take fabulous travel pictures and are so convenient to carry, you wont go without, fearing the excess weight. 

My choice of large DSLR camera for races and travel: Pentax K5. I have been a Pentax user for years because I love the soft pretty quality for travel and landscape. If you want good quality, less cost and a larger selection of lenses, I might go for a Canon camera set-up. My friends who use Canons achieve great results. Nikons - you better be pro to get beauty. I use a variety of lenses and filters on my Pentax for travel and sport, the lenses are: Pentax SMC-DA 50-135mm f/2.8 ED SDM LENS, Pentax 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DA ED AL (IF) ZM LN, Pentax SMCP-FA 43MM F/1.9 LIMITED SERIES AUTO (my favorite), Samyang 14mm Ultra Wide-Angle f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens for Pentax K Mount. I steer away from finish line photos, I would need this and $3400.

iphone: hey you can't deny the ease of an iphone for in the moment shots. But the way I snap photos, it barks at me far too often for "not enough storage". Still my brother only travels with his T-mobile camera phone, and sends home amazing photos from afar. For me, the iphone remains the easiest way to get photos up on Twitter fast, resulting in fun behind the scenes photos at races or photos from the road.

I prefer the PNY Technologies 32GB Elite Performance SDHC Class 10 Memory Card. Always format a memory card on your camera, and always have two or more camera batteries (charged!).

Pedal Dancer Photography

This is my new photography website - in the works - pedaldancer.zenfolio.com

I don't have a lot of photos added yet, but you can see some of the initial images in my Best Of gallery here http://pedaldancer.zenfolio.com/p818189262. I will be changing the url address soon to PedalDancerPhotography.com.


Here is a recent photo where I utilized all of the above hardware, software and equipment together with my Pentax K5. Capturing the call up at a pro bike race with my Pentax and Lightroom:

please click on any image to enlarge



When I want to capture totally natural color, zoom in action in sports and get the photos out fast, I want a fast zoom lens with little (to no) editing necessary after snapping the shot. This photo was taken from a distance with my Pentax K5 and the SMC-DA 50-135mm f/2.8 lens.



When I use the fixed 43mm lens I never have to do any cropping or adjusting. This lens takes fast up-close photos. It captures the feeling of how a fan watches a race. I like the Pentax SMCP-FA 43MM F/1.9 LIMITED SERIES AUTO lens for stage starts, sign-ins and cyclocross races.



When I am traveling as a tourist and want freedom to compose the frame how I best see it, I use my standard lens with flexibility - Pentax 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DA ED AL (IF) ZM LN.




Here is a shot with the small Sony point and shoot. See how it compares to the larger Pentax K5 photo above. There is no reason not to bring a good (but small) camera with you on your next bike ride.

Cycling in France, and stopping to capture the scenery I rode through with my Sony camera. I can stand on the road and see what I am capturing with an adjustable zoom far better than a camera phone for exactness.

Would you believe this amount of detail was captured using the Sony Cyber-Shot point in shoot. There is no real need to carry a big camera bag around Florence, Italy.



iphone cameras can create interesting effects and still provide good memories of your travels.

Manhattan by night in a boat with a camera phone. The memories are just as bright, even without high resolution.

11 September 2014

Big Weekend of Cyclo-cross Racing in Boulder

Back to back UCI CX races

The only two UCI level races in Colorado will both take place this weekend in Boulder County. You will be able to watch the top level American cyclocross racers (and maybe a few of the Europeans still hanging around after yesterday's Cross Vegas in Las Vegas) at two different venues.

All the talk last night about Boulder, Colorado during the Cross Vegas race coverage was a bit embarrassing (and inclusive), especially since Cross Vegas is the biggest national cyclocross race in America and plenty of communities beyond Boulder have active cyclo-cross race schedules with very talented racers. When we consider growth of cyclocross (and in particular junior racers), it is far healthier to focus broadly and not limit a racer's potential in the sport to a zip code.

My point made, Boulder has two great days of racing planned this coming weekend. I live close by, in Denver, and plan to attend with camera in hand. Sunday I will be on site for over 10-hours. The prospect of sorting through thousands of photos after two days of shooting cyclocross overwhelms me, so if you see me chatting often with friends during the day and not taking your photo, I hope you will understand it is my way of lessening my later editing load.

Still, I am so looking forward to watching some great cyclocross racing this weekend!

Two big days / Two big events:

US Open of Cyclocross UCI 2
Boulder Cup UCI 1

This race is not just for the pros. You will also be able to race in the usual categories for men, women, and juniors. And then there is spectating...

© Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®


How to race and/or watch the race:

First, you will want to make sure you show up at the correct venue:

Saturday 9/13 - Boulder Reservoir - US Open of Cyclocross 7:30am - 5:25pm racing
Sunday 9/14 - Valmont Bike Park - Boulder Cup 8:00am - 5:15pm racing

Flyer - US Open of Cyclocross; Technical Guide
Flyer - Boulder Cup

Registration - US Open of Cyclocross Without Limits Production
Registration - Boulder Cup DBC Events

Course Map - US Open of Cyclocross
Course Map - Boulder Cup

Public Parking at Boulder Reservoir: dirt lot south of entrance gate
Public Parking at Valmont Park: north of the bike park, turn up Airport Rd and follow signs

*Category times are DIFFERENT each day, check the flyers closely for category start times.

Saturday at the Boulder Res - US Open CX course map 2014 (link)
Sunday at Valmont Park - Boulder Cup course map 2014 (link)

General Schedule of the day:
7:30/8:00am-noon - Mens and womens categories
noon to 3:00pm - Junior men, Men 35+1,2,3, Singlespeed, Junior women
Sat 3:20pm - Elite Women Start US Open CX; Sun 3:20pm - Elite Women Start Boulder Cup
Sat 4:25pm - Elite Men Start US Open CX; Sun 4:15pm - Elite Men Start Boulder Cup

Where to see the race? Best race viewing is typically at the run-ups, barriers, sand-pit, off-camber grass, beer garden and tricky corners.

* No pets, No glass bottles at either location. Beer Gardens at both locations: Cycleworx sponsorship at Boulder Res and Boulder Beer sponsorship at Valmont Park. USAC rules and license apply, Day-of race registration available. Thank you sponsors for US Open CX, thank you sponsors for Boulder Cup.

At the Boulder Cup in 2013
Race Results: BRAC results
Race reports, bios, and interviews: Pro Velo Passion
Cyclocross News: VeloNews
How the Race was Won - Cyclocosm
Next Race: 2014-15 Colorado Cyclo-cross Race Calendar by Pedal Dancer 

Race Photographs: RacerShots.com cyclocross 2014 We will have a booth at Boulder Cup and will be in attendance at both races. Please visit our website for race images, please introduce yourself to one of our six photographers (John, Terri, Shawn, Scott, Ryan, Karen) out on venue if you would like us to focus in on your race.

PHOTOS FROM THE RACES

Update 09/15/14: Here are my (big!) photo albums from the cyclocross races:
US Open of Cyclocross: pedaldancer.zenfolio.com/usopencx
Boulder Cup: pedaldancer.zenfolio.com/bouldercup2014


Meredith Won!
Read the great news about Meredith Miller's big win at Cross Vegas 2014: Meredith Miller notches CrossVegas win By Matthew Beaudin Published Sep. 11, 2014

You can watch Meredith race both races in Boulder this weekend, or if you are really lucky you can race against her.

03 September 2014

I am a published photographer

5280 [The Denver Magazine] September issue

On page 55, deep in the recesses of the September issue of 5280 magazine, a magazine that celebrates the Colorado lifestyle, you will find my tiny photo of cyclocross racing.

My photo in 5280 Magazine in all its large glory.

They say photography is not about the camera. Although I believe the camera set-up and chosen lens make a big difference in delivering what the photographer is trying to convey.

They say photography is about the photographer. I agree that you can ask twenty photographers to go shoot a sporting event and all will come back with wildly differing results.


My photographer friend John Flora recently posted this on his RacerShots.com FB page.

I say photography has to do with the camera, the photographer, but mostly the subject matter. Good photography also has a lot to do with being hyper alert to your environment in capturing the moment and telling a story that draws the viewer into the frame to study the detail, encouraging the eye to wander.

My great joy at having my photo included in this month's edition of 5280 magazine, within the article titled Playing Dirty, by Jayme Moye about the sport of cyclocross, would not have been possible if the brave strong women cyclocross racers in the photo did not race Cyclocross National Championships in Boulder, Colorado, last January.

In giving credit where credit is due, featured in this photo are star subjects:  Emily Phillips (MA), Jessica Bernstein (CO), Cristienne Beam (CO), Alyssa Severn (MO), Kelly Chang (CA).

Thank you - you are featured in 5280 this month!

.

02 September 2014

Travel Quotes

I love traveling.

Mostly because it breaks up routine and sets me off keel enough that I feel challenged. The unknown unnerves me; something will always go wrong, and yet something unexpected always goes more than right.

My brother recently canceled a major 3-week trip to eastern Europe because of puppy issues. A new puppy is reason enough. They will be taking a road trip to Bend, Oregon with the dogs instead of visiting the major tourist cities in eastern Europe. I told him, "You are going to have to get some cultural, architectural, historical podcasts to listen to on your road trip. How are you going to make up for all that knowledge you would have learned (and forgotten in short order) while instead traveling with a car full of dogs?"

Cancelling that vacation trip was painful for my brother - he spent SO many hours planning it. Truth is, he planned it twice, cancelled it twice. Ouch. Puppies. For travelers, planning is indeed half the fun, but getting out there and spontaneously changing all those plans is even more fun.

A number of friends recently encouraged me to head to Canada to photograph some bike races up yonder. I still think of myself as a writer, so I replied, "But what would I write about, "Gee this is beautiful"? I have never been to those cities for a bike race before." I am not sure why I believe I need expertise to go someplace. Travel is about discovery, after all.

So instead I am home, in Denver, trying to figure out where to plant my massive collection of photographs online. It has been on my to do list for about two and a half years. In so building a new photo site, I began browsing over travel quotes and found some doosies. Quotes are cool, here are a few:

“Too often. . .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” – Louis L’Amour.

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Susan Heller.

“Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.” — Peter Hoeg

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Scott Cameron

“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” – Tom Stoppard

“If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport”. – George Winters




I am very sorry Jens Voigt about your travails yesterday in having to pay to fly your bike on an airplane. Welcome to retirement, welcome to the real world of the traveling cyclist! Traveling with a bike is a nightmare, no getting around it -- unless you are Jens Voigt. So next time Jens, I suggest you find a Trek bike store in the town you are visiting, make their day by stopping by, and make your day by borrowing one of their bikes! It is much cheaper and they will probably sell a few bikes.  twitter.com/thejensie

01 September 2014

2014-15 Colorado Cyclocross Race Calendar and Professional CX Calendar

2014-15 is going to be a big season for Cyclo-cross in the USA

This year the cyclo-cross season in Colorado begins in September and continues through early December, 2014, with National Championships in Austin, Texas January 7-11th and World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic from January 31 - February 1, 2015.

The sport of cyclo-cross continues to grow, continues to refine rules and continues to deliver excellent racing opportunities to cyclists across the United States. Cyclo-cross is big in Colorado. Maybe because it gives us something to do during the cold winter months, but more likely because it is a wonderful community event where bike racers of all ages and genders come together on weekends and race bikes up, over and down dirt, mud and snow.

Viewing or racing a cyclo-cross race can be great fun. The unpredictable weather and changing race locations mixes things up every week, rarely making the race the same. I admire anyone who shows up to race in twenty-five degree snowy weather. Plus I rarely hear racers screaming and yelling at each other (as I do at criterium or road races), instead I hear fun banter and lots of encouragement.

Good luck to every racer this year. Thank you to all the family members who come support the racers. Thanks especially to each and every race organizer and race sponsor who offer the racers a place to play hard and compete.

For the past three years, I have had a great time photographing many of the CX races in Colorado. I look forward to the season ahead. Photos below © by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®





2014-15 Colorado Cyclocross Race Calendar and Professional CX Calendar Lists

Colorado Cyclo-cross 2014 CLINICS

08/29-31/14, weekend - Jeremy Powers & FasCat pre-season Cyclocross Camp, Boulder info
08/16/14, Saturday - Inspired Cyclocross 101 Clinic Flyer
09/03/14, Wednesday evening - Inspired Cyclocross Workshop Flyer
09/06/14, Saturday - Inspired Cyclocross 101 Clinic Flyer
09/10/14, Wednesday evening - Inspired Cyclocross Workshop Flyer
09/17/14, Wednesday evening - Inspired Cyclocross Workshop Flyer
09/24/14, Wednesday evening - Inspired Cyclocross Workshop Flyer 
09/27/14, Saturday - BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp
09/28/14, Saturday - BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp
10/04/14, Saturday - Inspired Cyclocross 101 ClinicFlyer

Weekday Race SERIES

09/03/14 - 09/24/14, every Wednesday evening - Back to Basics Cyclocross Series, Golden Flyer 

COLORADO CX CALENDAR

Colorado Cyclo-cross 2014 RACES

09/07/14, Sunday - Kick It CX Festival and TT, Castle Rock Flyer
09/13/14, Saturday - US Open of Cyclocross, Boulder Reservoir, GOLD Flyer
09/14/14, Sunday - Boulder Cup, Valmont Park, Boulder Flyer
09/20/14, Saturday - Cyclo X Xylinx, Longmont Flyer
09/21/14. Sunday - no race 
09/27/14, Saturday - Green Mountain Sports CX, Littleton Flyer
09/28/14, Sunday - Cyclo-X - Flatirons GOLD Flyer
10/04/14, Saturday - Frisco Cross, Frisco Summit County Flyer
10/05/14, Sunday - Primalpalooza, Arvada/Golden Flyer
10/10-12/14, Friday - Cross of the North, Loveland Flyer GOLD (3-days!)
10/18/14, Saturday - Cowboy Cross Flyer
10/19/14, Sunday - Cyclo X - Valmont, Boulder Flyer
10/25/14, Saturday - Cyclo-X - Interlocken, Broomfield Flyer
10/26/14, Sunday - Blue Sky Cup GOLD Flyer
11/01/14, Saturday - Schoolyard Cross, Longmont Flyer
11/02/14, Sunday - Feedback Cup Flyer
11/08/14, Saturday - Cyclo-X - Sienna Lake, Broomfield Flyer
11/09/14, Sunday - no race
11/15/14, Saturday - Cyclo X - Boulder Res, Boulder Flyer
11/16/14, Sunday - MileHigh Urban CX Chaos, Denver Flyer
11/22/14, Saturday - Cyclo-X - Louisville Rec  GOLD Flyer
11/23/14, Sunday - no race
11/29/14, Saturday - no race
11/30/14, Sunday - no race
12/06/14, Saturday - Rocky Mountain Cross Championships GOLD Flyer
12/13/14, Saturday - Colorado Cyclocross Championships GOLD Flyer
12/14/14, Sunday - Colorado Cyclocross Championships GOLD Flyer
*More race flyers will be added as made available.

Full race calendar at the BRAC website for Colorado, or cyclo-cross race calendar at USA Cycling.

Cyclocross Race Results

BRAC Colorado Cyclocross race results 2014
USA Cycling Race Results and Rankings

ANNUAL RACES - the ones we all talk about

Cross Vegas - "Biggest cyclocross race in America"
September 10, 2014, Las Vegas, NV: www.crossvegas.com
Watch the webcast online Live: Behindthebarriers.tv


USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships 2015
Austin, Texas
January 7-11, 2015 2015 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships; Facebook and Twitter.
Asheville, N.C. will host the 2016 Cyclo-cross National Championships.

PRO CX

2014/15 USA Cycling Professional Cyclo-cross Calendar (18 states will host races in 2014)

Sept. 6 Nittany Lion Cross Breiningsville, PA, UCI 2
Sept 10 Clif® Bar Cross Vegas Las Vegas, NV, UCI 1
Sept. 13 US OPEN of Cyclocross Boulder, CO, UCI 2
Sept. 14 Boulder Cup Boulder, CO, UCI 1
Sept. 20 Trek CXC Cup Waterloo, WI, UCI 1
Sept. 20 Charm City Cross Baltimore, MD, UCI 2
Sept. 21 Trek CXC Cup Waterloo, WI, UCI 2
Sept. 21 Charm City Cross Baltimore, MD, UCI 2
Sept. 27 Rapha Super Cross Gloucester Gloucester, MA, UCI 2
Sept. 28 Rapha Super Cross Gloucester Gloucester, MA, UCI 2
Oct. 4 Providence Cyclo-cross Festival Providence, RI, UCI 1
Oct. 5 Providence Cyclo-cross Festival Providence, RI, UCI 2
Oct. 11 Ellison Park Cyclo-cross Festival Rochester, NY, UCI 1
Oct. 12 Ellison Park Cyclo-cross Festival Rochester, NY, UCI 2
Oct. 18 HPCX Jamesburg, NJ, UCI 2
Oct. 19 HPCX Jamesburg, NJ, UCI 2
Oct. 25 Gateway Cross Cup St. Louis, MO, UCI 2
Oct. 26 Gateway Cross Cup St. Louis, MO, UCI 2
Oct. 31 Cincy3 @ Harbin Park Fairfield, OH, UCI 2
Nov. 1 Cincy3 @ Kings CX After Dark Mason, OH, UCI 1
Nov. 1 Cycle-Smart International Northampton, MA, UCI 2
Nov. 2 Cincy3 @ Devou Park Covington, KY, UCI 2 (Elite Men Only)
Nov. 2 Pan Am Continental Cyclo-cross Championships Covington, KY CC
Nov. 2 Cycle-Smart International Northampton, MA, UCI 2
Nov. 8 Derby City Cup Louisville, KY, UCI 1
Nov. 9 Derby City Cup Louisville, KY, UCI 2
Nov. 14 The 3 Day Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross Iowa City, IA, UCI 2
Nov. 15 The 3 Day Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross Iowa City, IA, UCI 1
Nov. 16 The 3 Day Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross Iowa City, IA, UCI 2
Nov. 22 Supercross Cup Stony Point, NY, UCI 2
Nov. 23 Supercross Cup Stony Point, NY, UCI 2
Nov. 29 Baystate Cyclocross Sterling, MA, UCI 2
Nov. 29 CXLA Weekend – Day One Los Angeles, CA, UCI 2
Nov. 30 Baystate Cyclocross Sterling, MA, UCI 2
Nov. 30 CXLA Weekend – Day Two Los Angeles, CA, UCI 2
Dec. 6 NBX Gran Prix of Cross Warwick, RI, UCI 2
Dec. 6 Deschutes Brewery Cup Bend, OR, UCI 2
Dec. 7 NBX Gran Prix of Cross Warwick, RI, UCI 2
Dec. 7 Deschutes Brewery Cup Bend, OR, UCI 2
Dec. 13 North Carolina Grand Prix Hendersonville, NC, UCI 2
Dec. 14 North Carolina Grand Prix Hendersonville, NC, UCI 2
Jan. 3, 2015 Kingsport Cyclo-cross Cup Kingsport, TN, UCI 2
Jan. 3, 2015 Resolution Cross Cup Dallas (Garland), TX, UCI 2
Jan. 4, 2015 Resolution Cross Cup Dallas (Garland), TX, UCI 2

2014  USA Cycling Professional Cyclo-cross Calendar (Pro CX)
A $40,000 prize purse to be split between the top riders in each of the men’s and women’s standings in the eight UCI 1 races in America. This is the same prize purse as 2014, although two more C1 races have been added to now total eight races. (see each individual race link above). If you want to see the best pro cyclo-cross racers - they will be at these races!
Sept. 10 Clif® Bar CrossVegas Las Vegas, Nev
Sept. 14 Boulder Cup Boulder, CO
Sept. 20 Trek CXC Cup Waterloo, WI
Oct. 4 Providence Cyclo-cross Festival Providence, RI
Oct. 11 Ellison Park Cyclo-cross Festival Rochester, NY
Nov. 1 Cincy3 Lionhearts International Mason, OH
Nov. 8 Derby City Cup Louisville, KY
Nov. 15 3-Day Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross-2 Iowa City, IA

USA Cycling’s Cyclo-cross National Calendar (CXNC)
Races that seek UCI inscription and inclusion on the USA Cycling Pro Cyclo-cross Calendar (Pro CX) must first be part of the CXNC for at least one year.
September 21 GP Clark Natwick San Francisco, CA
November 8 VeloCX Blaine, MN
December 6-7 Ruts 'N Guts Tulsa, OK

CX WORLDS

Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World Cup
19 October 2014 Cauberg Cyclo-cross, Netherlands
22 November 2014 Wereldbeker cyclocross 2014 Koksijde, Belgium
29 November 2014 Milton Keynes UCI Cyclo Cross Worlds Cup, Great Britain
21 December 2014 Soudal Classic, Belgium
26 December 2014 Heusden-Zolder Limburg, Belgium
25 January 2015 Zandag, Netherlands

UCI World Championships 2015
31 January - 1 February 2015 Tabor, Czech Republic, website race information

NEWS AND PHOTOS

Cyclocross Magazine
Follow the news of the sport at Cyclocross Magazine www.cxmagazine.com

Pro Vélo Passion
Local Coloradan Mary Topping interviews and writes about the races and racers of Colorado cyclo-cross. Learn more about the athletes and race results by reading her stories collected at: Posts from the ‘Cyclocross’ Category.

Cyclocross photography
RacerShots.com Last year we formed a collection of local sports photographers who gather on the often muddy, windy, or snowy hillsides of Colorado to photograph Colorado's cyclo-cross racers. Every week, those photographers who attended a race, would add their links to a joint website where riders could see photos of their efforts and glory. Please check it out, every photographer has a different style but together we accomplished an amazing amount of work in the 2013-14 CX season. You will see us again in the 2014-15 CX season.
See 2013-2014 Colorado CX Race Images
Watch a recap from the 2014 World Championships, see how the best in the world race and notice how a world championship was won due to an intentional tactical slowing of the opponent behind in the last meters, forcing him to get off his bike, then speeding up rapidly once the opponent was faltering and slowed. Smart racing, but don't expect quite this many people behind the barriers in Colorado. (video link)



If you enjoy reading UCI cycling rules, have at it here: Part V: Cyclo-cross Races .

30 August 2014

Photos from Colorado - Photography of Ryan Wallace

Ryan Wallace of RevLine photographed Stage 7 of the USA Pro Challenge

You might remember from the past two years that Ryan Wallace captured some excellent images of the final weekend of this Colorado stage race. Ryan was happy to help me again this year. He excels at capturing fast images, formally educated in journalism and photography. He took his skills capturing fast cars and focused on fast bikes.

I can't emphasize enough what peace of mind Ryan offers by being out on course. I never micro-manage him, Ryan instinctively goes where the race is, and I believe he captured some of the best images of the finishing sprint, even without preferential placement (although he did wear an approved Photo badge). In my mind - that is the skill of a true race photographer.

Exactly because Ryan was there with me on Stage 7, I felt free to move elsewhere on course, and because of that freedom I captured a popular race image from the day - the Alex Howes tripod of how to avoid a barrier after a sprint finish. Thank you Ryan Wallace and congratulations Alex Howes for being an incredible bike racer.

See our combined finish report and photos here: Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge

All photos ©Ryan Wallace for Pedal Dancer®   (See more photos from the day at Ryan's portfolio here: revlinephoto)














Thank you Ryan Wallace!

Ryan Wallace, Photographer RevLine


Many Photographers at the race contract out to several news sources, equipment manufacturers, or teams at any given race, in combination. It often requires the photog to be in many places at one time, always thinking of their customers needs when capturing race images. You can spot these hardworking men and women on photo motos, crouched on the pavement, carrying heavy gear up mountain tops, perched high atop buildings, at call-ups, in front of podiums or mixed in with the crowd.

View a nice (slow) slideshow of Pro Challenge Getty Images, photos from the week: http://tourtracker.usaprocyclingchallenge.com/. If you are a photographer, you might like to study their style, if you are a fan, you might find yourself within their beautiful images (with a warning: you cannot reproduce Getty Images without permission). And if you are a graphic artist/tech geek you will enjoy the clean crisp images on Tour Tracker.

Have you been watching the action at the Vuelta a España? Also, cyclocross season is starting up this month in Colorado! My 2014-15 Colorado CX Calendar will be published soon.

27 August 2014

My personal post race thoughts on the USA Pro Challenge

Chasing this race for a week encourages me to form opinions

As you know my motto is "heavy on information and joy of the sport, light on opinion." but there is something about this USA Pro Challenge race that makes me want to speak up. For a moment, just imagine we are sitting at a table and the waitress just walked up and asked if anyone wanted another beer, and we all said a resounding Good God YES Please. As those beers are served, let's settle in to sipping our beers and really talking about a bike race ....

I can go to the Tour of California, the Tour de France, one day classics and I never leave having opinions, but when it comes to this race, I find myself running back into the company of the fans to regain my sanity so I can hear talk of who is winning or how awesome Jens is, because really - it's all about the race, isn't it? Then why is the race organization so gosh darn nutso? Believe me when I say to you - Life, is all about people.

Let's start with the good (and slip in the bad)

I love meeting fans from other states.

Maybe it is the places where I put myself during a race, but I meet a lot of people from out of state. I am so impressed by these folks who take their vacation time, spend their money and travel to Colorado to see a bike race. Sure this year was special with The Jensie having his last race, but the number of travelers from out of state is fantastic. I strongly believe they change and make the mood of this stage race very special. It is exactly for them that I write my fan guides, well in advance, to help them plan to visit Colorado and have a good time.

As one fan told me as we stood on the road in Garden of the Gods, "planning is half the fun." She made me smile because that is the soul of a true traveler. (I had drinks with a number of fans in the course of the week - thank you! A special thank you to the fan on Vail Pass who added that tasty floating cheese puff to my beer. )

I love seeing families at this race like the Phinneys and the Stetinas and complete strangers.

My family used to have a tradition of meeting at the Solvang time trial in California, staying in a hotel over night, lingering over dinner in Los Olivas the night before and then strolling around the time trial the next day. I love seeing multiple generations at any race, or parents and kids. I like that I often meet Moms and Dads of the racers, I like that parents favorite or retweet my photos of their kids. It feels good.

I just wish Eric Zabel had come to America to watch his son Rick Zabel race (BMC). Rick's team won best overall team this year. Connie Carpenter-Phinney is real and would make a nice addition to our table of beer drinkers, Dale Stetina could teach us all a thing or two about race tactics.

I really hate it when media channels are abused.

Now for a rant. It bugs the crap out of me to meet someone (as I did in Boulder on Sunday) who shows up with cameras strung over shoulder and a blue photo vest and says he is there "for his portfolio." When I ask "Who are you shooting for, " I want to hear for whom and how you intend to promote this race. If you are not getting the word out there to help fans, sponsors or teams, then you are disrespecting this race. The fan behind the barrier who regularly takes photos and knows all the riders and traveled from Texas, has just as much right to be parading around as a photographer as you do. It is just wrong.

I fully respect the pecking order of legit photographers and media personnel.

I can honestly say that it takes tons of time, energy and experience to report well on a race. The men and women who do it well, need the space and respect to get their job done. There are key personnel in this race, and I do my best to respect them, in the theme of Ivan Basso I have tried to "Start ... from the low level, and go up." I recognize the levels in the media, after four years at this, I have learned a lot but I have much more to learn. I really like photographers Oran Kelly and his full-of-life girlfriend Jo, Darrell Parks, Dean Warren, Kim Hull and her husband Greg Hull, they would be a cool addition at our table of beer drinkers, and they can talk bike racing!

No I do not think Boulder is a good place to bring a pro road race.

I didn't write a Fan Guide to the stage start in Boulder for a specific reason - the fine citizens of Boulder would not listen to my ideas anyway, they live with pro riders within their borders and think nothing of them. Boulder is a very closed world and they like it that way. I used to work and live in Boulder for brief periods over my twenty-four years in Colorado. Someone, as myself, who has lived internationally and grown up in Los Angeles County is going to feel like a fish out of water in Boulder.

Have you heard the phrase, "I couldn't get out of that town fast enough," yep, well that was me Sunday. I swear I witnessed private cars being driven out onto the course in between race laps, I saw people riding their bikes on course and walking across the course -- all while the race was on! If a course marshal attempted to control the disregard for safety, a local would say with ridicule, "Gee she takes her job seriously" and walk across the course in between team cars right in front of her. God help us if the USA Pro Challenge returns to Boulder.

Cyclocross - whole different story, excellent host city.

I like the Schadens a lot!

If you ever see Rick or Richard Schaden go up and say hello. They own this race (which is privately funded) and are both approachable and super easy to talk with. I said my personal, "Thank you for this race" to both of them, and each continued the conversation, chatting about real topics of interest. I would love to stand with either of these men along the barricade and talk bike racing. I'd like Richard and Rick to be at our beer table having a beer with us right now.

Richard (L) and Rick (R) Schaden on the final podium with Tejay van Garderen (and his daughter) in Denver 2014.  ©Photo by Ryan Wallace, RevLine, for Pedal Dancer®

I wish race organizers (contractors) would not change maps and times last minute

Please get out real information for fans earlier. I understand television coverage trumps race start plans, but tardy information is confusing to fans without clear communication channels.

The reason I started creating Fan Guides to the USA Pro Challenge in year one (2011) is because I saw a lack from race organizers. I thought it would improve, it hasn't much. KOM is the marketing company responsible for race guides, which seem to appear a week before the race. I got my race guide on the last day (and I was there all week!). Maps and race times are often incorrect. But KOM is paid to do what they do and are part of the close-knit monopoly of KOM, Medalist Sports and Rogers & Cowan. I am competition and not an insider so there is no way that my services will ever be promoted through this race. 

I understand that Fans from out of state need to plan vacation days off from work, they need to secure transportation or flights, they want to know how much they will be able to get done in each town and  how to travel to and from the stage on race day. Also what else is nearby that they could see while on vacation and maybe meet some fellow fans. It is difficult for me to figure all this out and I live in the state of Colorado! I take my Fan Guides seriously, I want to offer accurate information. ~I need another beer!

With all that said, I give high praise to Medalist Sports. I liked the route this year, the riders liked the shorter stages. I think the Commissaires should not have stopped Stage 3, but think Medalist Sports do a fine job of keeping the race flowing with relative safety. A tip for fans in the future -- go directly to the host city websites for help in planning, these towns want you to visit as tourists.

I hate that the press has to cram in front of fans

My worst nightmare is when I have to step in front of fans to find the gate into the media tent or to get inside the barriers. Why they can't design a path for media better so that fans are not interrupted, I do not know. Fans crowd into every nook and cranny and I despise having to step in front of them even momentarily. The priority is all wrong, I try my darnedest not to block the view of fans who have waited for an hour or more in a prime spot. I am so sorry to anyone that I bumped or crawled past. I will gladly buy a beer for all twelve of those fans who wondered "what the hell is she doing." - you have no idea how many tiers there are in the media hierarchy of access, sometimes I am left to crawl.

The miss-information spread for marketing purposes is so unnecessary.

We're just not that dumb. CEO Shawn Hunter is number one a salesman and promoter, never forget that. He likes to say that the USA Pro Challenge is second only to the Tour de France, that Colorado has more fans than any other race. That sounds nice, but there is this country called Belgium, that sort of has us beat! Even a cyclo-cross race in Belgium can attract staggering numbers of fans. And then there is Tour of California, Tour of Utah, the tours in Canada, and a little country called Italy. Plus we all saw what Ireland and England could produce in terms of numbers of fans.

When I can walk anywhere along the race route and instantly get to the barrier or key spot during any moment of the race - the crowds simply are not that big. Shawn Hunter we are definitely ordering another round (or three) of beers for you.

I think the exclusivity of new sponsor Lexus was ridiculous.

I like their cars, my Mom drives a Lexus, but I am certain this good company did not intend to tarnish their reputation by being almost cruel to other vendors. Key race staff would not allow other vendors to park their supply vans and cars in the expo area if they were not Lexus. This meant back breaking inconvenience to other paying sponsors. And yet Lexus the company, paid for bike valet free to all fans who rode their bikes into the event - that is good community service. So I am behind Lexus and put the blame on USA Pro Challenge marketing for taking their "partner" sponsorship to the extreme.

Lexus because we were able to jam four photographers with all our camera gear plus a driver into one of your (very nice) Media cars, and you care about cyclists - Lexus, I will buy you a beer!

At the race with Lexus. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

I am not a believer that doping has vanished but I do not condone meanness.

It is absolutely true that there was a long period of time when media could not ask the tough questions or they would experience being ostracized, unable to do their job. Members of the media were forced to both promote and support individuals who flat out lied to their face. Times have changed and freedom of speech is cautiously returning, but as with all things in life, some people approach change intelligently, some emotionally, some with grace, and some with hatred. There was a specific rider on this tour, that I snapped one photo of, and that was by mistake. I never mentioned him and that is not because I want to silence him, I like that he can speak freely, I just don't respect his style or approach. I didn't like Lance because he was mean, I don't like anti-dopers who are mean. No beer for you rider #133

I really missed Frankie Andreau and Joe Lindsay at the race this year.

I asked Nicole Okoneski of Rogers & Cowan (the races representing PR firm), "Where is Bicycling.com this year, why aren't Frankie and Joe here?" "They are covering it from afar," I was briskly told. Oh. That's probably not good, since their from afar consisted of 9 pieces about the race for the entire year (I did 27, VeloNews did 44, CyclingNews completed over 30 pieces).

Do you remember last year when I contacted Steve Hill at Steephill.TV to ask him about traffic to his site post race? I was (privately) questioning whether the USA Pro Challenge was worth my time. Our stats (percentages, not numbers) were similar in that I got maybe 20% the traffic I received for the Tour of California which is lighter then the grand daddy of them all - Le Tour de France. This year my traffic for August was 80% of July's traffic, that is a good improvement for this race (although July was lighter for me because I was not in France and spent time writing about the Pro Challenge).

In past years Joe and Frankie have conducted Tour Talk video race reports similar to the Tour Talk videos with Frankie and James Startt in France. They are good fun to watch and keep the interest going into the next day's stage, but they didn't do it this year. Read Joe Lindsay opinion piece on his Boulder Report blog for Bicycling.com: A Change Is Gonna Come? Tune in for episode 453 of botched neutralizations in pro racing! by Joe Lindsay. I like Joe, I think of Joe as the smart one at our table of beer drinkers. I'd like Neal Rogers (VeloNews) and his lovely wife Whitney to join us for a beer as well. They would have some stories to tell.

I like not being tethered to one sponsor. But income would be good.

I like that I can promote openly what I think best for fans, it allows me to be absolutely honest. Yet I know I would be very good at promoting for a race sponsor or team, I can easily see lots of possibilities. I spend many hours doing what I do and anguish over the details realizing I am influencing someone's vacation. I take it seriously while having fun, so it can be fun for you. When someone asks me if I am a volunteer, I always answer, yes I am a volunteer even though I don't wear one of those yellow or blue tshirts.

Quality of information is really important to me as well as creating a sense of cycling community for visiting fans.

My favorite quote from the race:

"Mom, can we come back again next year?" overheard from a small boy in Denver Civic Center Park yesterday. Sorry, he was too young to drink beer with us.

One of my favorite tweets Jens flying home from DIA
And mine, of course - the photo I captured of Alex Howes after the finish line, lit up Twitter last Sunday night.

Seven things to expect at the USA Pro Challenge

1. Weather
2. TV coverage interference
3. Phil Liggett mispronouncing town names
4. Controversial commissaire decisions
5. Pro Riders loving their accommodations
6. Very smart cycling fans
7. Super nice support staff (marshals, moto drivers, official volunteers, media car drivers Terry & Steve, the Mavic support crew, Jamie the Mobile PA, and Marcel van Garderen!) We need a much bigger table!

What is next for moi?

I haven't a clue. I think I might remove the batteries from my computers mouse and follow Jens on his plan to lead Trek Travel Tours in Solvang, California. I think we'd make a good combo, even if we are as different as chalk and cheese, we both love travel and cycling fans. And we both appreciate the difference in others. I was blown away with Jensie's openness and graciousness with the fans - he is genuine. He is the real deal and I will miss him greatly (until we lead our next tour together that is). Yes, Jens definitely needs to join us for a beer!

Thank you to everyone who made my week happy. I actually had fun this year, lots of it, last year I did not, but that is in the past. I have good memories from this past week and only met four people that rubbed me the wrong way, I'd call that a success. If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that. ~Banksy

My dog is well

Thank you for sending my labradoodle Jack Denny well wishes. Jack is recovering well from his cancer surgery. He was with me for four days in Aspen before we returned home. In the end I got to attend much of the race due to help form two different home dog walking/care services. Jack is healing and doing well. Thank you!

If you didn't see it - check it out:

Manual for Speed: What's up with the yellow (the fabulous Mavic crew!)
Cyclocosm, The Week in Bike #32 – 22 August 2014 (video)
Cameron Wurf blog (Cannondale)
I Am Ted King blog Morning Announcements
Finding the balance: Michael Rogers on teamwork, happiness, and what comes next. By Neal Rogers, VeloNews

And watch the Vuelta a España - it's on now. SteehillTV all the links and coverage.

I had fun at the Trek Factory Fan Club Meeting in Aspen where fans got to chat with the entire team and get Jensie's autograph (and selfie). ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

My top-3 biggest regrets:

I missed meeting Cosmo from Cyclocosm, I really like his stuff, I think he changed his hair and I wasn't expecting the beard. Remember in 2012 when I missed Mario Cipollini in the VIP tent in Denver? Ya, this was kind of the same.

I didn't buy any Jens apparel. But I did get a really cool mug and Trek musette bag at the Trek Fan Club Meeting in Aspen.

I'd also like a do over on the spectacular crash to the ground I took while running along the barriers in the rain on Vail Pass. Apparently the Orange Guy fencing did not take down Alex Howes but it sure as heck took down me, and broke my lens extension thingy (that's a technical term for lens hood), and gave me an unusual dent in my left elbow. It's probably a tumor.

Okay, thanks for a fun week. See you in November, in Solvang, with Jens.

On to our next journey?  ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
.

Pro Challenge reports from the road Stage 7 - Denver, Final Stage

The 2014 USA Pro Challenge finished the week in downtown Denver

The peloton was gathering on a sunny morning on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. The Pros would shortly depart south bound to Golden, Colorado to race through downtown and up Lookout Mountain only to return again for more sprint points in town. Denver was buzzing with anticipation and would shortly witness full-gas Jens Voigt racing and a sprint finish determining the winner by fractions of a second.

Read about the Stage 7 start in Boulder
Pro Challenge reports from the road Stage 7 - Boulder by Pedal Dancer®

Read a previous post about the hill climb of Lookout Mountain:
Photos of the Day - Lookout Mountain by Pedal Dancer®

See photos and story of the final sprint finish in Denver on Sunday (great photos!):
Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge by Pedal Dancer®

See more photography from Stage 7 by Ryan Wallace:
Photos from Colorado - Photography of Ryan Wallace.

My day at the race - Denver

After watching the two laps around Boulder, I listened to Tour Tracker Live as I drove to Denver. I parked my car, rode my bike in (gave up on parking nearby) and happily handed my bike to the Lexus sponsored Bicycle Colorado operated bike valet lot volunteers. I walked into Civic Center Park to find lots of colorful people ready to watch a bike race. Of course I had to take a quick walk through the expo area for a few pieces of "free junk" (as I heard one child proclaim with great joy).

I had considered trying to get in a media car again as I had done last year (to verify my race viewing recommendations) but the scene was way too crazy and impossible this year. Fans packed Civic Center Park. Instead I headed exactly one block away where I found very nice courteous fans standing happily along the orange barricades with plenty of elbow room.

I watched as my fellow photographers began to pile up in a heap of camera gear. There they sat for hours waiting for one photo of the finish. Meanwhile I was busy recording my hometown on the Sierra Nevada beer map (photos below), moving about, chatting with fans, cheering really loudly for The Jensie, and getting shit upon by a bird. True story that last part, you can read about it here: Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge (with some great photos, if I may say so).

RESULTS

Stage 7 Results

First - Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Second - Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Third - Michael Schar (SUI) of BMC Racing Team

GC Standings

First - Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Second - Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Third - Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

Jersey Winners

Yellow Smashburger Leader Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Green Lexus Sprint Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Polka-dot Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey – Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
Blue Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team
Orange FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Jens Voigt (GER) of Trek Factory Racing
Dark Blue Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team

Final General Classification (via Steephill.TV)
USA 1 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) 20:05:42
USA 2 DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN SHARP) + 1:32
MDA 3 TVETCOV, Serghei (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS) + 1:45
POL 4 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 1:49

The big city - Denver



The Sierra Nevada map marked by color (beer choice) and pin (hometown) - national and international!




Thank you fans! There is something special about watching a bike race with fans. Somehow when they block your view it doesn't really matter, because it is about the experience, or rather, it is about having three more laps to actually see anything!!


The race - Denver

Jens Voigt and Ruben Zepuntke in the breakaway




Alex Candelario is also retiring
BMC staff were throwing more free junk to the fans in between laps


A mix of soigneurs and staff waiting for their riders to complete the race

A massive heap of photographers (and my friends)

TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT - please read this post with all finishing photos of Alex Howes Stage 7 win: Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge
Read more about this photo I (Karen at Pedal Dancer) captured of Alex Howes' near fall after the stage sprint.

This would be Jens Voigt's last race, seconds after the finish I ran toward the pack of people forming around Jens where the pro riders had come to settle on their bikes. I wanted to see Jens' face, look into his eyes.

I watched closely as Alex Howes, nearby, swung his bike around and came to a stop, I looked into Alex's face and saw a definite look of "f-What?!!!", it was almost as if he was in a different place in time and was trying to bring his brain back to the present. Nearly stumbling off his bike, he seemed not to know what to do for a brief second there on his own, then the mass of people hit and surrounded him throwing their arms around him repeatedly with huge hugs (and a awkward kiss by Tom Danielson). It became very real, he had just won a bike race.


I hope I always hold that image in my mind of Alex's lone expression just after his win. I hope I always hold in my heart the feeling of being there, two feet away, when Jens Voigt stopped racing.


Coming soon, podium, Jens farewell and some great photos by Ryan Wallace of RevLine Photo.

NEXT STAGE
2015!

Did you miss any coverage - look back on the days of the 2014 race coverage by Pedal Dancer® here: USA PRO CHALLENGE

How to make me super duper happy - link to my post on Steephill.TV -- http://www.steephill.tv/usa-pro-cycling-challenge/. In my world Steephill.TV is cycling news, I visit Steephill.TV many times a week (sometimes many time a day) and Steve Hill added this link of his own accord. Thank you Steve Hill for including me. And thank you VeloImages Brian Hodes and Oran Kelly who regularly occupy this territory.
.