08 August 2012

The Pedal Dancer approach

I recently had to summarize Pedal Dancer
This was a good exercise for me, especially since Pedal Dancer is honestly a creative outlet for me. It also affords me the opportunity to learn more about cycling in the process of writing about cycling, but really it is pure creativity. You may have caught on by now that I am very enthusiastic about cycling. Last weekend during my ride, I came upon a cyclist wearing a new USA Pro Cycling Challenge polka-dot jersey, I rode alongside the cyclist (Mary) and commented, "I like your jersey." We then had a nice conversation about traveling and cycling as we rode along as she told me she planned to go to the race again this year (and had bought 3 jerseys last year). Eventually Mary asked me, "Which is your hobby cycling or writing about cycling?" I paused as I realized both are my hobbies, and my passion.

I had to review the contents of this blog recently when I lost the page (and url and history) to my USA Pro Cycling Challenge Page, what a bummer that was, but in so doing it sort of took my breath away - I wrote all this? When did I write all of this content? That is the thing about writing - it is definitely the unconscious taking over. Time flies by, the interest held so tightly, I am as free as when I am riding a bike.
So what is it I write about? I was trying to explain to a new Pedal Dancer Photographer what my approach to cycling is and how I needed the Photographers help ....
My view is always from the fans perspective and anything a fan would be interested in at the race - going to the race, traveling, food, equipment, riders, teams, enthusiastic fans, who you meet, what you are curious about. Photography is important for me to be able to tell the story, and mostly to avoid copyright issues (quite expensive and totally uncool to steal someone else's work). 

I have been writing up logistical stuff these past weeks (more in the queue to come), but really this year I wanted to do more human interest stories. Sort of like those side stories they do in the Olympics. I contacted Karen who writes the ColoradoFishing.net website who is preparing some fishing recommendations for Jens Voigt (he loves fishing) along the route of the USPCC. I also have one in the works for Levi about mountain biking along the USPCC route offered by Kevin at comtb.com. I have other ideas as well, breweries, coffee shops, pizza etc, all "for" a specific rider who will be competing and would enjoy that aspect of Colorado. Events, travel, and personalities are an interest and sort of my angle at these races.

While at the race I like to try to share human interest stories or teach the reader something new about racing or Colorado. Any ideas would be welcome. The best part of having a second person at the race is a fresh perspective so I don't want to say "get this or get that". I don't want "great shots" there are plenty of photographers out there who use Nikon camera's with huge lenses and all get the same shots. I sort of prefer the shots that show the behind the scenes happenings and look real. 
I have some photos in my library that I will use some day, that show the ITT bikes being weighed, configuration of the caravan, the support personnel (Mavic!), the riders interacting with fans, fan costumes, riders with their families. There is so much happening at a race. You know the real people stories that bring the 'gods' down to our level, and the people that make these races possible. Those great cycling shots, and the big news agencies, make the sport seem sort of unapproachable, when really the sport is very touchable and real, and the fans are at varying levels of understanding, but eager to learn and happy to be there. Most of my readers tell me how they learn, and how approachable the stories are.

I interviewed Shawn Hunter (CEO of USA Pro Cycling Challenge) yesterday and he said that one of the ways they decide on which Continental teams they select is if the team brings value by having contributed to the community. He mentioned United Healthcare had donated a bunch of bikes recently. Those stories matter to get the race into the news and generate more revenue and serve a purpose to inspire others. I have to keep reminding myself that this sport is not all about the finish line photo, it is a fun sport that can do good.
And that is how I summarized Pedal Dancer at the races. You can read more cold hard facts at About Pedal Dancer® but the simple truth is, I want to hear about your story at the race, and what questions you have about "why do they do that" or "what is that for" or "who are the sprinters coming to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2012" - ya see, that is one I don't know either, but I was just wondering about that myself. I gotta get back to writing and figure that out!

By the way, if you want to see "great shots" view the wonderful photography of Casey B. Gibson VeloNews, Darrell Parks, any Getty Images, O'NevGraham Watson, or the photographers listed in the right column of this website.