Canada Masters National Championships Crit (and TT!)

It's been a while since I've done a full day's shooting at a race and I'd forgotten how tiring it is. So many things to juggle: getting to the venue ahead of time to scout (didn't happen for this one), picking out the key spots both from the shooter's and the racer's perspectives, hauling around the gig bag, trying to remember to eat and drink, regretting wearing pants instead of shorts, finding the nearest port-o-potties, constantly rotating around the course, trying not to get in front of other photogs, managing battery life, chatting with all the cool people I know, running back to the finish line, going home and dumping the memory card, putting the batteries back in their chargers, sorting, culling, editing, uploading, posting, writing in run-on sentences.

And finally, cracking open a beer.

Click to enlarge/view in lightbox. You can also view the Master's Nats TT gallery here.

Oregon Gravel Epic Fail

The gloomiest/wettest/coldest spring in my four years in the PNW continues. Although it's been a week since the trip down to Oregon with some fantastically sunny/dry/warm-ish days in between, I'm currently sitting here listening to the sound of raindrops pattering against my living room window while I type this. 

I'll warn you now that there aren't that many photos of the ride itself. Constant driving rain has a way of encouraging me to keep my camera safely stowed away, especially when the roads are loose and bumpy. The Oregon Gravel Epic has been on the plans for the better part of a year and was meant to be one of the highlight rides of this season. With that in mind, you'd think that somebody that plans as meticulously as I do and has as much clothing for various conditions would be prepared for pretty much anything Mother Nature threw at us, but we'd both be mistaken. I was a victim of my own over-confidence in the forecast for shorts weather. Don't be like me; pack EVERYTHING.


We woke up on Saturday morning to strong coastal winds, and though it was overcast and dry. That lasted for all of about 30 minutes or so because as soon as we left paved roads and hit the first dirt section, the sky sprung a leak and continued to empty itself for the entire morning. Long story short, Alex and I bailed out at the first aid station and took the option to do the short course instead of the full monty. When the organizer tells you that first aid will be at least an hour away if things go sideways and you're soaked to the bone with not enough foul weather gear, common sense and self-preservation should probably triumph over ego. It's a shame because despite the wet spring hampering my ability to get regular training in, my body felt fine and wouldn't have struggled with the terrain or ride profile at all. I had a handlebar bag full of om nom nom and with three total aid stations, it wouldn't have been a problem keeping up with caloric intake. There's always next year.

The good news is that we had plenty of fun off the bike hanging out with Alex's college roommate and his family and running into the usual spots in Portland. One of the highlights was Alex running into a former riding buddy who knows the owner of VeloCult and getting to venture down into the basement. If you've been there and seen the stuff that's hanging in the rafters on the main level, just imagine the cool shit that's packed away downstairs.


This year, on my annual trip home to see my parents, I decided it would be a better idea to bring my bike with me instead of spending a week letting my brain rot on daytime TV. I'll admit that I was pretty paranoid about having my bike crushed by careless baggage handlers, but in the end, everything survived without incident in an EVOC soft case I was able to borrow from a good friend. I had actually booked the flight long before I decided I was going to bring it with me and if I was going to do it again, I'd fly with WestJet due to their much more lenient checked bag policy.

My parents weren't due to come pick me up until later the evening, so I set about finding enough caffeine to keep me going after only 4 hours of fitful dozing on the flight and wandering around downtown Toronto. By wandering, I really mean exploring Graffiti Alley to feast upon the smorgasboard of bike-against-a-wall opportunities. The level of graffiti art in Toronto is off the charts compared to Vancouver. The gallery below represents about 3 blocks or 1km worth of art in the Fashion District with a few others that I spotted on the way to grabbing coffee. It doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the tagging and painting in all of the city's little back alleys.

I haven't ridden a bike in Kitchener since I was in high school. A lot has changed in the last twenty years and it was a novel experience to ride a modern bike on roads I'd only ever travelled by car. What I'd forgotten about was how windy Southern Ontario was. Many thanks to the Waterloo Cycling Club for letting me drop in on their Thursday threshold ride.

Year in review

The continued cold spell and the dangerously icy roads in the city have been keeping me inside lately, so there hasn't been much going on to document. I doubt you want to see the puddles of sweat under my rollers, even if I made it all artistic and ran it through ALL THE FILTERS.

Instead, I've spent the last week or so reviewing the archives from 2016 as I needed to pull some shots out for another project. I had toyed with the idea of creating a print calendar for fundraising but didn't get my act together in time to pull it off. I'd still like to create something physical and tangible this year, so that may take the form of a 'zine or a run of prints. 

Anyway, while reviewing, I thought it'd be interesting to look back at the year that was and pull the best from each month. Clicking on images will open them in a light box, which may be useful for fitting the larger portrait orientation shots on screen without having to scroll...

January 28. The weather at this point last year couldn't be more different. I was regularly able to go and do efforts up Cypress. It was really peaceful being able to get up there, dim my lights on the way up and ride by the glow of moonlight and the light polution from the city.

February 8. The snow did accumulate at the summit, but it was still completely rideable.

March 7. Looking at this, I can only reminisce about how nice it was before the traffic control measures put in place for the Burrard Bridge update. Looking forward to its completion, whenever that is... 

April 3. Gorge Gravel Grinder in the Dalles, OR. This was the first big event of my season with the usual gravel grinding crew. I love this one because it captures one of those quiet moments that's an integral part of any ride, race, or event, but is so often overlooked in the rush to get out there.

May 22. Gran Fondo Leavenworth, WA. I remember having to go pretty deep into the red to make it up the climb in order to get the shot of Calvin coming around that bend. It was also a nice reminder to slow down and look up from the Garmin every now and then; you never know what you could be missing.

June 20. Technically, I took delivery of my Naked steel racer back in April, but it took a few months to collect the small parts I wanted to finalize the build. This shot captures the combination of stainless steel, turquoise, and burple flake when the sun hits the frame juuuuuust right.

July 29. There was a lot going on this month including Superweek, one of my annual rides up Mount Baker, and just generally awesome weather for being outside, but there was no doubt that July's pick would come from my trip down the Oregon coast with Tobin. 

August 29. A non-cycling photo had to make it in at some point. This one took some planning in terms of figuring out the exact time of day where everything literally lined up and finding a friend willing to stand in as a model, but this one will go down as one of my favourites of all time.

September 3. I did a double take as I was riding past Park Royale and had to turn around to get this. It triggered the aesthetic sense that had been buried pretty deep for a while and was a nice reminder that I used to be able "see" this kind of thing all the time. The proof is in this secret gallery. Sometimes I wonder whether I should put the links to my non-cycling related portfolio back up for public viewing.

October 29. This month was the low point of my year; I had been sidelined from most of the CX season by injury or illness and when I taco'd my front wheel and jacked up my knee at Valley Cross, I decided to just throw in the towel and try again next year. I'd been feeling pretty sorry for myself, but this sunset made some progress towards turning things around. The fried chicken I had right afterwards helped too.

November 12. With racing out of the way, I was able to focus on shooting at events instead of splitting my attention. Portraits have always been high on the list of styles I enjoy and this one ticks almost all of the boxes I look for: interesting textures, nice diffuse lighting, good "colouration" in the iris, and overalll suitable for a monochrome conversion. I usually prefer shooting candid portraits, but this one sums up Sven so well, despite the direct look into the camera.

December 4. I've already written about SSCXWCPDX16, but back to portraits: one of the reasons I love them so much is their ability to convey stories and emotion. This one serves as an apt representation of the community of friends I've been able to build through this sport since moving to Vancouver a few years ago. To each of you: thank you for continuing to be there to support me and what I do, in all the various ways that you've shown it.