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.


I try and make my way up Mount Baker to Artist Point at least once every season. Given this year's snowfall, I'd been eagerly awaiting the upper road to be opened to the public, but travel during the last two weekends has kept me away, so I missed opening weekend on June 23. 

There's a constantly updating shot list I keep in my head and after seeing this image from Kristoff Ramon earlier this season, I knew I wanted to head up to do my own take on it.

Giro '16 - Stage 6. Credit: Kristoff Ramon.

Giro '16 - Stage 6. Credit: Kristoff Ramon.

The forecast for today was supposed to be sunny, but that was definitely not the case. As we left Vancouver, we were greeted by an intermittent drizzle that turned into a steady drizzle as we neared the border. By the time we got to Sumas, it had turned into a steady light rain. My friend turned to me from the passenger seat and asked if I wanted to keep driving. Plan B was to start the ride at North Fork Brewery, but as the rain continued, we moved on to Plan C and starting from the base of the climb at the Glacier Ranger Station.

Our luck with weather on this trip never seems to work out completely, but we were thankful that the rain dialled itself back to drizzle and even stopped for a while as we ascended. The top of the mountain was completely socked in though, so all we saw up top was 50 shades of grey. The mist and the temperature at the top meant that nobody wanted to stand around for long, let alone set up for any of my photos, so we quickly turned around and started the descent. Visibility wasn't terrible and despite the damp air and roads, the way down wasn't as treacherous as I thought it'd be.

Oh well. There's always next year.

The Island

I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I've been living in Vancouver for almost four years and have never spent any meaningful amount of time on the Island. My only trip to date was to visit the Naked Bicycles workshop last November for my fitting, but that doesn't really count because my entire day was spent on the ferry, in my car, or in Sam's shop. I'd never gone over for the Robert Cameron Law race series or any of the fondos either. With a surplus of vacation days to use, I decided that last week was as good a time as any and booked a four-day weekend visit.

I didn't really have a set itinerary for this trip; there were no events or races going on and the only research I did beforehand was asking all of my coffee connoisseur friends for their recommendations. I knew I was going to do the Broadstreet Cycles Thursday chill ride and the Victoria Wheelers Saturday ride. Other than that, My plan was simply to roll around and explore. 

The benefit of leaving on Thursday morning's first ferry meant that I was able to enjoy empty Vancouver roads, avoiding all of the morning rush hour traffic and giving me the opportunity to make the most of my first day of vacay. The downside: waking up at 5am to guarantee enough time for breakfast, loading, and any of the last-minute hiccups that always happen when travelling.

I'll be honest: I didn't take many photos of actual riding. When I'm rolling around here in Vancouver, I'm usually with people or groups that I know well on roads that I'm intimately familiar with so I have no hesitations reaching for my camera. I was a stranger on strange roads with strange people during this trip, so I decided to play it safe, especially on some of the more *brisk* rides. Despite what these images may lead you to believe, I did, in fact, ride my bike and did not just drive around placing it in front of things for the photo op. There are also a bunch of photos on my Instagram feed of some of the coffee stops I made to Second Crack, Bows & Arrows, Hey Happy, Habit, and Caffe Fantastico.

So instead, I'll leave you with this random collection of photos from the trip. What was pleasantly surprising was a bit of a resurgence of my eye for capturing images beyond all things bicycle. A little bit of street photography here, a little bit of architecture and urban there. Some land/sea-scape thrown in as well.  One of my favourite things about traveling is finding cool graffiti so be warned, however, that there's still a surprisingly high percentage of my bike against a wall.

Long story short: I'm sad that it's taken so long for me to do this. I'll be back.

Gorge Roubaix 2016

For a bunch of different reasons that you probably don't want to hear about, I decided to take a step back from road racing this year to instead focus on having fun with my friends. This was great in theory, but the fear of losing all of the hard-earned fitness from last year meant that I was soon back to doing structured four week training blocks. What can I say? I need structure in my life. The good news is that since I wan't doing Spring Series or any of the early Washington stage races, I was able to take my time getting back into the swing of things and the training paid off. 

My "gravel crew" decided back in December that the Gorge Gravel Grinder would be our first target event for the year. 75 miles, 5000 ft. of elevation gain and just under 18 miles of gravel. We decided that we'd stick together and enjoy the ride without any consideration of riding for time or placing.

We arrived in The Dalles on Friday night and spent Saturday morning doing a shakedown ride. Forecast was sunny and mild with no rain in sight. Oh, and ALL THE WIND. We rolled West up to Rowena Crest, a special treat for me since I've been after a shot of the infamous switchback for a few years now. 50km out and back and then it was time to change and hit the breweries, but not too hard. We had a big day ahead of us, after all.

We rolled out on Grinder day with a pretty big group out of the Dalles, but an ill-timed bathroom break in our group meant that we quickly waved goodbye to the main group. Bad news in that we could no longer sit in and suck wheel, but good news in that we could avoid any general sketchiness (of which there was some early on as demonstrated by a random brake-check) and could do our own thing on our own terms. After spending the early part of the ride on pavement, we hit the first sector of gravel, a 12km gradual grind uphill. At that point, we abandoned our neat little paceline and simply got down to the business of crawling uphill through loose, dry, sandy, gravel. We stayed roughly together until one of us pinch-flatted a few hundred meters from the first aid station. Surprisingly, this was our only mechanical incident of the entire weekend.

A few groups left the aid station at roughly the same time and when the gravel and dirt reverted to tarmac, we tried picking a few of them up and getting back into a rotating paceline to get us to the next gravel sector. For the most part, our attempt to organize this was a dismal failure with other riders surging ahead and disrupting the pace, or not being able to maintain the speed we wanted, but we found a diamond in the rough; Brad from Portland who ended up sticking with us for the remainder of the day and doing solid work. Steady, effortless, and smooth. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Little else needs to be said. We rode through some incredible scenery, crammed down calories of both the liquid and solid variety at the aid stations and made it back for beer at the pub. I'd describe the ride as challenging, but not soul-crushingly so. There was apparently a lot of rumbling about the organizers cutting about half the gravel from last year's course, but to be honest, I think I'm OK with that since all of the gravel seemed to be uphill. I enjoyed myself and the company, but I'm not sure I'd consider myself a fully-fledged gravel grinder. Part of me sorely missed the competitive aspect of it and wished that I was doing the actual Gorge Roubaix race, but that would have meant no sweet photos. Speaking of which...