Outside is Freezing... The 'Cross Edition

Well, there goes another cyclocross season. All the preparations, training and planning has led the best riders in America to a snowy park by a frozen river in Hartford, Connecticut. The course itself kept changing throughout the week. From making the oddities reel on ESPN with riders on the mud slip and slide in the early days of the race, to the cooling conditions starting to turn squishy mud ruts into concrete, to a classic Northeastern snowstorm the day before the elite races and the temperatures hovering right around 20.

I once again joined Rapha to document the final stop on the domestic calendar for Aspire Racing. Here are a few of my favorite photos. You can find the race reports here.

A few random thoughts:

  • It is great to see kids racing (and winning) in 7-Eleven kits and realize it's not some sort of throwback, but actually part of the Boulder Junior Cycling program.
  • As a notorious underdresser, I may not be the authority on what to wear when you have to spend most of the day outside in freezing conditions, but I recommend wear two pairs of pants.
  • Much like embro, those little hand warmers sometimes kick into high gear when you least expect it. And they do not work well inside boots.
  • You're never too old to enjoy a good slide down a snowy hill on your ass. 
  • If you're a photographer, don't get mad at an official if they do not allow you to take a spot that you really wanted. They are just as tired as you are, plus they have to deal with YOU. Figure something else out and make it work.
  • Do not try to "grab a quick snack" at the Food Truck between the elite races. Literally every single other person has also thought the same thing.
  • Coming to big 'cross races always feels like a bit of reunion as I run into people I haven't seen in a while, as well as others that I saw on the last stop of this traveling circus life. That includes racers, spectators, photographers, mechanics, etc. And they are the ones that make this sport as special as it is.

new chapter... or something like that.

2016 was some year! Marked with some amazing highs and equally amazing lows. I was lucky enough to get to travel on behalf of the Rapha as a roving brand photographer to races, events and take part in lookbook photo shoots. I landed covers of Rouleur and Peloton Magazines. I met tons of great people, some of whom have become my friends. And I got to spend time in (and eat my way through) some amazing places around the world including Tokyo, Seoul, Dubai, New York City and Mathias, West Virginia. Yet all of the travel started taking a toll. My relationships and friendships suffered. I no longer had time to pursue my personal projects as all of my time was divided between responsibilities to teams and brands. I trained for races I would not get to line up for, because every race weekend was spent on the sidelines of other people's events... 

When I took the severance from my corporate job just over three years ago, I never intended for this "hobby" to become a profession. Yet thanks to the overwhelming support and encouragement of friends, family and newfound acquaintances I soon started to consider that there might be something in this "cycling photographer" thing.

First there were the local cyclocross races. Somehow those photos caught the attention of the editors of Peloton Magazine and they asked me to participate in their 2013 Photo Annual. Then there was the Hagens Berman U-23 Team and my first exposure to training camps, riding in California and sitting in caravans at a pro races. Specialized took me all over the NorCal gravel roads to take photos of their then-new Diverge bike. I travelled to the Tour of Utah with Drapac Pro Cycling and had my first professional exposure to Rapha via the Rapha Condor JLT team (still my favorite Continental team of all time) at the US Pro Challenge. Jeremy and Gabby Durrin opened up their RV and allowed to follow them around their 2014 cyclocross season. I spent a good portion of 2015 traveling to some of the biggest criteriums around the country on behalf of Peloton Magazine and shot my first look book for Rapha. Also, that year I spent some time with Drapac at the Tour of California and was lucky to have a photo from that race end up on the cover of Rouleur Magazine. I had my first solo photo show and travelled to Japan for a cyclocross race. 

Through it all, I tried to keep things interesting. I rarely went to the same race twice, did my best to avoid photo vests and kneepads and always felt more like a part of the team that I was working with, rather than part of the media. 

So... After much thought, I have decided that Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford, Connecticut this coming weekend will be my last. As a photographer, anyway. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that the fine folks at Rapha have afforded me and I look forward to seeing the brand grow here in the US as well as around the world.

Also, I am always floored by the amazing support that I get from random people anywhere I travel. I always find it hard to find the right words to say when someone seeks me out and tells me that they really love what I do and ask a million questions about how they can do the same. I guess the words I am looking for are "THANK YOU".

With the new year here, I am looking forward to spending a lot more time working on personal projects (some of which include cycling, specifically a certain cobbled spring race in France), traveling to places that I want to explore that have nothing to do with bike races, spending more time with my family and my friends and getting back to racing my own bike. 

Speaking of which, I am incredibly excited to announce that this coming year I will be racing with the support of MAAP Apparel. It has been a treat to watch this Melbourne-based brand grow over the years and I am looking forward to being part of the MAAP family here in the United States. But (much) more on that later.