Mountain Biking

The Jetblack 12hr Mountain Bike Race

The Jetblack 12hr Mountain Bike Race

The final mountain bike race for the 2016 Rocky Trail Entertainment XC season was the Jetblack 12 hour. This year it was held at Mowbray farm MTB track near Picton in the southwest of Sydney. It was a couple of years since previously shooting my last XC race there. Though the course was basically the same, weather over the last month or so had altered the terrain around it.

The main change in the features around the course was the missing lake. Heavy rainfall of the previous weeks managed to wash away a dam, draining the lake in the middle of the course. Rain had left the track over-saturated. More rain overnight had also added to the puddles, making some sections of the track more like water crossings. Although the previous night had been another wet one, the new day dawned windy but otherwise the weather was great.

Terrain along the track varies quite a bit. It heads through open fields with some nice views across to the city, crosses and drifts along a small creek that was once the lake and heads off into a young pine forest. The wet weather had closed a couple of sections of the track making the course shorter. However, this just meant faster laps, bringing the riders back in front of our cameras more often.

At 10am a mass start sent mountain bikers racing off into the fields. The harsh light in the open fields below the start line meant shooting there was tricky. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a few clouds came rolling in and softened up the light a bit. I followed the track in the same direction as the riders were headed, stopping when I came across shots that I liked. By mid afternoon I had made it probably halfway around the track. I realised the best locations to shoot the sunset would be in the fields and dams back near the start so I packed up my kit and headed back in that direction.

Nightfall saw me playing with my lights around the lakes and puddles. By using a mix of flashes and dragging the shutter to create long exposures I was able came up with some interesting effects. When water was added to the frame I threw reflections of the riders lights into the mix. I always have trouble balancing the riders lights with my flashes.  The problem is, I end up losing portions of the bikes due to over-exposure caused by the riders lights. Exposing for the riders lights is tricky as no 2 riders seem to have lights of the same brightness. Practice makes perfect though and each time I am out there I seem to get a little bit better. The good thing about 12 hour and 24 hour races is that I get plenty of practice and plenty of chances to get it right.

Below are my picks for the race.

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
Superflow: Ourimbah

Superflow: Ourimbah

The first round of Rocky Trail Entertainment’s Superflow Gravity Enduro took off last weekend at Ourimbah. There was a great turnout for it with almost 200 riders in the pack.

I was up there under the guise of Outer Image again to getcompetitor shots for all involved. Gil was away for the weekend so in his absence I called in the talents of Jaime Black to give me a hand. Jamie settled in on the downhill track and I moved to cover the all-mountain trail. Having shot at Ourimbah so many times before I was wondering where I might find a new angle but there is always going to be a spot or angle out there. I soon found a nice rock section where people are jumping over and tested a couple of different angles on it until I found one I liked .

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
James Williamson Enduro

James Williamson Enduro

For the second year I was invited down to the wonderful Wingello State forest to cover the James Williamson Enduro or the Willo as it’s more commonly known as. I would have to say that this is one of my favourite races on my calendar. The forest scenery that they race through is truly magnificent and both years that I have been there a fog has blanketed the area adding to the atmosphere and ambience.

Being the First race in the National XCM series the race draws in some great riders from around the country but despite the competition there is great camaraderie. The event is held in memory of James Williamson who did a lot to progress the sport. Proceeds raised at the event go towards the development of young riders. To find out more about the charity and James swing over to the James Williamson Enduro event website

After the event and after everyone else had seemed to leave I stuck around the forest for another night and explored the area. Despite the areas of pine forests being cleared by the forestry commission it is a stunningly beautiful area. It backs on to Morton National Park and the forest gets wilder as you get closer to the edges. Lyrebirds roam the forest floors and seemed to spend most of the day singing away.

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
Stromlo for the Shimano GP

Stromlo for the Shimano GP

And yet again, though this will be the last time for a while, it was back to Canberra. This time it was round 4 in the series of this year’s Shimano GP taking place at Mt Stromlo Forest Park. 

We went down on Friday afternoon and sat around having dinner together with the Rocky Trail race organisers Martin and Juliane. It was a nice relaxing evening catching up and talking through the race season so far. Then off to the car to set up for the night.  The Saturday dawned chilly but not frosty like the previous weekend’s Rollercoaster, no frozen puddles this weekend. There was no brilliant sunrise though just a flat grey sky.

I had the option of getting a lift to the top and walking down or start at the bottom and walk up. I decided on the bottom as I wanted to shoot the riders among some of the beautiful wattles that were in bloom down there before the sun burnt through the clouds and made the light too harsh. Unfortunately, this meant that all up my day was spent walking uphill and shooting riders as they came uphill, not usually what I would normally choose. As it was the soft cloudy light stuck around for most of the day so I could have done it the other way around.  Over the rest of the day, I slowly made my way uphill making the most of the soft light by shooting in the trees. There are some great views around the track which makes Stromlo one of my favourite to shoot. I tried to include these in my shots as much as possible (no point in having these views if I don’t use them).

At the end of the day, I ended up near the top at Echidna Pass shooting the riders as the came through a gap between a couple of big boulders. Having shot there before I count the gap as an old favourite of mine. Gil finished off his day shooting in the trees below me on skyline which was great as it meant that I could get a lift back down the hill.

We didn’t hang around for too long afterwards but drove back North and headed out to Bungonia Gorge for the night. A couple of lookouts there overlook a slot canyon down in the valley below. Plans are already being made for an excursion down into the canyon.

Below is a small selection of the shots from the day. 

 

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
Stromlo Rollercoaster, the final round.

Stromlo Rollercoaster, the final round.

 

It’s hectic weekends at the moment as I flit from race to race. Not that I am complaining mind you, I love travelling round and visiting a new place each weekend or revisiting as the case may be. This time it was back to Stromlo in Canberra for the final round of Rocky Trail Entertainment’s Fox Rollercoaster.

With three tracks running the Rollercoaster covered a large section of Mt Stromlo. We went down on the Friday so we could have a bit an explore around the area. We drove out west past Cotter Dam and along Paddy’s River to the space station at Tidbinbilla. We spent the night camped up along the river. Snug as it was wrapped up in the sleeping bag it was an icy morning with puddles frozen and a layer of frost over everything.

Saturday was practice runs at Stromlo. Gil and I took our cameras and headed off to the vapor trail or, as it was known on race day, the Camelbak Track. Gil took to the top half while I explored the lower half. I was quite keen on getting a few shots of the big wallrides in action plus we were just doing a bit of recon for shooting locations on race day. Not nearly as many people were hitting the wallrides as I had expected but I did manage to get a couple of shots. With locations scouted I started on my way back down heading via a field where I knew the kangaroos gathered and snapped a few shots. The sounds of music further down the hill lured me on to the dirt jumps where I met the guys from backbone BMX and did a few shots with them to finish off the days shooting.

Early Sunday morning and apparently the temperatures hit a chilly -4. So I awoke to yet another frosty morning. I don’t mind the cold temperatures but it does make it harder to get out of bed in the morning. Race day all went smoothly. Gil and I shot at the locations we had scouted the day before. Gil got some great shots of a drop up top while I shot lower down on a berm I knew of. I even managed to get a few more sneaky wallride shots in.

A huge congratulation to all those place-getters and an even bigger one to Michael Vanos and Vanessa Thompson who won the male and female elite series. You can, as always see the full results on the Rocky Trail website here. All the images are available for viewing on the Outer Image website here and don’t forget to download your shots if you raced on the day.

A huge thanks to all those who made the series as wonderful as it was. Top of the list is Martin and Juliana of Rocky Trail Entertainment without whom we wouldn’t have a series in the first place. To the fine folks at Fox racing and Camelbak for sponsoring all the races. To all the caretakers that maintain the tracks that the races are run upon and of course to all the competitors who are the soul of the series and who make each event so much fun

Richard

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
Shimano GP at Awaba

Shimano GP at Awaba

A couple of weeks ago, back when it wasn’t raining, I was up at Awaba with Outer Image shooting round 2 of the Shimano GP. Awaba for me is a funny track. I have shot there quite a few times but never seem to remember the locations or the layout of the track. I think that is mainly because I have only shot close to base camp before. This time for a change I decided to head out a bit further and just follow the track back in. I found a lot of cool locations, all rainforest type stuff. I did struggle a bit balancing the light out as it was just so dark in some of the locations and the sky when it came through the trees was so very bright. I found my self looking for shots where the sky wouldn’t show.

Love the track though and love the event. It’s another track on my list of places to visit outside of a race meet. I have also been told that I need to go up and shoot the downhill track as I have not yet had the chance to do so. The list is growing.

 

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events