Tired as I was going in to the event I really enjoyed this year's Sea Otter Classic. Building on the experience from 2010 I concentrated on mountain biking and didn't shoot a single frame of the road race series. I experimented with a variety of angles and lenses, often in positions that were technically challenging and occasionally dangerous... once or twice during the dual slalom practice sessions I had to scramble to avoid being hit by a cartwheeling bike. I shot tight and shallow while riders passed me rendering auto focus tracking useless. I prefocused and tried to time riders entering the frame... which given the variability of line and elevation made for a low percentage of keepers. Nevertheless it made things far more interesting than shooting at f8.
Although there was broad participation from all ages in the various brackets, it was the energy, styling and lingo of the young riders that powered the event. Overheard. "I can't believe how loamy that sweeper was" and "I was all gooned out through that one" Riders' kit and bikes are festooned with branding: SixSixOne; FiveTen; Fox; Manitou; Commencal; Turner and of course, Specialized, Cannondale and Trek. Helmets, padding, masks, braces, provide some protection but I'm amazed at the sheer guts on display. When you consider how high and how far these riders jump, the number of crashes is surprisingly low, but when they do go down they take a pounding.
Here goes then with some of my favorites from this year's Sea Otter. For the record, in the first shot below I removed a bag hanging in the tree behind the young man... should have asked him to take it down as I spent about ten minutes trying to get a bike in the frame with him.