Do you know that truism that if you want something done, give it to the guy that already has too much on his plate?
Sometimes that’s me.
Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz president Mark Davidson called me up a few days ago asking me to organize the photography at the 4th Annual Mountain Bike Festival that took place this last weekend. I’m not much of a photographer, I’m not much of a mountain biker and I’ve never been to previous editions of this festival. But Mark said I could hang out in his RV — which he calls “Serenity” — so I said “Shiny. I’ll do it.”
I managed at the very last minute to get schedules out to a tremendous team of photographers. I did leave one guy out of the loop in my haste to ensure every event was covered (and my apologies to Sean for my goofup). And I had a tremendous time working with the staff volunteers of the mountain bike festival.
You can find race results and other informational goodies at the bike festival website. I think the several thousand photos we shot will eventually make it there too. Shanna McChord wrote about the event for the Sentinel for the newsy spin.
It’s ridiculously easy to shoot photos of flying bicycles. You get underneath the ramp, follow the bike rider with your camera and press the shutter release when they’re at the apex of their jump. The pros get fancy with composition and what-not because I’m sure photos of bike riders with nothing but sky for the background are a dime a dozen for them (check this amazing shot by Jeremy Leonard, for example), but I’m reasonably pleased with my jump shots.
What did I see from the perspective of somebody interested more in cycling as transportation? With only about 300 parking spaces for an estimated 6,000 people, I saw valet bike parking provided by Santa Cruz People Power. As I biked to Aptos on Saturday morning, I passed Steve, who towed enough bike parking spaces for about 50 bikes in a single trailer provided by Moved By Bikes. Moved By Bikes also provided two bike-totable solar panels to provide power for the Jump Jam sound system and one of the vendor displays.
I was happy to see hundreds of children having fun on bikes, many of them doing dangerous things, falling over, getting scraped up then getting up and going on again. I also saw women of all ages taking advantage of the skills clinics taught by Kat Sweets and her team of instructors.
I was surprised at the large number of bike companies with demo bikes at the Festival. Specialized, Pivot, Ibis, Pivot, Marin, Diamondback, Cannondale, Trek, Niner and others were there with bikes for you to try. An impressive showing, and much friendlier for the consumer than someplace like Sea Otter where thousands will wait in lines for the same bikes.
The Santa Cruz Festival featured local vendors too like Synergy Organic Clothing (?), Mount Hermon Redwood Ziplines, and this guy who sells his bike-themed t-shirts as “Mass Of One.” I asked if that meant something like a “Critical Mass of One,” and he replied, “Yeah, sure, it can mean that.”
One my favorite shirts from his collection is this “Fast Food” one. I’ve never seen one but we do have cats like this in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can buy this and his other shirts and hats at his website.
Finally, I was fascinated with Matthew Lavin’s R/C helicopter video platform, which he calls the Aero Dolly.
Matthew hovered his six rotor chopper over the Jump Jam on Sunday. I’m sure he captured some amazing footage, but in the meantime I can offer you my own cheap cell phone coverage of his hexa-copter in action.
You can view a slideshow of my nearly 200 photos from the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival by clicking here. Most of my photos are captioned — to view the captions, hover your mouse around the upper right corner of the slideshow and click on the “Show Info” text when it appears.