Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012 Mass Ave Crit, Part I

Last Saturday's fifth annual Mass Ave Criterium cycling competition in downtown Indianapolis reminded me that as much as I enjoy this sport -- and photographing it -- the daylong toil behind the lens can be a grind in hot weather unless you have a handy, secure place to stash and access your gear.

I didn't have that Saturday, largely because nobody asked me to shoot it, so I had nobody to ask to help me out with that little detail. I shot this all on my own -- for the love of the sport, as they say -- and even had to fend for my own parking in the downtown area, which as Indy folks know requires a fee whether you park on the street or in a garage. And if parking is not readily handy to the course site, a photographer does not want to drag a lot of equipment around with him. And I like to be mobile when I shoot a cycling race; you want variety in your shots.

So again, like I did for last month's Indy Crit, I went with one camera and one very versatile lens, the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD. I stuck with that combination until about halfway through the Women's Category 1-2-3 competition, when I saw the sunlight getting dramatic. So I trudged over to the car and swapped the Tamron with my faster Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens, which also is much heavier. After a long day on foot and in the sun, that Canon lens felt like an instant albatross. I lasted the rest of the women's race and about half of the subsequent Men's Category 3 race before calling it a day. There were only three races after that -- the Police and Fire competition, fixed gear race and the premier event on the bill, the Men's Category 1-2-3.

I would have liked to have stayed for those, but ... I had nothing left. Saturday was different from the Indy Crit because Mass Ave Crit races started at 11:30 a.m. -- nearly the middle (and hot) part of the day, which means I was in hot weather from the get go. Whereas the Indy Crit started early -- 8:30 a.m. -- so I had a good three hours of soft (cool) transition time, plus the sun wasn't out the whole day like it was for the Mass Ave Crit.

So for those of you who visited my SmugMug gallery of shots from Saturday's Mass Ave Crit, the Men's 3 is the last event I shot, and I wasn't around for the podium ceremony. Sorry about that.

That being said, I will add that there seemed to be a lot more people -- spectators -- this year, and I think that's wonderful for cycling and for the Mass Ave Crit in particular. I also hope it bodes well for the Indy Crit, which continues to grow each year and can't help but benefit from positive experiences at this partner competition. The next post will be devoted to the non-racing folks at this year's Mass Ave Crit. There were a couple interesting photos in that collection, so come back to check it out.

Above and next two below: Action from the Men's Category 5 competition.

Above and next three below: The first picture (above) is the first I grabbed when I became aware of this crash at Turn 3 (corner of East-North-Mass Ave). It was the second of the Men's Category 4 race at that corner. This rider suffered a separated shoulder, the other one a broken collarbone.

Above and below: Kids (ages 3-9) enjoyed their short time in the limelight, including the youngster below experiencing the joy of crossing the white finish line. 

Above: Two of the riders in the simultaneous-run Juniors 10-14 and 15-18 competition.

Above: Anthony Pratt had no opponent in sight when he crossed the finish line to win the Juniors Ages 15-18 competition. 

Above: Action from the Women's Category 4 competition.

Above: Kate McDougal of Carmel, Ind., eased across the finish line to claim the Women's Category 4 title. 

Above and next two below: Bryan Boggs (foreground) played cat and mouse with the other cyclist in the middle portion of the Age 40+ and 50+ competition, including the shots immediately above and below, when the two were way out in front of the rest of the riders. Boggs fell back to the peloton to shake the rider, bided his time, then broke away again near the end of the race and won easily. He was one of several winners who crossed the finish line Saturday with huge leads. 

Above: Rebecca Zink, one of the Women's Category 1-2-3 pre-race favorites, finished 12th. 

Above and next two below: Action from the Women's Category 1-2-3 competition. 

Above: Sierra Siebenlist, nearing the finish of the Women's 1-2-3 competition, was another winner who had significant separation when crossing the white line. You can see the rest of the pack in the distance. 

Above and next three below: Action from the Men's Category 3 competition.

Above: John Schmitz of Bargersville, Ind., competed in two races Saturday. He finished 41st in the Men's Category 3, the race pictured above, and sixth in the Men's 50+. 

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