The phone rings and two days later I find myself on the back of a motorcycle shooting three world class cyclist who lead the Radio Shack-Trek Pro Race Team.
Luxembourg’s Andy Schlecht, The 2010 Tour de France winner came to the area with his brother Frank and Jens Voigt, their legendary German veteran teammate. Their mission was to explore Tahoe, train and support two great local causes. Reno -Tahoe Cycling sponsored the first ever “Ride with the Pros” event last Thursday and Friday and raised funds well needed funds for the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway and the Tour De Nez-vada. For fan and cycle activist alike, it was a big success.
I have watched the tour de France coverage for the past decade and have always marveled at the incredible POV imagery that daredevil camera men consistently deliver. I have always imagined that they used special rigging to facilitated their up close perspective necessary to capture these flying cyclist…I was wrong. These photo teams barrel across the countryside on motorcycles, trying to stay one very close step ahead of the actual racers and their projected path while always being ready for the unexpected road bump that makes the sport so deliciously dynamic and unpredictable. The drivers navigate a whole host of moving and stationary obstacles at high speeds while the camera men rides blind to the world around them, lost in the focus of their cycling subjects and the pursuit of the perfect shot.
I have experienced this tunnel vision many, many times before. Just never on an trafficked winding street from the back of a motorcycle. After years of hanging out of helicopters, boats, cars with harnesses and dangling ropes or while flying along on skis I was surprised how new and fun this perspective felt. For two days, my dear friend and cinematographer, Tom Day and I traded off camera angles, shooting POV off the back of the bike as well as fixed angle on stationary ground strategically gained by leap frogging ahead. More than once plans shifted, routes changed , and the timing evolved, we went with the flow. For both days, we were energized by a large group of local cyclist fans and friends who came out in force share the road with these great legends.
Neither of us made the shift to riding backwards. No question that it would have afforded a much more flexible angle on our moving targets…For me, hanging on was the bigger concern. Instead, when it came time for the one key shot that I had scouted around Emerald Bay, I settled for a 6 foot pole cam mount to elevate the camera and mounted an ultra wide 14 mm lens to make sure that I didn’t miss…