A Memorial Day tradition in Somerville is the Tour of Somerville bicycle race. It is one of the premier amateur races in the country and this was the 70th time the event has been held. It hit me this afternoon that the first race I photographed was 25 years ago. I’ve missed a couple, but not many. Long-time race director Dan Puntillo says I have the most comprehensive photo archive of anyone, which is pretty cool.
After shooting anything as many times as I have this bicycle race, I’m always looking for a different way to shoot. I’ve tried everything before: blurs, pans, wide shots, high angles with a monopod. One year I shot it with a 4X5 camera, it was pretty fun.
This year I concentrated on shooting really tight as the riders leaned into a corner. I set up on the third turn, knowing the sun would be hitting the riders’ faces as they made the turn. I put my 2X teleconverter on my 70-200mm lens, got low to the ground since they tend to look down and blasted away each time they came around. I pre-focused on a spot on the road where they rode through. I set my exposure on manual since there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and any of the automatic modes would give me inconsistent exposures. By pre-focusing and not trying to get every shot in focus let me go for something unique. I had tons of bad shots, like over 500, but that was OK.
Today’s race went like many, four guys broke away from the pack early on and built a large lead. Rarely does that work and today was no different. The pack can go faster than individuals because they take turn at the front breaking the wind and the rest get pulled along. I’ve never raced but I done plenty of riding and it is an amazing feeling to be pulled along in a pack. Several times I’ve been barely pedaling and whizzing along faster than I could when riding alone.
So the pack caught the breakaway with two laps to go and it made for a great field sprint to the finish line. An Australian beat the 100+ other riders to claim his second Tour of Somerville win.