Canadian CX Nationals 2011

Hungry racers from across our great country travelled to Toronto to aim for the coveted title of Canadian National Cyclocross Champion this past weekend. While Pine Point Park set the stage and created a unique backdrop for photographers, spectators and racers alike. It was a perfect day for a cyclocross (CX) event – clear blue skies and cool temps.

But it hasn’t been an easy road or ‘clear sailing’ for organiser Ziggy of ZM Cycling and Fitness. Forced to re-organise when political ‘roadblocks’ set up barricades preventing him from starting the 2011 Nationals a few weeks ago, ZM had to quickly to re-locate this rather important venue. Despite these drawbacks, the venue itself was challenging as racers sprinted on flats and climbed steep hills several times within the loop.

For spectators the course was great as one could see all the action at various points throughout the course. And for me, as both an artist and a photographer I relished at the unique background and the opportunity to display how a bike race could be successfully held within a big urban city a stone-throw away from our country’s busiest highway.

It was my own personal challenge to showcase the beauty of the location and the suffering of the racers. I love shooting in the fall. Although I do miss the heat of the sun, the softer light and longer shadows are great for photography. I looked around and saw a clear blue cloudless sky and a bright sun. I put back my flash in my camera bag and stepped out of my car with only one camera and one lens. Today, was not a flash day. Instead I decided to let the sun and the hill lead the way to my creative vision. While most photographers were up on the hill shooting with the sun in the racers face I chose to stay below and shoot into the sun. Opposite of what you should do. But I wanted a silhouette shot with some cool sun flare action.

The grimaces shown on the racers steadily increased as they got further into the one hour race. With each climb pain and burning muscles created stone faced riders suffering trying to keep the pedals turning against gravity.

I have attended several CX races within the past few years. The atmosphere at Pine Wood Park was electric. Moving around I now stood  at the top of the hill and could hear fans cheering below drowning out the faint buzz of the highway. I found irony in the thought that bicycles and cars have more in common than merely being mechanical machines. Racers accelerated, driving their legs up and down while in the background a small line of dancing ‘ants’ used the on-ramp to accelerate onto the 401. Both metal machines commanded by a human touch.

It was almost the end of the race and my fingers were numb, but that did not matter. When I think of the pain the riders went through, with each breath deeper than the last, heart pumping, legs burning and back aching I could withstand a bit of cold. Afterall, it was their hard effort that allowed me to capture a few images. I am quite proud of the art I produced this weekend and to this I say Thank You to the racers, the volunteers and to the organisers.

PS I do have more pictures – both artsy and non-artsy ones. Email me your plate number and I’ll see what I have.