Today I could not ignore the sheer beauty of the 4th installment of Offroad Ontario’s XC race at Albalea. To view or purchase event photos please click HERE and, if you are on FaceBook please feel free to visit my page at Cecile Gambin Photography for updates.
A little bit of mud was found among spectacular scenery. The raw beauty, lush vivid green plants, majestic trees, moss covered rocks and slabs of Canadian Shield that graciously lined this property reminded me of the infamous ‘North Shore’, BC and I was giddy at having this wonderful opportunity to photograph here. Everywhere it was eye candy – I didn’t know where to begin and realised that another trip here in the future is a must.
This race was both good and bad for racers and myself alike. Good news – if you raced and finished this puppy you’ll end up a stronger and better rider. Bad news – many riders succumbed to the physically punishing mud pits that grew in size as the races progressed. For me the good news was the action and the shooting in a photogs dreamscape. Bad news – I had a equipment malfunctions as my big flash did not want to talk to my small flash which resulted in several misfires and a few flashy pics in the morning class. I suspect there is more than just ‘anger’ issues with my equipment.
I also apologise in advance on the handful of photos I was able to take of the afternoon race as time slipped faster than expected…I got lost while taking a shortcut back to the start line which took me in the wrong direction resulting in much wasted time.
I was lucky enough to pre-ride most of the course as Andrew Ralph and his wife Kelly graciously lent me ‘Lucy’ – her KTM 105. I eagerly jumped on wearing my bicycle helmet and rubber boots as that was all I had with me. With flailing feet I came back grinning ear to ear with what has to be one of my most memorable rides in a long time. Despite the 105 bogging down a bit at lower revs, it was nimble, light, easy to handle and at the perfect height for me. On the pipe the bike sang. If I had a million dollars I would have a few bikes and this one would find a home in my stable quite easily.
Another huge shout out to all the volunteers, BMA, Woodys and OO for another successful race. Alabalea has the reputation of being the hardest race on the circuit and the 2013 edition did not disappoint. In fact, I think it will remain one of the hardest races for a long time as riders at all levels endured fatigue at all stages of the race. A big thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Seniors (grandma and grandpa), their son, and his son Andrew for graciously inviting us to race on their gorgeous property.
Finally, congratulations are extended to all racers for having endured this tough as nails race. Good luck to everyone tomorrow at Free Flow MX – I will not be there as I will be busy prepping for my sons birthday party later that day.
Have you ever had a race, or a day, when you realise you should have just stayed in bed? Well that’s how I felt Saturday night as I was driving back home from the 2012 edition of BMA’s Calabogie Boogie trail ride. I stopped at the local Tim Hortons in Perth, picked up my BLT toasted on white with no sauce, and contemplated the day and my lack of photos. I sat in my still wet clothes inside my car for a good half hour, closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind. I called home, explained the day and my husband David told me to book a room and go back to the Boogie tomorrow. Bless his heart.
This event was important for me to shoot for several reasons. First, to document the ride and hopefully nail some shots so riders could have a few sweet pictures of themselves riding a classic event in difficult terrain and show their friends and family what they do when they ride off-road. Second, ‘Romaniac’ team mates Rome Haloftis, Barry Armstrong, Paul Phillip and Mike Pflug managed to talk pro Red Bull/Comsol Bell Racing enduro athlete Chris Birch from New Zealand to come to Canada and ride our trails. How cool is that? A world class enduro rider hitting our homegrown trails!
I arrived Friday night around 7pm with dark brooding clouds covering the Calabogie Highlands. It was great to meet up with people I had not seen in a while and I chatted up a storm. Nearing mid-night it was time to check into Hotel GMC and as I watched lightening strike across the lake I visualised the type of photo I wanted. Having ridden the Boogie several times in the past I knew how devastatingly difficult yet beautiful the terrain could be and I had envisioned the perfect shot…I just had no idea where in the 170+ km day I needed to go. Thankfully, Dave Wrack gave me some pointers and a map of Saturday’s trail ride.
Enter Saturday. Rain, thunder and more rain before the riders meeting should have given me a clue as to how this day was going to turn out. I headed out well in advance of the riders and checked out a few spots. And the rain continued. I thought about doing some ‘drive by shooting’ where I literally took pictures from the inside of my car but decided that the only place I could do that really did not make for exciting pictures. I realised I could not drive too far into the trail with my 2WD and so opted for hiding underneath a huge maple tree and hoped for the best. Soon enough, the rain got the better of my flash and I made the decision to pack up my gear and leave before I destroyed everything. Artistically I would have prefered to stand out in the open to allow the viewer to see the length, steepness and technicality of the trail but I decided to not risk damaging my camera gear. Electronics and water rarely mix well.
The rain continued heavily throughout the lunch hour. I had found the lunch stop and took refuge, along with the riders, under the two tents. I decided to change my game plan and chose to take photos for a project I am currently working on. Little did I know that was going to be my style of shooting for Sunday as well. Many riders opted out of riding the afternoon as the cold settled into their bones and chose to end the ride via the K&P Trail heading for the comfort of their hotel room, tent, or trailer. I decided to try one last area before I called it quits in my attempt to salvage my day. Kudos to the BMA pre-riders and volunteers continually upkeeping the trails the day of as high winds and rain knocked over larges branches.
During the lunch break I took shelter under the two tents, along with the other riders. It was getting crowded and this was honestly the only opportunity for me to take photos in a relatively dry area. I took advantage of it.
Sunday – blue skies and cool temps greeted the region today. Back at base camp riders were eagerly prepping themselves for another great day in the saddle. Sadly though, the MNR decided to kibosh the killer trails on the north side and along with it the beautiful scenery. And, unfortunately, I mis-read the map and realised that most of the riders were on a trail to my far left thus resulting in me missing the pretty much everybody in the morning. At that point, I decided to change my game plan, again, and just take pictures to satisfy my creative itch.
Despite the foul weather and land issues BMA ran a top-notch event and riders came away happy. As for myself…my misfortunes on Sunday were all of my own doing. Serves me right for always following David and not paying attention to map reading 101. Overall, I may not have been able to get the photos I had envisioned but I am quite happy with the pictures I did take. Kudos are extended again to all the help the BMA crew gave me and for creating a great and unforgetable weekend.