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Just 2hrs up the road from me is the Giordana Velodrome. A brand new facility in Rock Hill, SC that hosted the 2013 Elite Mass Start Track Nationals. This is a scene you have to see to believe. Dozens of men and women with quad muscles the size of mobile homes on fixed gear bikes flying around a concrete 250m track inches away from each other at speeds up to 42mph. It’s about as close to a modern day gladiator coliseum you’re going to get.
Racing on tight circuits is Rahsaan Bahati’s specialty, and this isn’t the first time he has been in front of my camera. Since a 2010 photoshoot we’ve become friends, so naturally if he’s coming to compete in my backyard, I’m going to pick up my camera. I covered Rahsaan during the Elite Mass Start National Championships.
Justin Williams (left) and Rahsaan Bahati (right) warming up before the race. The decorated Justin is no stranger to being up front either. Looks like I’ll be adding 1 more to my short list of athletes I follow.
Justin Williams rocking a sweet kit from Endo Customs
In all seriousness, Rahsaan is not only an extremely accomplished cyclist, he’s a stand up guy with a genuine heart to inspire kids. His Bahati Foundation has supported under-served youth communities through inspirational speaking and cycling outreach programs. That may sound like a generic marketing pitch, but his actions speak louder than words. Take the words from a complete stranger, Tim Granger, that witnessed Bahati during the 3rd day of racing at the National Championships:
“Crash and 3 flats … and still had enough points for 3rd place … but with all the mechanicals found themselves down a lap. With about 10 laps to go … they made a move to get the lap back … ended up about 20 meters short … one more lap and they would have been on the podium. It was amazing to watch … but what impressed me the most? After having the worst possible luck in a National Championship race where they clearly had the legs … Rahsaan rode two or three laps to cool down and then headed straight to the rail on the back stretch to talk to the kids again! I’m sure he was bitterly disappointed about the race, but he flashed that smile and talked to the kids for about 10 minutes … talked about school and hard work … listened about their bike ride earlier in the day. As a parent, you talk to your kids all the time about character, discipline, and hard work … in 60 minutes … he and Justin put on a clinic for the kids. 1 hour … 50k (31miles) … a crash and 3 flats … 20 meters from the podium … how many people do you know that would handle that with such grace?”
Riding my bike around my town of Greenville I can’t help but hear the name George Hincapie twice on any given day. He is one of the most well known and friendliest figures in cycling; most notable for competing in a record 17 Tours de France, and having the craziest legs in any peloton. So when Hincapie announced an 80-mile Gran Fondo in the mountains of upstate South Carolina, with HUGE cycling names such as Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, Tejay van Garderen, Ted King, Christian Vande Velde, and Dave Zabriskie… I had to get involved. This is the type of event that if I wasn’t behind the camera, I’d be throwing a leg over my Scott CR1.
PAVED Magazine, in my opinion one of the most beautiful publications that focuses on the art of cycling, picked up the story and was proud to provide the images you see below. The lovable and always honest Neil Browne not only wrote the article, but suffered through the gran fondo as well.
The ride started and finished at the Hincapie-owned La Bastide Inn where the stories and beer were flowing. Hincapie’s farewell to his professional cycling career was the center of attention, but by the end of the day all of the riders were thinking more about what the 7,000+ feet of climbing did to their battered legs. Hincapie said “Cadel (Tour de France winner) thought it was a lot harder than he expected”… now that’s saying something. No wonder George and Hincapie Sportswear call Greenville, SC home.
Blankly staring at my flickering monitor, eating a PB&J sandwich, while listening to my favorite creative music (Ellie Goulding, Daft Punk, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco), I simply can’t think of a witty fun way to begin this blog article. And it’s driving me crazy! Why is this happening?!? I got plenty of sleep last night, and it’s even raining outside so I’m not (that) tempted to ride my bike. Is it because this article is about Dario Franchitti–one of the most decorated racecar drivers in history?.. A truly humbling genuine man that is so accomplished, yet so modest and friendly, that it’s hard to evoke in words?.. Yea I think it has something to do with it.
I got the call from Panorama (Porsche Club of America) to ask if I could make the drive to Tennessee to shoot Dario and his insanely immaculate, but well driven 1973 911E hot rod. Of course these conversations are always humorous because how could I possibly turn that down? This is the kind of car you KNOW that you’re driving. No ABS, no power steering, no cushy suspension, raw. It’s not as fast as a Porsche GT, but it certainly feels like it at half the speed. Did I also mention Dario Franchitti is the owner? Thought so. Pack my gear, I’m on the road.
When meeting Dario as he was pulling his 911 out of the driveway, you could tell this Porsche isn’t just another car in his garage. We made eye contact for a few seconds, then his attention was immediately back on the car, triple-checking every detail to be sure every millimeter was spotless. “Only one cat in the world can do that” as he pointed to the hood. Looks like his fearless feline can’t distinguish a priceless 3.7 litre 325hp 2,150-pound fire-breathing piece of history and a cardboard box. Rolling over the Tennessee mountain roads in the backseat, listening to the melodic sounds from the exhaust, it was very refreshing to witness someone so famous with the means to buy any car in the world, so attached to a classic car.
A few shots of me working the camera, or is it Dario telling me HOW to work the camera? Photoshoot styles for Porsche mags are usually less processed and more natural. This feature was no exception, so a lot of attention goes into composition straight out of the camera. Over the 3hr time period we got some great shots, thanks largely in part to my very lovely assistant Sarah…OK she’s my girlfriend! . The entire experience was such a joy. The weather was perfect, the scenery was beautiful, and we even got to chat about one of my favorite shows South Park.
David Conklin did a superb job with the article, yet I’m afraid to say that the magazine can only be picked up if you’re a Porsche Club of America member, or know someone who is a member! How convinient, my writer’s block is going away and now I’m finished… Oh well, I guess I’ll go ride my bike!
Last year I got the call to shoot Derrick Rose for Power Balance, and since it’s the start of the new 2012 NBA season I thought I’d show off a few images. Needless to say before Derrick was named the youngest ever NBA MVP, he had achieved a long list of accolades and I had to hold back my child-like enthusiasm for having Rose in front of my camera.
The location was the HAX Athletic Club basketball courts south of Los Angeles. Like most shoots with high-profile persons, this one was short. My lovely assistant Lauren and I had roughly 15 minutes of shooting from first shot to last. No worries, I had more than enough images to mess with when I got home.
Despite the short time-frame of the shoot, Derrick was very kind enough to personally come over to me while I was packing up my gear and say a genuine “thank you” and pose for a picture with me. Definitely a moment I’ll never forget. The Chicago Bulls instantly skyrocked to my 2nd favorite team, and DRose easily my favorite NBA player… C’mon I can’t be a bandwagon jumper, go Suns!