Riders Ahead by a Century

Last year I went to Armstrong and photographed the 2009 Century Ride. This is a 100km non-competitive bicycle ride for all ages and abilities. The ride starts in Armstrong, BC, heads up to Salmon Arm, and loops back down to Armstrong for the finish. This year, the Central Okanagan Bicycle Riders Association ran the 11th annual Century ride, and I was there to photograph the action. Since the ride is not timed, or part of any race calendar, it is truly a recreational ride.

One of the things I really love about events like this is that everyone is so happy and just having a great time. Walking around Centennial Park in Armstrong, before the start of the ride, that attitude radiated from all the participants. There was laughter and smiles everywhere you turned.

Photo of Smiles before the ride
After the start of the ride I headed out to the the top of the first big hill on the course. It is a great spot to photograph from as the riders are traveling slowly and there is a great backdrop of the hill falling away in the background. I did get my fair share of good natured admonishments about being in such a cruel place, but that’s the nature of the job 🙂

Phot of the Lead Pack
One of the really big challenges about this kind of photography is that there are no re-shoots. Either you have the shot or you don’t. Also, you don’t know who wants photos after the event, so you need to get great shots of everyone. With time to squeeze off maybe two frames, it is a great skill-builder for a photographer. When I shoot a wedding, or do some advertising work, the client only see the images that I think are the best; shots that I am proud of and best represent what the client wants. It is quite likely that they will see less than 50% of the frames shot. On a shoot like the Century Ride I post around 80% of the images from the day. It really keeps you on your toes! Focus? Composition? Exposure? Depth-of-Field? 1,100 times! I am happy to say I get it right most of the time!

Later in the day I went to the last big hill at around the 87 km mark. I am amazed at the speed the lead pack comes by at. These folks are still pushing really hard! But, this is to be expected as these people are the competitive riders of the group and this is what they do. What amazes me even more is the attitude of the recreational riders that come through, not far behind, and are still all smiles and having a great time. It makes my job even more enjoyable as we share some road-side banter about, once again, being at the top of a hill to catch them “at their best”.

Photo of Still Happy after 87 km
I really want to thank Lisa Jaffary, who is the events founder, and Heather Stewart, for encouraging me to come to last years event and asking me back this year. It has been a joy working with you all and being part of this fantastic event. Also a big thanks to my partner Shaunet who accompanied me on this shoot. She handled important jobs like pre-sales, camera assistant, coffee provider, and great conversation while we waited for riders to appear.  Thanks to everyone.

If you would like to see all of the images from the 2010 Okanagan-Shuswap Century Ride, then check out the gallery on my website.