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Criss Cross Oregon

If 6-year-olds created a bike race, it’d easily be a form of cyclocross. It’s fun to ride, fun to watch, fun to shoot.

I crisscrossed the state to Bend a week ago for the final day of the national championships to see what I could see and to test out my new cold-weather gear before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Now it was no surprise at all to bump into some great photo friends on assignment. LaBarge, above, and his PDXCross crew were owning the 4-day event. Such an inspiring, humbling and never-ending body of work. That Saturday night, there was a slideshow of their images from the first 3 days. So good, it was intimidating. How to follow that on Sunday – and not copy the good stuff (even if I could)?

The only time I savor my horrific memory is when taking photos. It’s easy for me to forget what’s been done – even by myself – and simply look for new ways to shoot sports. But even then, I was constantly wondering what the PDXCross folks were seeing that I did not. They’re at every event. They know these athletes as friends. Oh, did I mention they also compete in cyclocross races? Me, well, I was there cherry-picking the last day of competition. Felt pretty superficial, but it is what it is.

Did I mention it was fun to shoot? But I wasn’t the only one who knew this. I swear, I’ve never, ever seen so many people with pro/prosumer level gear at an event.

Not too long ago, professional photographers stood out in large part because of the high-end, expensive, professional gear strapped around their neck. Now, not so much. Today, everyone has a DSLR.

Can’t blame folks for wanting to take photos of this fun sport, but it was also a little threatening. I’m not worried about my skill set vs. other photographers so much. I worry about art buyers paying less because there is an expanding flood of cheap and accessible photography at their disposal. But that’s another discussion altogether.

I heard a bunch of riders talking about how great the course conditions were. And I’m not doubting them. But to me, this sport is often defined by crappy, cold wet weather and hills of mud. And there wasn’t a lot of that in Bend. But that’s cool. I won’t complain about sunshine and blue skies in December.

Now if I can only get those weather conditions guaranteed for Vancouver…

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