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Back In My Wheelhouse

I was put on this planet to shoot weird sports, plain and simple.

Sure, the Olympics was a good experience, made a few frames I liked, saw some cool friends and was in attendance for part of sports history.

But aside from some happy hockey hooligans, Vancouver was a bit lacking in the fun and surreal.

Thank all that is good for San Francisco, home of the 10th annual BYOBW (Bring Your Own Big Wheel) race.

The Big Wheel race used to be held each Easter on legendary Lombard Street. Now it’s tucked away in a quiet but wonderfully winding and steep road near McKinley Square.

I showed up two hours before start time. Things looked a little bleak. First off, I found ROCK STAR! parking. In San Francisco. Where was everyone?

After getting the rundown from one of the event organizers, he assured me that people would show up, even with the crappy wet weather.

The Dude was right.

I felt a little high while shooting – and even editing – these images. I LOVE LOVE layers in weird sports scenes. Both before the races and during them, I had all I could handle. My last-second, Kamikaze drive down from PDX was so worth it.

The organizers were more than a little pissed that an ESPN TV crew showed up. They want to keep this fun race from blowing up with national exposure.

Hate to break it to you, guys: You can’t bottle up this goodness. BYOBW is such pure gold, it will only get bigger and badder.

Honestly, I figured I’d make a few quiet frames before the race and that would be that. A YouTube video from the last race really did not do this event justice. Every heat I witnessed in person was hysterical, the action epic.

After spending sometimes days trying to make a single frame I truly liked in Vancouver, I laughed at the bountiful goods this Easter Sunday.

To be honest, I lost track of time a little bit. And of the number of racers. There was one photographic gold rush right after the other. Then, the wave was over. All the racers hiked up the hill like conquering heroes, proudly hoisting their kiddie bikes above their heads towards adoring fans.

I looked at my phone: Only 30 minutes had passed. They would do at least two more heats.

As much as I love all sports, these weird sports give me purpose. Access is awesome, subject matter superb. There was a small handful of photographers there, smiling as much as I was. It was a far cry from the hundreds of photographers making identical images in Vancouver. Every moment felt as unique and original as every costumed racer I saw.

It’s official: I now love Easter.

** To see the outtakes, please click here.

  • Daniel Root - April 6, 2010 - 8:30 pm

    FRICKIN’ EPIC SOL NEELMAN PHOTOGRAPHY! Nice shots bro. Wish I could have made the trip with you as we had planned. I would have laughed my arse off. Good work as usual.


  • Chris Detrick - April 6, 2010 - 9:12 pm

    yes! yes! and more yes!!!


  • Davis Archibald - April 6, 2010 - 9:58 pm

    My mind has been blown to pieces! So so good!


  • Chip Litherland - April 7, 2010 - 2:25 am

    I’m just going to follow you around the world from now on and steal all your finds, man. These are sooooooo perfect and sooooooo you. Beautiful.


  • Scott Strazzante - April 7, 2010 - 5:11 am

    zzzzzzzz…boring as usual Sol…I didn’t see one silhouette…you are never going to win BOP sports portfolio until you start making more slick and soulless images


  • trent - April 7, 2010 - 6:09 am



  • […] Link: Back In My Wheelhouse » THE WILD WEIRD WORLD OF SPORTS […]


  • scott macdonald - April 7, 2010 - 10:22 am

    Incredible! But I gotta say, the outtake of the guy with the middle fingers and his front wheel breaking should not be an outtake, it’s too epic.


  • Robert Gauthier - April 7, 2010 - 11:49 am

    What?, no publicist telling you your 30 minutes (er, I mean, 5 minutes) are up?!! What is this freedom you speak of? Awesome!!! I should’ve stayed (who needs a family?)


  • Preston - April 8, 2010 - 3:06 pm

    Wow! I love these.


  • Bittle - April 9, 2010 - 7:25 pm

    I nominate the girl smoker as an include in your book.


  • Fred Joe - April 20, 2010 - 10:52 pm

    If this BIg Wheel $hit doesn’t win you some kind Intergalactic award there is no fu*king justice on THIS planet. Oh wait. Now that I think about it, there is almost no justice on this planet so I bestow upon you the Freddy Joe award. An award which confers upon the recipient free coffee . . . or dim sum . . . and the smug knowledge that YOU are the only person to have EVER won the Freddy Joe award. Congratulations.


  • Sol - April 21, 2010 - 8:25 pm

    Wow. Truly speechless. I’ll type it again. Wow.


  • Jake - February 6, 2014 - 12:49 pm

    I’m the guy with the gold wheel, camo pants and a bike helmet with steer horns on it above the bunny ears in the the first pic!


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