The sight of the bikes on the cars, SUVs and pickups heading north on 95 gets my heart racing. I know where they’re headed. I’m headed there too. The people in the cars, SUVs and pickups are in the know. While other travelers are waiting in line for the outlets to open a whistle blows to start the next race. There are so many stories in their world, and so much passion. New scenes unfold constanty. I strive to make visually compelling images that will do justice to the stories of the day, and the quest for the podium. Many different age groups are represented. Each race has its own aura and energy. Volunteers setup and teardown courses; mechanics work non-stop under their tents; racers race, scout the track, warm up, cool down, and congratulate one another. Announcers provide high energy color commentary. Spectators ring cowbells and cheer wildly. Medals are presented. This is a lifestyle for those in love with life. The season will soon be over but the stories will continue. It’s cyclocross season in New England.
A couple of years ago I decided to get back into cycling. Upon visiting my local bike shop and describing the type of bike I was looking for I was introduced to the sport of cyclocross. Stories of epic rides through rain, snow, sleet; barrier jumping, hairpin turns and photo finishes painted a picture of a sport I wanted to learn more about. After visiting my first event at the Verge Series, I was hooked; but while the whispers of racing flew through my mind, and while I have thoroughly enjoyed the rides I have experienced since I purchased my own cyclocross bike, what I really became hooked on was photographing this sport. As someone trying to improve his visual storytelling skills and get better at photography, this sport provides an unlimited array of learning opportunities. While the events move at a break neck pace I have been working on choosing the moments to focus on more carefully than I have previously, in addition to searching out the stories inherent in the specific races and season as a whole. It is my hope this will lead to pictures that provide a richer visual experience for the viewer and will spill over into other areas of my work as well.
Cyclocross has also introduced me to the work of some extraordinarily talented photographers, videographers and storytellers such as Chris Milliman , Dave McElwaine , Natalia Boltukhova , David Chiu and Jeff Scher, just to name a few. I look so forward to viewing their photographs every week; each photo they share provides a truly unique and personal view of how they saw the world of the race that day – it’s a wonderful thing.
More info on the lifestyle of some of the pro (and amateur) riders can be found at the awesome Rapha blog. There are a few races left before the season officially concludes at the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross finals in Warwick, RI. You can follow the stories and check results at crossresults.com and more of my cyclocross photos can be found here: Photoshelter.ChristopherHarrison.com.
Cyclocross was invented as a way of keeping road racers in shape in between seasons, and that is one of the reasons I am so drawn to it. The sport, like life itself, has a start and a finish, but it seems to me that it’s the “in between moments” that matter the most.