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Saturday, July 30, 2011

••◊ The Brixton Women (mostly)

Last Saturday was our annual bicycle club race in San Marcos around the university campus.  I volunteered part of the day and shot the rest of the day, which was an interesting fight with outdoor conditions.  Between the extreme contrasts of morning daylight coming over the horizon and fast moving subjects with me having a relatively short lens the racing action shots were a bit...well, difficult.  My photographic efforts here were considerably last minute, so of course I didn't throw a long lens in my bag as I should have.  This mainly meant I was limited to portraits. 

The Brixton team's heritage emanates from the Ranchos squad.  Robert, a former Ranchos racer, started the Ranchos women's team a few years ago and the team was so successful that they were picked up by respectable sponsorship, including Brixton Cycles, a bicycle manufacturer and the distributor of many well known cycling brands.  So in a way I consider the Brixton cycling team sort of like the sister team to the Ranchos squad.

Jenn and Rachel, two Brixton racers, were kind enough to give me five minutes of their time to take their portraits.  In both these shots the women were in full afternoon sunlight, so I cranked up the power on my camera flash to ludicrous nuclear and used the sun as a highlight, which balanced out nicely after ape-ing exposure.  Since their pupils were already closed down due to the sunlight I didn't even get any red eye!

Patricia, the German faction of the Brixton team, has gone from just keeping up on Ranchos training rides to shredding some serious rubber on the road in just over year.  Now if anyone accuses her of being slow she has the earned right to say "ficken sie, scheisskopf!", or something of that nature...  Picked up that phrase in German class in high school, much to Mrs. Essex's dismay I'm sure.  We can't forget about the Brixton husband, Roger.  Roger was there sporting this year's contentious and much maligned "blurple" Ranchos colors.  When Patricia started racing I told him to buy a nice high end camping chair, being very familiar with how competitive athletics works with we Germans.

Then there's Jo.  This grrrrl is an animal.  I thought it might be interesting to show her full "Hulk" style transition.  She showed up in the morning with a long flowing girly dress, hair draped over her shoulders, and celeb-utante sunglasses.  The next time I see her she's broken away, gap-ing the field with a massive attack.  Jo stayed away solo most of the race!  I know from the Ranchos training rides that this woman can keep up with the boys no problem, but man, I'm not sure I would want to race against her.  Look at the intensity on that face.  The final photo was taken post race.  My feeling is that Jo is going to do big things in cycling.  I would put money on her for the Olympic squad.

Some of the team members bring their family out for the event.  I was a volunteer for corner 3 with Bob and his daughter Mary Beth.  Mary Beth was mostly camera shy until she got around her dad, then her face lit up like it was Christmas in July.  Note that Bob even had her sporting our sponsor's logo on her hat!  ...our new 20" bike spokey dokes model!

Then there's the Tragarz family.  I'm sad to say that after starting the Ranchos cycling club way back before the dawn of time, Alan is leaving us for the golden fields and majestic mountains of Colorado.  For a cyclist this is a valid excuse I guess.  The day of the race was his last day as president of the club and his efforts will be sorely missed.  We've seen his daughter and son grow up in the last few years, consoled him through his struggles with team clothing vendors, and I've personally been on hundreds of club rides led by Alan every Saturday morning.  When he wasn't around the training ride turned into a battle between adolescent siblings when dad wasn't looking.  Then Alan would come back the next week and the riders would behave themselves around "dad."

...and finally, the big win in the cat 1-2-pro race.  Bryan pulled it off after 90 minutes of racing in the heat and humidity with a solo breakaway.  At 21 he's also a national pursuit champion and likely a future pro racer on a major squad.  Just look at that gap!  The cat 1-2-pro race usually comes down to attrition.  If 60 men start, usually on 20 actually finish and 3 or so make the break-away.  It's brutal to watch.  One year when I won the cat 3 race they snuck me into the this race later in the day.  I think I lasted 5-7 laps, but by then my legs were toast from earlier in the day.  With fresh legs I still wouldn't have made it all 90 minutes, given an average speed of about 25mph and a 60' climb per lap around a 1 mile course.

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