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Do the Rock 2012 mountain bike race

As an avid cyclist, I’m a little surprised by how little bike racing/riding/anything I’ve photographed. It seems to be mostly limited to a little BMX racing over the last few years and nothing else. You can imagine how excited I was to cover a mountain bike race this weekend.

Do the Rock 2012 is put on by the Rock Cut Trail Crew. It was a first for me. I didn’t exactly know what to expect. The start/finish line was in a grassy field but most of the course was winding through the dense woods of Rock Cut State Park.

Do the Rock 2012

Riders take off at the start of the sport class race Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, during the Do the Rock 2012 mountain bike race at Rock Cut State Park. MAX GERSH/ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2012

I talked to the race coordinator about where a few good spots would be in the woods for me to shoot. I was glad I wore my boots. I hiked in a ways, backtracking the route. I was carrying my camera, lenses and other accessories in my bag and a light stand.

The race coordinator and a few riders said there was a log crossing that might be a neat spot for photos. I kept walking until I found what I thought was the location they were talking about. I made it there before any riders came through. That gave me time to set up a light and pick my position to shoot that was interesting and safe for both the rider and myself.

Gabriel Ion at Do the Rock 2012

Gabriel Ion of Spring Grove rolls over a section of logs Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, during the Do the Rock 2012 mountain bike race at Rock Cut State Park. MAX GERSH/ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2012

I shot it both straight on with a slightly telephoto lens and also up close and wide angle.

Andy Garrison at Do the Rock 2012

Andy Garrison of Rockford rolls over a section of logs Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, during the Do the Rock 2012 mountain bike race at Rock Cut State Park. MAX GERSH/ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2012

While hiking back, I picked a scenic corner and did a pan shot as a rider took the bend.

Ray Nelson at Do the Rock 2012

Ray Nelson pedals through bend Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, during the Do the Rock 2012 mountain bike race at Rock Cut State Park. MAX GERSH/ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2012

Taking a closer look at the last photo, I noticed he as a streak of blood on his left forearm. That’s fun. I bet he didn’t even notice.

For you camera tech folks out there, this was shot at 1/40th of a second @ f/10 and ISO 200. It’s a slight crop from the original frame shot at 16mm. And of course, I fired a flash with rear curtain sync to freeze the action.

I was pretty happy with how these images turned out for my first stab at mountain bike racing photography. It did make me want to drop some cash on a new mountain bike of my own and maybe stay off the roads for a little bit. I’m currently accepting donations in the form of cash or a properly fitted 29er.

You can see a few more of my photos at the Rockford Register Star website.

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