Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Crossing the Country & Going Downhill in George

I was asked to shoot at the XC & DH nationals in George by Fritz Pienaar. I drove up on Friday the 13th just after lunch & when I got to the George Tourist Lodge Fritz & Wessel were still a little way away, so I made the most of the few min I had to wait & went to the park across the road called Skatelab & had a lil session which was great after over 4 hours of driving & sitting in roadworks stop points. We then booked into our rooms & went out for dinner to a Mexican place which was really good & got a relatively early night to get up nice & early for the race the next day.

The XC was at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, a really great spot & nice scenic track. Was quite a different experience to the DH that I'm used to... flat track, no big jumps, drops or rock gardens, so was a bit more of a challenge finding an interesting spot to shoot. I walked just about the whole track which was about 5 or 6km & with all my gear it was quite a mission, but fun non the less. About halfway through the race I found Steph Davies... or she found me. I heard someone shout my name in a rather enthusiastic manner & recognised the voice. We shot together for a bit & went our separate ways & met up later again & was good to have a more familiar face around to talk nonsense to. All in all it was a fun & different day of shooting for me & after being in the sun & walking most of the day I was not feeling too energetic & my plan of shooting a bit at the DH after wasn't sounding like such a good idea anymore. I went back to my room to chill, have a bite & watch a bit of TV... something I haven't done in quite a while.

Once I had gotten a bit of energy back I went for another quick lil roll at the park & Smittie & another rider came to the park with no shoes & their DH bikes... was quite interesting to see them in a park rather than on the slopes. Later on I got a message from Matt saying that they were having a braai on the other side of George... a whole 10min drive & invited me to come chill with them. A good evening of chilling & chatting to some great karaoke in the background by some rather inebriated & not very talented visitors of the Lodge. Everyone amped for the race the next day we got another relatively early night to be fresh for the race.

Up early & stop off to get a much needed cup of coffee to pry my eyes open & then to the shuttle for the trip to the top of the track. It's quite nice now that I know a few more of the guys & they know me a bit better, so we can have some time to talk crap on the way up as I just see them flying past the rest of the day. The top of the track is through the fynbos with many small rock gardens that claimed a few tyres. I moved down the 1st part of the track quite quickly (where I met Steph again) during the practice runs & wasn't too amped on all the phone & power lines going over the track. As I got to the 2 jumps before the forest & set up I heard that it was the break before the race & not to keen to wait half an hour in the sun I moved into the forest on search for something a bit more interesting in the shade. There were a few rock gardens & road gaps & a nice rock shoot, but all too crowded for my liking & the candy tape at the rock shoot was not going to make shooting there an easy job, so I found a quiet lil corner that I could have all to myself & with not too much supporter traffic to get in my way, so I was happy there for quite a while before I decided to move on.

For the 2nd race run I went right down to the end of the track to shoot the last jump & berms. This time spectators made my job a bit more challenging & with the candy tape I struggled for a little while before I was happy. After a few long shots I decided to go with the fisheye a bit & some woman in the crowd was not happy with my shooting style & I was getting a touch too close to her little one for her liking & after a mouthful from her I gave up trying to defend myself & explain my position. I got the few shots I wanted there & then went back to the long lens for the last few riders.

Pierre vd Merwe won the junior section by quite a bit & after a rather nasty crash on Friday nearly breaking his ribs I was quite surprised that he managed to ride so well. Prime mista that one!!! Pottie was in the hot seat after never losing a race on this track & Jonty Neethling gave him a bit of a scare, but he managed to hold his title.

After the prize giving I had to rush home to prepare & pack to go to Namibia super early the next morning where I have spent the last 2 weeks helping with the Desertlight Workshop & you can expect a few posts on that in the not too distant future as I don't think I could tackle 2 weeks in Namibia in one post with all the adventures we had.

Top 5 overall
1. Johann "Pottie" Potgieter
2. Jonty Neethling
3. Pierre van der Merwe
4. Gary Barnard
5. Louis Knipe

XC pics still on the way...


James said...

Once again, your photos are on other levels!!!!!!!!!

Eric said...

Thanks James!!!
Goin all out on that shit now!!!
Still gotta make a date with u & ur bike & now that she has new makeup on ooh!!!

Party boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Il Capo said...

Nice pics!
Amazing pics!!