The Redland's Classic is a 5-day bicycle racing competition in Redland's, Highland and Yucaipa. Apparently this is not some little event. Cyclist's from around the world come here to compete.
Despite a month of hot temperatures, the weather took a turn on Saturday. Saturday was the men's and women's Stage 4. It was chilly, windy and wet. I was sick and my chest hurt like hell. Coincidentally, I had been in a bicycle accident two weeks earlier. I broke a rib and was bruised from head to toe. But, I decided to come out and enjoy the day as best I could.
I am glad I did. Despite everything, it was a fun and exciting day. Last year I was aware of the race, but didn't go downtown to see it.
Before the races I wandered the course scoping out places where I thought I might get some interesting shots. I placed my camera and practiced shooting the terrain. The idea being that I would memorize a landmark beforehand. Then during the races I could simply place the camera, find the landmark in the LCD view finder and take the shot. This way I wouldn't be exposing my body to the track and minimizing the time that the camera was close to the racers. This way I wouldn't get hurt and that the racers wouldn't be distracted. When I say "placed the camera" I mean I was crouching down or laying down and reaching the camera out with one hand staring into the LCD display. A good example being the 4th shot. I sat there for a few minutes shooting the trees imagining the line the riders might take. I leaned in laying down on the street to setup the shot memorizing where the trees were and how the shot looked overall. Then when the racers actually went by I slipped the camera under the guard block with one hand , eyeballed the shot and started clicking. I think you can see one of the riders looking at the camera as i\f to say..."well hell, what an asshole for all I know". But, she has a little smile, so I like to think she's considering how clever I was.
I was ousted out of some of the locations I picked by the race officials. They were nice and explained it was for my own protection and that if I wanted to take a shot form that location I would need a press-pass.
Stage 4 winds through downtown in a sort of figure 8, although I think technically it might be more of a mobius strip, seeing as how the path never crosses itself.
For the women's final I found myself a great spot at the starting line. A minute before the race began the sound system rose with a stiff base-line intertwined with sythesizer music. Anyone who has ever watched a sports-based movie can probably imagine what it sounded like. The mood of the competitors was loose and friendly right up until the last minute when the tone shifted dramatically.
I was unprepared for just how close the riders actually get to the spectators. I found myself stepping back a bit on occasion. Particularly on the outside leg of the last turn. I mean, you are mere inches from a freight-train.
By the end of the men's final I was ready to die. My head was pounding and my chest felt like my lungs were being stabbed. The doctor had given me a, for lack of a better term, "girdle" to where around my chest and said that it might be at least 3-weeks before the pain would subside. But it only helps so much.
I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again. There is always something going on in Redland's. Its a nice little town with a bit of art and culture. That's why I like living here.