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USA Pro Cycling Challenge – Prologue

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

The TT bikes arrive in the Rocky Mountains

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

The steeds are named by their rider.

Cycling is unlike any other sport. The access fans have to their heros is unprecedented. They share the roads with them, and the parking lot when warming up for a time trial. Generally speaking, most cyclists are pretty cool people to chat with.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

The Time Machine...How cool is that?

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

10 speeds

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

Radio Shack rider, George Bennett, is a cool guy...literally. He is wearing a vest that circulates ice water to keep his core temperature down while he warms up.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

Colorado hero, Christian Vande Velde, contemplates the trial ahead.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

Waiting for the start time. (Some images are easy to caption, and some aren't. I was trying to avoid Untitled.)

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

Fans making their way to the start in the heart of Colorado Spring's Garden of the Gods.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

This Is Ted King!

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue Andy Schleck

This Is Andy Schleck!

More Cowbell.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Prologue

I hope you enjoyed today's look at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. We will see you back here for tomorrow's first mountain stage.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today with a Prologue time trial through the picturesque, ‘Garden of the Gods’, in Colorado Springs. The Prologue is an individual race against the clock. Riders leave, in predefined intervals, to challenge the course in an extremely soul searching type of way. It is the most painful event that a rider will ever endure. The challenge isn’t in the terrain, it is in your body’s ability to withstand the punishment your mind is requiring of it. It is also a special event for the spectators. Not only do they get to spend several hours cheering for the riders as each one races by, they get to mingle with them as they warm up. Cycling is unlike any other sport when it comes to fan access. As a fan, you get to watch the mechanics prepare their machines. You hear the roar of the crowds as the favored riders arrive in their team cars. You get stand next to the riders and observe as they prepare themselves for the trials ahead, and because cyclists are generally good natured interesting folk, you can have a short chat with them. This is what I wanted to convey in today’s post. I have said it many times before, but cycling is the greatest sport on earth. I grew up a bike racer, and have an undying love of the bike. These are the memories I have from years of riding, I hope you come out to a bike race to make your own.

We will see you back here tomorrow as the UPCC makes its way though the Rocky Mountains! I also might have a pretty slick free computer desktop to unveil tomorrow for everyone. It will simply be titled…’Captain America’. I think you will dig it.

Quick Reminder: I am providing this behind the scenes look at one of America’s greatest bike races to raise awareness of the Davis Phinney Foundation and it’s mission to match the $20,000 challenge grant provided by the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. If you enjoyed any or all of this coverage, PLEASE consider making a donation to help those living with Parkinson’s Disease, ‘Live Well’. To learn how you can help us achieve our goal click here.

The Complete 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge Coverage

A Cool Conversation

In the spirit of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, I thought I would post this image. It was taken last Summer at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. The patio, contrasted against the historic appointments of the lounge, seemed a bit like the setting for a fairytale. I tried my best to capture that mood. I wanted to set the stage for a place where you can converse about rabbits, cards, turtles, hatters, time and anything else Lewis Caroll (err…Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) might have dreamt up for us!

Capture Notes:
Nikon D300
Nikkor 17-37 AFS 2.8
Gitzo Traveler
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 17 mm
ISO Speed: 200

Processing Notes:
Capture (7 Images @ 1EV)
Photomatix (HDR/Tonemapping)
NIK Color EFX Pro (ProContrast to correct color cast and global contrast)
NIK Color EFX Pro (Tontal Contrast global textures)
Photoshop (Lens correction and corp)
Photoshop (Resize for web)
NIK Sharpener (Display adaptive 40% output 85%)

2001 Wine Odyssey

An astronaut with a day off from space walks, research, and mission tasks might want to take a break from the daily regiment of Tang to enjoy a nice pinot or cab with their protein paste. A quick trip to the wine cellar module on the International Space Station could provide such luxuries to our orbiting scientists. Although currently not available, or scheduled for production, a wine cellar would be a nice addition to the space based bed and breakfast. However, if there were such a thing, I believe this might be the wine cellar they would visit.

As a bit of an impressionist I commonly take creative liberties to realize my vision. Feel free to watch the video below to see how I use Photomatix 3.2 and a couple of NIK filters to build a wine cellar suitable for international space travel.

Capture Notes:
Nikon D300
Nikkor 16-85 VRII
Gitzo Traveler
Markin Q3T ball head

Aperture: f/16.0
Focal Length: 16 mm
ISO Speed: 200

Processing Notes:
Capture (7 images)
NX2 (Raw Conversion)
Photomatix (HDR/Tonemapping)
NIK Define 2.0 (Noise reduction)
Photoshop (Curves adjustment – global contrast/color correction)
Nik Color EFX Pro (Glamour glow – desaturate)
NIK Color EFX Pro (Tonal Contrast)
Photoshop (size for web)
NIK Sharpener (Display adaptive 35% selectively applied to the wine bottles)

…or, if you have time, you can just watch the video (length: about 10mins).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the NIK Tools, make sure you use the coupon code LIGHTASMAGIC and receive a 15% discount on their products.

To find out more about Photomatix 3.2 visit HDRSoft’s website at:

You can use the coupon code LIGHTASMAGIC to receive a 15% discount on Photomatix

Will Rogers Haunts My Backswing

After playing a round of golf at the Broadmoor you get used to missing putts and Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun’s chimes haunting your backswing. The Will Rogers Shrine sits high on the mountain above the golf course and taunts the players below with its bells. Don’t get me wrong, the melody of the chimes is beautiful. However, after your score begins to approach the IQ of a MENSA member you begin to think the shrine is laughing at you.

Nikon D300
Tokina 11-16 ATX Pro
Gitzo Traveler

Processing Notes:
Capture (7 Images)
Photomatix (HDR/Tone Mapping)
Photoshop (Levels Adjustment)

Tip: Those that are new to photography might be tempted to purchase a super wide angle lens (10-20ish mm on a DX sensor or 14-24ish mm on a FX sensor) and use it for landscapes. Why not? It will capture miles and miles of horizon. The only problem is that when you print the image the horizon line is so distant the impact of the image is lost. Don’t the lens just yet. It still has value. A super wide angle lens is great for getting close to a subject and filling the background of the image with the context of the surroundings. It is also a great lens for working in really tight spots. The staircase in this image was incredibly narrow. However, because I had a Tokina 11-16mm (17-24mm w/ crop factor) in my bag I was able to create this composition.

An Early Morning Swim

I made this image in the early morning hours on the grounds of the historic Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs. I sat quietly next to the shore until these swans felt comfortable with my presence. I was able to make several images of them until a mean spirited raccoon chased me away. I’m not sure if it is the mask, the sharp pointy teeth and claws, or the ‘Get off my land…’ look, but I packed up quickly when he started to head my way.

Nikon D300
Nikkor 16-85 VR II
Gitzo Travler