Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: April 2010 Page 2 of 3

Pro Cycling Photography

I’m in the process of trying to re-organize some of the online galleries of the pro cycling races I’ve shot over the past few years.  I’ve occasionally linked them here, but haven’t created any central index.  I’m still working on that, but in the meantime:

The CSC Invitational has been a favorite race of mine for a very long time now.  It helps, of course, that it takes place just blocks away from my house.  It was, in fact, what got me interested in watching pro cycling races after we stumbled upon the first edition of it in 1998.

While the name has changed – it started off as the Clarendon Cup, turned into the CSC Invitational, and will now be known as the Air Force Cycling Classic Clarendon Cup this year – the race has remained the same.  100 laps of a very tight 1km circuit through the middle of the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington.  Often acting as a prelude to “Philly Week”, it has consistently attracted a top-quality field of US pro cyclists.  It also happens to be the source of one of my favorite finishing shots (see above – Rahsaan Bahati winning for Rock Racing in 2007).

The ING Direct Capital Criterium has only run a single edition, thus far, in 2008.  Notable for its setting – a course that runs through downtown DC – it offered such a spectacular backdrop that it’s been noted as one of the reasons the organizers of the Giro d’Italia are considering starting their race in DC.  Race organizers say it will be back this year – on July 11, 2010.

I probably shouldn’t link this gallery, as I didn’t go to de Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) with the intention (or capacity) of really shooting it.  I went purely as a fan of the Belgian cobbles, and managed a few pictures.  Frankly, the quality is a little embarrassing, but I was particularly lucky to be positioned on the Muur.

Which is exactly where Fabian Cancellara opened up his (ultimately race-winning) attack on Tom Boonen.  This is an unedited set, to be whittled down in the future.

The Philadelphia International Cycling Championship is a grand tradition in US pro cycling, with 25 editions behind it.   It is not, I suppose, as grand as it once was.  The Philadelphia International Cycling Championship used to cap off a week’s worth of racing through the Pennsylvania countryside, but a tough economic environment has pared it down to a single day of racing on Sunday.  But a fantastic day of racing it is.  It’s a short road circuit that winds its way along the Schuylkill River, through the working class neighborhood of Manayunk, and then back onto Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a finishing straight I’d put up against any in the world.  It’s a lot of fun to shoot – and not just the action on the road, but the crowds there to see it.

The Tour of California is the US last and greatest stage race left in the US (sorry, Tour of Missouri – I fear we won’t see you in 2010).  I only made it in for a couple of stages, but got some great time trial shots.

The Little Bald Nugget of Santa Rosa (Levi Leipheimer) almost looks scary, doesn’t he?

The Tour de Georgia was the first stage race I had a chance to properly cover.   It was a great experience, meeting a lot of folks from whom I learned a lot.  The galleries below (hopefully) illustrate that progress.  I’m particularly happy with how the 2008 race coverage turned out, and have broken it out into stages (check out Stage Four, which consisted of a team time trial at Road Atlanta).

Unfortunately, 2008 was the last edition of the race.  Though promoters are claiming to be working to bring it back in 2011, the TdG is by all reasonable standards dead.  They haven’t even renewed the race’s domain name.  A shame, really.

The Air Force Cycling Classic is a recent addition to the DC cycling calendar, added by the promoter who has been running the Clarendon Cup for the past decade.  The Air Force, as a sponsor, is behind this Crystal City circuit race in a big way, and I hope it will find a long-term place in the domestic cycling scene.  This race briefly took over the Clarendon Cup’s traditional slot on the National Racing Calendar, but it looks like that’s been handed back.   You might want to check out the Service Academy Shootout for my (entirely luck-based) How To Win A Sprint The Army Way series.

The U.S. Open Cycling Championships, which took place in Richmond, Virginia in 2007, was rather notable for a number of reasons.  First, it was nearly canceled because of heavy snow at the start (in April!).  Second, there was even a cobbled climb!  But most important, it was the first pro cycling race broadcast live on a major network (NBC) in recent memory.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep the race alive, and despite year after year of assurances from the promoter it would return, this remains the only edition on this race.

So what’s next?  I’m definitely getting to the 2010 editions of the Clarendon Cup, Air Force Cycling Classic, ING Direct Capital Criterium, and the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship.  Also aiming for the USA Cycling Professional Championships in Greenville, this year.  Had been hoping to (finally) get to the Nature Valley Grand Prix, but that will have to wait for another year.

. . . and Saturday Morning Music

Sunrise music, actually.  Urban Dance Squad’s Deeper Shade of Soul:

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Did you know they were Dutch?  Not me.  Now on to Big Audio Dynamite (II)’s Rush:

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I think I wore out at least two cassettes of the RHCP Mother’s Milk album:

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Friday Music: Peachtree Edition

In Atlanta, Friday night were always easy:

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Ready to Sue, Cuccinelli?

Obama takes a big step forward on the decency front:

President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.

This is something he should have done long ago, I think. In any event, I’m glad it’s done now. The next step, I presume, is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli suing to stop this from taking force in Virginia.

One Of My (Many) Failures

Among the multitude of reasons I’d never make it in the big leagues of political commentary these days is my inability to look you in the eye and lie:

The RIAA/MPAA Wants To Search You At The Border

I could – and will – go on for days about the obscenely anti-social policy positions pushed by the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).  They consistently try to co-opt public resources to force people to participate in their own failing business models.  This is mostly done under the public radar, with very little public realization of the rights that they’re losing.  This, unsurprisingly, emboldens the RIAA/MPAA to take ever more aggressive and ridiculous positions.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) highlights some of the latest efforts:

We’re not easily shocked by entertainment industry overreaching; unfortunately, it’s par for the course. But we were taken aback by the wish list the industry submitted in response to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator’s request for comments on the forthcoming “Joint Strategic Plan” for intellectual property enforcement. The comments submitted by various organizations provide a kind of window into how these organizations view both intellectual property and the public interest. For example, EFF and other public interest groups have asked the IPEC totake a balanced approach to intellectual property enforcement, paying close attention to the actual harm caused, the potential unexpected consequences of government intervention, and compelling countervailing priorities.

The joint comment filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and others stands as a sharp contrast, mapping out a vision of the future where Big Media priorities are woven deep into the Internet, law enforcement, and educational institutions.

Like what?  Well, the EFF goes on to quote the MPAA/RIAA filing:

Intimidate and propagandize travelers at the border

Customs authorities should be encouraged to do more to educate the traveling public and entrants into the United States about these issues. In particular, points of entry into the United States are underused venues for educating the public about the threat to our economy (and to public safety) posed by counterfeit and pirate products. Customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States.

Does that iPod in your hand luggage contain copies of songs extracted from friends’ CDs? Is your computer storing movies ripped from DVD (handy for conserving battery life on long trips)? Was that book you bought overseas “licensed” for use in the United States? These are the kinds of questions the industry would like you to answer on your customs form when you cross borders or return home from abroad. What is more, this suggestion also raises the specter of something we’ve heard the entertainment industry suggest before: more searches and seizures of electronic goods at the border. Once border officials are empowered to search every electronic device for “pirated” content, digital privacy will all but disappear, at least for international travelers. From what we’ve learned about the fight over a de minimis border measures search exclusion in the latest leaked text, ACTA might just try to make this a reality.

Remember – there are no Fourth Amendment protections at the US border. Better than even bet that we’ll see this happen. Especially if the public doesn’t pay attention.

Midweek Makeover: Rescue Me

Occasionally a cover rescues a song that would otherwise be doomed to a life of treacly mediocrity. In this case, the embarrassing original is Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply. This awful thing was probably the soundtrack to so many AOL-stock funded over-catered weddings in the late 90s that if I played it in Reston right now, it would immediately send a dozen people around me into tears:

Seriously, wasn’t that awful? I bet you didn’t even get 30 seconds through it. I sure couldn’t. But.

Check this out. Yes, it’s a commercial. But it is also approximately eleven thousand times better than the original, and evoked a big and genuine smile the first time I saw it:

Anything Else While You’re At It, Gov?

The Gov. Bob McDonnell Clown Show continues:

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that McDonnell was instituting steeper re-enfranchisement requirements for formerly incarcerated people seeking to get back their voting rights. The new restrictions, which would have added a requirement that applicants submit an essay detailing their “contributions to society” since their release, would amount to a de facto literacy test for some of the least educated people in the state, as Chris Cassidy points out.

Disappointing, but entirely unsurprising.  And now he’s backing off, in a way that – well, let’s just say I’m having a hard time believing anything coming out of the Governor’s office:

After taking heat from local black legislators and civil rights leaders, McDonnell now appears to be backing off, saying that the whole thing was merely a “draft proposal,” which doesn’t explain why 200 people were sent letters saying they had to write an essay to the governor to get their voting rights back, or why one of his spokespersons defended the new process at the time as “an opportunity, not an obstacle.”

Oh, riiiight.  A draft proposal.  Maybe he was just trying to enlist the editorial talents of the 200 folks that got the letters?  Public outreach, right?

DC Cyclist Killed (Updated)

A woman on a bike was killed last night when a National Guard truck ran over her while moving to block an intersection on 12th St.  Washcycle has a bit of a coverage roundup, though details are still emerging.   There is, apparently, video of what happened, so I am hopeful that we can figure out exactly what happened and how to avoid it in the future.

Update from DCist, who identifies the deceased as Constance Holden, and has a statement from her employer, Science magazine:

Holden, 68, a veteran journalist and painter affectionately known to friends and colleagues as “Tancy,” apparently had just left the AAAS headquarters building on her bicycle around 6:00 p.m. Monday, 12 April when she was struck and killed by a truck providing support for the Nuclear Security Summit taking place in downtown Washington, D.C.

Holden had joined the staff of Science magazine in 1970. She was an award-winning reporter, highly regarded for her comprehensive coverage of the biological and genetic bases for human behavior. In addition to writing news features for four decades about social science, and particularly psychology, she had long edited the journal’s weekly “Random Samples” page, a compendium of newsworthy scientific developments. …

Holden was a highly accomplished artist whose oil paintings have regularly appeared on the walls of AAAS.

Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of Science informed staff early Tuesday, noting that Holden “was held in very high esteem and with great affection by both those people with whom she worked and our readers. This is a terrible loss both personally and professionally for so many on our staff who knew her well.”

Colin Norman, news editor for Science, said: “She was a unique personality and a wonderful reporter, and a great colleague. She will be deeply missed.”

Critical Mass Lahore!

Seriously, this warms my cynical little heart:

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Think about this, for a second.  A social/political movement has spread from San Francisco to *Lahore*.  And the participants all want pretty much the same thing.  How fantastic is that?

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