Irreverence meets cyclocross in the annual single speed cyclocross world championships. Victoria, BC won the right to host this crazy and wonderful event. November 22, 2015 about 330 racers spilled over Western Speedway land, a facility for auto racing and dirt biking but also a frequently used venue for Vancouver Island’s Cross on the Rock cyclocross race series.
Cyclocross is challenging enough on a regular geared ‘cross bike, so restricting the effort to a single gear while dressed in outlandish costumes, whilst grabbing liquor infused hand-ups along the way or straight up shots of whisky directly from a bottle creates a spectacle and feat of order well above simply riding a bike.
What’s more, the winner of the men’s and women’s race, in this case repeat winners Adam Craig and Mical Dyck respectively, each committed to a tattoo from Government Street Tattoos in Victoria to commemorate the victory.
Despite the flow of booze, there were no issues, no out of control behaviours, just pure fun. Fun. The kind of fun a bike event creates. Everyone was having fun. It didn’t matter if you were racing or watching, it was fun. In fact, my cheeks were sore from all the smiling and laughing as I watched the races unfold.
Course doping, or cutting corners or unpopular sections was rampant after a few laps, but no one seemed to mind or care. The leaders were certainly trying to win, but further back in the field it was all about the spectacle and an zealous appetite for tomfoolery and that three letter F-word.
I had two cameras in tow: my Nikon D600 with 80-200 f2.8 zoom lens for quick digital shots, and my beloved Mamiya 645 Pro TL with 35mm wide angle lens (22mm equivalent ultra wide in 35mm film). With 5 rolls of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO B&W film, 3 rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400, one half shot roll of Ilford Delta Pro 400 film, two film backs and camera harnesses I was all set to capture the moment.
Even when trying to slow down, the pace of the race and the colourful costumes and bright low fall sun meant i’d be blasting through a 15 shot roll of 120 a little faster than expected. Changing out the 120 roll on the empty back while trying not to miss some action was a little challenging and in the frenzy to catch some action with my digital camera, I mistakenly dropped my Mamiya thinking it was strapped onto my shoulder, which it regrettably was not. I dented the filter thread part of the 35mm lens. Oops.
I love the contrast and grain of HP5 Plus and Tri-X 400. The ultra wide angle lens mixed with a bright ‘sunny 16’ day and a wide angle lens meant good depth of field could be had allowing me some latitude in focus distance so I didn’t have to fuss too much in the crowds alongside the course. There were times when I’d blown shots as slightly inebriated enthusiasm created more motion blur than I was after. It’s a moment to appreciate the talents of old-school photographers that didn’t have the luxury of high ISO and auto-focus.
All in all, I was happy enough with 22% of the photos I’d captured on film, possibly below the norm for a pro photographer, but just fine for the inspired amateur.
To get these photos posted on the social media sites quickly meant a marathon session of developing. For all the film, I used Ilford Ilfotec HC developer, Ilfostop and Ilford Fixer. 6-1/2 minutes of development, 1 minute stop, and 5 minutes fixer. Then 2 minutes photo flo and 10 minutes wash.
I built a home made “bodge” of a film washer a few weeks earlier using ABS piping. It works great.
With only one Paterson single-120 roll developer tank, I had to overlap the process. While rinsing the previous roll, I’d be loading and developing the next roll. I developed 5 rolls the following Monday, and the last couple rolls the next evening.
My Epson V600 scanner, set to 48-bit colour, no dust removal, was working hard to scan in images at 4800 dpi. I’d been wanting to try wet scanning with lighter fluid, but decided that would slow me down too much. I’ll go back and re-scan some of these later using that process.
The hybrid analog/digital workflow really validates film, especially medium format. I find myself using my Nikon F3 or FA less than I’d have thought now that I have my 645.
Film is definitely not dead.