Bikes At the Track

A new experience for me. I got invited out by @dan.robertson to check him out at a motorcycle lapping day, at the always popular (and technically challenging) Calabogie Motorsports Park. I wouldn’t be riding (obviously, I’ve never been on a bike in my life!) but I grabbed my trusty cameras (yes, plural) and took a drive out.

As always, it’s hot in the paddock. That’s ok, and I’m not complaining – Dan was the one in the leathers, and that’s gotta be damn hot.

014 - first break - Danger Zone//

Fortunately he was all set-up with a tent to cover the bike/gear, and lots of water.

Now, Dan’s been on the ‘wrench before, talking about buying the bike to track with, and we’re gonna talk to him again shortly and get his version of events (boy, that sounds ominous, don’t it? It’s not though, no bikes were harmed in the making of this piece). In the meantime, you get mine, from behind the camera.

The bike community, especially the track-driven bike community, is different to other enthusiast communities I’ve been around. Especially today. the closest I can come to it is actually the tabletop community, which leans towards cooperative games, and helping each other. Possibly also the cosplay community. Hey, nerds are nerds, no matter what your particular nerdism is.

Back to the point. The automotive community is aggressive bordering on combative these days. It’s all about win-win-win, being better. You only need to see a dick-waving contest over horsepower to see that – it’s selfish, me-first, me-only. No more is that evident than in unsafe mods for esthetic value, and be damned with the rest of the community, and general public.

The track bike community truly helps each other. Have an issue with your bike at the track? Someone will help you. Missing a particular bolt or nut? Someone will help you. Don’t know something? Ask a random passer by – they’ll help you. I… like it. It’s what I’ve tried to foster, what several have tried to foster, in our local automotive communities. I felt no worry about asking someone to move to the side so I could get a particular angle on a shot – even if they said no, it would be polite and respectful, rahter than the “fuck off” I’m becoming used to from the automotive set.

As for those pictures? Well, I had three vantage points. First, the final corners of Calabogie, from up-high – at the last corner there’sa viewing platform & patio on the second floor of the building that houses some shops and emergency services:

013 - first session - colour duplicate of 012//

008 - first session//

011 - first session//

Second, I was down on the burm at the corner known as “Temptation”. I actually ended up climbing up on some boulders that are there, so I could get a decent vantage point:

018 - Second Session//

025 - Second Session//

022 - Second Session//

If you want to see the rest of the day’s pictures, take a look here at my personal feed on facebook or my flickr page (we don’t have Drunken Wrench hosting set up yet).

What did I learn? Well, beyond that the bike community is pretty nice, that I need a faster, longer lens or three, for this kind of shooting. For a long time, I’ve talked about automotive photography as short, wide-angle, and that’s true… in the paddock, and on the show circuit. For active events like this (or drifting, which is the next thing I want to shoot) I definitely would prefer something in the 300mm F/2.8 realm. I hear you can rent those, so I will have to look into it. For those who’re interested, I shot everything above with Nikon’s truly excellent kit lens – the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6.

I also need better access. So, when Dan lets me know whether he’ll be going back on the 15th of September, I’m going to be making a call to the guy who runs Calabogie, and see if I can get me a high-visibility vest, and access to the infield. There’s some seriously choice angles to be had, if you can get off the front stretch, and that was my issue. I had to shoot high and long, not low and tight, and that’s not my style. I’m not unhappy with what I got, but it’s not the best of what I think I can do.

Finally, a shout out to @steinke.n and @lukeno who showed up with their dirtbikes for a rip around the calabogie area, but also acted as Dan’s pit crew (I have official photographer designation).

030 - Second break - pit crew//

We’ll see if it happens again this year, but definitely next year.


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