The Baby and the Bike

Imagine that you’re pregnant with your first child and you’re excited to mark your progress with your regular visits to the doctor.  When you’re in the exam room, you notice that your husband can’t take his eyes off the beautiful, canvas wrap of Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service team in the 2005 Tour de France. If you’re really into cycling, you would know that 2005 was the SEVENTH and last Tour de France that Lance Armstrong won!  Well, dad, otherwise known as Travis, knew that and a lot more about Lance Armstrong.   His wife, Amy, knew she had a gift for Father’s Day and it wasn’t just the new baby to be!

Cycling: It's a family affair!

You see Travis races as a Cat 3 cyclist for Team Extreme Cycling and will be racing in the Tour of America’s Dairyland, that begins tonight (June 16) in Shorewood, WI.  This 11 day racing series, presented by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board,  travels through 11 communities from June 16 – 26, 2011, and he’ll be coming to my neighborhood on June 25th for the Downer Ave. race – neighborhood favorite summer event!  It’s full of family fun activities, live entertainment and of course, food and drink.  As a Risk Manager for Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), Travis is working to earn the honor of becoming a Cat 2 rider by earning points in these races.  His supportive sponsors include:  Extreme Ski and Cycling, Houseman & Feind, Hollrith Realty, Juniper61, LuLu Cafe’ and Cocktails, Cycling Form & Fitness, Centec Security, Port-a-John, and OS Nutrition.

After William was born and she returned to her doctor for ‘well-baby’ check-ups, Amy saw that canvas wrap again and called me about purchasing it for Travis as a surprise for Father’s Day.  She couldn’t wait until Father’s Day, however, and this week I returned to their home to photograph them with the canvas wrap and explain to Travis how I came to make this photo of Lance Armstrong and his 2005.  I had scouted the location the day before and decided where I wanted to be.  My location would allow my two views per lap around the Champs – Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.  I settled in at 9:30 a.m., expecting the racers to arrive by 4:30.  It was a primo spot!

People started to fill in and find their spots when a man came by and told me that I had to move.  I was in a VIP section.  OH NO!  All the next best spots were now filled in and this race was high on my list to photograph!  In a desperate, fast-paced attempt to find an good location, I could only find an spot on a tight, inside corner.   A very tough place to photograph world-class cyclists!!  More people filled in and a rain shower ensued.  To top it off, Paris is not known for it’s volume of public toilets so I rationed my drinking water to a half-cup for the whole day.

As the cyclists arrived, I pre-set my aperture, shutter speed, and fill-flash while also pre-focusing where the cyclists would be.  I raised the camera up over my head, and the heads of others, and panned/shot the cyclists as they past by in a burst of noise and wind.  Finding Lance in the crowd and then photographing was a disaster.  They came too quickly so I didn’t think I had any images of him.  After standing out there for 9 hours with little water or food, I cried because as I quickly flipped through my LCD, I didn’t think I had any images of Lance.

7th Victory of Tour de France

Later, back at the apartment we had rented, I loaded the images into my laptop.  I shouted with joy when I saw that I had 2 images of Lance.  This one was the best and it occurred one of the last two laps, when the other cyclists let the winner ride in front.  Glorious!  Now a new mother that supports her husband’s passion for cycling, has given her husband and new father a meaningful Father’s Day gift.  Ride Strong, Travis.  Ride Strong!

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