The Race Is In My Head

Anyone that has ever played a sport imagines themselves participating in some kind of championship event with the commentator announcing the play-by-play of their exploits. Whether it’s the game winning shot, pass, sprint, hit, or play, the visualization of yourself doing these things is a natural phenomenon in sports. For cyclists, that takes the form of the play being called by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Liggett is considered “The Dean” of professional cycling commentary, and he brought Paul on as his partner in 1986. 

As a young cyclist, I would imagine Phil Liggett making the call as I crested the famous climbs in the Tour de France, doing my best impression of Greg Lemond while riding the local hills. Of course, I was, and still am, a slow cyclist, but that did not stop his voice from echoing inside my head. In those early days, Paul wasn’t part of the US coverage of the Tour, but by the time Lance Armstrong started winning, he was there.

I created this short video of me climbing Old La Honda juxtaposed to their commentary as a tribute to the late Paul Sherwen who passed away unexpectedly in 2018 at the age of 62, and as an example of what probably goes through every cyclist’s head while training. 

To create this video, I used my Nikon D750 with several lenses (mostly the 80-200 F2.8, with a couple of shots utilizing 50mm F1.8 and 17-35mm F2.8), a GoPro Hero Silver with SMALLRIG Super Clamp Mount with Mini Ball Head Mount, dji MAVIC Air, and Peak Design Travel Tripod.

I made this over the course of four weeks and three separate rides up OLH. I carried my camera equipment in my Mission Workshop backpack for the first two rides and added the dji MAVIC Air for the third. And yes, it was quite heavy. I would ride up, stop, set up the camera, and re-ride portions of the climb to “get the shot.” Composing the shots by myself and estimating the “fixed focus point” on a subject that would be in motion proved quite difficult and often required several attempts with adjustments between “takes.” The second shoot ride took six hours. It was super challenging to get the footage to color grade evenly across camera types and days. I would rate my efforts in this area as “moderately” successful. I utilized Phil and Paul’s television coverage of the famous L’Alpe d’Huez climb from the 2004 and 2011 Tours de France. The actual cyclists of which they are speaking are none other than Alberto Contador, Jan Ullrich, and Lance Armstrong. Consider this a cycling “mash-up remix” of a very slow Amateur on Old La Honda with coverage of the amazing Professionals on L’Alp d’Huez.

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