Road races can be the most challenging races to photograph, but they can also be the most rewarding. The races I've been able to shoot in this region are generally on a long circuit, which helps with the logistics, but they are also located in remote areas. This usually means an early day, a long road trip, a full day of shooting, a drive back and then an attempt to process and edit 1500-1800 photos before falling asleep.
My first road race was the Tour de Dung in Sequim. I had the advantage of being very familiar with the area from an entire childhood spent visiting my grandfather for the 27+ years he lived there. This race was also the first time I'd been back to Sequim since he passed several years ago, so it was tinged with a bit of sadness. I hadn't been able to bring myself to visit the peninsula since then, but the Tour de Dung was a great excuse to retrace some of my old familiar drives. The possibility of shooting a race on a crisp, sunny spring day made the decision to go an easy one.
The first thing I do when I reach a road race site is to drive the route. I usually carry a printed map and I take some care to mark parking, a unique background or foreground I can use, good corner shots or where I think groups may be bunched up or strung out.
For me, the photos of the peloton are just as interesting as individual racers. I look for unusual patterns or symmetry (or asymmetry if I'm feeling fresh). These moments happen only briefly, and with the group coming down the road at full speed it's not something I'm skilled enough to spot through the viewfinder. Instead, I set up a composition that works for me and hope something unique comes my way.
The day at Tour de Dung was perfection, with bright sun and a clear view of surrounding mountains. I only trespassed a little onto local farmland to get cornering shots and used my long lens to squeeze in the mountains whenever I could. I didn't get every shot I wanted, but I also learned how to be bold in my choices (standing in the middle of the road is sometimes required, as is laying in a field of prickly thorns) and that I need to park my car away from my desired shot (ugh).
The beauty of living in the Pacific Northwest is that there isn't any place that doesn't photograph well and make a stunning backdrop to a fast moving race. My goal is to capture that to the best of my ability, whatever that ability may be on a given day.