Time Machine Image
My first year racing in the United States Cycling Federation, was in 1985. That same year I was the documentary photographer for the Johnny Bench Coors Cycling Classic in Cincinntati, Ohio, USA. This was a criterium event, a multi corner race on a closed venue, less than 1 mile around. This image was the Pro, Cat 1 and 2 race held with nationally ranked riders. This photo of the field was taken on the slow rise to the start/finish line halfway through the event. By now the field had dropped over half the competitors and a determined group hung on as a tight pack.
In those days, equipment was different. The helmets were leather padded open hole affairs, we called brain cages, to keep your head in mainly one piece. Toe clips were strapped aluminum or steel cages which locked your cycling shoes in place over the pedals with a cleat holding position between your shoes and pedals. The lead rider was using a double strap system, enabling him to pull up on a climb with more security of not pulling out off the pedal. Of course in a crash he was likely to be dragged attached to his bike. Back then down tube shifters, friction style not indexed, were the norm, which meant you had to anticipate what gear you chose before hammering. Slipping gears was a definite possibility.
Taken with a 500mm Zeiss Tele Tessar on a Hasselblad 500C using Kodak negative film. Shooting at 1/500th, its fastest shutter speed, the lens fixed on a tripod for stability, the photographer could not follow action, but must wait for the action to come to the focus point. In this case the white line just below the lead cyclist's front tire. As you can imagine, timing was just as critical as focus.
As for my race, the Cat 4, right after the Pro race, by the time I put my gear away, and went to the start line, I was all the way in the back. The peloton was so large that as the field had crested the first corner, it had strung out over 1/3rd the course, and after a few laps I was pulled, being out of contention. At least I got to miss most of the crashes that ensued.
As always feel free to download, but allow me photo credit.