USA Cycling Road Nationals: Day One Photo Gallery

If you’ve never seen a 10-year-old girl in pigtails climb out of the saddle like she is about to win the Tour de France, then your life is not yet complete.

Yesterday kicked off USA Cycling Elite, U23 and Junior Road Championships and the Paralympics National Road Championships in Bend, Oregon and, though these early groups (the youngest kids) aren’t the big name headliners who will draw crowds this weekend, they are the athletes who define this event.

They’re the next generation of cycling greats. They’re little people riding their guts out, getting nervous before the race, puking after, sobbing when they win (or lose), crashing in the first 2k and getting back on their bikes to finish the race. They’re the real deal and it was an honor to be on hand to watch the drama unfold.

And the para-cyclists? Don’t even get me started. You want inspiration? You want a good reason to never open your trap again to complain about anything ever? Come watch one of these events. Talk about the power of the human spirit….

Click through the slideshow below to view all the images. Click a photo once to reveal the description / information about the image. If you’d rather view these on Flickr, hit the “USAC Road Nationals 2010″ link on the upper lefthand corner.

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  1. Wow. Awesome awesome awesome. Must make plans to be there next year!

  2. Great photos! How come all your podium shots are boys/men, and all the crying shots are girls? A little equity?

    • Sue and Beth and Kronda – thanks!

      Sue: Two things about your equity comment.
      1. I think you may have projected a little here, I encourage you to go back and look at the set again. Certainly there are shots of women on podium, girls looking badass pre-race, girls crushing uphill on the climb, girls raised in victory salute crossing the line. Why no boys crying? To be honest, I didn’t see any. The Shimano support crew mentioned that several were crying after an early crash in the boys 13-14 race, but I was behind the support car at that point and not in position to shoot. When I saw gold medalist Grant McElroy holding his stomach, just about to vomit, I shot it. I shot what I saw.
      2. I don’t interpret these crying shots as indicative of any kind of weakness of the fairer sex. Moreoever, I think that the shots of Melissa Garcia’s emotions after her gold medal show a level of intensity, commitment and true passion for sport and everything it means to win and lose. Also – the shot of Melissa crossing the line is the lede shot for USAC’s article about yesterday’s events:

    • One other thing: the two shots of women on podium are both para-athletes who have very short hair. Perhaps you missed them?

  3. I did neutral mechanical support at a handcycle race years ago. Those guys are monsters. They eat motorcycle parts for breakfast and spit out the rubber for dramatic effect. GREAT photo essay — thanks so much for sharing it.

  4. Nice work Heidi! Looking forward to seeing shots of the rest of the week, since I can’t make it there in person.

  5. Awesome set HP! See you on Fri!

  6. Whoa! Heidi, I’m not trying to be mean or knock you, you’re photos are great (I particularly like the photo of what looks like older sister and younger brother hugging). I’m just really sensitive to inequity in this sport. I’ve been very discouraged in the past by the privileges paid to male racers, by media, racing organizations and sponsors.
    I guess it’s my particular prejudice. And, yes, I missed the two shots you mentioned (I didn’t recognize the para-athlete as female).

    • No worries, Sue! I took no offense, I just found your criticism unfounded and wanted to point out what I thought you missed. As a person who also is very sensitive about inequity in this sport, I needed to clarify. : )

  7. I find your photos amazing; you catch moments that most of us miss and I appreciate that. And a bonus for me was I found my niece in one of your photos.
    This is a badass event and these young cyclist were determined to do well. Contagious behavior if you are inclined to feel it.
    Looking forward to seeing what else you captured from the week.

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