Hold on tight

Fast racing, fish primes, plenty of beer.

Summer approaches, and crit season was about to hit hard. Stoke levels were high for the double-header of crits: Ballard on Saturday, and Volunteer Park on Sunday.

And better yet, they were going down in two of the coolest neighborhoods in Seattle.

If there’s anyone who can sum up the badass nature of American Crit racing, it’s Fasturdays.

Day 1: Ballard

Ballard Crit. In the heart of the Old Ballard district.


I’ve thought a lot about the Ballard Crit and the course. It’s a 4-corner crit, slight uphill to the end. Nothing too crazy or unusual. Nonetheless, people get really stoked for it months before June.

For me, it’s definitely the atmosphere that makes Ballard so special.

In a way, it reminds me of a very chill and mellow version of Athens Twilight Crit. If you haven’t read my feature on Athens, check it out. That is one wild night.

Day 2: Volunteer Park

Despite what I said about Ballard having a great atmosphere... I think I like the Volunteer Park Crit better.

The course may not be on city block lined with screaming fans, but the course has more interesting features: there’s a fast descent, a little hill that will definitely wear you out after a few laps, and a tight corner on top of the hill leading into the finishing straight.

From a Cat 4 racer’s standpoint… it was a much harder race.

In contrast to Ballard, the park is lush with greenery and fairly quiet. The backside of the park is mainly filled with people picnicking, walking their dogs or just trying to relax and improve their suntans.

In the Pro/1/2 race, it looked like attacks were happening left and right. Almost every lap or so, someone new was off the front, trying to make a move.

With about 10 laps to go or so… the crowd saw a breakaway established with 4 riders… two of them being Métier’s big guns: Ted and Dave.

Immediately, all my money was on Dave to win the race. Ted put in some major pulls, and lap after lap, Dave remained on the back of the group. It was just a matter of time until the bell lap.

Sure enough, Dave and the bright orange Métier colors emerge from the shaded, tree-covered final stretch.

At the Lake

…but no time to enjoy the view.

Beautiful and hilly terrain make for a scenic race along a 12-mile loop around Mason Lake.

Forested, rolling hills and shaded on one side.

Desolate and unrelenting on the other—no hiding from the wind.

(Well… it’s scenic when you aren’t going full-gas the whole race.)

Outpaced by the group

You’d think photographing a road race might have a fair amount of downtime, waiting for the field to appear. Typically, I drive the course in the opposite direction, scanning the roadside for a shooting location I want.

“When is the group going to get here?” and “Should I pull over yet?” are looping in my head as I count the minutes.

Sometimes, I miscalculate. “Ah, shit,” as I pass them in my car, and miss a photo completely.

Back to the race… a two-man breakaway formed pretty early, and after a lap or two, gained a sizable 1:45 gap.

The Métier squad put all of their big guns on the front of the group in an effort to chase them down.

A lot of work was being done, but it looks like the chasing peloton wasn’t going to get much help from the other teams.

The gap held at 1:45 for a few more laps.

It’s a good idea to count how many times the field goes around the course.

I lost count and ended up at the finish line one lap too early.

Funny enough, I saw a guy in the group sprinting to the line on that lap… I guess he didn’t count either.

The two stayed away until the finish. Dave sprinted for third place, as one might expect.