Albstadt World Cup - Off-road in Germany

I wanted to shoot a mountain bike World Cup this year, originally Leo-Gang looked like the most achievable in terms of timing. But as the door shut for me on the Giro d’Italia it opened for Albstadt World Cup, only four hours drive from where I was staying in Switzerland, very achievable. So, there I was, in a village in Germany shooting  an off road race for a change. This post may as well be sponsored by red bull, it’s a delicious drink that tastes like pure energy, enjoy. 

Day Before Day One

I’m going to start off the day before. I had been staying with Bryn and Sophie in Switzerland for three days, two kiwis living there who offered to help me out when my plans for the Giro changed. We rode bikes, visited the old town and castle, had many laughs and a good time. It was a fab few days after Romandie and gave me a chance to work out some sort of a plan for the next few weeks. Anyway on Thursday I said goodbye and made the four hour drive to Albstadt, picked up my accreditation, bumped into Ben and Caleb (two kiwis racing), a quick supermarket trip (German supermarkets are significantly better than French and Belgium FYI) and checked into my airbnb, that was an experience with a very solid language barrier, but we made it work. 

Day One - Practice and XCC

Arrived at the track around 11. Checked into the press room and this was my first time seeing the set up here, the word buffet in the media email had been very generous, a few sandwiches, lollies, chocolate, some cake and fresh fruit, definitely not complaining but perhaps a some false advertising. It didn’t matter when I saw the red bull fridge, free unlimited red bull all weekend, that’s what my dreams are made of. I left my bag, grabbed my two bodies, I’m pretty much rocking a 16-35mm and 70-200mm for the majority of this trip and headed out to shoot a few of the practice laps and recon the track. 

It was here I found Piper, you’ve probably seen him in my Instagram stories. I liked his photos and saw he was from Australia so sent him a message the evening before, long story short he’s a legend and it was great becoming friends with him. I shot a few images during the practice laps but nothing worth sharing, I was mostly just using it to recon the course. A quick lunch break in the press room and then onto the short track practice, here’s some images from that, it’s fun trying to find as many zones to shoot on such a small and quick course. Truth be told I didn’t find that many. 

Time for another red bull in the press room, if I haven’t mentioned already the press room was located literally next to the start/finish line, convince at it’s absolute best, Albstadt I hope to be back. Shooting the short track was epic, in comparison to road it’s so much easier to get to different spots and see as much of the racing as possible, the challenge for me was at that point I didn’t really know to many of the athletes, it means in terms of documenting the race I’m definitely not doing the best job I can be. Either way sprinting through grass and mud, jumping the barriers and losing track of the number laps after literally two laps sums up what I did during the short track, I found myself pretty much shooting the same spots during both races, I don’t like doing that but I get stuck in the trap of finding something I think works and staying there because it’s a safe bet. Photos from the short track races below, nothing out the gate but I was still pleased with them considering I’ve only shot a handful of mountain bike races in my life, and yes, it’s different from shooting road okay. 

A late night editing both in the press room and then back at my airbnb, a quick stop at the supermarket in-between to pick up some RAID (Fly Spray), basically there were ants in my airbnb bathroom and I hate insects, I even paid for the four euro can as opposed the two euro, do it once do it right eh. 

Day Two - Mens U23

There were also the junior races and women’s U23 on but I only shot the mens, after writing in my instagram caption the night before about how rad it was to be able to shoot both men and womens races I felt like a fraud lol. Although I shot the mens U23 with little enthusiasm to be fair, it was fun but I really just wanted a good chance to see the course being raced before the next day, play around with some angles and see what worked, also get a couple snaps for my kiwi friends. 

Alongside the two lens listed above I also brought my fish eye (8-15mm) and 50mm with me. The fish eye basically looks bad for everything imaginable on the road, either that or I’m not as good at photography as I like to think, perhaps both…? Anyway off road on the trails it’s rad, the U23 was the first race in Europe I was stoked to have it in my camera bag! Images below.

Post race there was a few things worth writing about, one being the power point in the kitchen of my airbnb (honestly what was up with that place) stopped working, so I cooked dinner on the floor in the living room with the electric fry pan, I’d include a photo but it’s on my iPhone and this blog has a standard when it comes to photos, not the words, no standards there. 

Secondly I spent a large part of the day pretty much thinking about how I turn this into a living, I’m pretty much clinging onto this belief that if I put out good work hopefully the right people see it and opportunities come. I also believe you create your own opportunities, hence why I’m here chasing it I guess. Anyway, if you have any fun ideas let me know, good and fun ideas only, please don’t send me silly ones. Thanks. Either way, I’m happy as a bean and having fun. 

Thirdly, I got an email back saying my accreditation for Tour of Norway was approved, so I’m going to Norway. Dreamy. 

Day Three - Men and Women XCO

The big day. Apparently also a Sunday, I say that because since being here I have totally lost track of any concept of what day it is, I now operate on dates instead of days, I was actually thinking about that on my run today (Present day today not the day I’m writing about) and I think it would be interesting to try and keep that concept going when I get home, it might mean there is no longer that weekend and work week feeling and simply life, just a thought. Back to Sunday. 

I don’t think I’ve yet talked about how weird the greens in the forest were, they weren’t quite green, definitely not lush, but not autumn orange or yellow either, kinda just a yuck colour, so I tried to avoid shooting in there as much as I could for these races. The women were up first, I’m fairly happy with the images I shot of them, the atmosphere was incredible, so so so many people out getting G’d up for a bike race! It’s definitely not New Zealand. Once again I lost track of laps and just figured out that when enough people start moving down the hill it’s likely time for me to get to the finish, it worked out I guess. My favourite of the images below is Pauline sitting against the barriers post race (yeah we’re on first name basis). 

Another quick break for a couple edits and a red bull before the mens race. A quick good luck to Anton and then I was shooting the call up. Another one of those 20 photographers taking very similar photos kinda things but we do it anyway. Few quick photos of the start and then it was sprinting through the TV zone to get to the first spot in time before the riders, you might know but I enjoy a bit of running as of late and I had really turned the pace up for this one, I swear something had moved a tent in the TV zone because the route I went through for the womens was blocked, a quick left then right turn and next second there was a dog right in front of me. Stopping, not an option, I probably set a new PB for my high jump but safely cleared the dog and heard Piper behind me start to lose it. Had a laugh mid run and carried on, maybe it was one of those you had to be there moments but it was pretty funny. 

The mens race was hectic to shoot, from the first climb the field was so spread out it made keeping track of the front of the race tricky, I absolutely loved it though, a masterclass of a ride from Tom Pidcock as well (Note not on first name basis). Happy with what I shot but again it felt similar to the womens race beforehand. Anyway, have browse through the images below. 

A late night in the press room and you probably saw my story questioning how many cans of red bull Piper and I could leave the press room with, slowly working our way to the fridge and back we ended up with six cans, then on departure post editing saying our goodbyes we noticed a few unopened 24 packs, sitting there on their own it would’ve been a waste to leave them. A 24 pack bagged we left Albstadt with 30 cans of red bull, a good haul. 

Overall I had a great time shooting the World Cup, I definitely want to do more in the future. It’s very different to road, not better or worse, just different but I enjoy it a lot. Thanks for reading! See you next time!

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