This past Tuesday marked the beginning of a great local mountain bike series based out of Irvine Lake, CA. Its called Over The Hump Race Series, and its designed to be a fun environment where everyone from beginners to pros can come out and race, and share the experience with the friends and family. What makes it better is that they are held on Tuesday’s at 6pm so it doesn’t interfere with other weekend races, and anyone can come after work and check it out.

Last year OTH had two races and they were big hits with the local mountain bike community, so this year they stepped it up and there will be a total of 12 events. Since one of my goals at the beginning of the year was to get out and shoot more mountain bike races, I was excited to photograph as many of the races as I could. I like the fact that they are every week, because it will give me the opportunity to shoot at a lot of different places and try new things

I got to the event about two hours early so that I could check out the course. Because of the water levels the loop was a little different from last year, so I wanted to ride it once to check out potential photo spots. The course was a lot of fun with a nice mix of small climbs, wide open sprint areas, and some technical single tracks.

The first thing you notice when you get to the event site, is a large water bridge that was incorporated into the course, so I wanted to make sure I got shots of racers going across it. Its a unique thing to have be part of a race so I thought a lot of the racers would want to see themselves going across it, here are a few shots from the first lap of the race standing at the base of the bridge.

On my way to the second spot I’d be shooting at it gave me a nice high view of the bridge, so I made sure to photograph the leaders coming through. Here is the winner of the race Brandon Gritters crossing the bridge.

The next spot I went to was just a short hike from the base of the bridge, and was a short little downhill into a left hand turn.

I shot there for about a half a lap and began walking up course to a spot towards the end of the lap that was covered in foilage. My goal was to shoot one spot where I could get some photos with my remote flash. Along the way I made sure to snap some photos along the way to get some more angles for the racers.

A little distance away the racers were right next to a nice green background.

In the same spot I could turn around and get another angle of the water bridge but from further away.

Christopher “Ceedubb” Williams killing it on his single speed.

After a short (long walk in the bushes avoiding the racers) walk I got to the spot where I wanted to shoot everyone’s last lap. Again it was a nice little area covered in foliage so I’d have a decent background, and dark enough where I could use my Canon 550ex flash to light up the racers.

You can get some cool shots using the remote flash, but it can also be challenging since you have to time it just right. Shoot too soon and the rider won’t be lit up enough, shoot too late and everything is all dark. Because I wanted to make sure I got shots of as many riders as I could, I decided to stop using the flash for a bit and then move on.

On my walk back to the main area, there was a lone rider on the course finishing their lap so I snapped a photo from across the lake.

The race ended right at sunset and added a special feeling to the event. OTH put on a great event and I’m really looking forward to shooting more this year as they are a great group of people who put the event on for the riders. Everyone who raced had a smile on their face, and hopefully OTH can continue to grow each week.

For next race hopefully they have security on site, somehow Chris Hanson was able to get on the course and cheer people on. We don’t need your positivity and inspirational cheers buddy! Move along!

All our photos are up on our site, so check them out!

Over The Hump Race Series 5/25/10

See everyone next week!!