I have to be up at 1:30 to be ready to meet Dave Philip (my good friend and photography mentor) at 2:15 so we can make the gate to Pikes Peak early enough we can get up the hill to pick a good spot to shoot qualifying and practice for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. We are chasing motorcycles and quads today and I am excited to have the chance to photograph a bunch of great friends doing what they love.
Pikes Peak is not just another race… it IS Pikes Peak after all. History has proven that year after year, racers and fans make it an annual pilgrimage. They save and scrimp, work on their motorcycle, car, sidecar or quad all year long, just to get ready for this one week of racing at Pikes Peak, one of the most famous mountain roads. Dave and I decide on the way down from Denver, that we will stop at a place known as the “Picnic Grounds” so we can shoot the transition from pavement to dirt. If time always, we might possibly hike down to Engineers Corner later in the morning.
As we wait for the sun to rise, we chit chat with the corner worker and safety crew stationed at Picnic Grounds. On race day, you can’t have too many friends when it comes time to find a parking spot. As the sun slowly rises the whole sky starts to turn a deep red from the fires down south in Arizona and Mexico. Dave makes a comment on how the lighting is going to be tough today. Finally, we hear the sweep truck on it’s way up the hill signalling the start of practice and qualifying for the motorcycle and quad group. First pass is a pace run for rookies escorted by the sweep bikes. Kind of strange to see all these highly competitive people on incredibly fast bikes, quads and sidecar rigs putting up the hill behind a couple of trail bikes. I am sure that as the sun goes up, so will the speeds!
Here are my favorites from Dave Philip of our first practice day on the mountain, for the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.