Back in September I had the opportunity to photograph portions of the 20th Tour de Acoma bicycle event held on the Pueblo of Acoma, one of the 23 Native American tribes and pueblos in New Mexico.
Due to the pandemic, all Native American pueblos have been closed to everyone except residents since mid-2020. And last year's Tour de Acoma was held virtually, with participants submitting photos or videos of their rides. This year, however, the event was once again held in person, and included 100-mile, 50-mile, and 25-mile courses. (The 100 was the 50-mile out-and-back course twice.)
Nevertheless, because the pueblo was still closed to the general public, only the participants, race officials, and residents were allowed on the course beyond the start/finish area at Sky City Casino. Through the courtesy of the event organizer, I was allowed to photograph at a couple of locations on the course.
As you know from my many posts on this blog, I am primarily a landscape photographer. One of the photographic virtues of landscapes is that they don't move except on a geological time scale -- eons rather than hundredths of a second -- and outdoor natural light doesn't change very quickly, so there's always plenty of time to find a good composition and manage camera settings. Needless to say, photographing bicyclists whizzing past at 30 to 60 mph was out of my comfort zone. But getting out of your comfort zone is how you stretch and grow.
The course is mostly flat, with some mild rolling hills, at an elevation averaging 6,100 feet above sea level. For comparison for those of you in New England, the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is 6,288 feet.
It begins at the Sky City Casino on the Acoma Pueblo reservation . . .
|Start of the 100-mile ride|
But about 19 miles into the course, there's a 7.7-mile climb from 6,143 to 6,690 feet -- an average grade of 1.3% -- and then a steep drop to 6,253 in the space of 1.5 miles -- an average of 5.5% . . . with the steepest grade of 11.7% for about 1/10th of a mile in the middle. (It's labeled Kuumi on the map above.)
|Vertical vs. horizontal not to scale|
Here's a distant view of the hill highlighted in this image:
Super fast going down . . .
excruciatingly hard going up.
And the hundred-milers had to do it twice!
After the giant downhill, the course flattens out across a wide valley bounded on the far side by huge sandstone monoliths. Here's a view of the valley from about halfway up that steep uphill/downhill stretch:
In the valley, riders could cruise along at 30 mph . . .
. . . or take a more leisurely pace to enjoy the scenery and take backlit selfies:
A few -- like this guy -- were even taking selfies as they rode:
I spent a fair amount of time in the valley documenting riders as they rode past the monoliths and a beautiful field of wild sunflowers, and got some waves, some peace signs (V), thumbs-up gestures, and a few signs I didn't recognize that were offered in good spirits . . .
Great capture of the event. ElaineReplyDelete