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Published: October 13th 2004
Greg @ Norfolk's Scope
Greg Checks Out the Ledge
I was cold, but not so cold that I wanted to warm up by getting off my bike and walking the final two blocks home. But after running over a good-sized chunk of glass (judging by how fast I lost all tire pressure) I didn't have much choice. I could either sit around in the cold night air & try to change my tire in the dark, or I could walk back hime & change my tire in warmth & light.
I chose warmth & light at the end of a long, dark night. I also once again confirmed my hypothesis that there is an inverse relationship between property values and the size and amount of glass shards on the adjoining streets. Let me just say that I did not flat out in a prosperous neighborhood.
I had originally planned to do another urban biking photo shoot last Thursday, but my boss asked me to travel to Atlanta, so the bike shoot was postponed. After a weekend Catholic Worker retreat, I had completely forgotten about the shoot until Monday night, when I checked my email & found a message from Greg saying that he was
Oh Mr. Mailman, Bring Me My Mail!
still up for the shoot on Tuesday. Not wanting to miss an opportunity for a photo shoot, I wrote Greg, "Bring it on!"
I'm sure more than a few hair follicles just quit out right rather than deal with the frustration that I felt through most of the day at work. Half of the office was gone, and then the photo intern didn't show up at all- turned out he was sick and, six weeks into the job, didn't have the office number at home. Our contract photo archivist up and left at 2:00 when he found out that he wasn't getting paid by the company. And our $5,000 digital camera, supposedly top of the line, was no better than a door stop, what with all of the noise it recorded in dark areas. A $500 manual film camera could take a better picture...Our Kodak "Pro" DCSn digital camera performed so poorly on a portrait shoot with a company executive that I asked him to come back so I could reshoot him on good old film! (I don't care how many megapixels a camera has if it can't accurately record the subject.)
So by the end of the
day I was ready to leave work behind me & go for a bike ride. I rushed home, threw my office casual uniform on the floor & tossed on a pair of cargo shorts & combat boots. Back out the door & I was at the bike shop, where Greg, Craig & Samantha were waiting for me.
I don't ride mountain bikes, but I gotta respect Greg for riding a hardtail. He's the only guy I've seen take a 6 foot drop without rear suspension. But it's like he said, "Anybody can ride a freeride bike." It takes a little more skill to land a jump on a rigid rear, and when Greg launched himself off of a six and a half foot tall ledge, I could feel him land through the seat of my shorts as I sat on the concrete shooting away.
We rode around downtown Norfolk, hitting some of our favorite spots at sunset,
"Man, you love those silhouette shots, don't you!"
Well, what else am I supposed to do when I'm staring into the sun with a cool bike in front of me? But yes, I love the silhouette.
The sun dropped below the horizon, and Greg was covered with sweat as he worked his bike up, down and around obstacles. It's hard not to respect someone who bunny hops sideways up a set of stairs instead of getting off and walking to the top, bike in hand.
And the whole time, I shot with the infernal Kodak DCSn digital camera, remembering why I love digital. The instant preview, the ability to change ISO settings on the fly, the option of tweaking and evaluating flash & exposure settings- all of these benefits counteract the curse of digital noise. Who would have thought that in order to get the perfect night shot of Greg leaping over a mail box that I would need to underexpose the scene by 2 stops while simultaneously slow-syncing and over-exposing the flash by 1 stop? In the grand old days of film I would have had to shoot, send the film out, get the film back, evaluate and then try to remember my hunches the next time. Digital allows me to cut the cycle of exposure and analysis from days, or hours at best, to minutes. "Hold on Greg," I'd say, "Let me do a test shot first."
Samantha, Greg's girlfriend, rode Greg's second bike while he performed on the other. A member of the ODU swim team, Samantha has the looks of a blond who regards a swimsuit as an outfit for work, not play. As she rode around on Greg's "tank," a hardtail Koda with a suspension fork designed for downhill racing, she got plenty of looks,
"Greg, everyone keeps checking out your bike."
"No," I corrected Samantha at one point, "They're checking out the bike and YOU on the bike." Continuing on I said to her, "If I knew of a market for cheesecake bicycle pictures, I'd ask you to pose next Greg's bike in a swimsuit."
Greg quickly chimed in, "Dude, I tried to get her to wear a black bikini!"
"It's a little too cold for that!" Samantha objected.
"Yeah, but you'd look so much hotter than the Marziochi fork girls!"
Samantha was right, it was too cold for a bikini. Autumn had definitely settled in. The air was sharp and crisp, even refreshing after a couple of hours of riding. But the cool air was not nearly as refreshing after beer and pizza at a local restaraunt. We sat out on the patio, watching the patrons check out our bikes, Greg still wearing his black helmet, which created quite a few comments,
"Did he just get in from outer space?" one drunk asked,
"Ooof!" Greg replied as Samantha elbowed him and snipped once again,
"Would you please take that helmet off!?! You're not riding!"
Our waitress recognized us for the serious bikers that we were. "I raced downhill back in Michigan. What kind of riding do you do?"
"Street and trials," said Greg,
"Long distance touring," said I,
"Club rides." said Craig,
4 sets of eyes turned to Samantha,
"Um, I swim."
I bought the first pitcher of Sam Adams, and Greg bought the second pitcher of Pabst Blue Ribbon. ("Pitcher of Piss," read the computer-printed receipt) The waitress brought us a third pitcher of PBR for free, "Don't tell anyone," she said. "She was trying to empty out the old keg," my fiancee said when I told her about our free pitcher of beer.
A friend of Greg's showed up with a $5 glass of smoked porter, "Here, try it." We all had a sip and agreed that hands down, a glass of smoked porter beat a pitcher of PBR.
While we were sufficiently lubricated for the ride back, the air had cooled at least another 10 degrees and had descended from pleasantly crisp to annoyingly chilly. We rode down Colley Avenue, our teeth were chattering away louder than my skipping chain. I peeled off from the group to head back to my place, thinking how well the day had gone when...Pfffft....I flatted out.
So it goes...
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