Cycling, Photography

Bay Crits in Geelong

Most years when I go to this event, this is my fourth time, I try and photograph the racing.  You have to do that, it is a race, but that is all I do.  I just walk around and around the circuit taking photos of people racing their bikes.  I suspect this year won’t be any different, except my audience of who is looking at them.  I am taking photos of it this year for you and this blog.  Normally, I am taking photos for the riders.

The Start and the FinishAfter yesterdays post I had a few asking me what a crit was?  A crit is short for criterium and is a race that is done on a short circuit, where the riders do laps.  Usually on streets.  They can range in distance from one to around three kilometres.  I have seen some that are five kilometres or longer, but they are usually considered something else.  A crit will start and finish in the same place.  In the above image, the women are preparing to start and are lined up at the line.  This is also where they finish.

Down the Back StragihtSometimes crits can be done in really nice spots and you can get some nice shots.  Though, I find that the organisers never think what will make great publicity shots and what would be a great for photographs.  The often have the finish with the sun behind them, so crap shots there.  Take the image above, how good would it be to get the Ferris wheel with the riders coming towards me?

Commentating the EventThis crit is a big deal in Australian racing and happens every year.  Crits are only done in summer, the weather is too unpredictable in winter, and can make racing them dangerous.  A lot of clubs will cancel crit racing if it is raining, wet roads just means too many crashes.  I have heard it said that crits are the most dangerous type of racing in cycling, more people come off.  As they are racing on roads, that means lots of skin being removed and it wrecks their kits (what they race in).  Crits are also very fast.  A lot of riders get spat out the back when the speed picks up.  So crashes and speed, that makes it a great spectator sport.

Behind the riders you can see some guys sitting with almost white shirts.  They are, from the right, Matt Keenan, Scott McGrory and Phil Liggett.  If you ever follow cycling on television then you will know the British voice of Phil Liggett.  He is known internationally as the voice of cycling.  We know his voice when we hear it.  He comes here every year to commentate the bay crits and is also a very nice person.

Taking the CornersThe one thing that most crits have is dangerous corners.  This circuit at Geelong is called a hotdog circuit.  Named because it looks like one.  There are two straights, and either end are some very tight corners.  People gather on the corners because that is where most crashes happen.  It is where all the photographers go, me included, but it is also where you get some of the best photos.

They race for around 45 minutes, or one hour, then they get so many laps after that.  Usually 45 minutes then 3 laps.  It is unusual in that respect, most racing, you have no idea how long it will take, but that isn’t so with this.  So the riders know how long they have and work out what they have to do in that time.

I love photographing criterium racing and is by far my favourite type of racing to take photos of.  It is exciting and so fast.  I am going to do a post on how to photograph a crit, or how I do it, but I need more time than is available right now.  I am thinking I might do that on Friday when it is all over.  That is if you would like me to.  I can also take about accreditation and stuff as well.  Let me now.


  1. This is so interesting. Amazing though that the riders wear no leg protection – skin removal guaranteed indeed. Must be nice to be there, so warm. 16F here just now, bbrrr

    • Oh yes, and lots of skin is removed when they full, which is part of the reason why they shave their bodies.

  2. The photos in yesterday’s post and those of today have a real crispness to them, for lack of a better word. Add the vibrant colors of the racers and the results are some truly beautiful photos.

  3. I like your phots from the racing cycles. Special the one the bike is slanting to the road. My son drives every day bycicle because in Berlin there are to many cars to go forward.
    Greetings Susanne

  4. I’m getting in more practice at Photographing a Moving Target, but would love some pointers…bikes go faster than three-year-olds, but the technique is similar, right? :)

    • Thanks Marie, the best tip I can give you for a fast moving target is a fast shutter speed. I hope that helps. I bet she is getting fast. :)

  5. Beautiful! I’m a big cycling fan and I love looking at cycling photos. I’ve photographed a couple of cycling events myself and I think that was the most fun I’ve had with my camera!

  6. how exciting…your racing photos are amazing! thank you for the explanation as I wouldn’t have known…

    I road a bicycle every where I went for many many years, I had a vehicle but loved my bike…then developed arthritis in my neck so that pretty much ended that…but, it was a passion for me, so I truly love seeing these photos!

  7. Looks exciting! My brother used to do this kind of racing, and I know how hard it is to get great photos like these!

  8. …. makes me wince when I see cyclists cornering Leanne and that’s just on TV :-)
    Lovely sense of action .

  9. You are good on all forms of photography – the photo with the big wheel is good, but my favorite is the last one – I can feel the forces and competitively in that photo.
    Great job!

  10. Absolutely like the shot of the riders in the corner. Can’t get closer to the action than that. Nicely done!

  11. Looking at your photos really inspires me to better my skills. Your pix are fantastic! The colors are so vivid. Also, thank you for liking my post.

  12. First of all the pictures are, as usual, fantastic. The text is very informative and compliments the photographs. Now you’ve started this year so well I look forward to keeping tabs on your blog even more this year. I agree with you about the Ferris Wheel, having the cyclists coming at you alongside it would have been a very impressive image.

  13. Thanks for the explanation of crits and kits. I love the way the colors pop in your photos. Beautiful work. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Though I’ve never followed cycling, I have seen some…this looks dangerous indeed, with only the helmets for protection, Leanne. Great shots…and you caught a lot of ‘determination and concentration’, too! Hope to see more!

    BTW, love that Ferris wheel, and yes, I agree with you…but what is the reason the officials couldn’t simply reverse the track…especially if this is televised? It would make for much more exciting photography/videography—AND advertising!

    • Crit racing is probably the most dangerous, and more damaging. More skin comes off. I hate watching them crash.
      I have no idea, I thought it might be because they didn’t want the riders riding into the sun, but they rode into the sun on other days, so I don’t know.

      • It just looks so ‘frenzied’ out there on the track, along with the cheering and other distractions. I used to ride a lot, and almost got hit a number of times…I would never ride here in Chicago…the drivers, especially the taxi drivers, are nutters!

      • it is very similar to that in Australia as well. Australian drivers have this attitude that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road and should be run over.

      • Oh, don’t I know that one well…they were that way even back in the mid-1970s, when I used to bike in a medium-sized twon in Wisconsin! Some people will NEVER change, I guess, but here in Chicago, a number of bicycle messenger people have been struck, and one was killed last year or so. Tragic!

      • About 4 or 5 cyclists a year get killed here, it is very tragic and the way the law seems to treat their deaths as though they aren’t important is criminal in itself.

  15. The officials don’t have a photography or PR mind. Who know what they are thinking. Maybe they don’t want the riders riding into the sun. I wouldn’t like that if I were riding!!! :)

    • I just think they think of that sort of thing. They don’t seem to care about it happening on other days. I have no idea what the logic is.

  16. My eldest niece lived in Geelong for quite a few years (she was a fitness conditioner for the Rules football team) and she never mentioned the cycle races!

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