Greg Hull, Tour de France 2015

Behind the scenes at the Tour de France

Cover photo: Greg Hull shooting at Tour de France 2015
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


No matter which bike race we are covering, rarely a day goes by without people telling us how they wished they could do what we do. It’s true, covering pro cycling is pretty cool.

But, it’s also a lot of work. We multitask and function on little sleep to get it done – and, we honestly rarely accomplish everything we want to in a day before it’s time to move on to the next town. So, I thought I’d share what it’s like with life on the road covering the Tour de France. I chose stage 3 which began in Antwerp and ended on the Mur de Huy to provide a glimpse into our day.

7:00 am

First thing each morning, after attempting to remember what town we are in, is to grab the laptop, check social media, post the day’s route map, and have a look again at the technical race guide to plan the day.

Each race provides a technical race guide for the teams, support staff, and media that contains route information, time schedules, maps, parking locations, team hotels and host city information. It is frequently referred to as the “race bible.”

A day at the Tour de France
A day at the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

8:00 am

Following a quick shower and jamming everything back in the bags, it’s back to editing photos from the day before. We each typically shoot several hundred to a thousand images in a day, so many photos will remain unedited until after the race.

A day at the Tour de France
A day at the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

11:00 am

At this stop, we stayed in the same hotel as Movistar. Heading down to check out, we step off the elevator into a lobby filled with fans waiting in hopes of getting a photo or autograph from Quintana or Valverde.

Not disappointing, Valverde appears just after us and stops for photos with fans.

A day at the Tour de France
A day at the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We head out the door and make our way behind the Movistar guys to the stage start, which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel through the crowds.

Huy, Belgium
From the window of the car – Huy, Belgium Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We also frequently hear, “You get to see so many awesome places.” Yes, sort of. We see a lot of hotel rooms, whatever is along the side of the road as we head from start to finish each day and the scenery at the starts and finishes.

Unfortunately, there is rarely – make that never – anytime for sightseeing or exploring the beautiful host cities we find ourselves in each day. Some of the sights are stunning, such as the stage 3 start location in the center of Antwerpen/Antwerp/Anvers (it’s Antwerpen in Dutch-Flemish, Antwerp in English, Anvers in French) and at the finish in Huy.

Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Shooting the start is the most relaxed part of each day. Riders are casual as they sign in, which at the Tour de France, is actually a push of a button by each rider creating an electronic signature.

Tommy Voeckler, Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following sign in, riders stop by the PowerBar tent for some snacks, chat with one another, and sign autographs for fans. On this morning, Tommy Voeckler also stopped by the Vittel water station and used some water from the melted ice to wash his tires.

Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As sign-in grows to a close, we head to the start line. Each day actually has two starts – an unofficial start, where we were near the sign-in and an official start after a parade route/neutral zone. The riders line up, and after they depart, they ride through the neutral zone and then stop again for another ceremony and the official start.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 3 start
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

As soon as the riders set off, we grab a takeout lunch and head for the car. Next stop, Huy.

Meanwhile back in Boulder….

 

A 1:00 pm start in Belgium means a 5:00 am start in Colorado when Todd Hofert rolls out of bed, turns on the race and begins to write. The one disadvantage of covering a race in person is that you actually see very little of it. We have the app on our phones and in Europe, the race is streamed on the Tour website with the ability to switch between moto feeds, which is really cool.

However, in reality, the majority of our day is spent navigating the off-course itinerary and editing a few photos to put up during the race. Some days we intersect with the actual race course for some mid-stage coverage, but not on this stage as we anticipated (correctly) that the Mur de Huy would be quite crowded.

Which brings us back to Todd, who writes the stage recap as it happens throughout the race, capturing the events as they occur, which on stage 3, included some serious crashes.

3:20 pm

Like Hansel and Gretel and their breadcrumbs, the race leaves a trail of signs for us to follow on an alternate route from the race to guide us from the start city to the finish line. In many locations, we actually drive the last part of the race route, which is quite helpful in understanding the last kilometers of the race course.

On the way through Huy a couple of guys stopped us and asked for a ride, so they piled in the back and we headed up the hill.

Press parking and the press center is normally very close to the finish line at races. We typically stop by the press center to grab water, head out to scout our locations to shoot the finish, then wait.

5:28 pm

The riders hit the finish line, with today’s winner being Team Katusha’s Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez. Chris Froome (Team Sky) was second and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) was third.

Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing, Tour de France 2015 Stage 3
Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing, Tour de France 2015 Stage 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who started the day in yellow, crashed mid-way through the stage and was forced to abandon the Tour. Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved into the overall race lead.

Races are carefully choreographed presentations with thousands of people handling the countless tasks that occur each day in multiple locations. Podium at the Tour de France is managed down to the last detail, with a “director” changing the stage background with the push of a button as each jersey is presented and cueing timing with signs.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After shooting podium, we head back into the press center, which at the Tour is massive. Todd’s article is usually in my inbox when I sit down and power up my computer and TravelWifi, our personal wifi. Travel Wifi is a sponsor and is what’s keeping us connected throughout the entire Tour no matter where we happen to be – in our hotel, in our car, in the press center, or out shooting on course.

Results go up, the recap article gets added, we each quickly edit & add the finish line and podium photos. Rider comments are added as they are obtained.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France – press tent
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

7:00 pm

Time to head out for our hotel  – always a slow process as the thousands of cars leave the parking areas and head through the small European streets.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our stage 3 hotel was in Namur, about 40 km away. Planning and scheduling hotels for the entire Tour took a little over three days of work and has to be done after host cities are announced but before the actual race route is published, which takes a bit of guesswork and a lot of searching.

We arrive and the guys we gave a ride up the hill were sitting in our hotel lobby. Quelle coïncidence!

9:00 pm

Time for wine, dinner and editing photos. We head to the bar, grab a table near a power outlet, and begin to work again.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

11:00 pm – 1:00 am

Back upstairs for more work. Stage 4 is the cobble stage, so we make our plans on which sectors to cover then decide to call it a day at 1:00 am.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One day of 21 at the Tour de France.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France – Kim Hull shooting near finish line
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
World Series 2014 Game 3

Take me out to the… World Series

Cover: World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Of all the major sporting events held each year, attending the World Series is near the top on most sports fans’ bucket lists.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The crisp autumn air, the red, white and blue bunting, the sea of color in the home team’s park – all make the century-old October tradition the ultimate baseball fan experience.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The first World Series

In 1903, modern baseball’s first annual championship was played between the Boston Americans and Pittsburg Pirates.

World Series 1903
World Series 1903 Public domain image

Held to bring the National League and the newly formed American League together, the first World Series was held with Boston coming out the victor, winning five games to three. The following year, the owner of the National League’s New York Giants refused to compete with the Boston Americans because he considered the American League and the Americans to be inferior.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Since that time, the World Series has occurred every year except 1994, when the post-season championship was canceled due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

World Series 2014 Game 3: San Francisco vs. Kansas City

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following the first two games of the 2014 series in Kansas City, where the Giants picked up the game 1 win & Kansas City the 2nd, the teams moved west to San Francisco’s AT&T Park, which the San Francisco Giants have called home since 2000.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located in the South Beach area of San Francisco next to the bay, AT&T Park is a beautiful ballpark with stunning views and a design that celebrates historic ball parks.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

San Francisco, in their third World Series in five years, was ready and waiting for the Series and the world to pay a visit.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Hotels were packed, fans were decked out in orange, and restaurants held watch parties for those not lucky enough to score a ticket, as World Series fever permeated the city by the bay.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Speaking of tickets – we had two and the opportunity to capture a World Series game in all its glory.

Kim and Greg Hull, World Series 2014 Game 3
Kim and Greg Hull, World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Who goes to a World Series game?

Sure, the stars and the wealthy attend because it’s the place to be that night.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

But, for the most part, it’s the diehard fans that are there to participate along with their teams in taking on the sole remaining opponent with hopes of bringing home the championship trophy.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Baseball fans are a passionate group. They are statistic-obsessed and will argue about even the smallest element of the game. They hold on to hope even when they are down at the bottom of the eighth because, in baseball, any team can make a comeback up to the very last out.

My biggest moment was winning the World Series because everyone in my town was able to feel he was a world champion.”
Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983, Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

McCovey Cove

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

AT&T Park sits next to the San Francisco bay, with the area just beyond the right-field wall referred to as McCovey Cove. Named after famed Giant first baseman, Wille McCovey, boaters and kayakers float in McCovey Cove during Giants games in hopes of nabbing a home run ball hit into the cove.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Better yet – procuring a splash hit – defined by the Giants as “home runs hit by the Giants that land in McCovey Cove on the fly without hitting the Arcade or Portwalk.” Splash hits are actually tracked on the Giants website (as if there was a baseball statistic that wasn’t tracked).

But, this was the big leagues – the potential of a World Series home run – brought a new level of excitement for those hopefuls in the Cove vying for a post-season souvenir.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Royals take game three 3-2 win to take World Series lead

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Despite the best efforts of the Giants and the 43,020 fans in attendance (ok, maybe a few hundred were Royals fans), it wasn’t meant to be for San Francisco at game 3 with the Royals beating the Giants 3-2 to take a 2-1 World Series lead.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

But, as Yogi Berra famously stated, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The San Francisco Giants ultimately came back and won the 110th edition of the World Series in game 7 in Kansas City.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Reno Air Races 2014

Reno National Championship Air Races 2014

Reno National Championship Air Races 2014
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull

Reno Air Races 2014
Reno Air Races 2014 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The National Championship Air Races, the world’s longest running air races, are held every September in northern Nevada at Reno-Stead Airport.

Reno Air Races 2014
Reno Air Races 2014 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Reno National Championship Air Races 2014
Date: September 10 – 14, 2014
Location: Reno-Stead AirportNevada


The races, which began in 1964, feature six racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civil flight demonstrations.

The event has attracted more than 200,000 spectators over the last decade and attendees can choose from general admission or reserved seating and optional daily pit passes. Race and ticket purchasing information can be found on the National Championship Air Races website.

The Reno National Championship Air Races 2015 will be held September 16-20, 2015.

Reno Air Races 2014
Reno Air Races 2014
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Reno National Championship Air Races 2014: Schedule

The National Championship Air Races begin daily at 8 a.m. with Biplane and Formula One Class races with the remaining four classes and aerobatic performances and demonstrations following later in the day. Unlimited Class races usually occur during the afternoon with the last event of the day ending at approximately 4:30 p.m. Schedule subject to change.

Reno Air Races 2014
Reno Air Races 2014
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures 
© Chasing Light Media

 

Great Reno Balloon Race 2014

Great Reno Balloon Race 2014

Cover: Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Great Reno Balloon Race 2014 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Date: September 4 – 7, 2014
Location: Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra St., Reno, Nevada


Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Great Reno Balloon Race 2014 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The most common word overheard at the Great Reno Balloon Race? “Awesome!”
And, awesome it is.

Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event, the Great Reno Balloon Race has been held each November since 1982. With more than 100 balloons, the event draws more than 100,000 attendees each year.

Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Great Reno Balloon Race 2014 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Over the event’s three days, attendees gather before dawn north of downtown Reno at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park to view the glow show, Dawn Patrol, and to watch the preparation and mass ascension of the balloons.

Great Reno Balloon Race
Great Reno Balloon Race Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Great Reno Balloon Race 2014 Schedule

  • Glow shows daily at 5:00 am
  • Dawn Patrol on Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 am
  • Mass Ascension daily at 6:45 am

The race is free to spectators. Directions and parking information can be found on the Great Reno Balloon Race website.

Great Reno Balloon Race 2014
Great Reno Balloon Race 2014 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Riding with the peloton

Riding with the peloton

Cover photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Ever wonder what it’s like to ride in one of the cars on the course of a pro cycling race?

The cycling photography aspect of Chasing Light Media provides opportunities to view pro cycling races from numerous vantage points, including within the peloton. One of the most frequent questions we get, is what riding with the peloton is like, so here’s a recap of a typical day…

A carefully choreographed caravan

Riding with the peloton - Tour of Utah
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

A pro cycling race is much more than some guys on bikes riding at high rates of speed on a given day.

The race route is carefully planned months in advance and requires the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people to ensure the race is both safe for riders and enjoyable for fans. As each race day dawns, the roads are closed to the public, as a mix of motorcycles and cars travel amongst the 100+ bike riders, carefully weaving in and out of the cyclists to support them and provide race coverage for fans worldwide.

Who’s in those cars & on those motorcycles?

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton
Photo: Kim Hull
© Chasing Light Media

A variety of people.

First, there are the organizers of the race. That includes race officials, marshalls and race operations personnel that ride throughout the race ensuring the riders are safe and the course is as secure as possible.

Next, communications. Race radio keeps everyone updated on the status throughout the race. Information continually flows over the radio with information on riders, locations and current conditions. An example of an update… “The lead group is 40 seconds off the front and includes 11 riders. The riders are 51 5 – 1, 91 9 – 1, 45 4 – 5…”

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Team support cars. Each team has a couple of support cars carrying extra bikes and supplies to assist their riders on the course with flats, broken chains, etc.

VIPs. Let’s not forget that it takes money to support a race. VIPs pay up to a reported $10,000 to ride in a car during certain races.

Press. The motorcycle photographers roam in and out of the riders and along the route to get shots as the race progresses. We were in one of the media cars that carries the press during the race.

And, there are other vehicles, including medical support.

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

So, what do you do in the car?

We start out ahead of the peloton.  Typically, a few miles out, we stop and wait along the side of the road for the riders to “catch up,” then, when they get close, we proceed out ahead of the group.

We ride along, listening for news on race radio, waiting for the breakaway. Just before the sprint, we were notified that we could fall into the gap (area between the breakaway and the peloton) after the sprint.

Our driver stops periodically along side of the road so we can get shots of the breakaway as they pass. We then start again, this time in between the break and the main group. As a chase forms, the process is repeated, then we fall in behind those riders.

The first climb

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The route on this day of the final stage of the Tour of Utah was fairly simple – flat with two huge climbs.

On the first climb, the breakaway fractured with gaps forming between the riders as they made their way up the 2.15-miles with up to 22 percent grades. It was hot and the riders were suffering as we passed them on the climb.

After going over the top and the first King of the Mountain (KOM) point, we passed the feed zone, and then we flew down the winding descent, just ahead of the helicopter.

A race back to the finish line

Now ahead of the riders, with just the final pass waiting between us and the finish line, we race ahead to get to the finish line before the riders.

On this day, we arrived back in Park City just about the time the first of the riders went over the pass and began their descent into town. Jumping out of the car at the finish line, we took our places on the course with the other photographers and about 10 minutes later, the riders hit town and race to the finish line.

Tour of Utah 2013 Stage 6
Tour of Utah 2013 Stage 6, Francisco Mancebo, 5 Hour Energy by Kenda
Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media