MFS spoke with Photo Moto Coordinator Alex Dudley in Colorado to find out about the drivers who haul the cameras alongside the peloton; what follows is in Dudley's words.
At this race all of my drivers are very experienced, they've done many races across the country of varying sizes. In many cases they've worked with their photographers in particular before, sometimes for years. Some are CHP officers, some of them have been around bicycling for 20 years.
All of these guys are experts; you don't operate at this level without a pretty serious vetting at other races, making sure you are able to handle the motorcycle in these complex situations with an active photographer on board.
We don't have a formal vetting process; the moto officials have a detailed procedure and licensing process, and some of the photo guys here have that license, but it's not a requirement. It really turns out to be working smaller races, meeting guys who are in charge of organizing those races, and just reaching out. Obviously you need a motorcycle of your own,1, you need to have several years of experience riding, and we do prefer to have guys who have experience racing bicycles and/or taking photos. The process for someone typically starts by finding the USA Cycling officials in your hometown and introducing yourself to them. You usually start off as a marshal—keeping the course clear and shepherding riders—and after doing that and making contacts through marshaling, you end up on people's radar. You can't just walk in and start driving a photo moto.
Tony Carroll2, he's moving up from being a marshal—that's an upgrade. He's been after me for four or five years trying to get into a photo position. He was psyched. I'm fortunate to have him on our crew as he's a real leader: he's been a head marshal at stage races across the country. We call him the "Dog Whisperer" since he has an uncanny ability to deal with canines on the course, and that alone is worth keeping someone around for, it's a valuable tool for the marshals. We'll be shooting down the road in Georgia or some place and all of a sudden you'll see a couple of dogs out in the front yard sitting still, wagging their tails next to Tony. The hardest part about this job is working so close—literally a foot or less—to the riders. You can do a heck of a lot of damage if you come in contact with them. A few years ago I put a rider on the road in California by touching wheels on a climb when I didn't have anywhere to go in a tight corner. He went on to actually win the stage, so I don't feel so bad.3
If you're not comfortable being close you're just not able to do the job.
STAGE 02 – MONTROSE / CRESTED BUTTE
21 AUGUST 2012
MOUNTAIN STAGE, 159.6 KM
- Tejay van Garderen (USA) Yellow Jersey. BMC Racing Team 3h 52' 24"
- Christian Vande Velde (USA). Garmin-Sharp s.t
- Ivan Rovny (RUS). RusVelo +06"
One of the shorter stages in the 2012 edition at under 100 miles, Stage 02 returns to the mountain-top finish of Crested Butte where Levi Leipheimer won in 2011 on his way to the overall Yellow Jersey.