Photo Report from Round 5 of Monster Energy MX Nationals at Gopher Dunes

Round 5 of the Monster Energy MX Nationals took place this weekend at Gopher Dunes in Courtland, Ontario.  While it wasn’t as ridiculously hot as last year, it was still pretty stinking hot.  The Schuster family always does a top notch job and I was really looking forward to shooting at Gopher.  I guess it’s sorta my home track, behind the lens.

I have been shooting some moto stuff already this year; Supercross, cover shoot and some team stuff but this was my first official stop on the Canadian Motocross circuit.   It wasn’t in the cards for me to cover the rounds out West and I was stoked to get out to Gopher to capture the action.

This was one of the two Saturday rounds the CMRC is trying out this year.  This was a request from manufacturers in an effort to cut costs associated with being at the event on the Saturday.  To me, it just shifts the days,  Saturday becomes Friday, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.  It does however squash any real opportunity to get some chill, lifestyle shots leading up to the race.  Not sure that concerns anyone but me but I still feel it’s something the scene is lacking in a big way.

I left Toronto at 5:30am with a massive rising sun in my rear-view mirror.  I like to get to the race for the riders’ meeting to get a good shot of the track, riders and the pits in some of the warm morning light.  It’s also nice to get guys in their casual garb before they get all kitted up for the rest of the day.  The light was noticeably different than it was last year.  It seemed much higher in the sky, even though it was the same time of year.

It was great to see Gauldy, Stally, Betty, Trapper, Fabs and get caught up on what has been going on so far this season.  It sounds like it’s been pretty wild so far.  Frankie B is out with a broken leg – healing vibes, brother.  It was also great to see some of the riders I haven’t seen since last year. The racing action and championship battle is crazy this season.  I haven’t had a chance to catch the TV coverage yet but it’s set to tape and I’m looking forward to seeing it.   Between that and staying on top of the Tour De France broadcasts, I’m maxed out on TV time I simply don’t have to begin with.

It was a great day  to be out shooting moto.  Temperatures were comfortable and the track was mint.  The start line has been moved a bit closer to the podium which really helped  shooters get to and from the action quickly.  While it’s nothing in comparison to the work the racers put in, walking on a beach all day under the sun with 40lbs of gear is no picnic.  Last year I brought my big 400mm f/2.8 but this year I stuck to smaller glass.  I had two bodies, my D3 and D4.  I used my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II on the D3 and my sweet 200mm f/2 with a TC-14E teleconverter on my D4.  The track was a lot easier to shoot this year as far as shorter focal lengths went. There were no real killer jumps or berms to speak of but I managed to find some angles I liked.  A lot of the spots I wanted to shoot were backlit until late in the day, some never got the good light at all.

Having missed the Western rounds, I really needed to kill it for the mag and get them a fair number of shots to bank.  I was really looking forward to putting my spin on the race and getting as much killer stuff as I could.  I took over 4000 exposures on Saturday.  This is despite making an effort not to shoot in burst, specifically to cut down on the number of shots I have to go through after a day like this.  I only shot in continuous servo for the starts yet still ended up with that many shots.  I have a problem!  The real treat was that I recently had my D4 serviced and the date was incorrectly set at the factory.  This meant that the files from the two bodies were out of sync and needed to be adjusted to fall in place chronologically.  On Sunday I had to do it all over again for a mountain bike race up at Blue Mountain. If you ride, check out some shots and the report on my mountain bike site here: 

I haven’t come close to pairing down the photos from the weekend but wanted to get some shots up for you guys.  Here are a few bangers from the great day of racing at Gopher.