Photographer Bo Bridges Takes Us Along for an Epic Bike Ride

A Tour of California like you’ve never seen before.

  • Category
    Life Outside
  • Photographed by
    Bo Bridges
  • Written by
    Bo Bridgesrrui

Though based in California, photographer and adventurer Bo Bridges will traverse the far reaches of the globe to get his shot. ESPN once referred to his portfolio as a “pyramid wall filled with iconic pieces of history.” His work reveals an exercise in extroversion, capturing everything from Alex Gray surfing big waves in Tahiti, to sharks off the coast of Mexico, to remote salt flats in the heights of Bolivia. So when Bo discovered an opportunity to shoot the bikers of the 2017 Tour of California, he jumped at the chance to bring the adventure home.

“I was on a motorcycle the entire seven days racing out in front of the pack to find a spot I wanted to shoot from,” says Bo of the event that takes riders a grueling 645 miles from Long Beach to Sacramento. “After they would pass by, I’d jump back on the bike and race back to join them and then move ahead once again.”

With the intention to deliver the images to AP/Wire for immediate worldwide distribution, Bo knew he needed to work both fast and efficiently. “I had my assistant in the back seat of a police car,” he shares. “We would pull up next to him and hand off the cards from my camera while still moving. He would edit on the fly while the officer drove him and I would continue on shooting.

Golden State partnered with Bo to share a selection of this amazing weeklong photo essay. Along California roadways, highways and coastlines he documents the anticipation, endurance, struggle and exhilaration of seven stages in competitive racing.

We were moving through Napa Valley and the weather wasn’t cooperating. I hid under a large tree and used the top of the branches to frame up the shot. I also slowed the shutter down and held the camera steady creating some motion blur in the riders.

I found this wall mural in Exeter, California and framed the bikers against it.

We passed through San Francisco and the morning fog was just rising and breaking apart in the bay. I love how dramatic it is.

One of my favorite images. We had passed over this bridge at about 80 mph to get out in front of them. I had my driver slow down and I decided to bust a U-turn. I waited for them to appear and knew they would be in a tight formation. Nailed this right as they hit the crest of the bridge.

A couple of bikers passing through the Golden Gate. Shot with a 400 mm lens, this image pulls in the riders and makes them appear much closer to the bridge than they are.

The view with the sunroof opened!

[Top left] Self-explanatory, but I was digging the banana suit. [Bottom left] The fans play a huge roll and appear in the middle of nowhere. They will sleep along the roadside and do whatever they can to get a glimpse as the bikers race past. Here some fans run uphill in custom as long as their legs will carry them. [Right] Patrick is an avid bike rider. I had shot him before racing in the Baja 1000. Didn’t get a chance to stop and say ‘hi’ on this drive-by shot. Just saw him out there supporting the bikers for a cause.

Ran through the trees and dropped down low. Using the lines of the tree trunks and the green ceiling, I focused on the street in the distance.

This was up near Big Bear Mountain. I jumped off my bike and ran inside the tunnel. I blew out the light at the end to silhouette the riders going into the darkness.

Late afternoon light. Setting up my shot and waiting for the action.

S Turns: A long shot with a 500mm lens. I used the street and the fence to line up the composition of the rolling hills and the bikers coming down.

Downtown Los Angeles. I used a strobe/flash off camera and slowed down my shutter speed to create this shot. Using the metallic façade of Walt Disney Concert Hall, I framed up each rider.

This was one of the most difficult images I took. I found this rock wall when we were out ahead of the Peloton. There was no shoulder on the edge of the road so my driver left me there and I climbed up that rock wall with my camera bag on my back. I didn’t have much time to get ready and they came by quickly. After they pass there’s about two miles of solid back-up support teams driving as fast as they can in trucks, cars and vans. I had to climb back down that rock cliff. One slip and I was on the road with nonstop moving traffic. That’s when it got scary.

For this image, I climbed up on a large wall next to the road and waited for them to bank the turn.

There’s only one winner a day. And teammates work together to try and get each other out in front. They drift off each other as much as possible and try to reserve as much energy whenever they can to give it all they have on the final few miles of each stage. You can see the victory from both teammates along with the defeat of a close second and third …

I think this guy went to Texas! But he was everywhere. Somehow he would make it everyday to each stage. Roads are shut down hours before the entire race passes through. His helmet looked like it took out a couple of the riders in the past.

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