When we finally land on Mars, Danny Macaskill should do some bike tricks on it, like a back flip off the Rover. Before that, in a Hazmat suit, ride the pipes of Chernobyl with a geiger counter ticking off the soundtrack beats from a caffeinated sugar water commercial.
Observing the fires on the horizon
The Sony A7R is a thoughtful camera and one I took with me for a weekend in Sedona. Where I rode, visited a stupa, tasted wine, beer, and Scotch. It’s not even Summer yet and the livin’ was easy…’cept for the fires that wrapped the area in a haze.
Wine tasting in Jerome at Maynard’s winery
From the worst lighting conditions imaginable – smoke and harsh midday sun – I took these photos and why our photo editor David Schloss said, “this ain’t your Father’s camera.”
Nope, no it ain’t or your Mothers, and what I want to share is that my quest for the “perfect street camera,” is nearly complete with the Sony. I had a full-frame, compact camera in my Camelbak on the MTB rides and in a Niko around town.
There was never a time when I thought, “so sick of carrying this camera and lenses like I did with SLR gear,” or, “wish I’d got a better photo.” As David wrote for us about the A7R, “the SLR is dead,” or more apropos for me, this is what I thought I could do with an m43. I could, but the image quality was what you’d expect from a small sensor.
The thoughtfulness comes from composing the shot, getting it focused (the A7R uses contrast instead of phase detect focus, read more about that topic here), reducing or increasing the exposure, holding the camera steady, and snap with the loud scheelunk sound. 36 megapixels is a lot of sensor to fill and the light captured had me very excited at times. Like the “red-rock” shot of the trip, taken by @mzsitka outside the rental car window while driving into town.
Pokey and Rocky
The riding in Sedona was technical and rocky. I’d never ridden rocks like that and it was a bit nerve wracking with no flow. Just rocks. On a double-black descent, I decided by a committee of myself to walk the 17 drops in a row and was ok with it. The terrain was pokey too. Everything you touch, bump, or brush in Sedona is sharp, like a dry pokey needle. Stay on the trail, I learned, with elbows in tight, eyes ahead to the next obstacle.
Scott Spark 910
The Scott Spark 910 is one of the lightest, and most adaptable full suspension frames on the market. I asked Phil, who publishes Switchback Magazine, what he thought of the bike I was riding and he replied
I like the Scott Spark so much, I’m actually building one up as my race bike for Leadville and few other endurance races. Hoping to get it under 20 lbs.
That’s doable and the demo I rode had just enough travel for the terrain with XT and at 24 lbs. Because of the fires and smoke, we didn’t do the epic rides Sedona is known for like Highline or Hangover. Staying low out of the smoke was better on the lungs and we still had lots of fun near Bell Rock and in the trees of the Coconino National Forest.
We stayed at the Amara resort where Kimpton has bikes you can ride in the city. They’re waiting for you in a town with a bike lane on every street, as well as the single track trails. The shops in town like Bike and Bean or Absolute Bikes rent bikes too.
Some routes we rode aren’t even mapped yet and I want to ride them again. Get some rock-riding skills and take more photos. We didn’t find any vortexes, even after hearing there are luxury and economy versions. We blamed the smoke. It diffuses the energy.
The A7 was named by other media the camera of the year in 2013, so there are hundreds of reviews. The most relevant of those I read before writing my take include
- PetaPixel – on focusing and why the camera may look like a point and shoot but it ain’t.
- Fred Miranda on shooting landscapes
- Not Your Father’s Camera from David
David’s review included this line
This sort of technological jump is massive because the amount of fun had on a bike ride is inversely proportional to the weight of camera gear transported by the rider.
During a 4-hour MTB ride in Sedona with a full-frame, pro camera in a Camelbak, I didn’t even notice the weight. Instead, I considered the next photo, clearing a rock garden, and how Sedona is about to blow up for second homes, pre-retirement, and good riding.
Also the Spark didn’t get in my way either, just confidently took me to the next location, like this dry creek bed.
Chad, the local Scott Bikes Rep showed me around and loaned me a demo
As seen from Alki and Beach Drive
My I love living and riding here moment came late this season… happened on Instagram with a phone photo. After an unusually amount of time spent in the rain, the sun came out and lit the Emerald City up. The same week, F-Stop Seattle released Seattle Dream Pt. II, a time lapse movie of the places we ride here like Kerry Park, Discovery Park, Downtown, and Alki Beach. I appreciate the view and time spent on a subject matter dear to my heart.
Space Needle at night. Screengrab from Seattle Dream Pt. II
Always in the moment and publishing at the speed of social media, it’s not often I stop and look through the archives for photos like Bitch
a big ship full of logs
or a joust…
The city is changing too, in the twenty plus years I’ve been here. Mark V wrote about that in Issue 01, A Ride to Weezerville
So we’re sitting in a pseudo western saloon with the smell of BBQ in the air, eating seafood, surrounded by Amazon kids who don’t know a farrier from a furrier, and we’re watching out the window to see if the SLUT (the South Lake Union Transit trolley) will pass by as the music bounces directly from Motley Crue to OMD. Amazon (dot COM, bitches!) set up a company village in Seattle where warehouses and furniture stores used to be, like a college campus with scholarships for drinking. Brave Horse is at the top of some steps, stacked on another restaurant, and we wondered what went on in the building before its rebirth as a nerd frat. Before software or the Stratofortress, Seattle was a town made by swindlers, sailors, and the gold-rush, not cattle and cowpokes.
While Amazon’s company town emerges from the cranes and construction, the latest swindlers are getting theirs from the Tunnel Project. This is, after all, a world-class city without a vision that can’t remember a cast iron tube is lurking in the path of the most expensive drill in the history of the world, but can remake itself in the eyes of billionaires.
Faulted, rainy, and beautiful.
Stopped at Bell Rock with this Scott
A 5-thousand acre fire has the red rocks, vortexes, and magic crystals in this unique location wrapped in a hazy, white smoke; rocky singletrack too. We waited for the smoke to clear just enough to mountain bike ride. Across a creek, up to a mesa, back down a dry creek bed and finally I found the shot. That’s Bell Rock in the background and a Scott 910 in the fore.
It’s smokier this morning, but when it clears we’ll ride again and after the holiday I’ll post the rest of the story. What I know so, far besides the rockiest descents, is Sedona is about the blow up as a pre-retirement, 2nd-home destination for the riding.
Chad showing me around Sedona