Ninth Street Derby – The Wellspring Criterium Resurrected!

When I was a kid, a local Durham grocery used to host an annual Criterium. I never saw any of those races, but I remember all of the great Criterium posters that Wellspring used to have up in its store, and always thought that urban bike races would be pretty neat to see. Wellspring became Whole Foods many years ago now, and the Criteriums ended with the local grocery.

Now, thankfully, Criteriums have returned to Ninth street in the form of the Ninth Street Derby, organized by Rusty Miller and presented by Durham Cycles and the Happy Tooth. Whether the presenters are aware of the former races or not doesn’t matter–the course was tight, the pilot car was a Ferrari 430 Sypder, and the atmosphere was one of good spirited competition, of testing oneself amongst like-minded peers. I enjoyed chatting with the spectators, the racers, and am so glad I stopped in to take some photos.

Racers–if you happen by here, I have lots more photos that might have you in them–these are just some of my favorites from the day that I chose to share here. Feel free to Contact me if you want me to look for a photo of you.

The only photographic point I want to make is to emphasize the importance of having personal projects and shooting things that are interesting to you. A spectator asked who I was shooting for, and I said, “myself,” with a smile. Personal projects allow you to experiment, to develop your style, to try things without pressure. If you screw up, you just don’t share the photos! If you succeed, you might expand your exposure a bit, make some new connections, find some new opportunities, learn some new techniques. For me, this was my first time panning in earnest, and my first time pre-focusing to capture action that went by too fast for the autofocus.


  1. Beth Wade on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:19 am

    These are brilliant! Did you pan by hand?

  2. mschueler on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for the kind words! And yes–I barely use my tripod (it’s still packed from a trip to Kansas City two weeks ago), and I don’t own a monopod. :)

  3. Doug Roach on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

    VERY cool stuff.
    Perhaps next time the organizers will choose to inform the community of this event and thus find many, many more folks in attendance.

  4. Katy Dillard on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Hi Mark! Nice work…I was just curious how you decided to do black and white.

  5. Beth Wade on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Nice! Such a fun, challenging subject to shoot. I have a hard enough time trying to capture my busy 2 year old, I can’t imagine speeding cyclists! Monopods appear so awkward… but every article I’ve read about panning references them so I thought I’d ask :) Thanks for sharing!

  6. mschueler on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    @Doug Roach: Indeed! I found out about it almost by acci­dent! I’m glad that some­one else agrees that it was very poorly mar­keted, but still an (IMHO) great event.

  7. mschueler on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    @Katie Dillard: Well, I really am biased towards black and white to begin with, and I fig­ured most of the other pho­tos of the races would be in color. Ulti­mately, the nice dark shad­ows and the puffy clouds and the nice con­trast between the dark tires and the light pave­ment dic­tated black and white over color for these.

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