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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Old Friends

The other day I was walking to the camera shop in Downtown Seattle when an old high school buddy pinged me on my cell phone. "Dude, where are you"?

It turns out that we were just a few blocks away from each other. We hooked up for beersks and lunch when another high school buddy called. He was downtown as well--It was the first time I was with my two best friends from high school in 10 years.

The last time we all got together for beers was during our senior year before a football game. We were subsequently caught by the school disciplinarian and suspended for 1 week!

Brido the extrovert hasn't changed a bit. Sloth man, the introvert hasn't changed either. Can ya guess who is who?



Saturday, December 29, 2007

Family Spoons...and Steps

It was great to spend my first holiday season with family in 3 years.



The Bleakney's have a gathering tradition that goes back many, many, years--we hang spoons on our noses. Some participate, others observe.



My niece, Morgantini can't quite hang a spoon from her nose yet, but she's walking now--I think that the spoon will come shortly!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A tourist in my own backyard?

For the past week I've been playing tourist in my own backyard. I live in downtown Seattle, just above the Pike Place Market--one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. I go there on a regular basis to meet friends, buy fresh produce, chocolate croissants, velvet foam lattes, and the best mac and cheese around. This week, I went to the market with a camera around my neck rather than a shopping bag--I did the same at the waterfront tourist shops--I even went to the Cheesecake Factory downtown (it was so full and the line so long that I couldn't even saddle up to the bar for their famed blue-cheese-olive dirty Martini). With so much of my focus of late being on the organization of my travel/work schedule to far flung destinations over the next 9 months or so, it's nice to learn that my own home base camp is also a pretty cool place to be a tourist with a camera--and I don't even have to get on a plane to be there!
Here's what I saw:
------------------------------------

Seattleite author Amanda Ford takes a stylish spin for lunch at the Ballard Sunday Market.


The daughter of a young tourist family from Spain in more enthralled by her juice box than endless Salmon fish vendors in the Pike Place Market.


Jose, a recent arrival from Guatemala checks for employment at the Pike Place Fish Market. His friend from Mexico already has a good job there.


Mom maneuvers with baby through the homeless fringe en route to dinner in trendy Belltown.


Late night vendor closes shop after packing unsold fish in storage for the evening.


Seattle "Urban Bicycle Tour" group obeys the new "off your bike" rule in the downtown sculpture park.


Sylvia the Mummy at the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Photo Gallery "PEOPLE"


I've added a new photo gallery to my portfolio site called PEOPLE. I plan on adding to the gallery over the next few months as I travel through Colombia and Alaska.

Just a few years ago, many of beautiful National Parks and landscapes that I will visit in Colombia were off limits to the public because of drug and political-related violence. While I’m excited to make pictures in these locations, I’m also looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the Colombian people—who are starting to explore their newly founded personal freedoms as well. In Medellin, most Gen Xers spent the bulk of their nightlife locked indoors in fear of getting tangled up in street and drug crime. Their home was deemed the “murder capital of the world.” However, in the past few years, cities like Medellin and Cartagena have sprung back to life—cafĂ© and nightlife culture has emerged as groups of hipsters and international tourists spill into the sidewalks from trendy clubs and art scenes. What must it feel like to be able to travel within your own city and country without fear for the first time in a generation? Is this fearless freedom real?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Voy a Colombia...and then...Alaska

In January I'm setting sail to the port city of Cartagena for a tour of Colombia. I'm hooking up with a friend from Bogota who is helping me put my ideas in motion and will travel with me when I arrive there.

What ideas?
I'll be packing a camera, pen, notepad and folding bicycle seeking answers to two main questions: 1) Are we (Western Tourists) ready for Colombia and 2) Is Colombia ready for us?

Consensus from people on the ground--locals, tourists, and expats is a big YES to both of the above. Pablo Escobar is dead, kidnappings are down, the Pan-American highway and several key tourist destinations are now under control of the Govt. The New York times has published three articles in the past year about the fruits of travel in Colombia and have ranked Bogota 21st out of 53 new global hot-spots to see in 2008. There's even a group on FaceBook.com titled "COLOMBIA, THE ONLY RISK IS WANTING TO STAY"--the group has over 5,000 members.

The US Govt. web site on travel lists Colombia alongside Iraq as a code red danger zone. What's the real danger today? Who decides when a country is safe for travel? And why visit Colombia in the first place--what's there to see?

Along the way I hope to interview some of the famed international cyclists that the country has a storied tradition of producing, heads of the national parks (who have seen their crowned jewels transform from Guerrilla war zones to international tourist destinations), and sample the arts, cafe-culture, and outdoor adventure scene in this up and coming travel destination.

After Colombia, I'm toggling from tropical sun to the -40 degree Alaskan winter to cover what just might be the world's coldest, most brutal 100 mile bicycle and foot races. More on that to come.

I'll keep this blog up to date once I touch down.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Corey Rich and New Media

In September I was in Jackson, Wyoming learning how to make better pictures. I spent a lot of time with Corey Rich. This month, some of his new media work is being featured by Apple. It's killer stuff, check it out.

PBPphoto.com now online

What is it?
PBPphoto.com is the portal for my documentation of the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race that I photographed in France last summer. The site provides access to galleries with thousands of photos for participants to search, download, or purchase professional, large format prints. It also provides a community blog/comment resource for all of those with an interest in the event. Over time, I'll post news updates and multi-media stuff too.

I've been on the road so much lately that I haven't been able to put much energy into a "home" for the photos from this event. But I'm stoked that it's online now!

Enjoy!

G

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cycling Plus UK


My photo-set from the Paris Brest Paris found a home in the largest bicycling magazine in the UK, Cycling Plus. The pics will be used for a feature article by writer Isabel Best (who completed the event) in the January issue. Isabel writes for mainly British national newspapers and magazines such as the Financial Times, the Independent on Sunday, The Observer, Elle, Monocle/Wallpaper, Procycling and Blast.

If you're interested and live in the US wanna pick up a copy - I think that the issue can be found somewhere in the never-ending aisles of magazines at Barnes and Noble.

G

Friday, December 7, 2007

On Books and Birthdays


In 2005, my birthday stopped functioning as a marker for age, but rather a reminder to be thankful for my time on the planet during the past 365 days.

This year, I'm especially thankful for being in a position to document my life's experiences from the seat of a bicycle, both photographically and editorially in the pages of a coffee table book. A few weeks ago, Rich Clarkson and Associates, offered to package this book for me. Rich was the former Director of Photography for National Geographic Magazine. He also used to make pictures for NCAA Track and Field and spent a lot of time at my alma matter, the University of Oregon--where I spent 5-years as a track man. The people he's teamed me up with to put this book together are all truly amazing. I couldn't imagine a better group to work with on this project!

Last year, I spent December 6th camped behind a shack in the middle of dessert in Northern Argentina. It was cold, windy, sandy and miserable. Two days before, my traveling companions and I ran out of food and water and had to turn around and bicycle back to the closest village to avoid dehydration. But the sunset was perfect.

Yesterday, I spent my birthday scribbling outlines for book chapters in the comforts of my Seattle loft and then reminisced at diner over a bottle of Argentine Malbec at a tapas bar in Seattle.

Ribbon Of Road Selected "Best Of Seattle"


Good news from this month from Seattle Magazine. They called to inform me that the Ribbon Of Road tour was selected for "Best Of The Year" issue under the category of "Best Good Deeds". Check it out at the Seattle Magazine Web Site.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This weeks photo project - NOT to take photos?

Since June, I've done some sort of a photo project for myself or someone else at least once per week. Fly fishing, biking, rafting, trees, windows etc. This week, I've decided not to take any photos but rather focus on looking at other people's photos. I've been in New York and DC for business stuff but have made some time to look at some amazing work.

First, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC has two amazing exhibits by Ansel Adams and Annie Leibovitz. Next the Geographic Society in DC and then back to New York to see ZIYAH GAFIC's outstanding conflict exhibit at Fovea Editions in Beacon. Finally, the Public Library in New York has a exhibit on Keroak's On The Road.

OK - Not quite as fun as making my own pictures but a great experience none the less.

Back to work...

G

Sunday, November 11, 2007

French Broad

Yes, this is the name of a river in North Carolina near Asheville. I spent the weekend fly fishing and hanging out at a cabin with my family here. Next up, New York for some more meetings for my photography, a city cultural tour, and spending time with my friends who have migrated from West to East and now call the Big Apple home.

G





Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Photos from Fruita





Fruita was excellent! I hooked up with my old pal Don Thomas and the good news is that it was sunny and 65...about 50 degrees warmer than the last time we bike together.

Here are some pics.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fruita Bound



Fruita is a small town in Colorado that is know for its incredible mountain bike trails. This weekend, I'm re-joining forces with Don Thomas to hit the road on two wheels again. The last time we cycled together was when we were trying to avoid getting pancaked by outta control semi-trucks in the middle of an icy blizzard just a few hundred miles north of Antarctica. Hopefully the conditions in Fruita will be a bit more tame!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Running Wild in Olympic National Park


In 2003, I cycled across Alaska following the Alaska Oil pipeline with my buddy Greg McCormack. He's always thinking of creative and interesting outside play themes. In the past 4 years, he's been working a full-time job for NOAA at their offices on the Olympic Peninsula but that didn't get in the way of him concocting a plan for a grand-life adventure. What did he decide to do? Ohhhh just go out and trail run every mile of Olympic National Park. Given that there are nearly 1,000 miles in the Park to conquer and that it has the reputation of the most rugged and wild of our US Parks, this was not the dream of a softy.


It's taken him 5 years to complete (he remained fully employed the entire time). Last weekend, I was able to coordinate a photo-shoot with him in the Kalaloch Rain Forest as he was finishing up the last few miles of his adventure (which included mountain biking a closed access road for 10 miles, crossing a chest high river, followed by 30 miles of trail running through the night).

While I was there, I also hooked up with the Olympic Bird Watching master from the Audubon Society - Bob and a dude who helps make shoes for Patagonia (last photo).

Monday, October 15, 2007

What's Next?

*Taken from my most recent post at www.RibbonofRoad.com*

It's been 5 months since touching down on US soil in June.

I've posted this to answer some of the most common question that I've been asked since reaching the end of my Ribbon Of Road journey


1) What's Next for you Gregg?

About 9 months into the trip, I realized that my journey was no longer a temporary departure from my life back in the "real world" but that the journey itself had actually become my new "real world".

The momentum from this "understanding" has led me to become a full-time photographer with a focus on bicycle and human powered adventuring. In the 5-months since I've been home, my new career has continued to transport me and my bicycle around the globe. From another cycling trip down the Pacific Coast, to France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and most recently to some of our great National Parks, it has really been an amazing path for me.

You can see my latest work at:

www.GreggBleakney.com

and follow my ongoing adventures through my blog at:

http://gbleakney.blogspot.com/

2) How can I get prints of some of the photos from your trip?

I've partnered with Imagekind here in Seattle to provide professionally framed photos from my trip. I'm adding new prints on a regular basis. Don't see something you like? Email me with your request at gregg@ribbonofroad.com. Of course, a percentage of the profits from these prints will be donated to the Ribbon Of Road 501c3 Foundation to help find a cure for diabetes.

To order prints go to:

http://GreggBleakney.imagekind.com/


3) Rumor has it that you are writing a book, when is it coming out?

In the past few weeks I've been incredibly fortunate and have met some people in the publishing industry who have offered to help me put my book together. It will be a book of short photo-essays and will include many of the stories presented in the blog from this web site and new stories in a clean, well-edited but fairly raw format. I expect the book to be finished in 2008. To follow my book progress check out my new blog at:

http://gbleakney.blogspot.com/

4) How are you adjusting to life back in the States?

Actually, my adjustment period has been smoother than expected. I have a great network of friends and family who have helped get me up to speed on life on US soil. The truth is that I really haven't stopped traveling since finishing Ribbon Of Road. Last week, I rented an apartment in Seattle and have a home for the first time since June of 2005. However, with my new photography career, I think of it more as a high-priced storage unit with a bed rather than an apartment. There isn't a waking hour of my day when I don't stop to daydream about my travels during the past two years.

Ok - That's all for now. Thank everyone again for supporting and following this adventure!

P.S. - I've had a server crash and lost several email addresses from friends I met along the way. If you have made it to this point in the post and have not heard from me for a while then please email me with your contact info. so that I can stay in touch!

Gregg

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wyoming Sessions


I've just wrapped up a week of taking pictures in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The fall has hit full-on and the colors and weather have been perfect. I've been hanging with some amazing people this past week. Cory Rich, who is arguably the top adventure photographer in the world right now (and a super-cool guy to have a few beers with), James Balog, a National Geographic photographer who is literally attempting to help save our planet via his EIS Survey, National Geographic Photo Editor Sabine Meyer, and the guru who brought everything together, Rich Clarkson. I never imagined that I could learn so much about photography in such a short time.

To get here, I flew into Idaho Falls and biked for two days through the snow to Jackson. Fortunately, the weather cleared for our photo-sessions and we had a great week of shooting models in various locations around Grand Teton National Park.

Next up...meetings in Missoula, Montana and then back to Seattle to work on my book project.

I've uploaded my portfolio web-site with new images from this trip and my time in Europe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Back In Seattle

With Over 10,000 photos to sort, organize and distribute in the next week, I'm going to have my hands full.

Coffee and cycling are good for you!!!

This could be the coolest new scientific factoid I've come across in years. Now I don't feel so guilty about my coffee adventuring on a bicycle through Europe during the past 5 weeks.

The next adventure--Jackson, Wyoming for a Fall outdoor sports shoot in the Tetons starts in 10 days!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sweet Swiss Passes Finished

Link to the Sweet Passes route on GoogleMaps

Over the past two weeks I have cycled a loop around Switzerland and over 14 of its most amazing and historic passes for a total of 55,000 vertical feet of climbing. Along the way, Horst, my Swiss/German cycling guide, and a few others sampled over 30 different desserts (sweets), slept in a bomb shelter, weathered a snow storm, followed in the footsteps of Hannibal and his war elephants, and enjoyed an amazing 10 consecutive days of perfectly sunny weather in the Alps.

Every bike tour needs a "King Climb". The Stelvio, heading east to west from Italy into Switzerland was ours. For the first 14.9 miles we climbed for 6,100 uninterrupted feet via a series of 48 numbered hairpin turns--from a sun-filled apple
valley, to a below freezing, snowy pass it is one of the great climbs of Europe and the Giro de Italia bicycle race.

Here are a few photos of the Stelvio and me chowing down on some Swiss desserts!





Saturday, September 1, 2007

Arrival In Bubikon, Switzerland

I'm hangin' with Horst in Bubikon Switzerland. I first met Ruth and Horst in a bar in Zacatecas, Mexico and then spent several months cycling though Central America with them in 2006. Horst has cycled nearly every road in Switzerland and is the grand master of all that is cycling here. He is leading me on a 10-day photo-shoot through the Alps starting tomorrow!

We decided to start our Sweet passes tour with a little test drive yesterday that included the sweets but not the passes!



Side trips en route to Switzerland

On the way to Switzerland I took a few side trips to let the really bad weather that's been looming over the Alps clear up before setting out on my Swiss pass trip.

It's amazing how many doors open when a few nice cameras are hanging around your neck and you have a weathered card that says "Presse" on it.

First, I shot a private vintage car show with Stephan in Rambouillet, just outside of Paris. It was in a garden of some huge palace.





Next I headed up to Germany to attend Eurobike, the largest bicycle trade show in the world. It was pretty neat to check out all of the latest and greatest bike swag. Check out the trick bike frame made of wood.






Finally. I shot the Junior Championship stage race just outside of Zurich. I had a chance to catch up with our USA Junior team at the event. I got lucky with a car #3 placement and got to shoot out of the passenger side window from a great position in the trailing pack.



Some Fun Pics from the PBP

1250 kilometers in the rain produces some excellent bicycle carnage. Here's a few for you to enjoy...