Bradley's Susan D. Day

Bradley Wohl owns American Cyclery. He also owns and publishes the Bicycle Trader, a nationally distributed classified advertiser. He belongs to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC).

Susan DeMattei grew up in Marin County. She is a professional mountain bike racer, and she won the bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics. Then she married Dave Wiens, another professional mountain bike racer, and got pregnant. She moved to Gunnison, Colorado in the early 1990s, but she also belongs to the SFBC.

Every holiday season, the SFBC has an auction to raise money. They approached Susan about contributing something to the auction, and Susan said she would donate a day of her time to the highest bidder. Bradley Wohl was that bidder.

So, in mid-January, the day arrived when both Bradley and Susan were both free to make like a baby and head out. Susan, who was about four months pregnant, rode from her parents' Mill Valley home where she was staying over the Bay Bridge and into the city. With her were her sister Nancy, herself an accomplished athlete who was voted "Personal Trainer of the Year" in San Francisco, and Jacquie Phelan.

On their way to American Cyclery, the three women stopped at my house because Jacquie had something she needed to drop off here.

When they arrived, I scrambled outside with a Thermos of good tea and some See's chocolates. Jacquie also had some food, and we had a small picnic on the front steps of my house.

I asked Susan to sign a full-page picture of herself that I had found in Winning magazine. The picture was taken near the end of a race in which Susan qualified for the Olympic team. She looked lean and somewhat baked, for her upper lip was drawn tightly across her teeth. "You look like that guy in Planet of the Apes, teased Nancy, laughing. "Yeah, Roddy McDowell."

As the group was leaving, Susan invited me to join the ride. I answered "perhaps," but it didn't take more than a few seconds of deliberation before I was scrambling into riding clothes and grabbing film out of the refrigerator.

It was pretty slim pickins in there. I grabbed a roll of Seattle Filmworks 200, which I pushed to 400, and a roll of Kodachrome. The Seattle Filmworks film is motion picture industry film packed for still cameras, and there is only one lab that processes it, using special, custom-built machines that can give you positives and/or negatives from the same roll. It is a light-hungry film that does well with saturated colors but can look dingy sometimes. I've tried to compensate for that in editing the images, so some of the colors may seem a little doctored.

With any luck, I've rattled on long enough for 270 K worth of thumbnails to download, so here we go, the story of Bradley's Susan D-Day.

In front of the shop. Note the Bicycle Trader newstand in the background, the American Cyclery antique clock, and of course the Salsa Pepperman.

Pre-ride milling.
The yellow figure in back of Jacquie is actually intended to be a portrait of Jacquie! The figure has a pearl necklace, no shirt and is riding a mountain bike with drop handlebars. There is a white rat is running atop the rear wheel! What I like in this photo is that there is something similar about the necks in both these images of Jacquie. Also, the portrait looks like a big yellow fist sprouting from Jacquie's back!

That's Temple E-manu-el in the background, the city's largest synagogue. Susan shows pro form out of the saddle, while Nancy, a little blurry here, reminds her not to go too hard (since she's pregnant).

Once inside the Presidio, we took a secret stealth Bradley route. The trail was smooth enough for a no-hands, low-light shot. You can tell there's some racing in those legs of Bradley's, too, can't you?

When I was a cyclojournalist with California Bicyclist magazine, I got flown down to Camarillo to attend a press party at Diamond Back. That was, I'm thinking, 1993. They had a big photoshoot with the new team uniforms, a ride where we could try out any of the new bikes, and then, in grand Southern California style, they took us to a stadium SuperCross race (which is where all these really loud, funny-looking motorcycles ride around a tiny, highly scalloped course taking jump after jump, making for an event at least as exciting to watch as one of those transparent popcorn poppers). The DiamondBack press guy said that Susan had the "winningest smile in mt. bike racing." What do you think?

Have you ever taken a picture and been flabbergasted to see some glaring detail in the background that you didn't notice at all when you squoze the shutter? If only I'd noticed the "Double Fine Zone" in the background, I could have composed a very nice shot with these two fine women. Instead, we have a stop sign and the backs of their heads cut off. The moral of the story is "Always keep your eyes open when taking pictures!"


This photo had no sky, with these two big stars right in the middle of it, so I gave it some more stars to keep them company.

Something must have been pretty funny....

Jacquie must have just let fly with something scandalous.

Old Springs Trail, that's Bradley in the background.

Miwok stable and a pregnant Susan. Gotta love that weird, slanting short winter day light.

Okay, that's all for this time! Ciao!