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Untold Story: My photos from China

Posted by johnnieraz on October 31, 2015 at 11:55 AM

By John Rezell

When I look at my photos from the 1995 Tour of China I realize how much I wish I would have spent more time taking photos when I covered cycling.

For the most part, however, it was a case of just not having enough time to do it all. 

As a reporter, I prided myself on outhustling my competition. That meant I needed to be a lot of different places in a hurry. That also meant I wouldn't be in position to snap too many photos.

But the Tour of China was different for a number of reasons. Foremost, it was the official launching point of my own website dedicated to covering cycling, "Raz's Velo-a-Rama," and I needed photos for my site.

Yes, back in 1995, when folks super interested in cycling would wait for Major Taylor to email updates (I supplied Major Taylor reports as a freelancer), I created my own website to dish out race results. However, it was much more than that. I had bios of all major US-based riders with links within the bio to stories of their greatest triumphs.

The Tour of China was the ultimate showcase. My close friend Randy Taggart helped design an interactive map of China with rollovers to give you stage information and highlights, long before you saw those on any race website.

Even cooler than that, the Tour of China was testing ground for innovative new finish-line technology by FinishLynx. When one stage ended with a photofinish, you could view the finish-line photo on my website.

While I'm bragging here, when I became editor of VeloNews in 1996, I was the first to offer in-race reports online that we debuted at the Tour DuPont. I'd phone in race updates on a cellphone the size of a large water bottle to online editor Tim Johnson and he would type it up and post on

I still remember the 1996 CoreStates USPRO Championship when Bicycling editors Bill Strickland and Tim Blumenthal jumped into the press car for a lap and looked at me in the backseat with a cellphone and digital camera. It was their introduction into the new wave coming in journalism. Instant information.

But I digress.

Back to the Tour of China. I became a freelancer in June of 1993 and by November of 1995, when I went to China, I pretty much milked my bank account as well as my 13-year-old SLR camera for every drop. I didn't have the money to buy a new camera or fix the one I had.

I knew it was on its last legs, and when the plum assignment that would have made going to China actually profitable for me fell through at the last minute (thanks VeloNews for that one), I had no choice but to endure with what I had.

When I attempted to snap the first photos as I wandered around Hong Kong in an early morning funk, I realized my camera might not survive China (eventually it didn't).

I'd press the button and then, well, then had to wait to find out when the shutter would snap open. This was long before autofocus, so imagine my terror as I watch my perfect photo slip through the sands of time as I waited patiently. Nerve-racking to say the least.

That I even have one of these photos is amazing to me. These are scans from slides, which don't do the originals justice. But, as I reminded myself with every photo I took in China, it's better than nothing ...

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