KCRA–GoPro–Beverley Carlson, E-Bike Rider
I love bicycles!
I got my first bicycle when I was 13 – a used orange 10-speed Schwinn. It opened up my world. I rode that bike EVERYWHERE! By the time I was fifteen I was riding it twenty miles from where I lived, never letting my parents know how far I was going and exploring. It opened up my world, giving me a sense of the freedom that driving a car would later give me.
A few years ago I bought the coolest bike I ever—a Bike-E recumbent bicycle—purchased on Craigslist to commute to work and back. Gasoline prices were high and I needed some exercise, to lose some weight and, frankly, I needed a change. I only rode it for five months, but it was fun. It was sold to a buyer working in China, who found a local bicycle dealer who could box it up and ship it for me.
That fellow was Mike Majors with The Electric Bike Shop here in Sacramento, California. I’d heard about electric bicycles and was curious about them. Mike told me that he had two types of customers:
–People commuting regularly to and from work with longer than average distances and needed a bicycle that could more easily cover the distance than I traditional pedal bicycle. Something with a little more umph!
–Seniors who wanted the exercise and health benefits of riding a bicycle, but were concerned that once they’d gotten somewhere, might not have the energy or strength to get home again. An electric bicycle can provide four or five extra pedals of power for every pedal turned. Some bikes can also serve as an electric scooter, providing all the power—as long as you’re traversing flat or reasonably flat terrain.
Mike introduced me to Beverley Carlson, who lived just a couple of blocks from Mike’s electric bike shop. Beverley used to train and ride horses in Chico and Paradise, California, and has always been a rider. She is now 71, retired and simplifying her life, exchanging horses for bicycles. She’s even selling her car, using just her electric bicycle to commute around town for errands and pleasure, and using buses and trains to travel greater distances. She’d purchased her bike at Walmart and Mike Majors converted it into an electric bicycle for her.
The story now had all of the saleable elements to be a solid and informative TV news story:
2) Health; and
3) Economics and downsizing.
GoPro & Filming E-Bikes
The big technical obstacle I had to overcome for this story was how, as a one-person crew of reporter & photographer, I could film Beverley riding her bicycle around town. I solved this with the GoPro Hero 3+, which has become my new favorite filmmaking & news coverage tool, that my marvelous sister Margo Carroll mailed to me a year ago.
To you achieve these shots I attached the GoPro on a suction cup mount, then fixed it to the outside of my news car—suction cupping the camera onto the outside of a side window or a back window or the front hood and pacing with Beverley as she rode around midtown Sacramento.
Using the wireless feature of the GoPro Hero 3+ and the GoPro iPhone app, I was able to monitor the shot I was getting and adjust the speed of my car to keep pace with Beverley.
This produced some STARTING TRACKING SHOTS! I have attached some of the raw footage here to judge for yourself. I can only compare them with some of Stanley Kubrick”s classic long tracking shots in The Shining. I found the movement to be so poetic that I just wanted to look at it.
I spent just a few hours one morning at the beginning of December with Beverley, then wrote & edited the story over the next few weeks. It had been decided in advance that this would be an HFR story. HFR stands for Hold For Release—a story that is shot one day and that may air the next day or the next week or the next month. Since it was December it was decided to save the story to run during one of the weeks around Christmas, when there might not be as many other news stories occurring, which meant that I could also let the story run longer.
Beverley Carlson and her E-bike ran KCRA on Christmas Day in the 6 O’clock News, the same newscast also had another story that I’d shot and reported on Christmas at the Donner Ski Ranch.
Perhaps in a couple of years, when I retire, have more time, am not in a hurry to get some place, I can once again resume the bicycling life.
Perhaps this time it will be with an electric bicycle!