Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Cat’s Hill Race – Los Gatos


Cat's Hill Race held in Los Gatos

Cat’s Hill Race held in Los Gatos

I know I’ve mentioned a little bit about my bike riding skills but here’s a quick recap. First my bike – Carefully parked in my garage sits my sweet cruiser donning a seat the size of a couch. There’s a cup holder that’s perfect for a chilled Coke Zero and a basket that’s large enough to hold a good book and a blanket. My riding skills: I prefer flat, tree and flower lined pavements. Hills are nice if they are one-way and I’m heading in a downward direction.

So, with that said, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is registering for one of the toughest races on the NorCal circuit which is held in my town – Los Gatos. The event is called the Cat’s Hill Race and it leaves no margin for error or tactical lapse. You don’t dare miss a gear shift or shift your gaze. If you do, you most likely will find yourself in the back of the pack, or skidding along a hot tarmac.

Nicholson Avenue hill is the most impressive part of the race, and where it gets its name – this hill is also called Cat’s Hill or, “Sweet Mother of…” if you’re trying to walk / ride up it. How hard could it be you ask…well, it’s a gut-wrenching 23% climb. But it doesn’t stop there. Riding or walking up this hill once would be a real effort, but during the Cat’s Hill race the riders typically have to do it 12, 15 or 35 times!

Cat's Hill Race, coming around the corner before Cat's Hill

Cat’s Hill Race, coming around the corner before Cat’s Hill

Cat's Hill Race

Cat’s Hill Race

Now I don’t ride in this race but I do like to photograph it. During this race the riders go around the same circuit, over and over again. So even though they just road past you, you’ll see them again in about 5 minutes. It’s a photographer’s dream – versus most races where they fly by once and you have to drive miles ahead to catch up with them again. (Shaking your head as you peruse the many photos you shot that are all blurry) How could you not get at least one great shot if you have hundreds of times to photograph the riders? I have just a few photo tips if you decide to head over to the race.

  • First, just shoot a bunch of photos, I mean why not?
  • If you are shooting with your iPhone try an app called Fast Camera which takes tons of photos automatically.
  • If you have a digital camera check the owner’s manual to if it has this capability.
  • Pan when you shoot. Look out at the riders as they are approaching you, pick one, lock on that rider and then move 180 degrees with them as they pass from the left to the right, all the while shooting photos.
  • Find a place to stand about half way up Cat’s Hill. That’s where you’ll catch the agony in the rider’s eyes – along with a few good swear words.
  • And mostly, just have fun!
Cat's Hill Race

Cat’s Hill Race

Cat's Hil Race

Cat’s Hill Race, panning with the riders

Movement photo taken while panning

Movement photo taken while panning

Cat's Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos

Cat’s Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos

Cat's Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos, California

Cat’s Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos, California

If you’re in Los Gatos this Saturday, May 4, 2013, mark your calendar. You can’t miss it as there will be a ton of people around town. Note – The first race starts at 9:20am. The pros start racing at 5:00.

Here’s the link to the Cat’s Hill Classic website:

Here’s the map where they race: Maybe I’ll see you there!


If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

3 thoughts on “Cat’s Hill Race – Los Gatos

  1. You should bring the cruise to Burning Man this year. You can have some real travels.

  2. Awesome pictures of the race. great capturing of the speed and emotion.

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