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May 13, 2007|By Jerry Jackson | Jerry Jackson,SUN PHOTOGRAPHER

They don't let me out much. As a photo editor at The Sun for the past 11 years, it has become increasingly rare for me to do what I got into this business for in the first place: Take pictures. The silver lining, however, is that when I do pick up an assignment, it is usually something I am passionate about. Such was the case last month when I was asked to do a story on area bike trails.

I have been a biker almost as long as I have been a photographer. I raced road bikes in high school and even won the state junior championship. But in Mississippi in the 80s, that just meant that I beat the other two guys who finished the race. Like a lot of young riders in the Breaking Away era, I dreamed of racing with the pros, but was soon distracted by college and girls. Eventually cycling became my hobby and photography became my job.

Here was my chance to be a professional biker, sort of. I would get paid to ride my bike - with five pounds of camera equipment, but a pro in my own twisted logic.

So I left work early a few days ago to chase another rider through the woods at Loch Raven with a camera strapped to my chest and a video camera on my helmet. As I struggled to keep up and breathe with the camera's shutter release in my teeth, I realized that I wasn't having nearly as much fun riding for work as I thought I might. The picture I was trying to make was such a low-percentage shot that I was too focused on making sure the cameras were working to enjoy the ride.

Still, the acrobatic gamble paid off. When the wheels stopped spinning, I had a chance to catch my breath and review my digital images. Several felt real and I felt a moment of victory. I hadn't broken my neck or flubbed a shoot. I had survived a risky navigation between two pillars of my life and lived to tell about it.

Hey, boss, how about a photo chronicle of a 100-mile endurance race?

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