EcoVelo “Why I Ride” Photo Contest Results

The “Why I Ride” Photo Contest was a great success this year. The quality and quantity of the nearly 300 photos and accompanying essays went well beyond our expectations. We found the entries both entertaining and a real source of inspiration to keep riding and sharing our story; we hope they did the same for you. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

Without further ado, here are your winners:

Grand Prize
Mitchell Connell

1st Runner-up — Boban James
2nd Runner-up — Mary Bernsen
3rd Runner-up — Danette Rivera
4th Runner-up — Glenn Budak

Honorable Mentions
Roger Bombardier Jr.
Jake Dean
Will Millhiser
Cecily Walker
Richard Wezensky

Readers’ Choice Award
Mary Bernsen

Our Grand Prize winner, Mitchell Connell, is a bike commuter and student at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee. The camaraderie, nostalgia, and longing for the open road expressed in his photo, as well as his story about pragmatism and persistence, spoke powerfully to a number of the judges. Mitchell is the recipient of a Civia Midtown bicycle as well as 5 items of his choosing from the prize pool. Congratulations, Mitchell!

Grand Prize Winner — Mitchell Connell

My twin, Spencer, and I have grown up in a family full of ambition but lacking in commitment. The house that surrounds us is perpetually in a state of incompleteness with floorboards missing and exposed drywall, but through this we have developed both pragmatism and an enamorment for the completion of our goals.

Last summer we rode (with my best friend, Robert Fischman) from our hometown, Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. After 462 miles and 9 days of leg throbbing persistence we arrived at our most exacting goal yet. This is a photograph of Spencer and Robert less than a mile from the end of the Natchez Trace.

Mitchell Connell

It was a very close contest between the 4 runners-up. In the end, Boban James just edged out Mary Bernsen for second place with his haunting image of monks in a stark Indian landscape. Boban will receive a $400 gift certificate from Rivendell Bicycle Works as well as 5 items of his choosing from our prize pool. For her inspiring photo and poem, Mary will receive a $250 gift certificate from Rivendell as well as 4 items of her choosing from the prize pool.

1st Runner-up — Boban James

Boban James

This picture was taken in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in India in 2005. We had rented bicycles and were visiting various monasteries near the capital city of Leh. Outside one such monastery, we came across a group of young monks in traditional robes. As soon as they saw our cycles, they thronged around us asking us questions about the bicycle’s mechanics and its speed (“will it go as fast as a car?”). In this picture, one of the more enterprising boys is about to push off for a ride, while his friends await their turn. That’s one of the reasons why I ride- because it’s a joy to be able to share your own love of cycling with others and hopefully that’s what this photo conveys.

Boban James

2nd Runner-up — Mary Bernsen

Mary Bernsen

Why I ride?

The view is different from the handle bars.
When my legs start moving, clarity of thoughts start flowing.
The busy pace of day-to-day is forgotten.
The senses begin to awaken.

The view is different from the handle bars.
I feel the chill of the morning, the heat of the mid-afternoon sun, and the breeze at night.
I smell the sweet scent of the flowers, the newly mowed grass and the wet pavement.

I hear the insects buzzing, the birds chirping, and the air whispering behind my ears.

The view is different from the handle bars.
Strangers become acquaintances and new friendship emerges.
Scenic locations are discovered and unknown paths are explored.

My soul rejoices as the sense of wonder waits in every turn.
The wind gently strokes my face, and a smile begins to form.

The view is truly different from the handle bars.

Mary Bernsen

Danette Rivera took the 3rd runner-up spot with her fun photo and moving essay. Danette will receive a $100 gift certificate from Rivendell as well as 3 items of her choosing from the prize pool. And rounding out the top group is Glenn Budak with his moody image of a solitary, meditative cyclist. Glenn will receive a $100 gift certificate from NYCeWheels and 2 items of his choosing from the prize pool.

3rd Runner-up — Danette Rivera

Danette Rivera

When I was eight, I found forty dollars crumpled in the street. I immediately bought a silver spray-painted one speed with a banana seat. It was my prize. When I was ten, I sold colorful soap in a parking lot to make money because I wanted my mom to have a bike too. I thought, She can’t live without a bike. I saved enough for a magnificent metallic red Schwinn with drop handlebars that glowed in the shop window. I couldn’t imagine anyone not dying over this bike, but my mother never rode it; she was puzzled by my enthusiasm. So every month, I tried to reach the pedals of the red beauty until one night I could press them forward, top tube be damned. I rocketed down the street, flushed, screaming in my throat, lightheaded near the curb.
I ride because that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.


4th Runner-up — Glenn Budak

One of the reasons I enjoy riding my bicycle is to be in the moment. I love when all the factors are just right and my bicycle disappears beneath me. In this meditative state I see beauty in the smallest things and everything about my world is good and right. My bicycle brings me peace of mind and comfort.

Glenn Budak

The honorable mentions will each receive a prize package put together from the remaining items in the prize pool.

Besides taking 3rd overall, Mary Bernsen also took our hotly contested Readers’ Choice Award. Mary took 15% of the 1371 votes cast, with Danette Rivera coming in second. Mary will receive the Rickshaw Performance Tweed Collection from Rickshaw Bags, and Danette will receive an EcoVelo Houndstooth Wool Cap.

Congratulations to all the winners! We’ll be contacting you shortly about how to collect your prizes. And as always, when the time comes for a purchase, please consider supporting our sponsors; it’s their generous donations that make this possible!

View the Prize List

10 Responses to “EcoVelo “Why I Ride” Photo Contest Results”

  • jake says:

    Lots of great photos and stories, this contest really showcased the community’s diversity. Congrats to the winners!

  • Madness says:

    Yay! Awesome. Great list. Thanks again so much for such a great and enlightening contest.

  • Brian C says:

    Thanks Alan for this contest. It added a little joy to my day seeing all of the pictures from around the world celebrating the joy of cycling.

  • Richard Wezensky says:

    WOW! This is GREAT news to make honorable mention – especially after seeing all of the fantastic submissions.

    ALL of the winners were well deserved. Congratulations!

    Thanks Alan and the Ecovelo team for hosting such an awesome photo contest.

  • Mateu says:

    Was a nice way to share cycling experiences, Congratulations to everybody.

  • Congratulations! MITCHELL CONNELL « VISUAL ARTicles says:

    […] story about pragmatism and persistence, spoke powerfully to a number of the judges.”    Click here for EcoVelo Mitchell Connell, 2011 IB Diploma Candidate – […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » A Few More From Our Grand Prize Winner says:

    […] Connell of Nashville, Tennessee, took top honors in our “Why I Ride” Photo Contest. Mitchell’s winning photo was part of a high […]

  • Steve Butcher says:

    Thanks Alan for hosting the Ecovelo “Why I Ride” photo contest. I’m certain it required a lot of extra work on your part to coordinate the contest and post all the entries and results. Also, thanks to the judges; with so many worthy entries, your task was not an easy one. Thanks, too, to the sponsors for providing all the great prizes. I believe the grand prize winner truly captured the feeling of the contest’s theme. I’m anxious to see what will be the contest theme for 2011. Until then, I look forward to my daily (and often several times daily) dose of Ecovelo. Happy Holidays!

  • HHS Visual Arts Technology Grant – Good Work Since 2008 | C. Hagen Studio says:

    […] Connell became the first to receive congratulations when his photograph and essay submission to the EcoVela  “Why I Ride” competition was awarded the Grand Prize on November 27th.  CLICK >     […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Mitchell’s Midtown says:

    […] our “Why I Ride” Photo Contest Grand Prize winner Mitchell Connell on his new Civia Midtown. For those who missed the contest back […]

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