It seems to get easier and easier to take photos – with a smart phone in our pocket pretty much everywhere we go, there’s rarely a moment that we don’t have the option to record for posterity. That doesn’t make it a great photo though – there’s still composition to be considered, maybe even a little post-production poking. But even there the technology is making things easier and easier – Here at Singletrack, Ross and Andi have been testing out various phones which come with automatic features which sense whether you’re taking a picture of a cat (extra fluffy mode), a person (adds beauty and make up), or a landscape (makes grass GREEN). The result is that even Ross has moved on from blurry streaks to some passably artistic efforts.
We’ve done a quick sweep round the office and asked everyone to come up with their favourite photos of the year. Some are favourites because (we think) they look good, some are favourites because of the tale behind the moment.
Art Director – funnily enough, quite good at photos
Lord of the Squirrels Trail, Whistler, BC.
I have many photos from Whistler and expected it to be hard to choose one, but the entire trip caught up with me in the very moment I took this photo. After a four/five hour steep and relentless climb in intense heat, a climb that I ran out of water on and didn’t think I could complete, to be greeted with the final leg of the ascent in a beautiful alpine meadow was one of the happiest moments of my life. A combination of the best company, a great bike, the smell of the trees, the sound of nothing but tyres crunching through dust and knowing that I was about to begin a VERY long descent all make for a perfect memory.
Ahorn Black Run, Mayrhofen, Austria.
I’ve been snowboarding in this resort more times than I can count on one hand, but I’ve never found myself in a tree house before. Me and my friend Laura decided to have a chilled run down this day, and that took us from practicing riding switch on the piste to exploring the woods for some good tree runs. Deep in the woods I found a ladder, so I climbed it, and I had a really peaceful few swigs from my hipflask before getting back on my board. I did a lot of thinking in my little tree house and I plan to revisit it, if I can find it again!
Jessica Kubitz-Chippendale of Walsden
This is Jess, the foster dog and now full time dog of Chipps and Beate. She’s complicated, introverted, constantly worried-looking and she is my best friend. I was fortunate enough to be trusted to look after her for a month and during that time I finally got to understand her. She’s so happy, but she’s scared to show it in case it goes away. Her worries are all related to food. The hosepipe is a threat to all, and she’s the only one who can save us.
Content Machine – loves a 360° view
Lac de Tignes
After visiting Tignes for the first time in 2017 on a Kona Process launch, I decided to take the family there for two weeks this summer. The run-up to my vacation was punctuated with daily weather forecasts from Ross, all predicting torrential rain and biblical storms, but we had two whole weeks of beautiful sunshine and just the odd shower here and there. For anyone who hasn’t been to Tignes I highly recommend it for anyone with a family. The trails are fast, fun and flowy, but there is also more technical off-piste riding to be had, while around Lad de Tignes there are enough activities to keep even the mopiest of teenagers happy for a fortnight. I had to wake up early to shoot this photo of Lac de Tignes to ensure all the canoes, kayaks and paddle boards were out of shot.
Somewhere near Barcelona
About an hour away from Barcelona there are hills filled with amazing homes, beautiful views and trails that are great fun for testing the latest generation of e-MTB on. I spent a whole day on the Intense Tazer, riding from the morning to the evening on trails with sudden climbs, soft sandy corners, and the odd jump and drop thrown in for good measure. I shot this photo of ‘my’ Tazer in the evening after our day on the bike, a photo which was promptly copied by other journos and our photograhper.
Editor – still using a proper camera
Lonscale Fell with Pagey
There are some truly classic trails to ride in the UK – which is the idea behind our Classic Rides feature every issue. Somewhere that I never get to ride as much as I’d like is the Lake District, so with a few days off this October, I set off to ride it, end to end, with my friend Nigel Page. We had some pretty good weather and near-empty trails. Despite my relative lack of knowledge of the Lake District’s best trails, I’m always excited when I get to somewhere I know and recognise. Riding Lonscale Fell down towards Keswick, at the end of our first day was a great experience, as I got to ride a trail I knew pretty well, with a skilled rider who made traversing its slippery rock look effortless. Look for a full feature in 2019.
Grinduro after, after-party
The Grinduro event on the Scottish island of Arran is one of my favourite bits of the year. Part adventure race, part ‘cross bike enduro and part social gathering of oddballs, the mix of fun, fast and festive is always just right. After all of the prizes were handed out and the cover band had left the stage, it was time for the organisers to kick back a little and enjoy what they created. I’d decided to only shoot the event on my digital rangefinder camera (as it was only for my own fun) and limited myself to black and white too. I love this shot of Eric Richter from Giro star-jumping to the tunes of the final song of the evening, before heading to bed and being among the first back on site to help with everyone’s travel logistics back to the mainland. Event organisers, we salute you!
Moab, where do you begin?
I’ve always been a fan of Moab, Utah, since my first visit in 1993 and I had the trip of a lifetime there again this year. Every day of riding was incredible. The views, the riding challenges changed every day and I could have picked any of 2000 images. So I’ve narrowed it down to a couple. The first is the Amasa Back jeep trail, which is a technical challenge in a modified four wheeler and it’s a tough nut on a mountain bike. Here, Alex Perez makes it looks easy (until he didn’t…) with the background of Jackson Hole, and canyons and views that go on forever. A similar challenge of ‘Don’t look at the view’ is being taken by Rob O’Dowd on part of the Whole Enchilada Trail – a bucket list trail if ever there was one.
Editorial Manager – phone snap addict
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley in Idaho felt like a pretty magical place – bike friendly, gorgeous scenery, and trails for miles. I had a day and a bit to myself to explore what was on offer, and soon found myself emerging from wooded hillsides into beautiful meadows of flowers. As if that wasn’t beautiful enough already, there were clouds of butterflies everywhere – I’ve never seen so many in my life. The trails were super quiet with hardly anyone around, so I think the rider that came round the corner to find me lying on the trail trying to get closer to these butterflies got quite a shock!
This was the summer that riding with my children got really fun. They’re now old enough to put up with a bit of suffering if there’s a promise of treats later, both have bikes with gears, and both can now appreciate a good off road descent. We’ve spent many hours at Leeds Urban Bike Park, with all of us getting wheels off the ground, and the skills learnt came in handy on this big ride to Burnley in the school holidays. It was somewhat longer and hillier than I remembered it being. At the top of this climb, as my children huddled behind a rock out of the wind and disconsolately ate sandwiches I’d made with the ‘wrong sort’ of cheese in, I did wonder whether they’d ever forgive me. However, the long descent into Burnley followed by pancakes as big as their heads soon made up for it. Maybe next year we’ll try some bike packing?
It’s not really my favourite photo of this bike, but all the ones of me doing anything on it appear to be on Instagram and not on my phone. In any case, it’s not really about the bike. It’s about the fun, the flight, the joy, the silliness and the realisation that I’m not quite old or dead yet. Hopefully it’s not a last hurrah, but a new dawn. If you need me, look in the foam pit.
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- Interview: Chris Porter – ‘The bicycle fork is so close to its design limit’
Ad Sales – it’s not out of focus, it’s speed blur
The Lake District
I’ve managed to ride in quite a few places, both in the UK and on the continent, but probably my favourite place is the Lake District. The mix of big mountains and steep forests make for some of the best and most varied in the UK in my opinion. And when . you get a day like the one in the pictures, for me there’s no better to pace to carry your bike up a few big ‘ol hills.
Tech Editor – it’s not a landscape if there’s not a bike in it
Sierra Nevada, Spain
Though I enjoy shooting photos, I am by no means a photographer. So I figured this was going to be difficult process to try and dig out two half decent shots out of literally thousands of terrible photos. Turns out it was harder than I thought, since I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled a lot this year, and fortunately for me it helps when you’re shooting photos in a beautiful location.
I ended up choosing a couple of shots from a two month Euro road trip that my wife and I embarked on in late summer. We were about 2/3rds of the way through our trip when we pulled up to a campsite in Pitres in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I grabbed this pic while I was on a big 2-hour climb up past Bubión. I was riding solo in search of a remote descent that I’d been told about by Marco of Ciclo Montana – a guiding company based in the region. This section of the climb was on a dirt road, and it was the first point where I was able to look around and take stock of how much vertical I’d gained. It gets a bit a hazy toward the horizon, but I’m told you can make out Morocco on a clear day.
Ponte de Lima, Portugal
A couple of weeks later, we’d made our way up to the northern part of Portugal. I’d been hooked up with a local Portugueezer by the name of Gomes, who was showing me around some of the trails in Terras de Bouro and Ponte de Lima. That whole region is full of goodness, a bazillion rocks it seems, and plenty of highly technical riding. Whereas Spain seems to be a little more XC/marathon focussed, Portugal appears to have embraced the bigger enduro stuff with open arms. This shot – aside from deviating from the norm with a *gasp!* portrait format – was taken amongst some old stone ruins on the side of the mountain. The trail took you through an old window on the top floor, sent you around a sharp 90° corner, then spat you out the front door on the level below. Of course it looks flat here, but it was one helluva ride!
If you like looking at great photos, you might also enjoy the long running forum thread ‘Photos you have taken in the last month of which you are proud’.
Or, check out some of our ‘Behind the Lens’ features.