Behind The Lens | The Singletrack Covers

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In this digital age, media moves so quickly. A photo uploaded to Instagram will receive plenty of attention… for about 15 minutes. Then it’s pushed down the feed by photos of your friends in the gym, the food they’re eating, the car they just bought. A true piece of art, a moment captured at the perfect fraction of a second, one that could have taken days of preparation with thousands of pounds worth of equipment, can be pushed off our radar by a blurry iPhone photo of a G&T. This is something that’s increasingly bothering me.

Something else that bothers me about modern photography is that our appreciation can often be diluted by the sheer amount of amazing photos out there. Let’s say you remove all the spam from your digital world, and you only view good quality photos where the lighting, composition and subject have been heavily considered – it’s likely you could still find yourself scrolling through your media feed relatively unphased by a lot of it. But we’re only seeing a small version of them. They aren’t printed. Does the rule of thirds apply when you’re viewing the entire image without needing to move your eyes over it? Is perspective lost by shrinking a photo down to a screen that fits in your pockets?

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Print+ membership cut-off timer for issue 134, due in early December. After this time new members will receive issue 135 as their first issue in early February 2021

Recently I scrolled through an album of unpublished photos that are likely to remain that way, and they gave me goosebumps. The facial expressions told me that the day wasn’t going to plan, the weather reaffirmed that, and the fact I was only seeing one or two shots from each location (knowing this was the entire album) made each one so much more real.

So this leads me to my point. What don’t we see in a photo? We see the bike, the rider, the kit, the amazing trail we’ll likely never ride, but it’s what happens behind the lens that I’ve found myself thinking about. On that note, I invite you hear the stories behind some photos that could easily be lost in the sea of media in your pockets, but we printed them as wrap around covers, because they deserve it.

Singletrack Magazine Cover Shots – Part One

Issue 130 – Martin Bissig

After more than 8 hours of carrying our bikes on our shoulders that day, we reached our camp. After we setup our tents, there was finally some time to hang around, enjoy the view and acclimatise on roughly 4500m above sea level. For mountaineers climbing Laila Peak, this is their base camp. For us it was one of the many overnight places on our journey on the Baltorro Glacier in Pakistan. I’ve travelled to the Himalayas and I’ve seen myriad of breathtaking landscapes around the globe, but this spot easily qualifies as one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. 

Issue 129 – Alex Fuchs

Riders: Max Schumann

Location: Bildstöckle trail, near Sonthofen in the region Allgäu, Bavaria

It was a bad weather day, cold with fog and snow. But this was exactly what we were looking for to get some moody shots in the woods.

Issue 128 – Justa Jeskova

Riders: Christina Chappetta and Steve Storey

Location: Garibaldi Provincial park, BC, Canada

Riding to Elfin lakes might not be a favourite trail as it is mostly wide and shared with hikers, however it offers an easy access to the alpine, a quick escape and stunning views.

Issue 127 – David Gould (Sanny)

Rider: Dene Happell

Location: Ben Ledi

The warmest February day on record meant that a pre-dawn raid on Ben Ledi with my good friend Dene wasn’t the snow and ice fest we had anticipated. Instead, what we experienced was something far more special. It was ginners upstairs as we rode the ridge and marvelled at our good fortune. Right place, right time.

Issue 126 – Sven Martin

Rider: Anka Martin

Location: Provence, France

Anka Martin helping Ash Smith test out a brand new route and trail that was to be used for the 2019 (and final) Transprovence that featured 22 new stages and trails.

Issue 125 – James Vincent

Riders: Dan Anderson and Chris Potts

Location: Cairngorms, Lairig Ghru

Everyone raves about hero dirt, but I reckon a hero trail is a much better proposition, and I’d wager that they don’t come much more gratifying and life affirming than Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms. Sure, the upper section is a bit of a boulder fest and tricky to pass on foot let alone by bike, but once you get beyond the turn off to the Rothiemurchus Lodge, you’re in for a treat. The soil is quick to drain and it’s easy to carry speed, effortlessly carving from left to right, railing corners and brushing the tops of the heather with your bars. Even the occasional sniper root does little to dull your momentum, and by the time you reach the end of the trail in the heart of the most gloriously fragrant pine forest, your transformation into A Riding God will be complete.

Issue 124 – Natalie Starr

Rider: Amanda Knutson, with Echo

Location: Fruita, Colorado

They say a dog is a man’s best friend, but I think we can all agree that they also make the best trail friends. Meet Echo, one of Amanda’s husky pups. On our way home from a fantastic trip in Moab, Amanda and I stopped to do a quick spin along the 18 Road trails in Fruita, Co. Attached to Amanda’s hip, Echo and his father, Balto, were super excited to join us for the pit stop, stretch their legs and soak up some of the last rays of sunshine on this fall day. We took Echo for a short lap around the trails and while you can’t see it in this shot, the smiles couldn’t have been wider on both Amanda and Echo’s faces.

Issue 123 – Ale Di Lullo

Rider: Richie Schley

Location: Big Water, Utah

The sun of a short day was going to set soon and we were looking for a ridge shot to complete a day of great weather and golden light before the winter arrival.

We pushed our bikes up one of those steep freeride lines till the top and just when we got there we realised there was a great shot over the next ridge so I waited without riding for Richie to ride down and hike up the next ridge… the sun was going to set soon but in the end everything happened just with perfect timing, and I had my ride down as well.

Issue 122 – Ryan Creary

Location: Matt Yaki, Panpan Valley, Kham Tibet, China

After arriving in Chengdu, China for a 10 day mountain bike tour through the Kham Tibet region, we drove up to 3800m where we stayed at local homestead. I woke up that evening horribly sick – vomiting and passing out. I spent the next day in a Chinese hospital on an IV drip. Feeling much better the following day I joined the crew for my first day of high altitude singletrack, which started out fine but by the time we hit the alpine and 4500m my head felt like I had the worst migraine headache I could ever imagine all the while getting hit in the head with a hammer – it was gnarly. I had never experienced altitude sickness before and it was crushing. But the landscape was mind blowing and I had to capture some images from the day so when we rounded this corner with huge Himalayan peaks as a backdrop and the day fading to dusk, I stopped to capture the rest of the crew coming around the corner. Pretty much my last photo of the day and I remember barely making it back down. That night I laid curled in a ball on pain meds hoping the altitude sickness would pass. Some images are there for the taking… this one was not. It’s probably one the most painful images I’ve ever taken and I definitely earned this cover shot.

Issue 121 – Harookz

Location:  Ainsa, Spain 

I was invited to Ainsa to photograph the launch of the new Specialized Stumpjumper. During one of our rides, Sean Estes noticed an adorable furry tag-along. Many attempts were made to persuade the puppy to turn back to wherever he came from as we were in a remote mountain range. It was evident that he was too stoked on our mountain bikes and stayed on our wheels. To ensure the safety and well-being of the pup, Sean rode back down to the bottom of the mountain alongside our new friend to meet up with two other Specialized staff members, Todd and Suzanne. They named him Jamón, drove around the base of the mountain, and successfully reunited the puppy with his owners. We all miss you Jamón! 

Issue 120 – Bill Freeman

Location: Malibu, Southern California

Hans Rey explains: “We found this spiral in the hills above Malibu. Probably some powerspot where the likes of Pamela Anderson and Justin Beaver [sic] get their powers. We found this along the Backbone trail. The name of the game was the ride as far as possible without touching any rocks…

Issue 119 – Sven Martin

Location: New Zealand

Some things are timeless. Meet Fettle, she’s Brenda and Chris’s 40 year young 1978 Landrover Army Ambulance converted into the perfect 4×4 backcountry camper van. She likes nothing better than unplugging from the grid and getting away with other like minded adventure seekers. You can’t go wrong on New Zealand’s Wild West coast if it’s beauty, solitude and singletrack you are seeking.

Issue 118 – Sam Needham

Rider: Rich Norgate

Location: Menton, France

Six days of racing across 269km of the French High Alps and wilderness leaves you having to pinch yourself daily. ‘Oh, the places a bike can take you’ is a phrase you find yourself often saying aloud throughout the journey. But it’s those last kilometres through the streets of Menton that are equally as special as the journey behind you. Now the mountains, endless singletrack, 18,281m of alpine descent and best lunch spots ever are all behind you, it’s the warm sea air and the thought of a cold beer on the beach that keeps you grinning.

Issue 117 – Sterling Lorence

Riders: Andrew Shandro, Cory LeClerc with Indy the dog

Location: Mt. Fromme, North Vancouver

When riding in Vancouver, rainy days are more predictable than sun, but often more rewarding too. Here, a brief respite in the rain created a nice mist that drifted through the woods. That perfect contrast pool for me to help express the riders and the forest.

Issue 116 – Dan Milner

Rider: Rene Wildhaber

Location: Chile

The 3747m high Lanin volcano dominates the skyline on the Argentinian-Chilean border and makes a mighty backdrop for Rene’s manual down some little-ridden singletrack. We followed this trail for three days, starting at the foot of Lanin and finishing 100 Kilometres west at Pucon in Chile. It was three days of almost perfect singletrack through primeval landscapes, and three days of rewarding adventure.

Issue 115 – Justa Jeskova

Rider: Steve Storey

Location: Rabinal, Guatemala

We stumbled across this trail after a recent fire, while exploring for trails in a remote part of Guatemala. Much of the ground cover had burned away leaving a few trees and a light brown ribbon of trail flanked by the charred remains of the hillside. For me, it was a matter of walking around until I could find a tree suitable for climbing so I could get the angle I was looking for. The tree I found was questionable at best but it did the job.

Issue 114 – James Vincent

Rider: Wil Barrett

Location: Stuttgart, Germany

Towards the end of our European road trip, team Singletrack descended on Stuttgart. Late in the afternoon we managed to sneak out for a ride and while darting between the trees, the hazy summer evening light hit an all time high, so we just had to stop and shoot some photos.

Issue 113 – Sam Taylor

Rider: Sam Robson

Location: Eckington Woods, England

This shot actually came about during a filming trip last spring just as the bluebells were coming out. When the trails weren’t what we were expecting, it turned into an impromptu photo session.

Issue 112 – Mattias Fredriksson

Rider: Kevin Landry

Location: Åre, Sweden

It was a pretty wet day in my home town Åre, and the weather was grey and honestly pretty boring. I have photographed around this creek bed before, but this time I wanted to do it differently. I crawled up close and wanted to capture the splash out of an odd angle. I think it worked out pretty well and strangely enough, neither my camera or I got wet as you might think.

Issue 111 – Pete Scullion

Rider: Ben Jones

Location: Courchevel, France

Shot with my 8mm fisheye from the depths of the second sinkhole I tried to get into that day. Located on a limestone ridge high above Courchevel, Ben skimmed the edge of the hole, on a tyre-width trail. Thankfully, this particular hole only took me about 5-10 minutes to get out of after the shot. However, it’s always harder climbing with one hand, using the other to clutch onto the camera.

Some of these issues have sold out, but those that haven’t are available as back issues in our shop. If you want to see these images in print, why not pick up a back issue or two? With an emphasis on adventure and culture, we leave the ‘buyer’s guide’ content to our website, meaning our magazines stay fresh and relevant on your coffee table for longer. Subscribe today for discounted prices.

Issue 131 is out now

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