By Brice Minnigh
Photo by Bruno Long
Most people consider it a rare moment when constellations come into alignment. The very notion of such an occurrence is laden with metaphysical import, conjuring up visions of otherworldliness and divine intervention.
Yet, in a very real sense, this seemingly miraculous convergence of forces happens with some regularity in the realm of mountain-bike photography, where the experience and inspiration of riders and photographers collide
with nature at the perfect time—immortalizing a moment that can transport us to a place of profound appreciation.
As phenomenal as such moments seem—especially when wondrously presented on the printed page—they are rarely accidental. While art can look effortless once it has achieved a higher expression, it actually is almost always the result of extraordinary effort, experience and teamwork.
And though the many pages of photographs in this issue represent only seconds of live action—those glorious fractions of near-perfect time we like to call the 'moment'—the amount of time spent pursuing and capturing these fragments is immeasurable. The main reason it is impossible to quantify the effort involved in reaching the megapixeled milestones in this magazine is because they embody entire lifetimes of dedication and discipline on the part of both riders and photographers.
Our most valued photo contributors have devoted years to refining their craft, learning to read light, manipulate time and compose landscapes. But equally important as their technical precision is the fact that they are all committed mountain bikers—real riders who combine their abilities with hard work to elevate our sport to a more noble, almost spiritual, plane.
They live for the travel, the adventure, the hardship and the thrill of the pursuit. Most of all, they live for the feeling of putting tires to dirt in a quest to find—and harness—the fleeting instants that define who we are as mountain bikers and how we commune with our earthen canvasses.
The riders who are portrayed in the best mountain-bike images also contribute tangibly to the moment, as they are the solitary figures in the interface between man, machines and matter. They are the agents who bring the wilderness backdrops to life, through their consummate skill, the subtlety of their style and their unquestionable love for the ride. The greatest of these athletes are much more than mere performers, and the most unforgettable moments in our sport's short history have been largely spontaneous—the result of the rider's own enthusiasm for the challenges presented by electrifying terrain.
But the most elusive constituent of a timeless image is the randomness of nature itself. The unpredictable point when the elements conjoin to salute the rider and photographer in a display of ethereal majesty. Call it luck. Call it coincidence. Or just call it the moment.