Cover Image: Bruno Long captures Mark Matthews and Mason Mashon overcoming the weight of gravity as hot-air balloons buoyantly rise during predawn hours in Cappadocia, Turkey.

The 2018 Photo Annual is on-sale today. We of course feel all magazines are best experienced in print—not just for the experience of feeling the actual pages in your hands, instead of scrolling through them on a screen, but because it causes us to slow down and actually digest the content. And we especially feel like the Photo Annual should be experienced by holding it in your hands. This year, the Photo Annual is anchored by a 32-page photo gallery, filled with the year’s best images shot by the photographers who dedicate their lives to capturing the moments that truly make us love riding, the beauty, the suffering, the risk and the rewards.

And it’s presented in wider format, just for this issue, so you especially don’t want to miss picking it up in print.

“From sunbaked peaks, to dark, dank forests, the collection of photos in this year's Photo Annual attempts to stir up emotions that inspire us as mountain bikers. From the aspirational moments in perfect light on pristine trails, to difficult moments that make those experiences on a bike, for better or worse, unforgettable.  

These are all moments—the highs and the lows—that each one of us has experienced as riders. But it is the photographer who captures these moments. From the mundane to the unforgettable, and those images—like the ones contained within the following pages—will continue to make us curious, motivated and inspired to get out and ride. ” —Anthony Smith, Bike’s director of photography

Ale Di Lullo’s opening spread of the gallery is a stunner of Ace Hayden and Bryan Regnier in Sintra, Portugal.

Also in the issue, photographer Dan Milner unintentionally investigates the most haunting question of them all: When do you save yourself rather than someone else? Only on the world’s most southernmost singletrack in the midst of a roaring tempest could this happen to the man known for adventure. Milner’s harrowing account from Navarino, as he grapples with the consequences of continuing on or turning back, will grip you throughout.

Photo: Dan Milner

And in “Rheeder Rainbow,” photographer Robb Thompson’s visceral photo essay takes us behind the scenes of the upcoming “Beautiful Idiot” film, which will be released on next month. In a bloating world of excess—higher, farther, more and faster, Harrison Mendel and Studio Dialog take a cinematic stance for success: a good story. Slopestyle star Brett Rheeder’s rise to stardom is wrought with toil in a relatable journey meticulously documented through the lens of Thompson.

Photo: Robb Thompson