In April 2013’s MBR (in the shops March 6), we’ve tracked down the new generation of pioneers who are changing our sport for the better. From entrepreneurs to engineers, event organisers to world-class young riders, these are the people who are shaping a bright future for mountain biking.

One star of the piece is photographer Sam Needham. Here, he talks us through five of his favourites from his portfolio of mountain bike pictures.

Mountain bike pictures: Nick Craig, Three Peaks 2012

1. Nick Craig, The Three Peaks 2012

What a race that is. Regardless whether or not you think cyclo-cross is work of the devil, the Three Peaks CX race certainly sorts the men from the boys. It’s hard enough taking photos of it, especially when the pre-scheduled rain is hitting hard from every angle, let alone racing it. I think this is one of my favourite photos from last year’s race. Who needs roost when you have a million water droplets exploding around Nick Craig as the finish line is nearly within reach?


Mountain bike pictures: Slovenia

2. Ross Parkinson, Slovenia

This might not be the most epic photo I’ve ever taken, but it’s probably the only time both rider and myself have risked life and limb to get a shot. Looking back on it, I could have got this exact picture in the woods down the road from me… but that would be boring, right? As Ross lets his bike slide around the corner, his wheel threatening to slip off the edge into ‘mega-death’, I grapple a tree one-handed, one foot flailing out in the wind, one foot tucked between two branches and my free hand operating my camera. A 80m plunge onto a nice scattering of boulder certainly makes the slightly less epic photos seem hair-raisingly awesome!

Mountain bike pictures: Matt Wight, Ilkley Moor

3. Matt Wight, Ilkley Moor

Just as the snow has gone, and the birds are hinting that spring is around the corner, I thought I would remind you of, erm, winter again. Some people love it, some people hate it. Whatever your view, I don’t think you can beat ripping around a newly unearthed glimmer of frozen singletrack as winter’s golden hour kicks in. It’s a good feeling, as Matt demonstrates.


Mountain bike pictures: swinley reservoir
4. WARNING – NO BIKES! Swinstey Reservoir
Photography certainly does go hand in hand with the old cliche, ‘being in the right place, at the right time’. This is certainly a prime example.  I’d been shooting all day under grey skies and flat light, until on my way home, someone… something… had poked a giant hole out of the clouds revealing this strange golden orb that I had forgotten existed. I dumped my car on the side of the road, grabbed my camera and tripod and ran down to the side of the reservoir to grab the shot. Five minutes later, the light had gone, I’d written off a new pair of Vans and the fog and settled in. Right place, right time.


Mountain bike pictures: Kinlochleven, Scotland
5. Kinlochleven
A picture says a thousands words, they say… this one says adventure one thousand times. Riding bikes has to be one of the best ways to see the world! Kinlochleven… see you again soon.


For more on the new stars of mtb, check out the April 2013 issue of MBR. And for more on Sam Needham, check out his website, Twitter and Facebook, and view more of his Kinlochleven photos here. Keep an eye on Sam’s Facebook for the chance to win an A2 print of one of his pics.