Cyclingnews' photographer for mountain bike and cyclo-cross events, Dave McElwaine, presents his top photographic moments of 2012 in this gallery of emotion-filled images.
McElwaine captures the grit - literal and figurative - of the off-road races, focusing in on the pain-filled faces of the competitors and zooming out to reveal the torturous courses that challenge them.
How did he get into cycling photography?
"My interest in photography began when I graduated from college and went to work for Polaroid as a design engineer," McElwaine said. "Twenty years later I was Director of New Business Development for Ilford Photo USA. About a decade ago I decided to combine my passion for cycling with photography, and now feel privileged to shoot races nearly every week."
It's not all glamour for the photographers who work off-road. McElwaine battles ankle-deep mud, rocky embankments and sometimes stormy weather to capture just the right moments in the sport, the ones that tell the tale of what went on in the race.
"Race photography turned out to be more difficult than it appeared; dealing with harsh weather, high altitude, and the time constraints of each race. But, that is what keeps it fresh and challenging for me. My goal when putting together galleries for Cyclingnews is to convey the story line and drama of each race for our readers. If art happens along the way, so much the better. it is occasionally luck, but you had to put yourself in the right place at the right time."