BikeVillage is brought to you by Sam, Lyndsey, Addie, Rowan and Théa.
Sam has been riding in the valley all year for 17 years (he guides fat biking rides on the snow through the winter), clocking up several million vertical metres of singletrack, so knows more sweet trails than you could shake a stick at.
Sam is also currently the president of the European Organisation of MTB Instructor-Guides, whose main project is the creation of a standardised European MTB Guide training scheme.
So when you wonder what he does in winter, a big part of the answer might be less exciting than you were expecting!
Lyndsey is the one who keeps the good ship BikeVillage afloat.
Whilst she has reluctantly hung up her chef’s hat (dinner is served at exactly the same time as three reassuringly delinquent BV kids go to bed next door) she still personally sculpts every new chef into the very image of herself in the kitchen and when you email us, it’s her name you’ll see at the bottom of the reply.
In her ‘spare’ time she’s an English teacher, helping local French children and adults to speak English with a comedy Edinburgh twang!
Bringing up the rear are Addie, Rowan and Théa, our kids.
How did you guys get started?
A brief history of BikeVillage – 17 years and counting!
- 1999 (Stephen Hawking voice) “BikeVillage was dreamt up approximately 17 lunar years ago, when two bicycle guides (still doing the robot voice? Good) working in Colorado spent much too much time in micro breweries getting pissed and talking shite. The fruits of their labours later became known as the legendary BileVillage. (OK, you can stop the ropey voice now)
- 2000 Trail exploration began in earnest in 2000 and in Spring 2001. Amidst lots of foot and mouth in the UK, Sam and Stu packed their (t)rusty Transit van to the roof and headed for the Alps. For summer 2001 BV ran from a rented chalet in Bourg St Maurice. The staff sleeping quarters was the battered transit van – so luxurious that even the local tramp used to laugh at us despite the leftovers we fed him! The summer was a great success for all save our wallets and our immune systems. Everyone loved the riding and with more and more of our trails centering around the pretty village of Landry we began the hunt for BV Towers…
- 2001 A 280-odd year old farmhouse with an enormous garden and a sweet trail finishing in said garden… that’ll do nicely! We moved in at Christmas 2001 and since then the farmhouse and the trails have gotten better every year – Sam is never idle out of season. By 2005 word had got around enough that we had our first chockablock season, with over 2/3 of the riders on their second (or third, fourth and fifth…) BV trip. This meant Sam and Lyndsey could stop working 3 jobs each all winter to subsidise the biking, and since then we’ve looked a lot happier 😉
- 2005 Rather than try to expand the BV empire, we chose to dedicate ourselves to making the holidays better for the guests that we had. We take just 14 guests a week so that we can lavish a lot of care and attention on you. This also keeps us chilled out and all the riders happy, just how we like it.
- In 2007 we added a sneaky extra member to the team when Lyndsey gave birth to our little boy Addie, who was followed in 2009 by our daughter Rowan and again in 2011 by her sister Théa. Whilst still not quite pulling their weight in the kitchen, they do try hard! Just a few year’s pedalling and Sam’s dream of a family team at Relentless comes ever closer to fruition!
- 2008-2012 The BV house was getting a mite cramped, what with (the ever expanding) Team Morris living upstairs and all. The old wreck that overlooked the garden was sitting empty though. How hard could it be to get another mortgage in the middle of a global financial crisis and build a house on your own during alpine winters down to -23 degrees? It was worth it though, and moving out of the BV house let us open up more bedrooms and bathrooms, upping the comfort level another notch whilst keeping the number of guests the same – everyone’s a winner!
- 2010 It all seems to work too darn well – Summer 2010 was our proper, official, all grown up 10th anniversary! Some guests were back for their 12th visit in that time. We’re still loving it all and promise to stick at it for another 10 years, aching bodies permitting!
- 2010 In Autumn 2010, we finally reached F-list celebrity when the lovely Mark Huskisson of Reset Films released his long awaited sequel to Home, titled Find. Featuring a segment shot with Sam and former guide Rich. Both have since also featured in the ‘spotted’ pages of Heat magazine, buying onions at Tescos in Morningside. Immortality guaranteed.
- Another filming session in July 2013 with Mark led to a cute wee clip on Bikemagic, filmed up in the Beaufortain on a trail called Little Cheese.
- 2014- Vive la France! Sam has always been MBLA qualified and has insisted that anyone else guiding here is too. However, for lots of reasons (let’s leave that can of worms closed!) he was the first ever Brit to qualify under both the British and the newer French BPJEPS schemes. It was a long haul of hopping onto palettes, making kids ride around cones and generally sucking eggs with Granny. He met some great friends along the way and the process led to some big developments in bike guiding across Europe.
- 2014 Vive l’Europe! In September 2014 Sam was invited along (as a translator for the French) to a congress of mountain bike guides and training bodies from across Europe. They all agreed that the profession needed to be represented on a European level to really help increase it’s profile and professional standards within it. Somehow, Sam was voted president of the resulting European Organisation of MTB Instructor-Guides. Amusingly for any BV guests who know him well, this makes him one of the most senior figures in MTB guiding in Europe. Don’t worry though, he still sniffs his own farts.
- 2016 AlpPacker Planning – Sam’s long term dream of setting up a singletrack itinerary right the way down through France in time for his 40th birthday got a boost when it turned out BV guide Huw Oliver shared a similar dream. Point-to-point from Geneva right down to the south coast. Get ready for the AlpPacker!
- 2017 March 2017 sees the launch of the Bikevillage Tour Series – a collection of epic BV trips to new destinations. We kick off on Réunion Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, on an active volcano. How’s that for style?
Bikes have gotten so much better since we set up all those years ago! Here’s a quick run through of Sam’s steeds since the beginning:
1993-2006 Litespeed Obed Ti Frame
eventually topping out with some SID XCs with 80mm travel… If I was a Viking this is the bike I’d be buried with.
Rocky Mountain Blizzard with Pikes upfront. A ground breaking ‘hardcore’ hardtail at the time. Snapped the frame and the warranty replacement was wrong size so sold it to a man trying to break the round the world biking record.
2009 Bionicon Golden Willow
Nicknamed the Golden Shower, it was a marvel of teutonic engineering, but not aesthetics… Still, the adjustable geometry was super-interesting to play around with. Sold in a bidding war between 2 men called Dieter on German e-bay.
2010 Ragley Mmmbop
Back to a hardtail and what a bike! It’s still kicking around as the pump-track bike. It feels way too small now but perfect for some laps in the garden.
2013 Liteville 301
Sensing that 26″ wheeled Fives were out of time (I was right, 650b version released 3 months later!) I tried to future proof myself with a Liteville 301 that takes 26″ or 650b wheels. Less lively than the Five but climbed better and descended very fast indeed. It’s also very light, running a niche as 1×10 set-up with a converted 11-40 cassette and a fat-thin chainring so no chain guide. For a year there I was ahead of the technology curve…
2014 Orange Five Alpine
Having test ridden and loved another BV guide’s Five 29er, I was smitten. When Orange showcased their new Alpine Five build up at the Peebles Enduro World Series event, I sent one of those expensive emails…
2016 Whyte T-130 Works
Whyte’s bikes were just too damn good to ignore so 2016 saw me hit the poppiest, most flickable and fun bike thus far built – the T130. Relatively modest in travel but punching well above its weight in geometry, the T-130 and its big brother the G-160 are perfect alpine trail bikes.