Jon joins us newly for the 2020 season to lead our guiding team – he is highly experienced, and he will be in charge when Martin isn’t around!
Jon got into the outdoors from the age of 10 but that was long before he discovered bikes…. Starting as a climber and mountaineer he was lucky enough to go on lots of trips around the UK to climb, as well as few to the French Alps, where he climbed Mont Blanc when he was just 15. This experience really kickstarted his love for the outdoors and the mountains in general. Sure enough this desire to be outside combined with the inability to sit still meant that the outdoor industry was the only career he was interested in. Jon moved to Devon when he was 18 to start a job as an apprentice in an outdoor centre, and it was here that he discovered mountain biking. A few lost teeth and a trip in a helicopter whilst climbing meant that he was falling (pun intended) out of love with that sport, and was looking for a new challenge – and mountain biking filled that gap perfectly.
Fast forward 7 years and Jon left that centre as a senior instructor, qualified Mountain Bike Guide and mechanic – as well as a qualified climbing, kayaking and canoeing instructor amongst other things! However, despite the breadth of his experience it was at this point he realised he really wanted to specialise in MTB guiding. Before joining the Singletrack Safari team in Andorra, Jon has worked as an MTB guide for 4 years – during which time he has guided in Greece, and extensively in the Costa del Sol in Spain – where he and girlfriend Emily (who also joins our team) guided Martin and Sarah who were there on a winter riding trip! Jon holds a British Cycling Level 3 Mountain Bike Leader qualification.
Bikes and Riding: Jon’s main bike this season will be a beautiful Commencal Meta AM29 Essential from our sponsors in Andorra. His favourite bike back in the garage at home is a Transition Patrol, and he also owns an old 26inch Canyon Torque, as well as a BMX. However, funnily enough se says that possibly the most fun bike he has is a fully custom, single speed Commencal MaxMax. This is a dirt jump frame with some big forks and wide bars, – he finds it amazing to take down some DH tracks, he won’t be going fast but he will be smiling that’s for sure!
Emily is our second new team member in 2020 -she will be assisting with guiding, and also dealing with a lot of our in-season logistics planning and administration – she will be dealing with all sorts of things from chasing you for your medical forms through to planning our vehicle pickups with drivers, and implementing the logistics behind our ride plans!
Growing up in the middle of nowhere in good old Somerset, Emily is happiest either “on a bike or on a farm cuddling the cows” (her words!) – which is essentially a rite of passage for someone brought up where she was (her words again!)! Rest assured that she doesn’t carry much of the accent anymore so there shouldn’t be any need to ask for translations… fingers and of course many toes crossed! She tells us that the saying ‘Somerset born, Somerset bred, strong in the arm and thick in the head’ is very much applicable when it comes to her riding- she pushed like a bat out of hell when she was first starting off, but she soon and suddenly realised that crashing hurts – a lot – and she has an impressive array of stories to tell/ scars to show!
This is Emily’s second year of riding and guiding – and she is part way through achieving her British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader qualifications – she currently possesses the Level 2 certificate, and is studying towards her Level 3 currently – which she hopes to achieve later this year. This is actually her fourth year in the outdoors industry, having previously worked as a multi-sport outdoor activities instructor in Devon. Put her on top of a mountain, chuck her in a kayak or let her jump off a cliff into the sea and she’s a happy girl!
She started her guiding and riding career last year at the age of 19 in the beautiful Costa Del Sol in Andalucia as an assistant guide, alongside her boyfriend Jon – who is our new Head Guide. This means that she too, is used to a serious amount of dust on the trails and her experience in trying to dodge Spain’s loose rocks left, right and centre will be good preperation for some of our rougher trails!
Riding and Bikes: With her reputation for always being on the hunt for the brightest of bikes and kit – the brighter, the better – she may even beat Martin for colour co-ordination! After riding a 27.5 bike whilst guiding in Spain she realised that she just couldn’t go back to her Canyon 26er, so she recently impulse-bought a YT Capra…which she says turned out to be the best decision – as “it is always an epic ride – and it’s bright blue – so couldn’t really say no to that!”
James joins us as another new face for the 2020 season. His love of biking started almost before he could walk… and his childhood was spent riding the local hills, making fun jumps, drop offs and trails for he and his mates to progress their riding skills – well, learning how to fall off properly…but one look at his Instagram reveals that the early training paid off – he seems to barely touch the floor in most of his pictures!
He owes a debt to his parents for getting up early on weekends to take him all over the UK as a ‘teenager’ to cross country races; wet, muddy, cold but always happy…
James grew up riding in the UK’s Malvern Hills and Forest of Dean – which are also home to MTB legend Tracy Moseley, by whom James had the privilege to be trained by for 12 months, taking him under her wing all over the UK and Europe where he raced at National and World Level Enduro.
Those few years racing and travelling led James to qualify as a British Cycling level 3 Mountain Bike Leader, and also as a British Cycling Level 2 Coach – since when he has put these to good use in the UK and abroad. James has guided in both Andalucia in Spain, and in Mallorca – we suspcect he loves dusty trails, so it makes sense that he has joined us in Andorra!
Bikes and Riding: James has a very mixed quiver of bikes – he will be on a Meta AM29 Essential thanks to our sponsors at Commencal – but back home he also has a Santa Cruz Hightower CC, a Cube Elite for XC racing, a Specialized Roubaix road bike, a wethepeople BMX and a Cube Stereo too! He loves both technical trails – switchbacks being a partcular favourite – but also like to hit jumps on well-built flow trails.
James says he can’t wait to explore the trails of Andorra with our guests and give them a fantastic experience whilst maybe coaching a few new skills / techniques for people to take back to their local trails.
James also loves to socialise; he is into good food and drink (another reason he will love Andorra!) – and particularly enjoys great gin. Or a beer. Or a glass of red wine. Clearly fussy then…!
Sarah hails from Shropshire – and started riding around 10 years ago. It was at University, where she joined the mountain bike club at Bangor that she truly fell in love with the sport – and it rapidly became an obsession. Sarah also goes by the nickname “Stapes”…who is also sort of her alter ego, led by the devil on her shoulder, who leads her into Full Attack Mode (TM)….
Sarah’s first ever mountain bike ride could have been her last – when she tried to send a tabletop on her first ever hardtail, with no coaching at all, and ended up breaking her pelvis! Despite that she had already gotten seriously addicted, and couldn’t wait to get back to riding – soon after which she bought her first “proper” bike (and a sign of things to come) – a bright yellow Commencal Supreme! Yes, not one to do things by halves Stapes went and bought herself a DH bike…and soon discovered that she had a bit of a natural talent at throwing herself down mountains…and with time and training she soon got spotted by sponsors, becoming a regular podium visitor and race winner – with podium finshes at both the Welsh Championships and also UK National Championships.
Sarah holds a British Cycling coaching certificate, and is partway through her guiding qualifications. When riding with our groups she currently acts as a Guiding Assistant – but aims to be fully qualified in the near future. She’s had a very varied career – initially she was a newspaper journalist,and later worked within digital marketing (including projects for the Athertons) – but then moved into management within a financial trading company. She works full-time in her “proper” job, but assists with our media and marketing, and is getting ever-increasingly involved in Singletrack Safari.
Bikes and Riding: Sarah is a bike hoarder! Her main bike from our sponsors is a 2020 Commencal Meta AM29 Team which she is head over heels in love with! However, she also has (among others) a DMR Reptoid dirt jump bike, a YT Capra carbon, a Specialized Roubaix road bike, a Mondraker Summum DH bike…she even still has the original Kona Lisa hardtail that claimed her pelvis! Sarah loves descending – indeed, it was not until much later that she got her first Enduro bike – and she loves sessioning a trail to perfection in chase of QOMs! However over the past few years she has discovered the beauty of riding natural singletrack – and now travels all over Europe to ride with her buddies; it was on one of these trips when she first discovered a) Andorra, and b) Martin. Which one she loves more is the subject of debate…but nonetheless in summer 2019 she agreed to marry Martin!
Martin’s first ever job as a teenager was working in a bike shop on a part-time basis in Devon, where he grew up and learned to ride on the southern edge of Dartmoor in Buckfastleigh. He started riding in 1987, and now in his mid-40s is riding more than ever, and is still totally obsessive! Martin raced extensively in the early 90s, became involved in course design and was a regular contributor to the legendary South Western MTB magazine Blazing Saddles. As a teenager Martin led and assisted holidays and rides for his bike club….the rides tended to have an unusually high percentage of singletrack for what, at the time, was a touring-based club!
After leaving college Martin managed several bike shops in Devon and Wiltshire, where he originally gained his mechanical qualifications. Later he worked for many years in employment industry management, and also as an Events Organiser for the British Heart Foundation where he operated a series of large scale, high profile charity sports events across the South West of England.
Finally, in 2007, Martin moved to the mountains of rural Spain, where he became Manager of a well-known mountain biking holiday company. Martin ran operations and marketing, but was heavily involved in guiding and trail finding. Despite loving the country, he returned to the UK in order to be closer to family and friends – but also to pursue his dream of creating his own international MTB holiday business. Martin has held full British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader qualifications for 13 years, and is a Cytec qualified Cycle Mechanic, and DT qualified Wheel Builder.
Bikes and Riding: Currently Martin rides a beautiful 2020 Commencal Meta AM29 Team from our sponsors at, er, Commencal! His Meta AM is “the bestest, fastest, funnest bike ever” and this year’s model has a few tweaks to it’s spec to make it a bit more “sick”! He also has a Dirt Jump bike, a Specialized Tarmac Pro road bike and most importantly – his 2 beloved retro bikes; his first ever MTB, a 1988 Saracen Tufftrax, the other is an immaculalte, fully restored 1990 Kona Explosif with hand-splattered paint which he spent over a year restoring to full glory!
In 2019 Martin moved the Singletrack Safari offices to be near the mountains of North Wales, where he now lives with his bike-mad girlfriend Sarah – who is also a member of the StS team. However, the real highlight of his recent life also came in 2019 – when, at a crazy 3842m above sea level on the top of a mountain in the Alps, he and Sarah became engaged – and they now are planning to marry in 2021.
"..around midnight Cedric Gracia helped lead our jelly-legged heroes to an ultimate destination...."
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