aka: Maxi, Rodders, Slugs, Hofo
Ride: Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile, across the Aconcagua pass.
Relax: A post exercise warm down on the trampoline with my son.
Refreshment: Traditionally brewed wheat beer.
Read: The Odyssey, Homer.
Role: Tour Leader. Linguist. Mechanic. Motivator.
Max was born and grew up in Young, a small outback Australian town. His first bike journey was to school as a five year old. "My dad was a sports enthusiast who believed we should be able to get to school under our own steam. That ethos stuck with me and years on, I am still riding functionally to work, or better still, riding as work!"
Max is a school teacher by trade and has taught kids all over the world. He is a highly experienced guide, who has taught the young and old how to ride and train; instilling enthusing into people to bring cycling into their everyday lives. Max has guided multiple treks (road and mountain biking) across Europe and the Americas. He is a serious "people's person", has amazing interpersonal empathy and gives more time and energy into riders on tour than any guide I've known. Here is what he thinks about his Napoleon tour: "The Napoleon tour is simply immense and I enjoy the challenge of completing such an epic adventure. I relish the opportunity to encourage and assist our guests to reach their individual and group goals over a journey that in most cases, due to its grand parameters, is life changing."
Max has travelled extensively in Australia, Europe and the Americas and spends six months every year living with his Chilean partner and son in her native continent of South America. "My son is my constant riding partner, keeping me honest and motivated on our daily rides!"
Having lived in South America on and off since 2004, Max has had many adventures in the mystical wilds of the Andes and is sure to enthral you with accounts of foolhardy, nocturnal and solo crossings of a Cordilleran range! He is fluent in Spanish and currently accessing a decade's worth of local knowledge in the set-up of Bike Odyssey's Che epic adventure. Don't miss this tour with Max!
aka: Woody, Sammibal, Rodders
Ride: Col Agnel or Col Agnello - either side of the pass - Hannibal's possible crossing of the Alps. France/Italy.
Relax: Cold swims - beaches in Scotland, Roman plunge pools, frozen rivers in Scandinavia!
Refreshment: Italian espresso, at least 4 cups per day!
Read: The Gallic Wars By Julius Caesar.
Role: Creator & Owner Bike Odyssey. Archaeologist. Tour Leader.
Sam was born and grew up in Newcastle, a busy Australian coastal city. His first journeys on wheels were on a skateboard, weaving through traffic as a teenager. "My proudest teenage moment was when a policeman brought me home and told my mum that I was speeding on my skateboard. She didn't know what to do except laugh!"
From this possibly wayward teenager, Sam did his Honours degree in Archaeology at Sydney University and dug his way around the world, specialising in Roman Republican archaeology. He has excavated across Europe from Italy to Israel, England to Egypt as well as in Australia and Bermuda. From the nomadic field archaeologists life, he moved into the academia of working in the British Museum, London which progressed to consulting for the Mellon Foundation on worldwide museum projects with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the National Gallery, London. However, after a few years of sedentary work his feet grew itchy!
Being Sam's favourite figure in history, and spending all of his spare time on the bike, Sam always wanted to cycle in Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who took on the might of Rome's, footsteps. So in 2005 he researched and plotted Hannibal's route through Europe and proposed to the BBC to fund a documentary of him doing so (which they did in 2009). See more here. Sam says "Riding On Hannibal's trail with my brothers for the BBC was an unforgettable journey which had to be shared - it truly is the ride through the highlights of Europe. Therefore, I wanted to give others the opportunity to experience what I had so I created a tour to do so."
Sam now resides with his partner and two children in the beautiful coastal town of Berry, Australia and Barcelona, Spain where he plots new epic adventures to take you on! Super organised and bursting with ideas about where to take riders on, he is always happy to chat about tours you may want to do and how you want to do them. Read more on Bike Odyssey and Sam here
Ride: Villard Notre Dame in front of Alpe d'Huez or ride in Provence mid July when the lavender is in full blossom.
Relax: Off-road motorcycling and family time at the beach with the kids.
Refreshment: Of course - wine: Gigondas in Red, Sablet as a white.
Read: ''Les Forcats de la Route'' by Albert Londres (A 1924 real story of the Tour de France by one of the greatest journalist-reporters). Or the classic Russian authors such as Nabokov or Dostroeivski.
Role: Tour Leader. Sommelier. Linguist. Mechanic.
aka: Franny, Spangli, Ginge, or The Duchess (nicknamed this by a Bike Odyssey guest!)
Ride: Col de la Madeleine - it is a beautiful quiet climb and not for the faint-hearted!
Relax: A massage and/or a great film with a large glass of red.
Refreshment: Coconut water or a glass of red - depending on what mood I’m in!
Read: Killing Pablo.
Role: Tour Leader. Linguist.
Fran was born in England, a non-identical twin with her sister Victoria. If that wasn't special enough already, she also shared her birthday with Prince William. The London headline of the day was "Well done Di and well done Anne!" Fran grew up dressing exactly the same as her sister but in different colours! Her first bike memory was being extremely jealous of her twin sister’s pink BMX, but childhood memories of actually riding were more about the injuries she sustained trying to..... Until, post bubba, (beautiful Annie), Fran decided to buy a road bike and take up cycling to get fit. Boy did she do that - she will give anyone a ride for their money on tour!
Fran studied International Studies and French at Bristol University, becoming a high flyer in advising business development sales directors and worked in London, Paris and New York. But having done that, took a sea change and planned to ski for 6 months in France. Breaking her leg, she had time on her hands and put her mind to making a chalet business in this gorgeous skiing village of Chambéry. She has done this for the last decade, with a business which went from strength to strength in its 10th winter now. In the summers, she loves cycling with her local crew - skiing instructors and men mostly which she enjoys as make her cycle harder.
Fran first came on tour with us for a couple of weeks to see if she liked it. She loved it and we loved her. Fran not only brings her enthusiasm and love of cycling to our trips, but her natural ease and friendliness makes her one of our most loved guides. Amazingly skilled and capable, Fran is perfect for this role and runs Lionheart efficiently and seemingly effortlessly. Nothing is ever too much trouble, she is fluent in French and most importantly, she has fun, making it fun for guides and guests alike. Fran is a treat on any Odyssey, but Lionheart is her trip and you will not find a more enthusiastic and enjoyable guide to take you on this incredible trip.
aka... Fabi and in my riding days Pantanina - for the ability to climb like Pantani! (Not just a rider, but an Italian professional - winner of the Giro d'Italia Femminile a record five times and the Grande Boucle Féminine x 3!)
Ride: I like to ride on every kind of climb!
Relax: I love to play with my dog Leo, a beautiful black pointer.
Refreshment: I love the Tuscan beef steak florentine.... Oh you mean drink - ok, coke - I love it!
Read: The Warrior of Light, of Paulo Coelo.
Role: Guide. Pro-rider.
aka: Isi, Wonky, Matchstick Arms
Ride: Riding round Ireland with my cycling kit on and one set of dry clothes in my pannier. Wet, stunning, wet.
Relax: Massage - any type, anywhere, anytime, by anyone!
Refreshment: Vanilla milkshake with an espresso shot in it. A life saver in sleep deprived baby days, still a favourite!
Read: The Magus, John Fowles.
Role: Tour Leader. Medic.
Isabel was born and grew up in Young, a small outback Australian town. Her first bike memory was learning to ride down the dirt driveway of her family farm. "When I was losing control I would careen off into the orchard to crash on grass and munch on juicy peaches before building confidence to try again."
Isabel studied psychology and history at Sydney University and then worked and travelled extensively through Australia, New Zealand, India and Europe, as a teachers aide, in disabilities and training racehorses, before finally settling in London. Here she trained and then worked as a Paramedic for 5 years before returning home to have kids in Australia. She now lives in Berry, Australia, with her partner and two children, teaching first aid all over NSW and creating, managing and leading tours for Bike Odyssey. At Bike Odyssey, we take much attention to create the safest possible routes and we have rarely had a guest come off their bike. However, if you do, Isabel has ensured all guides are first aid trained and have well-kitted first aid boxes available on every tour. If you have any kind of medical situation on tour, she has a wealth of knowledge and will know exactly how to help you.
Keen to have a more active part in the company, she took on Venetians as her baby and organised every step of this logistical nightmare of a trip! This island-hopping adventure takes dedication to detail to another level, but to all the guests and it seemed to run effortlessly and like clockwork. Isabel is a real people’s person and will do anything to ensure you are not just getting a magical trip but are looked after like you are her family. One guest from Venetians last year said it best - "Isabel, with the most amazing warmth and interpersonal empathy, dedicated to ensuring the happiness of everyone on tour." Avis P. If there is an enthusiast about Croatia and the Venetians Odyssey, it is Isabel, and she will ensure you experience it at its best.
aka: Didn´t seem to want to answer this!?
Ride: I love riding in the mountains so I guess the Dolomites are my paradise.
Relax: Riding, rock climbing, snowboarding, reading, love cinema and writing. Sleeping too..
Refreshment: Wine always!
Read: love European literature, mainly Italian, French, German and love essays and novels. I do love classical literature (Latin and Greek).
Role: Guide. Linguist.
aka: The Roman!
Ride: Cheddar Gorge and Burrington Combe in the Mendips, near where I live.
Relax: Reading a book. Preferably in Croatia. Without the kids!
Refreshment: Depends on time of day: mornings, breakfast tea; afternoons/evenings, a good IPA.
Read: So hard to say, as I have forgotten so many of the books I've read...if I had to pick one, on a desert island say, it would be Lord of the Rings.
Role: Historian. Author. Guide.
aka: No nicknames - they never stick. I don't get anything more elaborate than "Cam"
Ride: The Vercors in France. It's stupendous limestone cliffs and canyons make you feel like a kid!
Relax: catching waves at the beach.
Refreshment: water from a mountain stream, otherwise ginger beer.
Read: Australian journalist, writer and documentary maker John Pilger.
Role: Tour Leader. Semi-pro rider.
aka... just Sarah
Ride: You mean on a bike? Or can I say rollercoasters - LOVE the Superman Ride at Movieworld!
Refreshment: Wine. Any colour. Bubbles or not.
Read: Romance and vampires.
Role: Soigneur. Paramedic.
Sarah was born and grew up in Wollongong, on NSW’s south coast. Always athletic, at age 11 she took up Ballroom Dancing and over the next 8 years, competed at National level in Ballroom, Latin American and New Vogue. She was passionate about dancing and won SIX Australian titles in this time. Sarah retired from dancing at nineteen and started travelling the world while working for British Airways at Sydney Airport. By 23, she was looking for a change in career and applied to become a paramedic with Ambulance NSW, and did this for the next 15 years, while she and her husband welcomed 3 gorgeous children into their world.
Always loving the effect massage had on her dancing body, Sarah has forever been interested in massage and studied it, most recently doing her Diploma in Remedial Massage at the Australian Institute of Applied Science.
Now living in Berry on the South Coast of Australia, Sarah has been working as a massage therapist for 9 years and now runs her own business full time. Sarah specialises in Remedial Massage, Pregnancy Massage and Deep Tissue Massage while also adding the skills of Chinese Cupping and Rock Taping to her repertoire. Her massages are the whole package, best said by one of her clients "I go to Sarah and get the whole deal - serious knowledge and skill, incredible strength but gentleness where needed, a relaxing atmosphere and a beautiful caring personality to boot". If you locals haven't been to her - go!
On our Odysseys, Sarah will be keeping your legs and bodies alive - rejuvenating, fixing and preparing you for adventure every day.
Ps. How cool are these national title pics!
aka: The Doctor
Ride: Anywhere by the sea.
Relax: Watching cricket.
Refreshment: A nice cold lager preferably watching cricket and/or by the sea.
Read: I read novels like some people eat sweets.
Role: Archaeologist. Documentary maker. Historical Adventurer.
Sam has led the life everyone wants to have done! See his website for some seriously interesting adventures.
Ride: Every week I ride with cycling friends from L’Escala. I absolutely love these beautiful rides, heading towards Girona, through the fields of Madremanya, the vineyards of Peralada or following the coastline up to Cap de Creus.
Relax: Having a time out with friends and family. Being out in nature.
Diving into the sea after exercise and a cold shower on the beach.
Refreshment: Wouldn’t mind a Mojito once in a while…:)
Read: ‘Material matters’ by Thomas Rau. The need to build a sustainable relationship between earth and humans. It deals with some psychology issues and looks at how ancient cultures dealt with waste and uses logical thinking to give some bright answers for the future.
Role: Soigneur. Physio. Linguist
aka: Manu, Nati, Shayanne.
Ride: Locally, I love nothing more than my well worn mountain bike routes in Cajon de Maipu. Che Odyssey is my favourite homeland tour and Hannibal was definitely my most enjoyable tour on the global stage! 🙂
Relax: Chilling out in my dome cabin in Austral (Patagonia) with a couple of bikes to tinker with.
Refreshment: A triple hopp'd IPA in a frozen glass on a hot day!
Read: The alchemist"...of bikes 😉
Role: Mechanic and South American Local Expert.
aka: CJ, Doyley
Ride: Col de la Jeoux Vert, French Alps.
Relax: Jogging in the mountains around Morzine.
Refreshment: Water. Totally boring I know, but I love it!
Read: Probably really shows my age, but the Harry Potter series!
Carla was born in Mudgee, rural NSW, but spent most of her childhood in the wilds of Tasmania. Getting her into sport at an early age, she clearly remembers getting an unbearably (only in hindsight) bright pink bike for her 6th birthday. She doesn't remember not cycling, on and off the road, getting right into mountain biking too in her teens. An all round athlete, she did lots of running in high school, but when her running coach said to her "Carla you are too slow at running, why not be a triathlete?", she replied, "Well, I love cycling, don't mind swimming, why not!" So her career of triathlons began, taking her to two age world championships. When she finished her schooling, she travelled to join a French team to train and be a professional race triathlete with them.
Carla enjoyed and appreciated what massage could do for her body from an early age. As soon as she finished her schooling, she did her Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy and worked on her team mates as well as the public throughout her sporting career. She now remains in Morzine, France, specialising in Sports Massage Therapy at Mountain Rehab. she works with professional cyclists and triathletes in the summer and skiers in the winter, as well as doing regular injury prevention massage with the locals.
At just 26, Carla is incredibly down to earth, humble of her achievements and a real pleasure to talk to. Obviously full of commitment and enthusiasm as well as raw talent, Carla seems to have envisioned, set and achieved goals with as little fuss as if she were choosing what to wear to bed. She comes across as a girl who has loved life, telling me "I don't do sitting still very well, I have too many fun things I can be getting on with!" She is really about enjoying nature, whether from the bike of a seat, in the pounding of a pair of joggers, or helping others to do the same. She is deep into loving and coaxing the best out of the body you have been given. She knows how to do this, let her help you to achieve the most out of yours on one of our bike odysseys.
aka: Tors or T
Ride: Top of the moors in the west country. (UK).
Relax: I love a good puzzle.
Refreshment: I have recently discovered rhubarb gin!
Read: All sorts of genres – best so far are Philip Pullman’s Dart Materials as well as Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants.
Ride: I am not as bike addicted as all of you!!! I use it in my town, I love the slow pace of pedalling on Sunday mornings.
Relax: Walking in nature, especially in our Lakes area here in Ivrea.
Read: Le Petit Prince.
Role: European Hotels Manager.
aka... Woody, The Bank
Ride: Mount Ventoux. 3rd time I did it was the hardest, as I had one arm in plaster!
Relax: The moment the baby is asleep. Doesn't matter what I'm doing, I'm relaxed!
Refreshment: There is nothing so effective and satisfying as a coffee.
Read: Recently, The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood.
Ben was born in Shoreham-by-Sea, England. After doing the first 2 years of primary school in England, his family moved to Newcastle, Australia. Ben completely took to the outdoor sporty Australian life, exploring his new hometown by cycling the myriad of stormwater drains. Through this crisscrossing mazes with his mate Tim Lees (both aged 10) was their mode to get to school, training and see friends: Ben's lifetime love of cycle adventuring was born. He also became a keen athlete in soccer and cricket and would go on in later years to play Grade cricket in Sydney and semi-professionally in England. Known as "The Bank" as he never dropped a catch.
Ben breezed through school and then did a double degree studying between Sydney University and University of California. Getting a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science majoring in History, Maths and Computer Science. Ben has travelled extensively, living in London for a decade working as a software developer, doing projects from non-profit academia to high-end businesses in London, Sydney, Kansas City and Barcelona.
Ben is now living in Barcelona with his Spanish partner and two children. After quite a pause, Ben answered my simple question of what he liked most about this stunning city, with "I love walking my daughter (5) up into the hills to school every day". I think Ben really is an Aussie country kid at heart!
For Bike odyssey, Ben is responsible for technology on and off the bike. From the website to navigation and guest tracking, he is a machine at researching and programming the best possible way to support our riders. Read on our website about the industry-leading way he is going to navigate you across continents from the extremely user-friendly technology . You will not only find what he makes a pleasure to use, but it is made with safety features such as we are able to track each guest as they are on their bikes. So don't be afraid about losing your way on our epic adventures, because we won't lose you!
aka... Gwena, Nena
Ride: From west to east along the Pyrenees.
Relax: By the sea listening to the waves.
Refreshment: A nice lemony cold water.
Read: I can't choose between The Count of Monte Christo, Alexandre Dumas and The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien.
Role: Graphic Designer.
Gwena was born in Chateauroux in the centre of France. "I don't know this town at all, my parents just chose this place because there was a very famous natural birthing thing going on there! Otherwise I grew up in Orleans, on the top of the river Loire. Orleans is very very famous because it was delivered from the English by Jeanne of Arc, a pure virgin of 14 years old who apparently was convincing enough to drag a lot of people and could carry a sword herself. Anyway, Jeanne of Arc was on my side all my childhood." Being at one with her surroundings started at an early age for Gwena.
"Around 10, I have a memory of rolling for 4 km downhill, through the forest, to go for a swim in a lake every day, and cycle back up at the end of the day. With my sister the challenge was to go down the whole way without any hands, including the sharp turn to the forest and out! " This started her love of cycling which has been in her everyday life since, whether to traverse the Pyrenees or ride her boys to the beach. Gwena has studied all over France, building a wealth of knowledge to compliment her natural creative talent - History of Art in Toulouse, Photography in Nimes and Graphic Design in Metz. Making contacts through her work and travel, she is a very busy freelance Graphic designer for clients based in Sydney, Newcastle, Paris, Brussels and Barcelona.
Did Gwena travel much to end up in Australia? "I travelled the world - Italy Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, India, Nepal, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Croatia obviously in Australia and France!" A modest answer, as Gwena didn't just travel the world, but fully emersed herself into cultures. A friend describing her as "A minute girl with a massive personality", explained how Gwena dived into their communities head first, learning their languages, working in their systems, making friends and living life to the fullest. She has deeply touched people all over the world with her vitality, fun, enthusiasm and laughter, loved as family to many.
Gwena worked in Italy and Australia for years at a time, fluent in all and easily switching between them when needed. "With my partner an Australian, we were intrigued to see whose native language our first born would use first: French or English......unbelievably his first word was pizza - Italian!!"
Gwena is now living in Newcastle Australia, with her Australian partner and two children. What does she love about living in Newcastle? "The community-minded spirit, the sea, the openness of mentality, pretty good-looking!"
Bike Odyssey has the facts of our tours, Gwena infuses structure, unity and beauty into them. Through our maps, website and documents you will see her work in the ease and pleasure it gives you to read them. Take a look at Bike Odyssey's maps and get excited by the bigger picture of where you will be exploring on one of our tours.
aka: Hell, Hels, Garfield, Helenker
Ride: A loop through the weir and skate park with my little boy.
Relax: Yoga, but I'm very sore, not sure it's actually relaxing!
Refreshment: Oh no, I couldn't possibly choose! Well maybe pisco sour, you must discover this in Chile.
Read: Any by Osho, Jodorosky, I.Allende
Role: South American Fixer.
Helene was born and grew up in Santiago, Chile. One of her earliest memories of being on a bike was when she was about nine. "It was my first big bike and my Dad put it together for me. It had a basket, was blue & very flowery, but my dad was not such a practical person and forgot to connect the brakes! I climbed to the top of a hill in the very poshest suburb in Santiago and let fly down between a beautiful avenue of trees. when I realised I had no brakes, I felt I had no option but to aim for one of the trees. After this nearly deathly experience, I learnt how to fix my own bike!"
Helene worked as a personal assistant to an architectural firm in Santiago for 7 years, all the while learning accounting and English. Partying as hard at night as she worked in the daytime, Helene is known and loved by a huge group of friends as the life of the party. One of them tells me "Helene was prepared for any fun after work, with her car boot full of outfits ready to go, straight from work to party, or from party to work!" When she met a rather characterful Aussie boy on the dance floor, Helene found herself travelling all over the world; cycling through Europe, United Kingdom and Scandinavia, before finally settling into a life shared between Chile and Australia.
Helene juggles an array of skills in Australia, from being a Barrista in cafes, to Zumba instructor, to doing Respite Care for people with disabilities. The deeply personal connection, compassion and effort she makes with everyone she meets makes her much loved in her community wherever she is. If Helene is making you a coffee with a monkey in the froth (how does she do this??) or teaching you to move your hips like she naturally does (now really, how does she do this??) she brings smiles aplenty to people's lives.
aka... absolutely no nicknames!
Ride: around the turquoise lakes of Jasper at the start of summer.
Relax: in the ocean and sun out the back of a good swell.
Refreshment: a cold cider on a hot day.
Read: any exploration or travel books.
Ride: Last time I rode a bike was on my paper round as a kid!
Relax: I love a weekend away by the coast.
Refreshment: One or the other - champers or a nice cup of English breakfast tea.
Read: Give me a book, I'll read it.
Role: Administration Manager.
Nicky was born and grew up in Wiltshire, England. After doing a BA (Hons) in Business Studies at Brighton University, Nicky set off to travel the world. Exploring Europe, India and Central America, she then made her way south to Asia - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. This girl takes everything in her stride and her gorgeous friendly nature bubbles forth.
Reaching the Antipodeans, Nicky settled in Sydney for a decade or so, enjoying the weather and beach lifestyle of the East Coast. "I love all the fresh Asian food here - Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, but deep down I still love comforting English food, especially a roast dinner!!!" In Brighton and then Sydney, Nicky gained a wealth of experience in admin, in roles such as Executive Assistant, Office Manager and Bookings Manager.
Nicky moved to Berry, Australia, to escape the city bustle. With her partner and two children, they have built their dream home on acres of rain forest in the beautiful Bundewallah Valley. She is efficient, loyal, exceptionally organised and will bend over backwards to get whatever you want done. When you need a question answered about any aspect of Bike Odyssey, Nicky is "your guy". She will either know the answer or know where to get it.