Sales and Marketing Director, Sam Empson, is the brains behind the unique networking event. Find out more about his love of speeding down hills on two wheels, and what he’s looking forward to at PropBike.
Commercial property search to mountain biking is quite a leap, what inspired you to host this event?
Towards the end of last year we started looking at developing a unique networking event for the sector that would bring people together from across the country and create a truly memorable experience. A few weeks later I was at BikePark Wales with some friends and, despite the rain coming down in buckets on a cold November day, we had an incredible time. I thought – what a great place to bring people for a truly different sort of event. When I suggested it to the rest of the office we had a bit of a joke about it for a while, but then it stuck and PropBike was born! The response we’ve had so far has shown that the event has really resonated with people – perhaps, as a sector, we like to take ourselves out of our comfort zone from time to time!
Why BikePark Wales?
Having had the opportunity to ride at a number of bike parks across the UK and further field, I think BikePark Wales has some of the best facilities that cater for everything and everyone. It was built as the UK’s first full scale mountain biking park with trails for beginners all the way up to seasoned pros, and has more downhill runs than any other bike park in the UK. Everything about their set-up from the café to the uplift service and workshop is so much better than anywhere else. PropBike is the first time that BikePark Wales has been hired out for a private event – which makes it even more special.
How did you get into mountain biking?
I just wanted to get a bit of exercise but I don’t like running – it’s dull, and I didn’t want to go on a road bike because I’m too young to die! Biking started for me a few years ago when I lived in Sutton Coldfield. Sutton Park is one of the biggest parks in Europe and is great for off-road biking, and nearby Cannock Chase also gave me a great introduction to trails. Now I’ve got more experience, I tend to go to BikePark Wales when I have a spare day. Mountain biking has a big community that is active online, so it’s a great way of meeting up with lots of people.
For the past three years I’ve competed in Ard Rock in Yorkshire, which is the UK’s biggest mountain biking festival. It’s basically seven timed downhill stages which total about 3,000 feet of descent, almost the equivalent of coming down Snowdon from the top to the very bottom. There are also seven transition stages and you have to complete the whole thing within five and a half hours, which is a real challenge. I’m competing again this year, just a month before PropBike!
Do you have a favourite run at BikePark Wales?
I have a couple depending on what I’m in the mood for. For out and out speed, its Sixtapod into Willy Waver – it’s fast, it flows, there’s lots of fast berms and fast rollers. If I want to race the van to the bottom and make the last uplift that’s where I want to go. If I want something more technical it’s the famous red A470 line which is full of big tables into another red run called Insufficient Funds that has four ski jumps one after the other – both great if you want to get some air!
You must have taken a few tumbles in your time, what was the worst?
I’m 42 and know my limits so despite riding Red and Black runs, I’ve been fortunate enough to not have that many. I respect the runs and have taken the time to learn them rather than charging down. It all comes down to keeping control, as many falls occur due to over confidence.
Mountain biking seems to have its own language. Can you give us a few must-have words?
Really it’s all just terms that relate to features on the trails. A berm is a banked corner. Rollers mean you roll over the bumps. Then you have ski jumps, gap jumps and drops, which are probably fairly self-explanatory!
How have you felt about the response from the property community to PropBike?
It’s been phenomenal. Part of the reason for choosing the event is that I know there is a big community of mountain bikers out there and a fair number in the property world, alongside beginners who are taking up the challenge and giving it a go. PropBike is about bringing everyone together, not just a bunch of experts.
What are you most looking forward to when September finally arrives and PropBike happens?
After 10 months of hard work it will be great to see the event come to fruition, and to connect so many within our sector from across the UK. It’s also great to be able to put a spotlight onto the redevelopment and vision that went into BikePark Wales – to see how an ex-mining town has taken advantage of its environment, and the momentum that this has brought to the area, driving the visitor economy and creating jobs.
Any tips for PropBikers?
Have a big bowl of porridge for breakfast – having a big fry up is tempting but you may end up regretting it! But in all seriousness, just have fun and, within your own limits, enjoy the ride. If you haven’t been to BikePark Wales before even if you’re an experienced rider, start on the blues and work your up through the runs so you get to know the features!
Places for the free-to-attend day and night event are limited to 150, and those who would like to attend can register their interest at www.propbike.co.uk, and follow the event on social media via @PropBike.
PropList will also use the day to raise funds for Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team, an organisation run by volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to search for, rescue and treat people in trouble in the countryside.
For more information on PropList, visit www.proplist.com