Source: Cam McRae
I met Sam Brown once - by chance - back in 1999. I was with a few buddies and we had just ridden The Monster in Kaslo B.C. It was mid summer and we were sitting by the truck drinking a beer and revelling in the glory when he pedalled up to say hi. We soon learned that Sam had built much of The Monster himself - a truly world class marvel of a trail. He was just a kid and he was riding around on flat pedals with no shoes on - and he really looked like a forest elf. He was soft spoken and he seemed a kind, gentle spirit.
I remember hearing that the hub for the Disconstructed Wheel was machined by Sam's dad as a high school grad present. Screen cap from NWDIII.
The next time I saw Sam was at the premiere of NWD III Freewheel Burning - on the screen. He had built one of the most amazing contraptions you could ever ride a bike on. He called it the 'The Disconstructed Wheel' but everyone else called it the hamster wheel. He rode on and his rear wheel stopped on the latching mechanism, releasing the wheel. Then he got on the pedals and the wheel began to turn until it finally hit the opposite lock and he rode off onto a skinny. The next move was a wheelie off from a standstill. It was an imaginative engineering marvel that he somehow managed to put together high on a mountain top. Or at least that's what I heard at the time.
Sam riding his creation back in 2002.
Sam put together a pretty decent segment after that. His most impressive move was a high speed manual on a long skinny. He put the front wheel down just in time to launch off the end. I have no idea what life held for Sam after that but it's clear that at some point things got interesting.
Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown could ride a bike. Screen cap from NWD III.
Recently Sam was contacted to transport 350 lbs of marijuana across the B.C. border into northern Washington State. The deal was set up by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Apparently it was a rainy, foggy night and the DEA assumed the helicopter delivery would be canceled. News reports suggest that when the DEA arrived at the meeting point Sam was already unloading the crop from the machine. He had apparently flown the helicopter through the mountains on a very dirty night, landing in the Colville National Forest north of Spokane. The helicopter was reported stolen by the owner from Malakwa B.C. I haven't been able to discern whether Sam held a fixed or rotary wing license at this point but I think a rotary license is unlikely.
That was February 23rd. On Friday February 27th Sam was found dead in his jail cell in Spokane. It's unlikely that we'll ever know much about what happened on the four days after Sam's arrest.
Without knowing all the details it's tough to know how Sam found himself in this predicament. While his actions were clearly risky, dangerous and against international law, Sam can also be considered a casualty of the misguided, expensive and - worst of all - fruitless, 'War On Drugs.'
We'd like to express our sincerest condolences to Sam's friends and family.