Sunday, 24 November 2013

6 months to go....

Hi everyone,

So exactly 6 months today I'll have started my journey to the Arctic and, all going well, I'll be sitting by my tent in Dover chomping down on some food having ridden the 360 miles from my hometown Whitley Bay.

St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

It is all starting to get very real that I'm going to Nordkapp and the Arctic Circle. I know in no time at all I'll be on my bike, all packed, zooming down the motorway towards the continent. I've still got a lot of details to plan and work to do before I set off. I'm trying to remind myself that even though my trip has some very serious aims, I have to make sure I enjoy the ride.

I've already written a blog about my details of first day (click here to view) but there are still even more details to plan. The first is how I'm going to link up with all my biker buddies along the route from Newcastle to Dover. If you are interested for joining me for any part of the ride please drop a comment at the bottom of this post and let me know where you are located. The second challenge of my first day is figuring out the best way to film it. To be honest this is one of the biggest challenges I'm going to have a full stop on the trip. I'm certainly no film maker but I realize that helmet cam shots and 'selfies' are going to get pretty boring and that I need a variety of shots to keep the documentary film interesting.

On all my days I'm going to be looking for willing volunteer cameramen to help do some filming. If you are located in along my route and want to help out (or know someone else who would) please get in touch!

Places I'm still looking for filming help in:

  • Dover, England
  • Calais, France
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Ottersberg (Bremen), Germany
  • Nyborg (Odense), Denmark
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Landskrona (Malmo), Sweden
  • Lillehammer, Norway
  • Trondhiem, Norway
  • Mo i Rana, Norway
  • Alta, Norway

Another item I need to plan is the packing of my bike. Even though I have my touring side boxes and top box I'm still very limited on space compared to a usual camping trip you would go on in the car. I've been taking advice from my buddy Andrew Pain who is the author of motorbiking books such as Going Small - A Guide to Lightweight Motorcycle Touring, and Going Small 2.0: Lightweight Motorcycling all over again.

One thing I need to get right is my tent. I need it to be big enough to house me and my gear while I'm camping but small enough to fit in my top box and light enough not to have to much impact on the handling of my bike.

Vango Soul  200
So I've decided I'm going to go with the Vango Soul 200. Its small enough to not take to much room up when packed on the bike, big enough to fit me and my stuff in when camping, and its comes in Arctic Ride blue :) win win win. Lets just hope blue doesn't attract reindeer who will come and eat my food, haha.

That is all for this weeks folk. Thanks to everyone for all their support of my trip. Whether its reading my blog, liking my updates on facebook, sharing my links on twitter, or donating money to Cerebra via my giving page. I thank you all.

Special thanks this week go out to my motovlog buddy Andi from Switzerland who donated an amazing £250 to Cerebra. That means I'm 25% towards my total already! What a guy. Thanks very much Andi!

Ride safe everyone.


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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Custom my Lid

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the latest edition of my blog for Arctic Ride 2014 - A 6,000 mile solo motorbike adventure to the Arctic Circle to raise money for brain-injury charity Cerebra and to raise awareness for disability rights.

To help multiply the impact of my trip to the Arctic I've been looking for companies to partner with me on Arctic Ride. To date I'm being supported by Newcastle Rider Training, North East MotorCycle Racing Club (NEMCRC), Nomad Biker, Allinson's Photography, A-Plus Racing, and NEfit. All of these companies have been helping me by using their expertise and experience, or by providing funds for the 6,000 mile trip.

With it being November, and winter pretty much here, the season for biking is almost much over. Due to this, and the expense of Christmas fast approaching, my hopes of getting any more sponsors on board before the new year are pretty low. Over the past weeks I've been sending out letters, emails, and tweets to local companies to try and inform then about my trip and enquire as to whether they would be interested in helping me out. Now I can tell you, it gets you down when you keep sending bits out and hear nothing back. My wife Kirsty keeps my spirits up and reminds me of how much has happened since I started planning back in March of this year, but its still hard when you go months without progress.

It was back in September when I traveled the 60 miles up to Kielder forest in Northumberland to shoot my promo video (CLICK HERE to view). At the start of November it had over 600 views on YouTube which is awesome and I'd forwarded it to some local businesses to try and get some interest. One of those businesses was Custom Lids, a motorbike helmet and clothing shop in Newcastle. The response from their twitter account was positive and they seemed interested. I followed this up a few weeks later and I was invited into the shop to chat with the owner on 16th November 2013. Check out my vlog below about my ride to see them and what happened (mobile users click here to watch).
So the great news is that Custom Lids have agreed to come on board as a sponsor! Big thanks to the owner Neil for his generosity and to Mark who runs their social media accounts. As I said in the vlog, its great to have another local bike business on board.

That's all for this week folks. Keep spreading the word about my trip wherever you can!

Big thanks to this week's anonymous donor who donated £10. That mean my total now stands at £397!

You can donate safely and securely via my Virgin Money Giving site with all money going to Cerebra.

'You must be the change you wish to see in the world' - Gandi

Ride safe!


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Monday, 11 November 2013

New contingencies

Greetings to another Arctic Ride 2014 blog,

In this post I'll be talking about contingencies plans for my trip.

For those of you that didn't follow my 2011 attempt to the Arctic, I had a crash just over a week into my trip near a town called Ornskoldsvik in northern Sweden. I hit a piece of metal that was lying in the road. Somehow I didn't come off the bike but my Kawasaki took the full force blowing my tyre and denting my wheel rim in the process.

After my crash in Sweden June 2011
I got recovered back to Ornskoldsvik only to find it was Swedish bank holiday weekend meaning I couldn't get a new tyre and wheel for 5 days. This wait was nearly a quarter of my whole trip which made making it to Nordkapp and home in the time remaining impossible.

The crash in 2011 is an example of thing that go wrong which can't be avoided but I'm going into this trip more well prepared for if something happens again.

First of all, I've noted down when all the public holidays are in the countries I am travelling through and this time there should be no issues. Second of all if I do loose days due to an accident, weather, or delay i have some continences to allow for this.

The first contingency is the ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle. I'm determined to ride the whole way to Nordkapp and the whole way back but I also have to take into consideration the time constraints of my journey. I only have 21 days to complete the ride due to work commitments so if I'm running a few days behind, and I can't make up the miles on the road I can use the ferry from Amsterdam to win 2 days back.

The ferry can save me 600 miles and 2 days riding
The second contingency is also a ferry route but has yet to be confirmed. Norwegian Seaways are looking to resurrect the historical route between Newcastle and Norway (Stavanger / Bergen) which after over 100 years of service ended in 2007. Rumours swirling around the Norwegian Press are that Norwegian Seaways will re introduce this service in April next year... just in time for my trip. Now this is certainly a LAST RESORT option and one that I would only use if I lost 5-6 days on my trip which would be a serious incident.

New ferry route

There are several other small contingencies in terms of changing route, and riding faster that I wont go into but I'm hoping that nothing goes wrong to the point where I have to use these plans.

That's all for this weeks folks. Remember to keep sharing my story and helping out on my social networks.

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Donate to Cerebra 

Ride safe everyone.

Gordon Stuart