THE ARCTIC RIDER STORY

"Gordon Stuart (AKA The Arctic Rider) is on a mission to ride his motorbike across the Arctic Circle in every country possible, while raising money and awareness for causes close to his heart."

“It started in 2011 as a charity ride to the Arctic Circle that didn’t really go to plan, and has become a near obsession with the Arctic, an obsession with riding a motorbike, and an obsession helping organisations who help others” - Traverse Magazine, November 2017.

To date, Gordon has raised over £13,000 for charities, ridden over 14,000 miles as part of the challenges.

Gordon is an Ambassador UK-brain injury charity Cerebra and global youth leader forum One Young World, and fundraiser for special care babies charity Tiny Lives. He is keen motorcyclist, writer, and film maker.

Iron Butt 'Warm up' Ride to The Highlands and prep

Greetings to the latest edition of The Arctic Rider blog,

Its just over 3 weeks until I set off to take on the 'Iron Butt' challenge to raise money for The Tiny Lives Trust.

No two ways about it, taking on ~900miles in a single day riding is going to be a challenge. I consider myself a somewhat seasoned long distance rider but I must admit I've been out of practice since I returned from the Arctic. I've done a few 250 mile days to the South West of Scotland to see family and the odd ride around Northumberland, so I knew I needed to get a good 'warm up' ride in preparation for the Iron Butt.

6am start from Newcastle
So last Sunday, I set my alarm early and got myself on the road by 6am ready to get the miles under my belt. I loaded up the bike with my touring boxes to get a feel for having a fully loaded bike again. The weather forecast was excellent but as I headed up through Northumberland en route to Scotland I was greeted by fog, cold temperatures, empty roads.

On-board cam in drizzly Northumberland  
Even with the fog and cool morning I made really good time and got the 120miles to Edinburgh by 8am, where I stopped for a drink and some fuel. I had planned to ride around 400 miles so having done a 3rd of that in 2 hours was good progress.

The bike felt really good, nimble and quick on the country roads, as well as being fast and smooth on the dual carriageways and motorways. The only issue I had after my first stop was the state of my legs. I've recently been diagnosed with tendinitis in my right hamstring and after 2 hours on the bike I was sore and very stiff... this continued to be a problem throughout the day.

Warm-up ride route
Concious not to waste to much time stopping, a skill I'll need on the Iron Butt, I jumped back on the bike and headed up the motorway to Stirling. I wanted my warm up ride includes as many elements of my Iron Butt as possible. It included fast country roads (Newcastle to Edinburgh), Motorway Riding (Edinburgh to Stirling) and finally highland 'A' roads (North of Stirling into the Trossachs national Park).

I'd set my sights on making it to Lochan na Lairige next to Ben Lawers, Scotland 5th higest peak. I ramdonly came across it on google maps a few weeks ago and through the roads and scenery looked good, and wow was I not disappointed. In fact it was stunning.

The Road leading to Loch Tay
The weather broke and the ride from Stirling up the A84 to Loch Tay was a dream. The combination of Lochs, Glens, and blue skies made me think I was riding through a postcard. I'd go as far as to say that this was one of my top 5 rides ever as a biker, it was that good.

At just after 10am, after a few map check stops, I made to to Lochan na Lairige and it was breathtaking. At 1800 feet above sea-level, at the end of a single track road, Lochan na Lairage is was Scotland is about.

Pano shot of Lochan na Lairige
After a short wander around and a bit of my sandwiches I headed back off home, possibly setting the world record for the quickest trip to The Highlands from England of all time.

Heading back on the same route I rode home, stopping to take a few photos and grab some fuel. Knowing I needed it test myself for my pace for the Iron Butt it was a case of head down and get back to Newcastle. I managed to get home for just before 3pm, meaning I had covered 400 miles in just short of 9 hours. I even had enough time to get changed and head over to a birthday BBQ for the afternoon... cash back. What a day.



So the warm up ride was a success but it was a good reminder of what I'm going to need to remember for my Iron Butt ride.

1. Thermals are a must in the UK, no matter what the forecast. I just about froze my knees off riding the morning Northumberland fog when the forecast was for bright sunshine all day.
2. Ear plugs Ear Plugs Ear Plugs... I forgot my ear plugs and the wind just about destroyed my hearing.
3. Shorter stops - I made 3 'proper' stops on my warm up ride and a few map checks, but I need to have them shorter and more efficient to give me the best chance of completing the Iron Butt. I'm planning to stop around every 150 miles and I need to be ruthless and do a quick leg stretch, grab few, throw down some food, and get back on the bike... Thats going to be tough.
4. Photos are for the way home. I could have stopped a dozen times in the highlands to take photos and admire the scenery but I'm just not going to have time at all. Luckily I'll have a camerman Andy with me and my GoPro to try and capture the best bits.
5. This is going to be tough. If I'm being honest, when I got back to Newcastle at 3pm all I wanted to do was go for a kip... I was bloody knackered... and that was less than half the distance I need to cover on the 5th of July. The day before the ride I'll be doing a 500 miles day just to get to Lands End... wow.

So that was my warm up ride done. Next up is a service and new set of tyres for the bike and more fitness work for me to try and get my body in some sort of  good condition for the punishments I'm going to be putting through over a few days at the start of my ride doing the Iron Butt.

Hopefully by now you will know that the whole reason I am doing this ride is to raise money for The Tiny Lives Trust in Newcastle. If you think a few bob is a good exchange for my body, my mind, and my safety to be on the line on 5th of July the please donate at www.virginmoneygiving.com/thearcticrider

Finally I'd like to give a short mention to Ian Bell who passed away racing at the Isle of Man TT today. Ian was a big character in the North East motorbike community as a racer with the NEMCRC, and as a bike shop owner with his dealership in Bedlington, Northumberland (where he sold me my first big bike). Also Ian was a generous support of my Arctic Ride in 2014 and I had the pealsure of presenting him and his sone a triophy at the NEMCRC meet at Croft in 2014. Rest easy mate.

April 2014 - Presenting the sidecar trophy to the Bell's (Bottom right)
And as a final sign off as always, Ride safe.

Gordon

Comments

  1. Well done and nice job ex client work and useful information about the Opportunity it's nice job.
    First Ride of the Season

    ReplyDelete

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