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.

Enter VStrom

Hello!

Welcome to the The Arctic Rider blog. This summer I'm heading to Canada and Alaska to take on the mighty Dalton Highway to raise money for Tiny Lives Trust and Cerebra, 2 great charities.

Since my last blog, there have been some major developments.

Firstly, I've booked my flights! So I now have an official start date. I fly to Calgary from London on the 27th June meaning my departure date from Newcastle will be 26th June. That gives me just 45 days until liftoff! Wow its getting close.


Secondly, and the really big news is that I now have the bike! I must say it felt like this day would never come and I feel so privileged to have the backing of Suzuki for my ride. I feel even more lucky that they have given me a brand new VStrom 1000 XT to do the ride on. What started as a hopeful, pie-in-the-sky email, has ended up with the bike sitting in my garage.. I think I'm still in shock.

'Morning Gordon' at Newcastle station
Now it wasn't the most straight forward event to get the bike. Suzuki UK HQ is in Milton Keynes.. 265 miles from my house. I'd already had to rearrange once due to a sickness bug hitting me on my original collection date in April. But on Friday, I left my house early doors to catch the train to London en route to MK (no direct train from Newcastle). My very understanding boss agreed to let me work on the train and in the London office before I headed back up to Milton Keynes to get the bike.

Suzuki Bikes UK HQ
After an event-free train journey to London and onto Milton Keynes (luck must have been on my side of a British railway journey), I arrived at Suzuki HQ mid-afternoon ready to chat about my trip and get a first look at the bike which is going to take me to the top of America (literally). When I arrived my Suzuki contact, and the architect of getting Suzuki on board, James was just finishing up with another biker who would be road testing the VStrom. We got introduced and it was only after he left that I realized it was Nathan Millward of ABR magazine, and Sydney to London Post bike fame. If you haven't come across Nathan, check out his website www.nathanmillward.com

Biker selfie with Nathan.
After a quick photo shoot with the new bike it was then down to business doing an interview with James and Josh from the Suzuki Press Office, updating them on my plans for the Dalton and talking  through the whole Arctic Rider story. I've been lucky enough to be collaborating with Suzuki and James in 2013 before my Nordkapp trip, but as this was the first time James and I had met in person, there was a lot to cover. Then, after a quick tour around Suzuki and the workshop, and some filming, I got my first proper look around the bike that will (hopefully) carry me over 6,000 miles in just 18 days from Newcastle to Prudhoe Bay via London, Calgary, The Rocky Mountains, Alaska Highway, and the treacherous Dalton Highway.

My new best friend... The Suzuki VStrom 1000 XT

I must say it was both an exciting and nervous experience. The bike looked even better in person and was brand brand new.. with only 3 miles on the clock. It felt great to sit on and firing up its v-twin engine for the first time was exhilarating. However this made the whole trip suddenly feel real, my challenge was no longer a google maps route, or a budget on a spreadsheet, its starts right here.

After a quick tour of its features and control it was wasn't long before I was off and tackling the tens of thousands of roundabouts that reside in Milton Keynes. My first thoughts were 'this bike is tall'. Coming from a Sports Tourer where my feet are down very easily, the adventure style of the VStrom was different and took me a few goes to get my technique sorted. Once used to it, I was able to enjoy the great handling and easy ride that the bike provided. One of my first thoughts was that I felt like this bike was going to make me a better rider, which has to be a good thing.

The 265 mile ride home was rather dull for the most part. Rush hour, 'smart' motorway speed cameras, and lots of roadworks made it a bit of a long slog. Luckily my ride was broken up with the unexpected event that I was able to pop in and say hello to my brand new niece, who was born just hours before I'd set off from Milton Keynes. A new bike and a new niece in the same day... what a day!

It took me 6.5 hours in total to get home with my hospital pit stop, which was longer than I had hoped. I pulled in 100 miles from home for a quick drink and to put my waterproofs on, but even with these stops, I'm clearly not 'bike fit' and not ready to do 400-500 miles per day every day for nearly 3 weeks.. another item added to the preparation list.

My Suzuki 'fleet'
So with just over 6 weeks to go my to-do list is still looking pretty lengthy, but at least I'm starting to cross stuff off,right?
  • Collect the bike from Suzuki GB HQ in Milton Keynes
  • Test the bike out on a pre-trip trip to Scotland
  • Arrange and complete off road training (I'm now booked in with Duns motorcross! Woop).
  • Book my flights to Canada
  • Book the bike freight to Canada
  • Canadian Visa
  • US Visa
  • Arrange insurance and breakdown cover for Canada and USA
  • Arrange adventure travel insurance
  • Buy new sleeping bag
  • Draw charity raffle (tickets here)

Thanks for reading and look out for my next update. If you can donate to my ride, with all money going direct to the charities, visit my Virgin Money Giving site.

Ride safe!

Gordon

Comments

  1. That V storm will be perfect bike for the Dalton highway
    Seen a few videos of people riding the Dalton looks one hell of and adventure.
    Enjoying your blog updates,
    cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment.
      Yeah, even after just a few hundred miles it felt great, light, and agile... just what I need for the Dalton.
      Thanks for reading and glad you are enjoying them. Lots more to come :)

      Delete

Post a comment

Popular posts