Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Off-road training and the Easter Egg Run

Hello!

Its been a few weeks since I announced that I will be heading to Alaska in 2018 to take on the notorious Dalton Highway to raise funds for Cerebra and Tiny Lives.

I've been working flat out on lots of different items including; a sponsorship prospectus, project plan, contacting airlines to try and get sponsorship for my travel across the Atlantic, as well as designing a new logo for the ride (see below).
The new Arctic Ride Alaska logo

Arctic Ride Alaska is going to be by far my most difficult charity challenge yet for a few reasons.

  1. First of all I'm going to be on the other side of the planet, very far away from my support network and a full 9 hours behind UK time. This means I'll only have a short window to report back to my sponsors, media, and most importantly my wife and children. 
  2. Secondly I'm not going to be riding my own bike. The cost of transporting my bike to Alaska and back was going to be more than I paid for the thing, and a sports tourer isn't exactly what you want for the Alaskan terrain.
  3. Thirdly, over 1,000 miles of the 2,000 mile trip is off road. To put than in context, thats more off-road than the entire length of the UK, or riding London to Rome!! ...Did I mention I haven't done any off-road riding since I was 11 and suffered broken bones from a crash!


Due to the fact I have practically zero off-roading ability and I won't be riding my own bike, I've enlisted the help of the UK top off-road training school MotoScotland to get me into shape from my Alaskan Adventure.


Clive and the team at MotoScotland have already given me some great advice about riding the Dalton including what kind of bikes I should be looking at (more on than for another blog). Very generously, MotoScotland have also booked me onto one of their off-road weekend courses to give me a taste of what life on the road will be like in Alaska. I'm very pleased to announce that MotoScotland are officially the first partner of  Arctic Ride Alaska.

MotoScotland offers off road training & experience days on the UK's largest off road centre (50,000 acres of stunning Scottish Highland landscapes). Everything you need to off road is included in the price. MotoScotland is the first UK off road training centre to have its off road training courses endorsed by government, motorbike insurers and council road safety departments. Courses start from £249 and you can find out more at http://www.motoscotland.com/

Durham Easter Egg Run
This weekend I was able to get out on my bike with 1,200 other bikers supporting the annual Durham Easter Egg run. Assisting hospitals in Durham and Darlington in the North East of England, the Easter Egg run sees all attendees donate Easter Eggs to be given to sick children at each hospital, with a ride out between.



It was a spectacular event to be a part of with hundreds of supporters lining the streets of Durham and Darlington to cheer us on. It was also a great way to see the biking community coming together to show we're a bunch of scary, bread growing, leather wearing nutters (we are that as well).

Thanks for reading, Thats it for this blog but now that I am getting into the flow of planning the trip there will be lots more to come including; bike selection for the trip, the route, fundraising ideas, and corporate sponsorship and support updates.

As always, ride safe!

Gordon

Saturday, 1 April 2017

2018 Charity Motorbike Challenge Announcement

Hi Everyone!

Thanks for tuning in.

For those who didn't see my announcements on social media last week, I've finally made public my plans for my next charity motorbike challenge.... I'm going to ALASKA in 2018 to take on the DALTON HIGHYWAY!

I created a 2 minute promo video about my challenge which you can view below or on my YouTube channel.




In summary, 'Arctic Ride Alaska' will see me fly across the Atlantic to Anchorage in Southern Alaska to then ride to Prudhoe Bay, the most northerly town in Alaska, deep inside the Arctic Circle. The route is via the deadly Dalton Highway, one of the worlds most dangerous road.

The total mileage of the ride is 2,000 miles with about half of that on the notoriously dangers Dalton Highway. I will be required to do a substantial amount of off-road riding.


What the experts say - "Every year motorcyclists are killed on the Dalton Highway. Almost half of the highway is paved or chip sealed. The other half can be smooth or baseballs. There are relatively no places to stop along the way: no gas, no convenient stores, no McDonalds. There are stretches of up to 245 miles without gas. You are literally riding through pristine wilderness.  Welcome to the food chain." - Phil Freeman (Veteran of 10+ rides up the Dalton Highway), MotoQuest - Alaskan Motorcycle Specialists.

www.motoquest.com/
I'm taking on Arctic Ride Alaska for 3 reasons:

To find out if the 'average rider' conquer the fabled Dalton Highway?

To investigate how Dangerous is the Dalton Highway traveled by motorbike?

And most importantly, to raise funds for two amazing charities who I have supported on my previous challenges:


  • Cerebra - Working wonders for children with brain injuries. Who supported my little brother Robbie during this childhood.
  • Tiny Lives Trust - Supporting premature and sick newborn babies and their families on the Special Care Baby Unit at the RVI hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. My daughter Islay was born prematurely in 2014 and spent time at the Special Care Baby Unit.
I have set up a Virgin Money Giving page for those wishing to donate.


I've got lots of plans to make this my biggest challenge yet, and I'll be revealing some of these ideas soon and posting regular updates on my blog and social media pages. If you are interesting in supporting or being involved in my Alaskan adventure, then please get in touch!

Thanks for reading, and until next time.... Ride Safe,

Gordon

Monday, 20 March 2017

Its been a while...

Welcome from The Arctic Rider!

Thank you for joining to read my latest blog.

Its been 3 months / 14 weeks / 100 days since I last took to the keyboard to write a blog post... I need to get my act together right? Thanks to everyone who has continued to visit my website in the meantime (no less than 10,000 views last month) and support my charity motorbike project.

While its been a long time since I have blogged I've still been working very hard on my next adventure which is going to be my biggest and most challenging yet! While I'm not quite able to tell you where and when I'm going, what I can tell you is that I'm currently in talks with a global motorcycle manufacturer about using one of their bikes for the next trip, and I'm also in talks with a major UK motorcycle magazine about doing a feature too.  Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement in the next few weeks on my Facebook page and on YouTube.

Iron Butt badge - Available to members only
Alongside starting to arrange my next challenge, I've been trying to improve my video editing skills so I can better share my adventures and preparations with you all. In December I shared with you my Iron Butt challenge video. After some feedback, and the pressure of time in the modern world, I've created a 2 minute version for those of you who want a quick-fix of The Arctic Rider's epic ride from Lands End to John O'Groats in just 18 hours. Check it out below.



That's all for now but stay tuned as I will be very soon introducing my next ride. As a reminder of previous trips I've been looking at check our the 'Future Adventures' page.

Thank you for reading and your continued support.

Ride safe,

Gordon

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Do you want to watch my Butt?

Greetings from The Arctic Rider,

Its now 5 months since I completed my Iron Butt challenge raising over £1,600 for The Tiny Lives Trust. Again, massive thanks to all of those who donated! My charity motorbike adventures would be nothing without you all, I'm just the middleman.

Its taken me a while but I've finally completed my video editing of the Iron Butt ride. Its now available to watch on The Arctic Rider YouTube channel and in the below link.



Its a 9 minute video so make sure you grab yourself a cuppa and biscuit to buckle down for the ride.

I'm also creating a shorter 2 minute version which will become a permanent feature on the main page of The Arctic Rider website / blog.

As its winter and I've been doing less riding I'm using my time to do more video editing, including creating a 2 minute clip of my Arctic Ride 2014. Watch out for that in 2017.

Even though I've been bad at keeping everyone up to date with my blog, my Facebook and Twitter accounts have been active with my continued work. If you want to follow me at any of social media accounts you can do so at the following links:

Facebook - www.facebook.com/thearcticrider
Twitter - www.twitter.com/arcticride2014
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa0DPj6Na3tLRPfvtTk_yVQ

Highlights since my last blog include:


Sept 16: Completing the Great North Run with Mrs Arctic Ride raising money for Tiny Lives


Oct 16: Attending The House Lords Reception representing Cerebra in  my role as Ambassador

Nov: I received my OFFICIAL IRON BUTT CERTIFICATION

That is all for this edition folks. Keep an eye out in the new year for more videos from my rides and plans for my next adventure which I will announcing in due course.

Ride safe and have a very Merry Christmas.

Peace out.

Gordon


Saturday, 13 August 2016

Looking back at my Butt

Hello!

Welcome to The Arctic Rider blog.

Its been a few weeks now since I completed my Iron Butt challenge to raise money for the charity Tiny Lives Trust. Back in my usual routine, I've found myself thinking back quite a lot and thought I better get blogging to let you all know about it.


The first thing I would say is that looking back, I'm immensely proud of not only completing the Iron Butt but doing it in 18.5 hours. I got lucky with the weather, the road conditions, and traffic, which really helped. I also need to say a MASSIVE thanks to everyone who donated and supported me. Top job everyone.

Even though I'm proud, over the last few weeks I've been asked (and asked myself) if I would do it again and I think the answer is no... And here is why.

Stopped at Gretna, Scotland - 10 hours and 493/875
It wasn't fun. I mean it really wasn't fun. I love love love riding my motorbike... Whether its on twisty mountain roads, nipping past towns and villages in the countryside, or even on the motorway getting to where I need to be... but this just wasn't fun at all. Due to needing to ride 875 miles in 24 hours I was in a constant rush. Rushing up the road, rushing at fuel stops, and sometime rushing overtaking... not good. Having such a tight deadline for such a long day really took the fun out. It also meant I couldn't stop and see some of the amazing places along the way, which is usually the staple of any of my motorbike trips. I missed the Wellington Monument, Wye Vally, The Lake District, Stirling Castle... the list goes on. The only point that was fun was finishing and riding with some great company.



Safety is something that I've also been looking back at. Was I as safe riding as I usually am? Certainly in the latter part of my ride from Perth onward I probably took some mild risks overtaking when I wouldn't usually have... I was tried and pressing on. I'm not proud of it. When I'm riding a few voices and phrases sit in my head to remind me how to be safe. One is my big cousin Jen who started riding a long time before me "Don't take risk, simple" something she said before I went to the Arctic and its stuck with me since. Secondly voice sits in my head from my bike tutor Neil from Newcastle rider training. "Do it early" in reference to overtaking. If you see a gap, assess it early and make the decision. One your decision has been made, stick to it. And another of Neil's tips "Only a fool breaks the two second rule" in reference to distance between the vehicle in front. On my iron Butt I definitely veered from these a bit in the latter part of my ride, which isn't good.

Putting on a brave face in Perth the day after my ride

I pushed on and didn't look after myself. I didn't look after myself, I really didn't which, looking back was so dangerous, If I were to do it again, I wouldn't ride 500+ miles the day before the ride to get down to lands end. I wouldn't have only a flapjack for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and nothing but coke and water there after. I would put on my thermals in Inverness and spent another 10 minutes on the road rather than trying to push on. I'm not sure if it was the tiredness or the blind determination to get the ride done in the time (as quickly as possible) but I was careless and couldn't have really hurt myself on the ride, and after.

For those of you that don't know the days after the ride I was in a pretty bad way. I had a fever, headache, body chills, and the symptoms of a sickness bug. It turns out I have suffered hypothermia due to getting to cold and my body not having enough energy to keep warm. Wow! Not very clever Mr Arctic Rider.

In conclusion, my Iron Butt days are over, for now at least.



However my charity bike challenges are certainly not, My next job is to get my footage together from the Iron Butt and show all you lovely people my ride in video form. However my progress has been halted due to a corrupt hard drive which is being fixed. So its a waiting game until that is fixed. In the meantime I'll be thinking about where I'm heading to next... more to come on that soon

Current state of my video editing.

Until next time,

Ride safe,

Gordon

Friday, 15 July 2016

My Butt is now made of Iron!

Greeting from The Arctic Rider!

For those of you who follow me on facebook or twitter will know that at around 2315 on Tuesday 5th of July I completed my Iron Butt challenge!!!! It was an amazing feeling to do this on behalf of Tiny Lives but boy was it tough and my body wouldn't thank me after. Here's a first look at my adventure.

Day '0' - Getting there

  • Journey - Newcastle to Lands End 
  • Mileage - 500 

In order to do the Iron Butt I needed to get myself down to Lands End to start. So I set off on Monday morning from Newcastle around 0830 for the 500 mile ride down. My previous longest days ride has been on the way home from the Arctic in 2014 when I rode 550 miles through Denmark, Germany, and Netherlands so this was going to be a very big day for me.

Fully loaded and ready to go
 The ride down was pretty uneventful. Apart from a few mobile speed cameras keeping me on my toes it was a solid days ride down the motorways with a few stops for fuel and food. The only unexpected part of the trip was the final 80 miles through Cornwall which were very slow due to single carriageways and roadworks. Although I must say the Cornish countryside was delightful to look at and the drivers were very biker friendly, almost every car pulling over to let me filter past... very nice indeed.

I got to the Lands End hotel around 1830, met up with my buddy and cameraman Andi and settled in for the night.

Day 1 - The Iron Butt
  • Journey - Lands End to John O'Groats
  • Mileage - 875
Smiling at the End of the Land (Lands End)
I had a really bad nights sleep before the ride. I'd ended up having a late dinner and chatting bikes with Andi so didn't get down to bed until close to midnight. Then all I could think about was the ride and the pressure of finishing within the 24 hours. It must have taken me a good 30-45 minutes to drop off. Then I was up with my alarm at 0430 ready to pack the bike and set off. I was lucky that a twitter buddy of mine, Biker Ian, came along to be my starting point witness and ride through Cornwall.

A final lube of the chain before lift off
At around 0530, with the sun already up for about an hour I set off from Lands End with 875 miles ahead of me. I had to stop after 10 miles in Penzance to grab fuel and a receipt for my Iron Butt certification, but after that I was off. The first 100 or so miles seemed so slow with morning traffic and roadworks before getting on to the M5. But when I hit the motorways I was making good progress.


First stop was at Taunton services at 0814 by which I'd already done 150 miles. I got my fuel, wrote up the time and location in my 'ride log' for my Iron Butt verification, grabbed a drink and a flapjack and saddled back up (a president of a routine I would set for all of my stops). Then it was back on the road heading North. 

My plan had been to ride 150 miles on each 'eg of the journey but after 'just' another 100 miles my butt was starting to really hurt so I pulled in 50 miles earlier than expected. The motorways were fairly clear and I was making good progress so it seemed sensible to stop and have a short break. Again I did my routine (this time having an apple rather than flapjack) and after about 15 minutes I was back on the road.

250 miles by 10am - Stop on the M5 services 
I powered back on the up the motorway with ease passing Worcester, Birmingham, Stoke, and Manchester before stopping after 130 miles just south of Preston for lunch. The time was 12.30 and this stop was a bit longer to grab some lunch. I couldn't believe that by lunchtime I'd already ridden 381 miles and I wasn't even half way. When getting ready to head off an old man came and chatted to Andi and I for 5 minutes or so and it was a really nice break from the riding.


Again it was back on the road up the M6 towards Scotland. One of the pluses of the ride was certainly seeing the different scenery of the UK along the way and seeing the Lake District from a distance was great.. although I was very jealous I wasn't heading there to ride some of the twisty roads and overtake some campervans.

Next stop was Gretna, just inside Scotland and (finally) over half way through the ride. By this time it was 3pm and I'd ridden 493 miles. My arse was getting really sore by this point and was the main reason for me not being able to push on further. I think it was around this point I really realised why they call it the 'Iron Butt'.
The face of a man with a sore arse - Gretna July 2016
When I got back on the motorway I remember thinking "I'm in Scotland now... I'm getting there" but the reality was I still had 350 miles to go and the motorway was running out. The M74 to Glasgow was empty and fast. It twisted through the hills and before I knew it I was heading into Glasgow and on to Stirling.

After passing Stirling I was greeted by the amazing right of Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. I love Scotland... I really do.

Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle (not my photo)
Next stop was near Gleneagles just West of Perth, 120 miles since my last stop. The motorways had run out and average speed cameras and the first signs of tiredness were slowing me down. It was 5.17 and I'd already ridden 613 miles, offically my longest days riding, but I still have over 250 miles to go. The task of doing the Iron Butt was really starting to hit me at this point but throughout the day I'd had more and more likes and messages coming through on facebook and twitter and they really made a difference. And to know 1,000+ people were seeing my posts was a very humbling feeling which gave me great motivation to get back on the road and keep heading to John O'Groats


Next was the A9 from Perth to Inverness which was very slow progress and pretty cold going over the mountain passes.

I arrived in Inverness a few hours later cold and hungry but greeted by the smiling face of my twitter and youtube buddy XTWanabe. From Fort William, he'd rode over to meet me in Inverness and ride the final 130 miles (3 hours) to John  O'Groats.


This is when it got really tough. I had loads of messages coming through telling me I'd done so well and how close I was but I didn't feel close at all. 3 more hours on the road seemed like a lifetime and my body wanted me to stop and rest but I knew I had to plough on.

If I'm being truly honest, this is where my riding attitude changed from my usual mantra of 'ride safe' to 'lets ride this fast to get there'.

I was riding into the sunset but over the passes it was getting very cold and I didn't put my thermals on. I was feeling so tired but all my mind was thinking is "I've got to do this no matter what" so I pushed on. I made a short stop 10 miles from Wick after I felt my concentration go but the 5 minutes of chat with Andi and XT was enough to get my focus back and I went on.

I stopped at Wick to get my final receipt for my Iron Butt certification then to the final few miles onto John O'Groats.


It was a great feeling pulling into John O'Groats. I felt so proud I was completing my ride and very humble for all the love I had received.

My buddy XT filmed the final few minutes of my ride which you can watch below.



So all in all it was a successful but very stressful day of riding. Also it turns out some of my decisons around not eating enough on stops and riding in cold temperatures saw me develop hypothermia on the final hours of my ride. I kept pushing on but the result was a very sick Gordon for the few days following the ride.

So would I do it again? You'll have to wait for my next one to find out that, and my 'look back' on the ride.

So far i have raised over £1,600 for Tiny Lives. If you would like to donate please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/thearcticrider

Until next time.

Ride safe,

Gordon

Saturday, 2 July 2016

3 Days to go...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for tuning in to my latest Arctic Rider blog!

Its now just 3 days to go until I take on the UK Iron Butt challenge.. riding from Lands End to John O'Groats in 24 hours.


While I've been planning this ride for around the last 18 months, I'm feeling a little unprepared. When I rode to the Arctic in 2014 that ride was pretty much my sole focus. Every day was Arctic Ride prep. Now 2 years later... my life having a toddler and a more demanding job has meant I haven't been able to spend as much time as I would have liked planning and preparing. Luckily, while this trip is going to be a big challenge, I'm only going to be away from home for 4 days rather than 4 weeks.

This week I picked my bike up from its big service at M&S motorcycles in Newcastle. To get the bike ready the team did an oil and filter change, spark plug refresh, air filter change, and a general check of the bike. Also I got two brand new Bridgestone  Battleaxe tyres put on for good measure.

This was an expensive job but I was lucky enough to have Suzuki cover this for me as sponsorship for the trip. They also also posted an article about my trip which you can view here: Lands End to John O'Groats in 24 hours



With the bike sorted, I spent this afternoon rummaging around my my garage looking for all of my gear ready for the trip. I managed to find all my usual kit; tent, sleeping bag, gas heater, camping seat, etc... however 2 very important items (knowing the British weather and this week's forecast) were missing. 1. My waterproof suit. 2. My spare gloves. To this day I've never found a pair of gloves that are fully waterproof so I always carry a spare pair... which is annoying.


So my plans for the next few days are as follows.

Sunday
  • Meet my buddy Lars from Norway (who helped me so much when I was in Trondhiem in 2014) off the ferry at Newcastle where he is starting a biking holiday to Scotland.
  • Head to J&S Newcastle and get some waterproofs and spare gloves (and hopefully not get sucked in by any new gear)
  • Fuel up the bike, check my tyre pressure, oil my chain
  • Pack the bike
Monday
  • Drop little one off at Nursery, Say goodbye to the wife
  • Hit the road around 0800 for the 500 mile ride to Lands End
  • Meet up with my camera guys Andy and Andi.
Tuesday
  • Take on the UK Iron Butt challenge


So not long to go until my big ride, I'm a bit nervous but determined to complete the ride saefly within the 24 hours to make you all proud. Thank you all for your amazing support; reading my blogs, liking and re-tweeting post, and of course donating to Tiny Lives via my giving page

Keep an eye out on my facebook and twitter pages fro updates over the next few days!

Ride safe,

Gordon