Tuesday, 11 August 2015

What next: The Results


Thanks for tuning in to my blog!

I'm currently planing my next charity motorbike challenge, which will raise money for the charity Tiny Lives who supported my little girl Islay when she was born. Islay turned 1 this week which means this time last year was being cared for on the Special Care Baby Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. What a difference a year makes...

In my last blog I detailed the different options for my next ride which I asked you, my lovely readers, to help me decide. I also spent a bit too much time on Paint making them into 'Top Trumps'.

Thanks to all those who voted and let me know their thoughts. All of the options will be a challenge and its my goal to complete all of them, some day, but your votes and my thoughts will take me through the next few years.


In 4th place is Arctic Ride: Trans Siberian Highway -  The 9,000 mile ultra long distance ride didn't appeal to those who voted taking a slim 6% of the votes.

In 3rd place is The Mongol Rally - Maybe it was the £1,000 entry fee, maybe it was the thought that a 125cc bike wouldn't hold my weight for 6,000 miles but either way only 12% of the votes went the way of this ride through Europe and Asia.

In joint 1st place is Arctic Ride: Adventure Alaska (Dalton Highway)  and Iron Butt Challenge - UK end to end - Both of these options came in with exactly the same number of votes, each gaining 41% of the the total. This is a clear indication that those who voted leaned more towards me doing 'shorter' more intense rides.

The Announcement 

So that's the voting over and I can now officially announce my plans!

In 2016 I will attempt the Iron Butt Challenge - UK end to end - This is to ride the length of UK, from Lands End in Cornwall 874 miles to John O'Groats in the Scottish Highlands in less than 24 hours. All to raise money for charity Tiny Lives.

And before 2020 I will attempt the Arctic Ride: Adventure Alaska (Dalton Highway) riding one of the worlds most dangerous roads deep in Arctic Alaska, again for Tiny Lives.

And that's it for now. Over the coming months there will be plenty more information, pictures, and videos on the blog including more on Islay's story, more about Tiny Lives the charity, and of course my preparations for the Iron Butt Challenge next year.

Thanks for reading.

Ride safe.


Saturday, 4 July 2015

What next: The options

Hi everyone,

As I said in my last blog, I'm currently planning my next charity motorbike trip to raise money for the charity Tiny Lives who supported my baby girl Islay when she was first born.

Ever since I returned from Arctic Norway I've been looking at the map to decide where I'm going to head in the future on my trusty steed. I've narrowed it down to 4 options (at the moment).

Arctic Ride: Adventure Alaska (Dalton Highway)

Summary - Ride from the city of Anchorage is Southern Alaska 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.

Total mileage - 2,000

Difficulty rating - Very High - Due to the treacherous nature of the Dalton Highway and the potential climate of Arctic Alaska. Off road riding required.

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.

Cost Rating - High - Flights to the states + bike rental or shipping.

Time needed - At least Two weeks including travel to and from Alaska.

Dalton Highway, Alaska

Iron Butt Challenge - UK end to end

Summary - Ride the length of the UK, Lands End to John O'Groats (874 miles), in less than 24 hours. Officially 117 people have competed this challenge.

Total mileage - 1,800

Difficulty rating - High - Ultra long distance single day ride with over 1/3 on country roads. Time limit and major fatigue.

What the experts say - "Know your limits. If the longest ride you have ever taken is 300 miles in a day, don't plan a trip with a string of endless five- hundred mile days. Iron Butt Association surveys also warn of an important trend in long distance trip planning. Discounting weather or other problems; after an initial mileage peak on days one and two, daily average mileage will steadily drop during trip days three to seven. If the pros have this type of mileage attrition rate, would you plan on any less?"Archive of Wisdom, Iron Butt Assosiation

Cost Rating - Low - Fuel + food.

Time needed - 3 days. 1 to Lands End, 1 to complete the challenge, 1 home from Scotland.

Mongol Rally

Summary The Mongol Rally thunders 10,000 miles across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia each summer. There’s no backup, no support and no set route; just you, your fellow adventurists and a tiny bike you bought from a scrapyard for £11.50. Must be done on a bike no bigger than a 125cc.

Total mileage - 6,000

Difficulty rating - Very High - Ultra long distance, off road, 125cc size limit, across barren countries...

What the experts say - "Bollocks to tarmac, ABS and gadgets that help you find your navel. The Mongol Rally is about getting lost, using your long neglected wits, raising shedloads of cash for charity and scraping into the finish line with your vehicle in tatters and a wild grin smeared across your grubby face. Neither your bike, nor your life, will ever be the same again" Mogol rally website,

Cost Rating - Very High - Entrance fee, fuel for 6,000 miles, repatriation home for the bike and I.

Time needed - 3-6 weeks.

Arctic Ride: Trans Siberian Highway

Summary The Trans-Siberian Highway is the network of federal highways that span the width of Russia from the Baltic Sea of the Atlantic Ocean to the Japan Sea of the Pacific Ocean. It stretches over 11,000 kilometres from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok.

Total mileage - 9,000

Difficulty rating - Very High - Ultra long distance across barren countries...

What the experts say - "Stretching almost 7,000 miles from St Petersburg to Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Highway - much of which was built by gulag inmates - varies from pristine motorway in the west to dirt track in the east. For most of the year, conditions are excellent (if a little cold), but during the warm, wet summers, sections of the road have been transformed into an impassable quagmire" - The world's most dangerous roads, Telegraph Travel supplement

Cost Rating - High - Fuel for 9,000 miles, repatriation home for me and the bike

Time needed - 4-7 weeks.

The above has been my thinking over the past year or so (and I've looked into them in a lot of detail). For me its all about how I can mixed my passion for motorcycling with challenging myself and raising a whole load of money for charity. You've got to spend money to make money.

I've taken the liberty of creating my own version of 'Top Trumps' to compare the options and I'd be grateful for your opinion.

CLICK HERE to vote for your favorite. My choice will be announced in due course.

Ride safe y'all.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

What next for the Arctic Rider?


Thanks for visiting my blog!

Now its not easy being a charity motorbike adventurer sometimes. Like most on the internet these days, it seems to attract trolls who want to try and spoil what you are doing. Only this week I had a social media commenter who 'didn't understand the bit about raising money'... which I found pretty odd. From my point of view if someone can do an activity that's a bit out there, or different, or challenging, and they can raise some money for a charity along the way, then its all good. Whether you are a runner, a cyclist, jumping out of a plane, or riding your motorbike to very cold places... it shouldn't matter. In fact it should be something to be proud of, not only those who do the activities, but those who support and donate. The world is a greedy enough place without people bashing charity fundraisers.

On a personal level, one thing that really inspires me when I hear about charity fundraisers are those who raise money and take on challenges for a particular cause which is close to their heart. Now I'm not saying that if Joe Bloggs runs the London marathon for Cancer UK when he or his family haven't been impacted by cancer isn't a good thing, because it sure its. However for me, I'm always draw into the stories that have a more personal touch and feel like I want to donate more than I normally would.

The Cerebra Children's Awards at the House of Lords, London
The reason I chose to raise money for Cerebra during my Arctic Ride 2014 was down to the support they have given my little brother and my family, and for me that was certainly the right decision.

Its a huge honour to be an Ambassador for Cerebra. While I'll continue to do my ambassadorial activities for the charity, recent events in my life have also drawn another charity towards me... Tiny Lives.

Tiny Lives are a charity that supports premature and sick new born babies and their families on the Neonatal unit at the RVI hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. They support babies and their familes through:

  • Developmental care aids and equipment
  • A support pack for every family
  • A family room and accommodation for families to stay close to their baby
  • travel cots
  • A Neonatal physiotherapist
  • Special training for nursing staff 
  • Research grants
Tiny Lives need to raise at least £150,000 every year to support the work that they do.

So you're probably wondering what is is that has drawn me to Tiny Lives? We'll on the 4th August 2014 my daughter Islay was brought into the world 6 weeks earlier than planned. She spent a week on the special care Neonatal unit at the RVI hospital in Newcastle. She received exceptional care from the staff on the ward, supported by Tiny Lives, in what was the toughest week of my wife and I's life.

In conclusion, my next charity motorbike trip will be in support of Tiny Lives. What will that be? Well you'll have to find out in next blog. Alaska? Mongolia? Siberia? Africa? Time will tell!

Until next time.

Ride safe!


Sunday, 19 April 2015

On the road in Norway... Valdresflye Plateau


Welcome to the Arctic Rider blog, and thanks for reading.

First of all, since my last blog I finally got around to closing my giving page after all post-ride donations and DVD sales had been collected. The final total including gift aid that will go to brain injury charity Cerebra is £5,001.58... DOUBLE my target. THANK YOU so much to everyone who donated and supported me, it wouldn't have happened without you.

Final total of £5,001.58 raised for Cerebra from my ride the Arctic

This certainly isn't the last from me and my charity motorbike causes, I'll be announcing my next adventure for 2016 very soon.

Sticking with Arctic Ride 2014, the DVD is still available (in very limited quantities) to buy and is available on eBay (click here)

Now I've mentioned many (many) times on this blog how amazed I was by Norway and it's roads. If I'd known they were going to be such great biking roads, I'd have been there a lot sooner. Even if you are not a biker the scenery, people, and culture of Norway is something that cannot be missed.

The website BoredPanda.com summed up pretty well the 24 reasons why Norway should be your next travel destination and I have to say I must agree. However, even though they included the Trollstigen Pass (see my video of riding up the Trollstigen by clicking here) and Geirangerfjord, they missed out one of my favorite places in Norway, the Valdresflye Plateau. Valdresflye is one of the highest passes in central Norway with some breathtaking views. It wasn't part of my original planned route through central Norway on my way to the Arctic, but my friend Hans convinced my to take the extra miles on the chin and ride with him over the pass... well worth the extra miles and extra hours on the road.

As with most of my trip to the Arctic, I captured the ride over Valdresflye on my GoPro and condensed the few hours riding into a 2 minute and 39 second video. Check it out below (mobile device users - Click here).

Please leave any comments and give my video a like on YouTube.

That is all for this blog. As always thanks for reading and supporting! You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Stay tuned for my 2016 trip announcement.

Ride safe.


Friday, 27 February 2015

Suzuki GSX650F review

Hello there,

And welcome to another edition of the Arctic Ride blog! My trip might be a distant memory (last year in fact) but there is still plenty to come from me both for Arctic Ride 2014 post trip (like this blog) and future adventures.

I'm pleased to announce that earlier this week my blog reached 45,000 views which I am both pleased and humbled about.

So with this blog I wanted to share my thoughts on the bike I rode on my ride to the Arctic this year, the Suzuki GSX650F. I've had many people ask me to review the bike and, well, here it is.

My GSX 650F and I at the Arctic Circle in Norway

As a background in my 9 years of riding I've ridden a smallish cross section of bikes, but I feel it has been enough for me to put some context behind my views on the GSX650F. An example of some of the bikes I have ridden include my first bike, Suzuki Marauder 125, a Yamaha Virago 535, Kawasaki ER5, SV650S, BMW LT 1200, Harley Davidson Street Glide 1800, and a Kawasaki KX125.

On to the GSX650F, I made some slight modifications for my trip. I fitted the bike with 2 Givi MonoKey sideboxes, and a 46lt Givi MonoKey topbox. As well I had a gel touring seat and a tankbag.

Lift off: The Suzuki at my starting point, St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

I had an overriding memory of riding in the arctic on my bike and that was "This bike must be the best 'mid range' touring bike there is" and this is why:


I rode just over 6,000 miles in 3 weeks, and did some days in excess of 600 miles and not once did I feel uncomfortable to the point where I had to pull over, which I've had on other bikes I've ridden in the past. The bike is easy on the wrists when gripping the bars, the seat and leg position allows an upright body position, and fairing keeps the most of the wind off you.

Speed and Power

With 85bhp with a weight of around 216kgs this bike has plenty of power to deal with all real world situations on the road. Ok, it can't do 180mph like its big cousin the GSX-R 1000 but its got everything you could ask for on the road. On the autobahn it easily kept up with the traffic doing 100+mph. On the Norwegian country roads, even fully loaded with 3 touring boxes, power to nip past camper vans and Volvo estates was no problem at all. It was so easy in fact I started calling 3rd and 4th gears 'The sling shot' as a drop down of the gear and a twist of the throttle and I was past anything that was in my way.

Fuel Economy and Range

The bike more than matched my expectations of a 650 and was surprisingly good on fuel both on the motorways and on the twisty country roads of Scandinavia. It cost me around £18 to fill the tank in the UK (at 125p p/l at the time of the trip) and this would see my through 150 good paced motorway miles and around 180-190 on the twisty slower roads, which certainly helped when putting 6,000 miles worth of fuel in the tank over 3 weeks.

Price and ££££

I was a lucky biker when I picked up my GSX650F for sub £2,500 for a bike with less than 10k miles on the clock and only just needing an MOT. Even from new the price compared to other bikes used for touring its very very cheap. It also benefits from a moderate insurance group and a wide range of cheap parts, which are readily available due to it having the same engine and frame as the new Suzuki bandit 650.

A factory Spec Suzuki GSX650F

I would highly recommend any tourers or weekend riders looking for a good priced bike to take a look at the 650F. I've been nothing but impressed with this machine and love to see more of them taking the adventures they deserve. All specs from the bike included below.

If you have any questions you would like to ask me about the bike that isn't cover please comment below.

Ride safe.




Engine: 656cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16 valve, four cylinder, four-stroke 
Power: 85bhp @ 8,900rpm 
Front suspension: 41mm Kayaba forks, adj for preload 
Rear suspension: Kayaba shock, link type, adj for preload and rebound damping 
Front brake: 310mm discs, four-piston calipers 
Rear brake: 240mm disc, two-piston caliper 
Dry weight: 216kg (claimed) 
Seat height: 770mm 
Fuel capacity: 19l 
Top speed: 130mph (est) (I've tested it to 115mph on the autobahn)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Top 5 Arctic Rider moments 2014

Hi all,

With 2014 coming to a close I wanted to thank you for reading my blog and supporting my efforts for Cerebra this year. Its been a wonderful year and I never thought that I would do so many new and interesting things! So, in the spirit of the internet's addiction to lists, I've created the Top 5 Arctic Rider moments 2014. Enjoy!

5 - NEMCRC Croft race meet VIP

The North East Motor Cycle Racing Club (NEMCRC) were sponsors of my Arctic Ride 2014 and as part of that they got me very exposed to club events to drum up more support. In April I was lucky enough to be invited to the club's Croft Race meet where I was a VIP guest for the day. This meant that I had exclusive access to areas of the track that are usually only for officials. I was able to sit a top the Race office with the Clark of the course to get a great view of the circuit and the starting line, and given access to the recording team. I was also interviewed by the race commentator about my ride and given an unrivaled view of the track. However the best part of the day was being given the honour of presenting the race winners with their trophies.

Croft Montage

4 - Interview BBC Radio Newcastle

I certainly never expected to get the media coverage that I did for the trip, especially with the BBC at their Newcastle studio. I did 3 interviews in total at the BBC but the best was being interviewed by the drive time show's John Harle and having it filmed by my trusty buddies from MPH studios. If you buy the Arctic Ride 2014 DVD the full interview is included in the extras.

At BBC Radio Newcastle

3 - Meeting Norwegian Bikers

Ok this this one is a bit of a cheat as its not 'one' moment but a collection of a few along the way during my ride. I met up with what can only be described as some of the most genuine, generous, and epic people I have ever met. I was touched and amazed by their generosity to help me as a complete stranger. But at the same time it optimised the spirit of the biking community which spreads the whole world over.

Special thanks to Lars and the gang in Trondeim for the BBQ food, riding the Atlantic road, and the tour of the city. To Hallvard and the Helgeland club for the Reindeer curry, the cabin that kept me warm, and the company on my entry into the Arctic. Also to Geir and his family in Tromso. Thank you for welcoming me into your home, treating me to some amazing reindeer food / brown cheese, for the mountain climb on my 'rest day', and for the great banter and chat!

BBQ in Trondheim
Hallvard and I saying bye
Geir and I in Tromso, Norway

2 - Reaching Nordkapp

After I crashed in Sweden in 2011 I thought reaching Nordkapp was never going to happen. But 3 years later I achieved my dream and was able to raise ton of cash for Cerebra. It wasn't until I was home I was properly able to reflect on what it meant. It was life changing and taught me that dreams can come true... Oh and they do an epic hot-dog up at the visitor centre.,,, 10 out of 10

On top of the world
1 -  Coming home

Without a doubt the best moment of the trip and #1 Arctic Rider moment of 2014 was getting back to blighty, riding off the ferry into Newcastle and seeing my (pregnant at the time) wife Kirsty. Only twice have we been apart for more than a few weeks, both motorbike adventure related. When I'm away riding its always hits home just how much Kirsty is light of my life and without her I wouldn't have achieved what I have... Arctic Ride 2014 and The Arctic Rider wouldn't exist without her.

Its great to travel and experience new things but it also gives you an appreciated for what you have at home... I'd do it all again and knowing that I'd get to come home at the end of an adventure like this to my family its the highlight of the trip.

Oh and coming home also meant that I didn't die or total the bike.... WIN!

Knowing me so well Kirsty came armed
to the port with a can or Irn Bru.... legend
Well that's it for my Top 5 Arctic Rider moments of 2014.

Here's to 2015.... Ride safe everyone!


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Welcome back from The Arctic Rider


Welcome back to the Arctic Ride blog. I told myself that once my ride was finished I would continue to blog but that hasn't quite happened. While I've been active on the Arctic Ride Facebook page and on my Twitter account I haven't been able to keep up the progress on this blog. Not without good reason though as at the start of August my daughter Islay was born and has been occupying my time ever since. You'll be please to know I've already had her wearing my lid watching the Moto GP with her.

Back on to Arctic Ride news and its been over 5 months since I completed my ride. The ride will stay with me my whole life with some great memories and lessons learnt. And due to some great work from MPH studios and filming from yours truly, you can now buy the Arctic Ride 2014 film on DVD. It includes a 50 minute film of my trip and some of the experiences I went through along the way as well as some extras including the trailer, full interview with the BBC, and some outtakes. All profits from the DVD go to Cerebra to help brain injured children across the UK. And at £10 surely makes a great Christmas present for any biker or adventurer type folk.

Click here to buy

To get a sneak peak of whats to come on the DVD check out the trailer below.

Also since I've been away from blogging I attended the Cerebra children's awards at the Houses of Parliament. My wife Kirsty, and Islay, joined me along with families who have been helped by Cerebra, the charities sponsors, and other Cerebra Ambassadors, Trustees, and employees.

Cerebra Ambassadors

It was great to be involved and to see families who have been helped by the funds that have been raised through my trip to the Arctic.

Thanks again for supporting and reading the blog. There is plenty more to come to fill the long night including; GSX650F review from the trip, Other charity bikers, and Gordon's top Christmas bargains.

Look out for those and ride safe.