Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Planning and Prep - 6 weeks to go

Hi everyone,

Its now only 6 weeks (43 days technically) until my ride gets underway and I'm getting both excited and nervous.

I've done some planning of when and where I will need to stop and suddenly the reality of what I'm undertaking has become apparent... its a bloody long way in 24 hours.

Below is my draft plan, based on my riding experience and guidance from the experts, of what I think I will be able to achieve. I'm going to be getting up about 4am to pack the bike, get some breakfast in me, and get down to the Lands End Visitor Centre from my hotel ready for paperwork signing and the launch at 5.30am... so before I start I'll already have been up for over an hour.

By the time I've usually finished the nursery run and starting work I should be ~150 miles in and at my first stop at Taunton... then by lunch time I'm hoping to have hit the 300 mile mark... which is usually a substantial and fairly long day from my previous rides.


By the end of the working day at 5pm I should be near Stirling in Scotland and the end of the motorways having done nearly 600 miles, which in itself will surpass my previous longest days ride of 550 miles when I rode from the top of Denmark to the Netherlands on Day 20 of my Arctic Ride.

Then in the evening I have the task of riding another 'full day' of nearly 300 miles to get from Stirling to John O'Groats in the Highlands, hopefully before midnight and I certainly hope before the 5.30am mark which will be the cut-off for my 24 hour window.

Looking at it now I'm thinking this plan is looking slightly optimistic and that I'll either have more stops, especially in the evening on the highland roads, or even a power-nap somewhere along the line. Either way I'm looking at this and realising just how much of a challenge this really is going to be and the dangers involved in pushing oneself to the limit.


Now I've been a bad lad so far when it comes to training and life has really been getting in the way... The weekend just gone I had planned a practice ride form Newcastle down to London (a mere 300 miles) to visit my sponsor Devitt at their office in Romford, and link up with some of the YouTube MotoVloggers at the annual 'Monkey Meet'... however I ended up travelling with work which put an end to that.

Regardless of my work schedule I know I need to get some big miles in before the ride at the start of July to get me back in the mode for long distance riding. So in a few weekends time I've planned a day trip up to Glen Lyon, via the Loch Lomond National Park. This route will see me take on motorways, 'A' roads, and some twisty unclassified roads which should be perfect practice for what I will experience on the Iron Butt. The route there and back from Newcastle is around 500 miles which will be a big day. I'll also be riding Scotland's 5th highest pass, the beautiful Lochan la Lairge, pictured below.

 Lochan la Lairge
So that's my plan for the ride and getting some practice in. Whilst I'm looking forward to the challenge I'm also apprehensive but I know that I'm challenging myself and my riding skills to raise money for an amazing charity in the Tiny Lives Trust. Before I depart in July I'll share a little more about my daughter Islay's story and why I feel so indebted to Tiny Lives and the staff at the RVI hospital in Newcastle.

To find out more about Tiny Lives, visit their website.


Big thanks to all the recent donations which sees my total sitting at nearly £600. I know that times are tight and there are lots of great causes and fundraising events going on but any donation to my total is appreciated and will go towards helping babies like my daughter Islay at the most precious time of their life as new born babies. And please think about how cold and wet (I'm making assumptions based on that I'm travelling through Scotland) I will be after nearly 900 miles on my bike and just how sore my backside is going to be... surely that in itself if enough for a few beans to go into the jar?

To donate please visit my virgin money giving page.

Thanks for reading and ride safe.

Gordon

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Media 'Frenzy'

Hello,

Welcome welcome welcome, to the latest edition of The Arctic Rider blog.

Its now only 75 days until I attempt to ride the length of the UK in less than 24 hours to raise money for The Tiny Lives Trust... man I'm getting excited.

Post-brew at the Tiny Lives office
A few weeks ago I popped into the Tiny Lives office, leathers and all, to give the team an update of my plans. In return I was given a very tasty cuppa, a choccy biscuit, and some encouragement from the team.

The past week has been a media frenzy for The Arctic Rider and The Stuart family. Islay (with Kirsty and I) recently starred in new film being produced for Tiny Lives to help raised awareness of parents' journeys when having a premature or sick baby who is helped by Ward 35 at the RVI in Newcastle and Tiny Lives.

Appearing on BBC Look North last weekend
It all started last weekend when the crew from BBC Look North turned our living room into a studio and were interviewing Kirsty and I, and filming Islay, on a rang of topics from Tiny Lives and their new film (starring Islay) to my Iron Butt fundraising efforts.

Online version of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle Article
The next appearance was mid-week, when (a young looking) Islay and I made page 13 of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. This article focused less on the recent film and more on Kirsty and I's much needed fundraising activities for Tiny Lives. As I'm sure you know by now I'm doing my Iron Butt challenge this summer, and my wife Kirsty is running 365 miles in 365 days finishing with the Great North Run in September. 
 
Waiting to be interviewed at BBC Radio Newcastle
Finally, last Friday we all spent the morning at BBC Radio Newcastle's studios recording an interview with Jon Harle for the 'Today's North East' programme due to be aired on Monday. It was great to spend a few hours as a family promoting a superb charity in Tiny Lives which has had such a big impact on our family. 

It was until Friday night when we were home and Islay was tucked up in bed that I took a moment to realise how lucky we are. Without the help of the staff on Ward 35 and the amazing work of Tiny Lives, I dare not to think about where we would be as a family. There are many a family who never get the chance to take their baby home from special care which makes me even more grateful for the help Islay got. But even in these horrific times Tiny Lives fund a bereavement counselor and other services to help families in their darkest hour.  

As you can see I've been working really hard to get the word out about the amazing work that Tiny Lives do (thanks to Liz W for your contacts and advice) and I'm going to keep plugging on right up until I set off in July.

If you'd like to support Tiny Lives and my ride you can donate some much needed funds on my Virgin money giving page. No sum too small.

Thanks for reading.

Ride safe.

Gordon

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

99 days until lift off

Hello there,

Welcome to the latest edition of The Arctic Rider blog.

It's only 99 days until I set off from Lands End ready to attempt to get to John O'Groats within 24 hours.

Some of my regular social media followers will have noticed that I have changed my logo. I was messing around on my laptop one night and ended up coming up with the below design which I kind of liked. It got the wife's stamp of approval so I thought I'd go for it!



At the same time I also designed this logo for my Iron Butt ride, incorporating the Iron Butt UK logo. Again this got the OK, this time from the UK Iron Butt association, so it's official.


As you can imagine I've been thinking a lot about my ride and chatting to other bikers I know and some of my buddies on Twitter. It's a very different challenge to the one I faced in 2014 riding to the Arctic. Back then it was more of a long term view, with that trip being 3 weeks, and all about long but steady days, making sure I was well rested for the next days riding. I was also able to plan contingency into the ride and I knew up front  hat if I had a slow days riding I could make up for it in the following days.

Fast forward to 2016 and this time I've got very little wiggle room and any sort of mechanical failure would pretty much end my chances of completing it in 24 hours. This ride is ultra endurance over a short period of time. I've done some basic planning and all going well I'll complete the ride in around 20 hours. This includes planned stops of between 15 to 30 minutes for fuel and food, plus riding slower around Bristol & Glasgow when I expect it to be rush hour. I've not factored in any sleep time!

Summer sunset at John O'Groats, Scotland.
The details of the ride certainly aren't an accident, they've been well thought out over the past months. For example I'm riding South to North specifically so that I:

a) have more sunlight later into the night. Being ~900 miles further North, I'll get almost an hours extra sunlight at John O'Groats in Scotland than I would have down at Lands End. This will help when I'm tired and on the country roads.
b) finish in Scotland so I am closer to home after the ride, meaning I have fewer miles to ride when I'll no doubt be knackered.

I've decided to do my ride the first week of July so I get almost maximum sunlight due to the summer solstice for reason 'a)' above but the school holidays won't have started. Also I've chosen a Tuesday as its typically the quietest day on the roads (thanks to Andy my cameraman, who used to be a tour manager for bands).

For me I'm genuinely unsure if I'll make it in the 24 hours or not. I'm really going to have to push myself. I've also got a 500 mile 9 hour ride down to Lands End the day before I set off. This could be the make if break for my ride if 'day -1' doesn't go to plan. I need to get an early start to get down to Cornwall in time to get well fed and rested before the big day. My plan is for a 4am start on the day of my ride. Luckily my little girl Islay has been training me to get up at that time, so I'm already well prepared.

I'd love to hear any questions or advice that any of my readers have about my Iron Butt! If you do please post them on my facebook or Twitter and I'll include them in my next blog.

That's all for the blog. The clocks have changed and the riding season is upon us so expect more updates about my preparation!

If you want to support my ride and The Tiny Lives Trust, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/thearcticrider  no donation is too small or not appreciated.

Ride safe,

Gordon

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Sponsors have landed

Greetings to the latest Arctic Rider blog,

In the past few weeks I've made some great progress in my preparation for my Iron Butt challenge.

Firstly, I've finally set a date for my ride which is going to be Tuesday 5th of July... so only 139 days to go... wow that's not long at all until I set off.

Secondly, I had a great meeting with film maker Andy Qualtrough who came to meet me in Newcastle. We had a good chat about how to make the film as wide reaching as possible and how we are going to film some of my pre-trip activities such as planning, the bike being serviced, and the annual monkey-meet biker trip at the Ace cafe in London. Its going to be a great watch indeed.




I've also had from great news on the corporate sponsor point of view. In the past few days I've managed to secure two new corporate sponsors.


I'm delighted to confirm that Puddle Ducks North East are going to be a sponsor of my Iron Butt challenge. Puddle Ducks provide baby, toddler, and child swimming classes and my daughter Islay, who my ride is all about, has been attending classes at Puddle Ducks since she was just 4 weeks old (and not long after she left hospital). Puddle Ducks also already do some amazing work with the charity Tiny Lives Trust. Big thanks to Carolyn and the team... great to have you on-board.

I'm equally pleased to announce that SportsBikeShop.co.uk will also be sponsoring my Iron Butt challenge. If you are a biker you need to check out their store which has great products and equaly great prices. Big thanks to owner James, Chris and the team for their support.

Support from companies not only gives more money to the charity but also helps boost my profile to a wider network which in turn I hope will raise even more money! All good for Tiny Lives Trust and the great work that they do.


I'm also very please to announce that my employers, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, have agreed to match the next £175 of donations for my ride... so if you are thinking of donating then what better time than now to make it count for double!

My running total has make great strides and I'm now at  45% of my target for my ride. If you'd like to donate you can do so at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/thearcticrider



Thanks for reading and supporting my Iron Butt challenge.

Ride safe,

Gordon


Saturday, 30 January 2016

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks

Welcome back to he latest edition of The Arctic Rider blog. 

It's my first (proper) blog of 2016 so I can officially say it's this year that I'm doing my Iron Butt challenge! Woohoo! While it's not as big an undertaking as my trip to the Arctic Circle in 2014, it's still going to be a mighty challenge but one that I am really looking forward to. 





It was Winston Churchill who said "You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks"...And like my Arctic Ride in 2014 I've managed to attract some unexpected negative responses...




 Only a few days ago at work I was chatting to a colleague about my Iron Butt ride and another colleague (who I don't know) butts in and queries  "Are you doing it on a peddle bike, like?" To which I truthfully replied "nope, motorcycle in less than 24 hours" "well how's that a challenge? People peddle it in a few days don't they?"  

Now I'm not a big cyclist, so I don't know how quickly the 875 miles could be covered, but in my mind I know I'm covering a lot of miles in a short space of time even though I'll have an engine helping me along. I'm putting my body under intense mental and physical strain in order to complete this challenge. The biggest motorcycling day I've ever done was from the Northern tip of Denmark to Central Netherlands (over 1,000kms) which by the end of that day I was absolutely knackered.... And that was all motorway. 

Enjoying a Coke after a 1,000km day - July 2014

Whilst I've not had a lot to blog about over the past few months I've been making good progress in the background and I've managed to secure a film maker by the name of Andy Qualtrough who has kindly offered to film my challenge to support Tiny Lives. Much like my Arctic Ride, I'm trying to open up as many avenues as possible to raise funds and awareness for Tiny Lives, and having footage of my trip is key to this. 

I've also had the annoying news that my bike, a Suzuki GSX650F, has a recall out against it for a stalling issue. Suzuki are recalling 68,000 bikes worldwide according to CNN. Many Suzuki models between 2008 and 2012 are affected so check out the CNN article for more info. Big thanks to my biker buddy Paul for sharing the news.

I'm now working really hard on getting my ride out there and my press release will soon be going out. Also I've already blogged about how companies can get their logo on the bike and sponsor my ride. Check out the Becoming A Sponsor of the Iron Butt challenge page.

Also, my sponsorship page is now open. Click here if you'd like to sponsor me. Any donations, now matter how big or small, are welcome.

Until next time...

Ride safe.

Gordon

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Becoming a Sponsor of the Iron Butt challenge

The Arctic Rider - Becoming a Sponsor of the Iron Butt challenge

The Arctic Rider is an ongoing project of charity motorbike challenges by fundraiser Gordon Stuart.

Gordon is an Ambassador for special care babies charity Tiny Lives, UK-brain injury charity Cerebra, and global youth leader forum One Young World


Gordon on his departure to the Arctic - May 2014
Gordon combines his passion for motorbikes to help raise money and awareness for charities close to his heart (check out 'The Charities Page' for more info). This is done through setting himself motorbike related challenges and gaining sponsorship donations for completing them which go straight to the charity. Gordon uses social media including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as corporate sponsors to help raise the profile of his challenges.

"The Arctic Rider is all about a burning sense to do what is right, adventure, community, and raising a shed-load of cash for charity. Yes my challenges cost money to do, and sure I do enjoy them, but being able to combine my passion for motorbikes with raising money for charity its win win for me. My social media work and networking ensure that my adventures raise far more money than they cost meaning every penny donated goes to my charities" - Gordon Stuart

For his 'Arctic Ride 2014' challenge sponsors funded 50% of his costs to do the trip but for this year's Iron Butt Challenge Gordon is taking a different approach.

Gordon said "The costs of my Iron Butt are relatively small compared to my Arctic challenge in 2014, but I had such success attracting sponsors and the feedback from them was great, I still wanted to offer companies the opportunity to sponsor but with their sponsorship money going straight to Tiny Lives Trust."

Gordon is offering companies the chance to have their logo on The Arctic Rider motorbike, website, film, and in press coverage in exchange for £100 donated to Tiny Lives Trust via Gordon's Virgin Money Giving page.

In 2014 The Arctic Rider gained media coverage on BBC radio, The Evening Chronicle, Local radio, worldwide motorcycle media and more (click here to see more), had 60,000 views on his blog, in addition to a large social media span with over 1,900 followers on Twitter.

For his Iron Butt challenge 2016, Gordon has already gained support from Suzuki, and Devitt Insurance. 

For sponsorship opportunities contact Gordon at: gordonstuart88@googlemail.com or via social media. 

Click on '2016 Challenge' for information on Gordon's current adventure. 

Click on the 'Arctic Ride 2014' page to learn more about Gordon's last adventure.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Devitt & Suzuki

Hi all,

Thanks for tuning in to the latest Arctic Rider blog. Your continued support by reading and sharing my blog, and sharing my story is truly appreciated.

Even though our house is currently full of cold germs passed on via Islay's nursery, and we've managed to have a major leak that's threatening to ruin Christmas, I've been making some good progress on securing backers for my next adventure, The Iron Butt Challenge.

Firstly I'd like to introduce Devitt Insurance. Devitt have been providing UK insurance since 1936 and offer competitive insurance on motorbikes, cars, vans, home, and business insurance.



Devitt were amazing supporters of my 'Arctic Ride 2014' and its is a true pleasure to be supported by the Devitt team again for my Iron Butt Challenge. Not only have Devitt provided insurance for my ride, by they will also be holding a fundraising event at their office next year, and will continue to support The Arctic Rider through media coverage.

In exchange for Devitt supporting my ride, they will have their logo on The Arctic Rider bike, website, and any media or press that goes out.

Special thanks to Georgina from Devitt Marketing team for her continued support, and also to Andrew from Real Safe technologies (Real Rider app) for the introduction a few years ago.

To find out more about Devitt or get an insurance quote please visit their website http://www.devittinsurance.com/ 

Secondly, I'd like to introduce Suzuki UK. As on my Arctic Ride 2014, I'll be riding my Suzuki GSX650F on my Iron Butt Challenge for Tiny Lives Trust. Suzuki UK have again kindly agreed to support my ride through media coverage, official backing, and support in the bike's preparation. Big thanks to James from the Suzuki UK Press Office for his support.


Also this week, Kirsty, Islay, and I were invited to Newcastle United Football Club to celebrate Tiny Lives Trust Christmas reunion with hundreds of other families who have been supported by the charity and the staff at the RVI Hospital's Special Care Baby unit in Newcastle. It was great meet up with ward staff, new families, and those we know from Islay's time on the unit and was a great reminder of why I'm taking on my Iron Butt challenge. 

At the Tiny Lives Christmas Reunion - 2015

Thanks again for reading, and remember that my donations page for next year if open! Donations no matter how big or small are appreciated. If you would like to donate you can by clicking on this link or the picture below.


See you all soon and ride safe,

Gordon