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

Sunday, 15 November 2015

10 Downing Street

Hi all,

Thanks for tuning in to another edition of the Arctic Rider blog.

Hopefully by now you know that I am getting stuck into the planning of my next charity motorbike adventure... THE IRON BUTT CHALLENGE. In July 2016 I'll ride my motorbike the length of the UK from Land's End to John O'Groats in (hopefully) less than 24 hours... all to raise money and awareness for the charity Tiny Lives Trust.


I'm both excited and nervous about my Iron Butt ride but one thing is for sure, its going to be a challenge.

However today's blog is not about my Iron Butt training but about my continued work with the charity Cerebra whom I did my Arctic Ride 2014 for (click here if you want to know more about that).

After my Arctic Ride 2014 fundraising Cerebra gave me the honor of becoming an Ambassador for them. Cerebra has a team of ambassadors, made up of parents, carers, professionals, and others who are passionate about the work that the charity does (like me). My role as an ambassador is to raise awareness about the work of Cerebra, fundraising, and get involved in publicity events.

Previously, in December 2014, I was invited to attend the Cerebra Children's awards at the Houses of Parliament.

House of Lords - November 2014  (Gordon second right)

A few months ago I received an invite from Cerebra and Samantha Cameron (the UK Prime Minister's wife) to attend a charity reception 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minsters House) one of the most prestigious and exclusive locations in the UK. Downing Street only hold a few of these receptions each year so its testament to the great work of the Cerebra PR team to get the charity a slot.

The aim of the event was to raise the profile of Cerebra in London and across the UK, as well as sharing some stories of families supported by the charity, and encourage donations and support.

10 Downing Street, London
I was due to be joined by my wife Kirsty (my biggest supporter for all my crazy journeys) however the day before our little girl Islay came down with Chicken Pox so Kirsty stayed home in Newcastle to look after her.

The reception started a 7pm and after queuing outside with other guests I passed through airport style security at the gates of Downing Street before wandering up to the famous door. It was quite a surreal experience. I'm used to seeing heads of state, celebrities, and ministers entering the door but I was actually walking through it for the first time. After being frisked (again) and giving up my mobile phone (they are not allowed inside hence the lack of pictures on this blog) I headed down a long corridor before being shown up a grand staircase. This staircase was decorated with all Britain's past Prime Ministers. When I got to the top I noticed the last picture was Gordon Brown and there was no room for any more. My only assumption is that David Cameron's photo will be put either on the ceiling or a nice table at the top of the stairs when he leaves office.

The reception itself was fantastic. I met some amazing people including an elderly Scottish couple who had been raising funds for brain injury charities longer than I've been alive, some barristers who support Cerebra and do pro-bono work to help families supported by the charity (I also managed to sell them an Arctic Ride DVD), and some great families who have been supported by Cerebra and are truly inspiring through there resolve, dedication, and love for their children.

I came away feeling a great sense of pride. Pride in the charity that I am an ambassador, pride in my fundraising efforts in 2014, and pride in the children who carry on living life to the full in the face of adversity.

On the way out of Downing Street

While my next ride will be raising money for Tiny Lives Trust, you can still support Cerebra by donating today. One of my favorite was to donate to Cerebra is through their 'Count me In' lottery. Joining the Cerebra lottery is really easy and gives you the chance of winning a great weekly cash prize of £1,500 (plus other prices). It only cost £1.20 a week and can be set up quickly and securely. Click here to find out more information.

Thanks for reading. Look out for my next blog when I have some exciting news about my Iron Butt Challenge.

Ride safe,

Gordon

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Lets get planning

Hi everyone,

Thanks for tuning in!

I've been very bad and not blogged for a month or so, but I've been a busy lad so hopefully you'll let me off.

Its been nearly 2 months since I announced that I am taking on the Iron Butt Challenge in 2016 and the Dalton Highway in Alaska before 2020.

The Iron Butt challenge will see me ride the length of the UK from Land's End in the South to John O'Groats in the North in LESS THAN 24 HOURS - The map below shows you my route:


Now not only do I have to ride the 875 in less than 24 hours (300 of which is through the Scottish Highlands), I've also got to get myself to Lands End from my home of Newcastle upon Tyne the day before and back from John O'Groats the day after... its a good job I like riding my bike!!!

I've had a few people ask me if I'm mad... I think the answer is yes. A few people have asked if its possible, which of course it is... but not many have officially completed it which is why I see it was such a challenge. And the great thing for me is that no-one, as far as I'm aware, has done it on the bike I ride, a Suzuki GSX650f... so I might just get into the record books.

So what have I been up to that's caused me not to blog...? Well apart form the usual working, playing a bit of footy, and doing family stuff, I've been starting with my preparation.


Charity

I've now officially linked up with Tiny Lives and let them know what I am doing. They are fully behind me and have started tweeting messages of good luck and are helping me with my preparation.

They have also sent me some merchandise to help spread the word!

Also, I've finally opened my giving page. So if you would like to sponsor me for my IronButt challenge, so matter how big or small, then you can do so at the below link.


Training

For a ride like this I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to do some training to be successful. I've been in touch with several seasoned IronButters on twitter with the majority of advice being to practice small and long rides as part of my training.


In September I popped up to the South West of Scotland to see some family and completed a 300 mile day. This was just on A-roads and showed me the challenge I'm going to have in terms of losing time if i get caught behind a tractor, hit some road works, or take a wrong turning. More practice needed indeed.

Corporate stuff

As with my Arctic Ride 2014 I'm looking for corporate supporters to sponsor and support my ride and the charity. I've been trying to work my magic to get some companies on board but nothing concrete yet! If you know of a company that might be interested in being a sponsor (name and logo on my bike and website for a fall fee which goes straight to Tiny Lives) then please do get in touch.

Also I'd like to give a big shout out to Mrs Arctic Ride (my wife Kirsty) who is taking on her own, non-motorbike, challenge to raise money for Tiny Lives Trust. Check out her 365 Miles to Setpember blog here: http://365milestoseptember.blogspot.co.uk/ 

And that's all for this blog. Slow and steady wins the race (or gets to John O'Groats in less than 24 hours).

Watch out for my up and coming Vlog on Youtube.

Ride safe.

Gordon

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

What next: The Results

Hello,

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.

So... THE RESULTS ARE IN!


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.

Gordon

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.

Gordon