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Arctic Circle Challenge 2011
Saturday, 9th July 2011
We're home. Some fantastic memories of an amazing adventure. Epic at times, challenging at times, but something I will always cherish.
4192 miles completed. 67 hours in the saddle. 8 days in the end so a day less than anticipated. Terrific sponsorship support too.
Thank you for all your support and encouragement.
6Th July 2011
At 11.00am local time, after 2000 miles and 4 days riding we reached the Arctic Circle. Amazing achievement and a real life moment for me.
Now, just the matter of another 2000 miles to get home........
1st July......This is it!!!
Well, here we go. Time to pack my bike and head off to meet up with Ron in Sussex. The blue skies and warm sunshine are great for my spirits and the sponsorship is amazing encouragement. Tomorrow's 6.00am start is looming and to be honest I cannot wait to get going. Thank you to everyone who has supported me abd encouraged me on this adventure - follow me on Facebook or on this page if I can make them work while I'm away. Nigel.
June 23rd - 1 week to go!
I can sense a real flurry of activity now as we get close to the start of this adventure. Sponsorship is really rolling in (I am so thrilled), PR opportunities starting to materialise and my last couple of bits of kit for the trip have arrived. My Triumph Tiger is booked in for its first MOT test tomorrow (I know, I know....!) and Sunday will see all the new bits fitted ready for a test. I'll be starting to check the 5 day weather forecast for Norway soon....
June - well, in less than 3 weeks I will be setting off on the longest motorbike journey of my life! I have found my passport, sorted out all of my other paperwork and have a pretty good idea of the route we will be taking.Trouble is, every time I start to think about it all I suffer a terrific bout of butterflies in my tummy. The sooner we get going the better. In the meantime I have been bowled over by the level of support given to me and to the Association of Post Natal Illness - huge thanks to everyone.
April - I have just completed what will almost certainly be the only bit of practice that I will undertake in preparation for my forthcoming fundraising effort. A motorbike ride from the Lake District to Lands End and back may not compare with the six months of running every day that I did in readiness for the London Marathon in 2002 but over 900 miles in just 2 days has certainly showed me how tough this latest mission is going to be.
I have been riding motorbikes since I was 15 years old and although I haven't relied on my bike for everyday transport since the early 1980s I do still enjoy the sense of freedom (and rebellion) that it gives. These days I am a confirmed 'fair weather biker' with most of my annual mileage being clocked up on an annual weekend away with a few friends. In recent years we've visited France and Belgium, Ireland, Scotland and the West Country but my longest trip so far has been a four day run to the Alps and back in 2005.
So what on earth has possessed me to plan a 4000 mile, mad dash to the Arctic Circle?
A TV documentary about the Oresund Bridge that now connects Denmark to Sweden caught my imagination as I realised that the combination of Channel Tunnel to France and Oresund Bridge to Sweden meant that I could travel from England to the Arctic Circle without needing to take a ferry. Hmm....what an adventure that would be. Of course, I would want to tackle such a journey with a friend, someone with whom to share the adventure and someone to help should things get tricky. I have known Ron Gainsford for a very long time though he is a late developer in terms of motorcycling. A serious illness 7 years ago encouraged him to do some of the things he had always wanted to do but hadn't quite got around to and obtaining his motorbike licence was on the list. Ron is now my regular 'biking buddy' on the weekend trips and so became my obvious choice for the Arctic Circle adventure.
Work commitments for me and a major brain operation for Ron meant that we had to postpone our trip for 2010 but once life had started to settle down again we became determined to get a date in the diary and complete the challenge. And so it was that we settled on Saturday 2nd July 2011 as the start of our ride to the Arctic Circle and the planning began. Because neither of us particularly wanted to spend too long away from our families and because I was keen to ensure that there was an element of challenge in the trip we have set aside just 9 days to complete the 4000 mile journey. About 200 hours, travelling through 8 different countries, just the 2 of us on our motorbikes and no ferries! The route will take us through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany before travelling up through Denmark, across to Copenhagen and the Oresund Bridge to Malmo in Sweden. The coast road will take us us to Oslo where we turn north and keep going up through Norway until we reach the Arctic Circle. Our return route is across to the Baltic coast in Sweden and down through Stockholm before heading back to Malmo, the Oresund Bridge, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France and finally through the Channel Tunnel and home to England.
To be honest, the trip itself was a big enough challenge for me and so I hadn't contemplated raising money for charity, but Ron is naturally very keen to support the National Brain Appeal as a thankyou for all of the specialist medical treatment and care he has received over the last 7 years. Prompted by this I too realised that The Arctic Circle Challenge was too good an opportunity to miss for me to do my bit.
Having lost my sister to Post-Natal Depression in 1987 I have chosen to try to raise funds to support the Association of Post-Natal Illness so that they may help prevent similar tragedies. No doubt this will ensure that I shed a tear or two when I reach the Arctic Circle but I am sure that my sister would have been proud. If you visit the Associations's website, www.apni.org you will see a 'Just Giving' link.
I will try to capture the trip in photos and short diary entries to share with others via Facebook, etc upon my return (or while I am away if I can find an internet cafe etc). But, as my short practice session has demonstrated, the schedule will be incredibly demanding and certainly won't allow for much in the way of sightseeing and touristy things.
Fingers crossed for dry roads and warm weather in the land of the midnight sun.
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