In 2006 I quit my job as a Technical Support Engineer, let out my house and rode away from England to on what I thought would be a 2½ year journey. What evolved was a 6½ year journey (www.shortwayround.co.uk) that led me to the position of Operations Manager, Asia for UK tour operator Blazing Trails Tours, running Royal Enfield adventures in India and Nepal. Having led 48 tours over the past 7 years I decided to combine all that I’d learned and experienced over the preceding 13 years and form Big Sky Riders.
Away from motorcycles I still can’t resist two wheels and I love getting out on a bicycle, be it road cycling, mountain biking, bikepacking or cycle touring. I’ve traversed the length and breadth of Wales, crossed Spain and the Himalaya and toured Vietnam; all on my trusty Surly Troll. All this of course means I love to wild camp and cycling means I get to indulge in another favourite pastime – food. Cycle touring means you can eat as much as you like.
As a boy I dreamt of riding schoolboy motocross but it wasn’t until I turned 16 that I got my first motorcycle – a Yamaha DT50MX. I soon found myself on a steep learning curve, crashing my brains out racing around the local woods, chasing those friends who had ridden schoolboy motocross. Two years later I was road racing and went on to spend the next 10 years competing in the British Championships.
In 2006, following 18 months of planning and preparation, my mate Danny and I quit our jobs, let out our houses and rode away on a pair of BMW F650’s on what we though would be a 2½ year round-the-world journey. 18 months in and Danny decided to stay in New Zealand. I continued solo on what became a 6½ year odyssey.
Having first met the owners of Blazing Trails Tours in 2006, I returned to work for the company in 2012, running tours into the Indian Himalaya. I was soon on sabbatical though and in 2013 rode my Suzuki DRZ400 (Daisy) from England to Magadan – and back. Eastbound via Central Asia and the Western BAM; westbound via Mongolia. Along the way I pioneered the Bartang Valley route in Tajikistan when three shepherds used a length of rope to lower my bike over an iceflow blocking the eastern end of the valley. By the time I exited the western end I had become the first motorcyclist to traverse the valley.
I raced home from Mongolia, acquired an Indian visa and flew to Delhi to take up the position of Operations Manager, Asia for Blazing Trails Tours. To date I have led 49 tours, mostly in the High Himalaya. During my spare time I rode my Bullet the length and breadth of the country and finally got visit many of the places I’d missed in back in 2006.
In 2014, whilst recce’ing what became the Darjeeling & Sikkim’ tour, I was granted special dispensation to ride solo into North Sikkim, thus becoming the first non-Indian to do so. In 2016 I led the first group of non-Indian’s to Zero Point, overlooking the Tibetan Plateau.
Not everyone has either the opportunity or the inclination to quit their job and set off around the world on a motorcycle. That doesn’t mean though that you have to forego the adventure so often missing from Adventure Bike ownership.
Whether you’re a dirt road novice laying your first tracks, or an experienced rider fed up with ever diminishing access to the UK’s countryside, we’ve got something for you.
The original idea was to create a series of tours that replicate as closely as possible, how I travelled during the later stages of my RTW trip. That’s fine for riders of a certain level but how do you get to that level?
During my years leading tours in India and Nepal for Blazing Trails Tours, I took numerous riders with no previous dirt road experience over 5000m+ Himalayan passes, through meltwater and mud, across rivers and landslides. Having shared their joy at their accomplishments, I wanted to create a series of tours for Adventure Bike riders based around incremental riding levels, whereby riders could build confidence through learning and developing new skills whilst at the same time gaining experience in a fully supported environment.
We’re not a riding school. Riding tips and advice are there for those that seek it, otherwise we’re all about experiencing the joys of Adventure Motorcycling. Different cultures, foreign food, wild-camping (level II & III) and of course…great trails.
Part holiday – Part rider development
– TOTAL ADVENTURE –