Sunday, 24 November 2013

'Gone Riding' is now OUT!

Launched at the NEC Motorcycle live show in Birmingham, UK on Saturday 23rd November. 'Gone Riding'- the story of my year long trip half way around the world - is available via my website at your local bookshop or all the usual places online. There is also an e-version. Gone Riding Kindle

Four happy customers with author Dom Giles (second from the left)

Launch day at the NEC Motorcycle Live show

Saturday, 23 November 2013

LAUNCHING TODAY: Gone Riding is being launched at the NEC Motorcycle Live show, Birmingham, UK. TODAY! (Saturday 23rd November 2013). In conjunction with ‘Overland Magazine’, on their stand. (2G31)

I am there all day signing copies and chatting about my trip. No doubt I'll be tweeting like a mad thing when I'm not selling, so check out my twitter feed for more...

Be amongst the first to receive Gone Riding. Order now, for £13.95.  

Just go to to buy the book. (UK sales only direct from my website - sorry) 

The book and e-version are available NOW at all the usual online places.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Gone Riding is out next week but you can pre-order a copy NOW. 
Just go to
£13.95 (P&P included) UK sales only
Global sales and e-version ($7.50 or £4.82) - out on Saturday 23rd November

Friday, 1 November 2013

Global book launch with Overland Magazine
(Click on link)
This is where I blog about my motorcycle trips. Summer 2013 we went to Scandinavia and you can scroll down to read about that.

In 2010/11 I rode 30,000 miles throught 18 countries volunteering along with way. Gone Riding is the book of that trip.

LAUNCH DATE: Gone Riding will be launched at the NEC Motorcycle Live show on Saturday 23rd November 2013.  I will be there on the Saturday signing copies and chatting about my trip.

Gone Riding will be available from my website  (UK sales only) from that date at £13.95. It will also be available at all good bookshops and online (UK and International sales) at all the usual places. An e-version will also be released, retailing at £6.50.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Saturday 23rd November NEC Motorcycle Live...

Forty days to go!

The cover design has been finalised. Indepenress have the final manuscript and it should be going off to the printers next week!

I'm now working on my Press Release and promotional material. It just seems like it will never end...

I'm still tweeting a sentence from my book every day and posting a photo every day on my FB page.

The countdown continues

Friday, 4 October 2013

At last - a launch date...

Fifteen years in the planning...One year in the riding...Two years in the writing...

I now have a date for my book. It's going to be published and on sale from Saturday 23rd November 2013. I'm launching at the  NEC Motorcycle Live in Birmigham UK, with the help of Overland Magazine.

I'm really excited about this and almost can't believe it's finally happening. The last two years have seemed long, reading, redrafting, reading and checking over and over again. But finally we are there and GONE RIDING will be on sale in 50 days from now.

To celebrate I'm going to post a new picture every day on my Facebook page and tweet a sentence from my book every day on my twitter account. @DomGiles1

50 days to go...

Find out more on my website

Monday, 2 September 2013

Our Scandinavia trip - the facts and figures

These are the facts and figures of our summer trip...

36 days

4,000 miles - 1,900 in Norway
                       1,500 in Sweden
                       500 in Denmark

Petrol prices...

Norway £1:65-80
Sweden £1:50
Denmark £1:45


Total cost of the whole trip was around..... £4,000

That breaks up at around £900 for ferries to/from UK and Sweden/Denmark
£725 on BMW repairs in Trondheim
£400-500 in petrol
£2,500 to 3,000 on the rest.

It was worth every penny!

Thanks for reading and just a reminder that I will post here when my book is finally published. It should be in several weeks time, certainly before Christmas.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013


I never expected to visit Stockholm and therefore I had no pre-conceived ideas about the place. What I found was a lovely, quiet, quaint city built on what appeared to be dozens of little islands giving the place an air of openness.

We stayed on the water in the very friendly 'Red boat' At £70 a night it wasn't bad for a capital city and they let me park the bike onshore for free.

We had two full days in Stockholm and visited.....

The City Hall, famous for being the place where the annual Nobel Prize banquet is held

Tracy walking down the steps to receive her Nobel prize - in Physics apparently!

The Swedish Parliament building

A civilised way to hold a debate.

where we learnt that 45% of Swedish MPs are women (in the UK it's only 22%) and, interestingly (at least I found it interesting but I teach Politics so I suppose I should) in Sweden MPs sit alphabetically by constituency, not in party groups.

We also popped into the Nobelmuseet (Nobel Museum) which told us about the weird life of Mr Alfred Nobel as well detailed info. on the six awards and their recipients.

Next day, I thought we were going to go to the ABBA Museum – after all it was Tracy's birthday, but it cost £20 (her decision, not mine) so we just went around the shop

and then had our photos taken


Deeply disturbing

and then we went to the quite astonishing Vasa Museum.

You may well have heard of the 'Mary Rose' if you're from the UK but have you heard of the Vasa? No, me neither.  In 1628, 25 minutes into her maiden voyage, the 69m long, 48m tall warship capsized in Stockholm harbour.  She lay at the bottom, in cold brackish water, covered in mud for 333 years. When she was raised in 1961 and painstakingly restored, she was 98% intact.


We then stumbled into the Stockholm Fringe festival and witnessed some street art...

From Stockholm we moved west to Gothenburg via Orebro and its castle

and some Viking rock art

and a lovely campsite by a lake – very Sweden

Typical Sweden

by now, five weeks into the trip we were very much 'in the groove' of travelling - pitching camp every night, breakfasting at petrol stations.

Breakfast at a petrol station. Only £5!

and comfortable in our travelling lifestyle. But all good they say and it wasn't long before we were on a boat from Gothenburg to Denmark.

We headed north in Denmark to Skagen. I might not have made it to the most northerly point in Europe but I made it to the most northerly point in Denmark.

Camping for our last night our tent looked in need of a rest! Two of the poles had broken and it was just as well we hadn't seen rain in over a week.

New tent on the Christmas shopping list

That beard - it's growing on me!

On our last day, on the way to Esbjerg, we stopped at Silkeborg to see 'Tollund Man'. Believed to have been murdered/sacrificed in 300BC, this leathery body, complete with the rope still around his neck, was found in a peat bog in the 1950s.

At the harbour we met a group of English bikers heading home after an 'Ariel Bike rally' in Denmark.

1956 Ariel

The following morning we arrived back in the UK. It felt strange to be riding on the left hand side again and as we made our way home I wondered what a Scandinavian would make of riding in the UK… The roads are very busy…there are a lot of pubs everywhere… petrol is cheap… other bikers nod at you a lot…

And that, as they say, is that. I'll post again in a few days with some final thoughts and stats of the trip. And I will post details of my book – when it will be out – as soon as I know.

Thanks for reading. I’m off to do some washing…

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sweden.... flat and boring?? Think again.

Everyone says Sweden is flat and boring. No, really they do. Everyone. Well we just had to go and see for ourselves. One thing we did notice very quickly was how CHEAP Sweden is - when compared to Norway. Petrol in Norway was between £1.60 and £1.80 a litre. In Sweden it's £1.45. Food in the supermarkets in Norway was at least one and a half, if not twice, as expensive as the UK. In Sweden it's only a little more than the UK.

And after nearly two weeks of fjords and twisty roads it was almost exciting to be on reasonably straight road again. And I wouldn't say it was boring, not when you've reindeer to look out for.

There should be photos of reindeer now but we only actually saw them twice and didn't get the camera out on either occasion. Tracy did manage to buy part of one to sit on...

Near Kiruna we went to 'The Ice Hotel'. The world's first, it's been around for 20 years although, of course, it's different ice every year. They harvest the ice in the winter, store it in a big fridge, cut it and create the hotel every October. Come April they just let it melt.

Blocks of ice in a -5C warehouse

Cutting machine

Frozen time

No comment

They even had a motorcycle in ice!


South to Jokkmokk (great name isn't it) and the wonderfully informative Sami Museum where we learnt everything we would ever need to know about the Sami people and reindeer.

And then on to the coast and the Baltic Sea. We hit the coast at Lulea and visited 'Gammelstad' (once we could find it – but that's another story). Unesco World Heritage listed, this place was the centre of Northern Sweden in the Middle Ages. (I have to tell my students that they didn't call it the Middle Ages during the Middle Ages. They just called it 'now'.)

Incidentally, we stayed in a hostel in Lulea. £50 a night and it looked like this, just in case you were interested in what a Scandinavian hostel looks like.

Room cost £50

Well stocked kitchen - even had a TV!

Just us and a dozen Estonian labourers. Tracy turned the microwave on and the TV came on. It was the first time we'd seen a TV in our whole trip, just over a month. It was quite weird really to be travelling in western Europe but not to see TV for so long. In other parts of the world a TV comes as obligatory in every hotel/motel/hospedaje. Anyway, back to Gammlstad.

The stone church (1492), 424 wooden houses and six church stables remain. This is an authentic Scandinavian church village. Due to the weather, climate and terrain it was hard for peasants in outlying areas to attend church every week so they built a village which would accommodate churchgoers. People came to the village and stayed in the houses over the weekend. On Mondays they went back to their villages (a medium sized medieval Swedish village was said to be home to maybe 60 souls) and the red houses in Gammelstad remained empty until Friday.

A photo of a photo but the best way to see what I mean

The other interesting thing about this place was that it used to be on the coast. Now it isn't. This is due to post-glacial uplift. 20,000 years ago – our last ice age – Britain was under 500 metres of ice. This part of Scandinavia was under 3,000 metres. That weight of ice depressed the earth. By the time the ice finally vanished, 10,000 years ago, the crust had already risen 500 metres back towards its original elevation and it's still rising. At first the uplift was fast but now it has slowed to about 8mm a year. Gammelstad is now 10 metres higher than it was 1,000 years ago. And in 2,000 years a land bridge may well have formed across the Baltic to Finland.

Oh and I nearly forgot. We walked round the place at 10 am. No problem, no one else around. But as we were leaving a few police and security started turning up. The Swedish King and Queen were due at 2 pm. We couldn't quite believe the LACK of security. In the UK if the Queen visits somewhere bins are taken away, manhole covers are sealed days beforehand.

Further south this has created what is know as Hoga Kusten, 'The High Coast'. Apparently the world's highest shoreline at 286 metres above sea level. We went to take a look.

It certainly was strange to be stood on top of a 300 metre hill and realise that we were in fact stood on what was a small island 10,000 years ago. 8 mm a year might not sound much but it equates to nearly 40 cm in my lifetime. Pretty fast geologically speaking.

That small island only 'appeared' a thousand years ago.

Tracy contemplating the wonder that is Geology.

Oh, and we crossed the Arctic circle.


I hadn't been aware that the cirlce actually moves. Over a 40,000 year period it moves 180KM (I think) Something like that anyway.

South a bit more took us on nice undulating (not flat and boring) roads to Umea.

Uninteresting in itself we checked in to a rather expensive campsite which was little more than a car park next to the coast. The evening was nice and warm but clouds were brewing and it looked like it was going to rain....


I don't like waking up in a tent to the sound of rain. It started at 6 a.m. And didn't look like it was going to stop. Tracy's theory is, “If you wake up and it's raining, go back to sleep until it isn't.” I tried but it just got heavier.

At 9 am there was a knock on the tent (if such a thing is possible). Alfio, the Italian campsite owner who also ran the bakery next door was inviting us into his bakery for breakfast!

Alfio gave us bread and coffee and showed us around his bakery. He'd moved from Sicily to Sweden in 1969 and told us his life story in his warm, dry kitchenette as it continued to rain outside. He wouldn't let us go until it had nearly stopped, continually checking the weather updates on his phone. It was a wonderfully kind gesture of his, to look after two wet campers on a cold rainy Saturday morning. We left Umea at midday, dry and fed and happy, it could have been so different.

Just north of Stockholm we stopped at Gamla Upsalla. Large burial mounds mark the graves of....well, nobody knows. Sixth century cremated remains have been found in the middle of the mounds but beyond that it's all conjecture. Pre-Viking kings? Local chieftains? Or perhaps (suggested by a 17th century professor) bizarrely the ancient 
sunken city of Atlantis???


The signs said "In order to preserve the mounds please don't walk on the paths" so Tracy is trying to walk down the mound without using the path. Harder than it sounds.

And so we wended our way down to Stockholm. Sweden isn't flat or boring. Granted it isn't as twisty and mountainous as Norway but then again it isn't as rainy or expensive as Norway. It might not make my list of top ten countries to visit but there's something there if you take a look. I'd never have thought we'd have been to the world's highest coastline and I didn't even know what a Swedish church village was a week ago. And that, my friend, is what travelling should be about.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Lofoten Islands

Where do you start a trip? Where better than at A. Or A (with a very small O above the A) to be more precise. Pronounced half way between Ah! and Oh, A lies at the southern tip of the wonderful Lofoten Islands. At 68 degrees north, the Lofoten Islands sit above the Arctic circle but don't let that put you off taking your favourite two wheeled machine for a spin around its twisty narrow lanes. Thanks to the Gulf Stream the weather on the Lofoten Islands is comparable to Northern Scotland. Average summer temperatures sit around 12 degrees although, when the sun is out, it can be much warmer. As I rode south towards A my winter gloves were packed away in my pannier and the warn Arctic sun was beating down on both of us.

A is a preserved fishing village, a living testament to the life blood of these islands: fish – cod to be precise. Each spring millions of tonnes of cod are caught in the surrounding waters and dried on racks on land. The main part of the fish is sold across Norway and Europe and the dried heads are sent off to Nigeria where they are made into soup.



Drying cod

We had an interesting walk around the small village and then out onto the cliffs beyond A where we could see the forty or so miles across to mainland Norway. Returning to the bike we set off up the E10 to see what the Lofoten Islands had in store.

The view beyond'A'

Our aim was only to go about fifty miles that afternoon but even that was optimistic as every bend in the road revealed new views and we kept stopping in lay-bys to just drink in the scenery. Off to our left razor sharp dark mountains towered over us, sweeping down to green pastures with cattle and sheep. Across the road to the right, green turned to grey and rusty red as the dark rocks were covered in seaweed which almost glowed in the bright mid afternoon sun. The icy, clear blue water looked inviting but I kept my focus on the tarmac and followed its snake like route along the coast.



“Time for a cup of tea!” I heard Tracy's call from behind. More a plea than a question but I wondered what the chances were of finding tea. Norwegians seem to drink a lot of coffee, and hot chocolate but didn't always offer tea.
Two minutes later we approached a small village, Ramberg, and amazingly saw a sign which read 'Tourist Information, Coffee and Tea'. We pulled in.

Hendrick, who ran the shop, insisted that we had large mugs of tea and offered us his box of Twinnings.

“I used to work on the ships, you know,” he said in excellent English. “I have spent many good times in England. I think the first time I went was in 1962. We love English T.V. in Norway. Do you know Mr. Bean?”

“Yes, of course,” I replied.

“And Heart Beat. That is my favourite. Help yourself to the tea and I hope you have a lovely time in the Lofoten Islands. I live in that red house over there. If you have any problems or worries while you are here, please come and see me. I will help.”

From Hendrick's shop we only got into second gear and had to stop again. The beach at Ramberg was a picture postcard white which wouldn't have looked out of place in the Caribbean. We had to remind ourselves that we were in the Arctic.


The road on from Ramberg was wonderful. Cruising along at 60 k/ph we weaved our way along the shoreline, the sea on one side and the imposing mountains on the other. Mile after mile we wended our way up and down, in and out, passing small villages then open countryside; the late afternoon sun casting long shadows across the road. At Leknes we turned off the main E10 and headed for the east coast and followed a sign to a small campsite on the shore.

Camping in Norway may not be cheap but the facilities are always first rate and the sites are usually situated in stunning scenery. Today was no exception. There was a campers' kitchen and sitting area, coffee shop and clean shower and toilet blocks. And, as always seemed to be the case in Norway, free internet access. We booked in for two nights. We stayed for three.


Packed and ready to leave

Unburdened of luggage and full panniers the bike felt light and alive the following day as Tracy and I set off for a day's exploring. Our first stop was at Borg where an 83 metre long Viking building had been unearthed and a faithful reconstruction formed the centre piece of the Lofoten Viking Museum. We'd arrived during the annual Viking festival and the place was alive with long bearded men wielding axes and sticks. Now, when I think Viking, I must admit, I often think pillaging and fighting but there is more to the average Viking than just that. I was amazed to discover that at the height of Viking society, in the ninth and tenth centuries women were afforded much more power and authority than their Anglo-Saxon sisters. Viking women could divorce and had a sizeable say in legal matters and ceremonial rituals. Until, the voice in my audio-guide headset whispered, Christianity arrived.

Tracy made me...I didn't want to - honest.

We walked down to the shore line where a fully fitted replica Viking ship was about to set sail. There were Viking stalls selling honey mead, leather goods, knives and trinkets. Viking women wove and Viking men fought. Everyone was eating meat. Us Vege Anglo-Saxons; we just quietly watched, and munched on the salad we'd bought at the supermarket.

From Borg we took a minor road out to Eggum and the views just got better and better. Twisting our way around the coast, the paved road finally ran out and we paid a £1 toll to take a gravel track a further kilometre out to the an old World War Two site. In 1944 the Nazi's had built a radar station here to monitor traffic coming out of Murmansk in Russia. Little of it was left but the walk along the cliffs made the journey worthwhile passing a bizarre sculpture of a human head looking out to sea. With not a cloud in the sky it was hot work walking along in biking gear and I just couldn't believe that I was getting hot and sweaty in the Arctic.

The following day we took full advantage of the excellent weather and headed for the beach. Taking some minor roads off the main E10 we rode down twisty country lanes, past farms and empty fields until we reached some deserted beaches. The Lofoten Islands have some beautiful sandy beaches on the western coasts, including, according to The Times, Europe's most romantic beach!

Europe's most romantic beach

Time had caught up with us and we had to leave the Lofoten island to return to mainland Norway. We'd made the conscious decision to stop when we were having fun and not rush up to Nordkapp. Consequentially we now didn't have time to get up to the top and back down to the UK so, with a rueful glance north at Harstad we turned south for the first time on this trip and headed for Sweden.

This is the furthest north we got.

Looking north - maybe next time...

Nordkapp will have to wait.