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Wing Commander
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Two BMW R 1200 R riders set off from the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire on the first stage of their 4,500-mile charity ride to Nordkapp in Norway, the most northern point of Europe, deep within the Arctic Circle.

Neil Hardman, 37, a police traffic motorcyclist, and Dave Smith, 52, from the MINI plant in Oxford, are riding in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and are hoping to raise £10,000 to help support the life-saving service. The trip took on a particular poignancy after Neil’s original co-rider for the trip was injured in a road traffic accident last year and was picked up by the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

The 4,500-mile route - from ‘Circle 2 Circle’ - will see the pair ride through Denmark, following the eastern seaboard of Norway up to and beyond the Arctic Circle and on to Nordkapp, the most northern point of Europe. From here, the turn south and travel up to the Russian border then on via Sweden, along the coastline of the Baltic Sea and back to the UK via Denmark, arriving back at the Avebury stone circle on 07 June. The duo are, where possible, staying with friends and in youth hostels and will be collecting donations as they travel.

Along they way, Neil and Dave will have to contend with long days in the saddle, wild elk and reindeer wandering onto the roads, a blanket 50mph speed limit throughout Norway. Perhaps their biggest obstacle is the Scandinavian climate, which ranges from bitterly cold in the snow-capped mountains, torrential rain where cold and warm air meet through to blazing sun lowlands and even almost constant daylight – with the sun being above the horizon for up to 22 hours as they reach Nordkapp.
Neil and Dave are riding on a pair of 2011 R 1200 R roadsters on loan from BMW Motorrad UK and wearing the warm, waterproof and protective Streetguard 2 suit, ideal for the variable Scandinavian climate, supplied by BMW Rider Equipment. The R 1200 R’s panniers and economical engine will let the riders carry the kit they need to brave the weather and last the distance between petrol stops in the remote parts of Northern Europe.

Neil Hardman said: “I work on the roads policing unit in Wiltshire and I’ve attended many accidents where the Air Ambulance has been absolutely critical in saving people’s lives. It’s such a vital service and it’s under threat as funding is being cut from the government. I wanted to choose a trip that was a true challenge – and would help raise money and awareness for such a worthy cause.

David Smith said: “I came to be involved in the trip when Neil was visiting the BMW Group plant in Oxford and had mentioned that his original travelling companion had been injured and he was looking for someone to join him. Someone mentioned that it was ‘exactly the kind of crazy thing Dave would do’ and, well, here I am. It’s a wonderful cause and one hell of a ride, but one which we hope will help save lives in the future.”

To follow the progress of Neil and David as they travel to Nordkapp and back and learn more about their chosen charity, visit Circle 2 Circle, where they’ll be uploading photos, stories and videos as they travel.[email protected]/5740324082/
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