In February 2015, Harley-Davidson launched a European wide search to find one passionate motorcycle rider keen to take on a two-month expenses-paid trip through Europe, aboard a Street Glide Special motorcycle. The chosen adventurer would then be paid €25,000 and get to keep the bike as well as a collection of great memories from the experience. Harley-Davidson, called the search ‘Discover More 2015’.
After advertising Discover More 2015 as the ‘ultimate job’, Harley-Davidson received an unprecedented number of applications. They were still rolling in after the closing date for applications passed and Harley-Davidson announced they had hired French motorcyclist Luis Castilla to plan and star in the greatest ride of his life.
After setting out from Warr’s Harley-Davidson, Kings Road, London followed by nearly nine weeks on the road on mainland Europe, Luis is on the final leg of Discover More 2015 by circumnavigating the UK. Fresh off an overnight ferry crossing from Belgium, we caught up with Luis at Hull Ferry Port… and took him for a traditional English breakfast!
How involved were you with regards to planning the Discover More route?
I proposed the overall route and the specifics. Most of the details, though, couldn’t take into account the involvement of each country’s Harley-Davidson distributor who wanted us to witness so much of its country’s roads, people, special locations and more. We also left time so we could play it by ear. And then there were so many Harley fans advising on where we must go and see. There was so much information and possibilities for such a short time.
Eight and a half weeks on the road, where have you been so far?
I was thinking about this yesterday and the best way for me to remember is to roll them straight out: Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Monte Negro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and back into Netherlands and Belgium… I think, off the top of my head, that’s it. It’s all been a bit of a blur.
Straight after collecting the Street Glide Special, you left the UK for mainland Europe without seeing much of what it has to offer. I bet you can’t wait to get going now?
Very much so. The UK is a place of legends; a myth almost. Since the Arthurian legends and even now with, say, Harry Potter, the history and the landscape have inspired so many people to write incredible stories. I’m looking forward to experiencing that landscape myself. I’ve grown up all my life reading English literature and now I hope my ride in the UK will help me relate to that.
What countries have made an indelible mark on you?
I have to say the South of France was incredible. Some parts of Italy were super cool. Croatia is maybe in second place for me – the coastal roads are amazing and the people so welcoming. But Norway, perhaps, was the highlight so far. The people are amazingly friendly and always curious. The landscape is like all of Europe condensed into one place; the mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and fjords are happening all the time. Maybe the Croatian roads are better in terms of quality. Norway is a place that I’d recommend anyone to take up for an adventure ride, to discover more.
Has the promise of Discover More being the ‘ultimate job’ lived up to its billing?
Totally. It’s been the dream job for sure. It’s a job… but it is the best job.
What now after Discover More. Can anything top this?
I don’t know. I hope I haven’t peaked in the motorcycling world. It’s going to be hard to top this adventure. I’m going to be moving to Boston USA to try and set up a little business. Hopefully, I can move back into adventure biking soon, within a year.
You’ve been quite a time away from home, how has this affected family and social life?
Last year I did a long tour to the Arctic Circle and now this. My wife has already told me: “Ok, you need to do something else for the next few years!” Obviously, it’s been difficult at times. She’s pretty much by herself running things, but she’s proud of me and happy for what has happened.
Now you are in the UK, how does it feel?
So far I’ve only got to see Hull in a very short space of time. But already it is living up to my expectation of a busy, modern English port against a city that looks very much like European cities that have undergone urban regeneration – the marina, new and refurbished buildings, clean areas for socialising. And the people are friendly. As an example, a gentleman gave us directions for a place to eat simply because he could see we were looking for a specific street and then he started telling jokes!
You’ve been in the company of some English guys who have videoed your journey. Has this prepared you in any way for the UK visit?
Oh yes. Especially the humour – it’s sarcasm at 110% but it is fun sarcasm. British humour is possibly the best.
After all you have gone through, what would you say to people to attempt something similar?
Sometimes people don’t want to get out of their comfort zone for a variety of reasons e.g. getting on a motorcycle and going to different countries might be perceived as dangerous, or thinking that people may not like you… I will always encourage people to go out further. The world is a friendlier place than it seems. Touring on a bike is a safer experience than it looks. Discover More has opened me up to so many different things, new friendships and so many new experiences. A bike is no longer just transportation; it has become a vehicle to go out and enjoy this world and what it has to offer.
Have you changed since Discover More took you on another life route?
No, not really. I’m just the same guy who likes riding a Harley-Davidson and who got lucky to meet incredible people in different countries.
What important items would you recommend to take on tours like this?
Wow, that’s a question. A phone. Definitely a phone. I also have a mascot that I carry with me. At times it’s kind of like my version of ‘Wilson’. Bomb proof trousers are a must. A good jacket is a necessity, one that can deal with hot or cold, or wet and dry weather. It might be a case of investing heavily in the right gear but it’s worth it. It’s true when people say a motorcycle is just the down payment and your riding gear is the main purchase.
How was breakfast?
Filling. Not sure about black pudding, though. I’m off to Yorkshire now.