The Blazing Trails team has been running motorcycle tours continuously since 1999. Thus, our hugely experienced staff are well able to take care of all planning and logistics, leaving you to get on with enjoying the bike and the many wonders our destinations have to offer. We believe that in terms of everything from safety provision, through machinery, to accommodation, our local knowledge allows us to provide the best motorcycling experiences. Our tours are largely designed to cater for riders of all abilities looking to make something extra-special of their traditional two-week break. We know how important the time is to you, so we don’t skimp on organisational detail. Whatever tour you choose, we’ll take care of all transport and accommodation while you’re on tour, and then whisk you safely back to the airport for your trip home – simple as that.
At BT we put a high emphasis on safety. So far as we know we are the only tour company that takes a fully-kitted medic (currently qualified to EU standards) on every High Altitude Indian tour. On our High Himalayan (Ladakh and Spiti Tours) emergency equipment includes ample oxygen, neck brace and backboard – we have everything in house to stabilise and evacuate a casualty, or simply to deal with squits, headaches or cuts and grazes. In the High Himalaya, all tours are also backed-up by a support vehicle carrying our medic, to ensure that any casualty is dealt with promptly, which is especially important when operating at altitude. Serious accidents are extremely rare, but better safe than tragically sorry…
DAMON I’ANSON – DIRECTOR/GUIDE
Has been working with bikes since he was 17, first as a despatcher, then mechanic, before entering bike journalism in 1995 at the launch of RiDE magazine. Over the next six years, Damon became deputy editor of RiDE, road test editor of Bike and editor of Performance Bikes. In 2002, Damon went freelance specialising in adventure touring. He has ridden in Thailand, Australia, Southern Africa, Costa Rica, the US, Sri Lanka and most of Europe. In 2005 Damon did a 16,000km ‘lap’ of India on an indigenous 150cc bike and the following year returned on a Yamaha XT660R to claim a bike World Altitude record (18,743ft). Also in 2006, Damon entered and won the Raid-de-Himalaya (on which he later officiated), before touring Nepal for several months. Damon speaks his native Cockernese, terrible Thai, hideous Hindi, touring French and still writes a few words for the UK press from time to time.
ADAM LEWIS – TOUR MANAGER/GUIDE (INDIA)
Joined us in 2012, following a six-year, 300,000km, round-the-world motorcycle journey. In subsequent years he has spent six months riding from England to faraway Magadan (remotest Russia)….and back! Along the way he became the first person to ride the entire length of Tajikistan’s Bartang Valley. Returning home just long enough to procure an Indian visa, he returned to Blazing Trails in the autumn of 2013 and has led our India and Nepal tours since. In 2014 Adam become the first foreigner to ride solo into North Sikkim while mapping out our Darjeeling and Sikkim Tour. Away from Blazing Trails our ‘pocket rocket’ struggles to sit still. A keen mountain biker, bikepacker and photographer, Adam is eternally plotting new motorcycle adventures. Known for his lack of hair, he can be bribed with red wine, port, Doombar, cured meats and plain chocolate Hob Nobs.
JOHN ALLDERMAN – TOUR MANAGER/GUIDE (SOUTH AFRICA)
A South African native, John has been associated with Blazing Trails since 2016. With nearly 40 years of exploring the country’s roads and trails on a motorcycle, and over a decade in tourism, he is ideally placed to lead and develop tours in his vast African back yard. Talking of size, John is no lightweight and neither is his bike, a hulking BMW1200GSA. John speaks six of South Africa’s official languages fluently, including Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English – he can therefore communicate with just about anyone, anywhere in SA, and has a deep understanding of the area’s cultures. Our portly pal’s credentials are further enhanced by an encyclopaedic knowledge of the region’s natural wonders. Not really much of a drinker, though he can be persuaded into sipping the odd dram, Mr Allderman is impressed by large quantities of red meat, preferably prepared on an open fire. Do not, however, attempt to feed by hand unless you want thereafter to be known as ‘Stumpy.’
JAVED KHAN – HEAD MECHANIC (INDIA)
Javed may look like he just stepped out of the womb – and indeed he is by far our youngest staffer – but, having been born into a family of Enfield wallahs, his experience of Royal Enfields and their workings is extensive. Whether dealing with ancient four-speeders, or fancy new fuel-injected models, Javed has the skills and experience to cope. The young fella’s talents go beyond twirling the spanners, as he is also a natural networker and ‘fixer’, finding solutions to the challenges thrown up by the Indian road. Supremely helpful and personable, he is an integral part of our Indian team. Young mister Khan does of course speak Hindi and during his years on tour with us has learned enough English to be described as ‘fluent’.
JARAS MUSCARIA – WEB IMPRESARIO
Also known as ‘Billi’ – Billi is Hindi for cat, an animal after which our Lithuanian programmer bears very great resemblance in manner (though if we were to be correct by gender in Hindi this tom would be a ‘Billa’). Billi, a curious sub-species of interweb-feline, is the geezer responsible for this website and making it all tick. He also designed our real-time internet booking system, which took some nouse – and please don’t blame him if you are struggling to pay via Paypal, as it’s not our fault. Billi is now not full time in India, but now inhabits Spain. Yet another of our cunning linguists, Billi speaks and writes in Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, English, Spanish and some Hindi.
A company supplying any two elements of a tour or holiday (in our instance transport and accommodation) is classed as an ‘organiser’. As such, they are bound by law to be ‘bonded’ – insured so that if they as a company went bust, any money you had paid for a future trip would be returned to you. Any EU company taking money for trips like ours without the appropriate bonding is acting illegally. Likewise, companies offering tours should have appropriate liability insurance so that they can pay out should a claim for damages due to negligence be made against them. Any company running tours with a flight element must hold an Air Transport Operator’s Licence (ATOL)… as we do. We operate under the law of England and Wales, so we are accountable and if something goes wrong you are not pursuing a company in an overseas jurisdiction.
There are other legitimate companies offering tours such as ours that you may like to consider travelling with, but there are also many operating in India on a cowboy basis. Every year new outfits show up with websites featuring copied itineraries… and many of these soon vanish. Often they have underestimated the difficulties of operating in India and have neither the staff, nor the contacts and experience to deal with a crisis on the road. With these matters in mind, it would be folly not to ascertain the operator’s status on the matters outlined below before making a booking…
Who exactly is going to be leading your tour and what experience of the areas through which you will be travelling do they have? We met groups in the high Himalaya who were being ‘led’ by people who had never even been on the Manali-Leh route before and had neither oxygen, nor any idea in which direction to evacuate casualties.
Will there be a real medic or first-aider travelling with you and what equipment will they be carrying? Do they have a vehicle to evacuate you if you are hurt?
How many people are likely to be on a trip and what is the staff/client ratio? How many people will there be to a room?
What happens if you crash and damage the bike? At Blazing Trails, we will repair bikes at what it costs us. Unlike some outfits, we do not charge for repairs done in-house.
Is the company with which you are booking bonded and insured? If not, you may have great difficulty getting back any deposits you’ve paid if your tour is cancelled. If a company is asking for a cash balance on arrival in India, it is highly likely they are operating illegally, either because they are not insured, or/and are avoiding paying tax. There is also the chance that there may be nobody there to meet you when you turn up in India with a pocket full of Rupees and nowhere to go!