IMAGINE being paid to ride a Harley-Davidson all over Europe for 10 weeks and
getting to keep the bike at the end.
Well, Luis Castilla, 37, got to do exactly that for Harley-Davidson’s Discover More
He was chosen from more than 10,000 applicants from 27 different countries to win
the all-expenses-paid European journey of discovery on a Street Glide Special.
As well as getting £18,000 for the journey, he gets the motorcycle.
Life on the open road is usually the stuff Hollywood dreams are made of.
But I got a chance to sample the dream, donning shiny new motorcycle leathers and
a helmet to jump on the back of Luis’s bike during the Scottish leg of his journey.
Properly kitted out in biker-chick chic, we rumbled off from Glasgow’s Sauchiehall
Street to head for the Cairngorms via the pretty Speyside Distillery near Kingussie.
Luis had already travelled through Europe on his Harley, barely having time to shave.
He said: “We started in London then it was Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, back in
Italy, then Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic,
Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and then the Netherlands, Belgium, England
and now Scotland. I’ve still got Wales to do.”
Luis, a Mexican-Frenchman who left his wife at home with their three dogs, quit his
job in January, so the chance to follow every lad’s dream came just at the right time.
As we headed along the A9 and the blistering rain hits our visors, Luis said: “I’d quit
my communication job with a firm who helped poor farmers increase productivity in
January after my boss left, so I was very lucky to be so free.
“I found out in May I’d won the competition and after I’d screamed with delight my
wife agreed to take over the rental property business my parents had left us as I
started to figure out what I’d need to bring.”
Travel north from Glasgow towards Perth and then up the A9 by bike and it’s easy to
understand the lure of the open road.
Being exposed to the elements and all the sounds and smells as you travel is a far
more visceral experience than travelling by car.
Luis said: “Motorcycling allows you to take in more, smell everything, feel the
temperature changes and have a full experience that you’d miss if you were in a car
“On a bike you become part of your surroundings.” Luis first took up motorcycling
after the death of his other.
He said: “I’ve been motorcycling for around seven years. My mum passed in a car
accident in 2008 and after that I took up motorcycling. It was a bit of therapy because
she and my dad were always a little afraid of motorcycles.
“During my grieving I found it therapeutic because it was something liberating I
always wanted to do.
“It feels different every time you turn the engine on and it’s like a little adventure.
“I get on my gear and it’s cool. People treat you differently. They stop me on the
street and talk to me in gas stations.”
As if to prove a point, Luis got chatting with locals in Kingussie.
It just so happened there was another distraction in Pam’s cafe – former F1 driver
David Coultard , who was on a road trip with friends.
As we posed for a picture with him, Luis admitted David is the biggest celebrity he’d
met on his travels.
But for Luis the conversations with everyday people have been the highlight of his
He said: “People stopped me in Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Croatia because
Harleys are so expensive there. In Italy, I went to a fish restaurant called Trabucco
where they eat what they catch that day and it was great to see the traditions.
“In Croatia, I went swimming in a little town called Trogir and in Norway I saw the
fjords and waterfalls by the Atlantic Road.”
As we made our way up a dirt track to the picturesque Speyside Distillery, Luis spoke
about other highlights.
He said: “I was on TV in Denmark and Italy. I saw the Berlin Wall and on the ferry
from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain I met an Englishman who told me his Harley
was finally being repaired after 15 years by a man who went to jail for murder.”
The distillery was another experience for Luis to savour.
Cheery manager Sandy Jamieson shows us the process before encouraging us to
taste an array of the products, including the popular Chairman’s Choice.
It’s potent stuff so it’s just as well Harley’s UK press officer Trevor Franklin was on
hand to ride Luis’s bike back to the hotel.
Luis said: “The whisky was fantastic. I was telling the manager it was like tasting it for the first time – the taste of real Scottish spirit.”
“Before coming here, 80 per cent of what I knew about Scotland came from
Braveheart and it is such a beautiful country.”
As he nears the end of his journey, Luis confessed he can’t wait to catch up with his
friends and family.
He said: “I’ve missed speaking Spanish because English is not my native tongue.
“This has been more than a road trip and I’m hugely privileged to be riding a Harley.”