EIGHT countries, five ferries, 6,500 miles, and one seemingly indestructible motorbike later, Ash Gibb is back in East Lancashire.

When the 24-year-old phoned bike manufacturer Ducati before his mammoth 11-day ride from Dubai to Rosegrove, the Italian firm said there was nothing they could do to help.

But that just made the former Habergham High School pupil even more determined to succeed.

Mr Gibb, who works around the world building giant TV screens used at major sports and music events, encountered military border patrols, intrigued police officers and bemused villagers as he crossed the Middle East and Europe.

And although the trip was a leisure pursuit, Mr Gibb carried a touching personal story with him through the deserts and motorways.

His best friend, Joshua Homes, died in an accident while the pair were riding together in Gisburn in 2008.

Mr Gibb said: “I know to most it seems like a pointless adventure, but you learn so much and find out for yourself what you can actually do.

“I gave biking up for a few months and they were the toughest for me after the accident. On Joshua’s birthday I got myself another bike to do his memorial ride out, and after that I realised biking is what keeps me happy.

“Life is short and I’d like people to go out and do things more. It's only being afraid that holds them back.”

After setting off from the United Arab Emitrates on April 13, Mr Gibb - armed with a tent and an emergency five-litre petrol can - travelled through Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France and Belgium before reaching British soil on April 23.

Iranian police were such fans of his Ducati 848, which carries just 12 litres of fuel, that they paid for him to stay in a hotel in the city of Anar.

Mr Gibb, who estimated that he stopped to re-fuel almost 40 times, risked breaking down by filling up with regular unleaded petrol rather than the super unleaded recommended for his model, which is rare in the Middle East.

He kept the bike safe through a mixture of secure hotel parking, police guards, and, on one occasion, by sleeping beside it at a petrol station.

Other memorable encounters included a heavily-armed petrol station in eastern Turkey, getting a speeding ticket en route from Erzurum to Bodrum, and a stop-off for a picture at the Ducati factory in Bologna, Italy.

He added: “It was just to send to them to say ‘I didn’t need your help anyway’!”