If you don’t find the answer that you need after looking through these frequently asked questions, then you can ask a question yourself using the form below.
What does the ’14degrees’ stand for?
I never originally intended to travel all the way around the world. My original plan when I set out from Japan in July 2006 was to cycle from Japan to England. It just so happened that my intended route for my original plan stayed roughly between 38 degrees north and 52 degrees north, giving me a difference of 14 degrees. Despite the relatively small latitudal slither, this area has an immensely diverse range of cultures and peoples, including areas like central Asia – an area realtively unfrequented by foreign tourists.
What made you want to embark on such a journey?
See why section.
Why travel by skateboard?
See the why skateboard section.
Why the recumbent bike?
See the recumbent bike section.
What distance can you cover in one day?
When I was on my bicycle, I was averaging 90 to 120kms a day in Europe, and anywhere from 40 to 100km in Asia, depending on the terrain and road condition. That’s an average of about 18km/h for a solid 7 hour day in Europe, and between 8 to 14km/h in Asia.
On my skateobard, I avereage between 60km and 100km a day, averaging between 12km/h and 17km/h.
How many wheels do you go through?
The wheels on my skateboard last for at least 5,000km for one set. They are solid rubber, and very durable. Therefore for my entire 12,000km skateboard journey, I used only two sets of wheels. I did change to a different set in China, but only because I wanted to try out a different size of wheels.
How do you carry your luggage on the skateboard?
I carry all I need to survive (down to about -10 degrees celcius overnight) myself; there are no support vehicles. In Europe and the US, I was carrying everything in one 45 litre hiking backpack. Including about two days food and 4.5 litres of water, the total weight is no more than 15kg. The pack was very comfortable, and I never got sore sholders (see gear section for complete gear list).
In China I decided to pioneer a different way of carrying camping equipment on a solo skateboard touring journey. I now haul my gear behind me on a specially adapted trailer.
You are attempting to break a world record?
I have now unofficially broken the Guinness World Record for the Longest Journey by Sakteboard. The current world record is officially held by Dave Cornthwaite, with a distance of 5,823km. He skateboarded across Australia as part of his Boardfree.co.uk initiative. I have already skated 9,500km, and will have 12,000km under my belt by September 2008.
How can you prove that you actually skateboarded the total distance?
Because I am traveling alone – unlike Dave Cornthwaite who had a backup team to witness – there is no way to prove 100% that I will have covered the total distance by skateboard alone. However, I am committed to traveling the distance by skateboard alone, and this will be backed up by the following:
– A detailed daily logbook that details GPS data for the day, weather conditions, road conditions, break times, purchases, signed eyewitness reports from people I meet on the road (see example here).
– A detailed online journal including full colour hig resolution photographs complete with EXIF data.
– Weekly video compilations of life on the road.
– A full GPS tracklog showing my average speeds and exact route taken.
This evidence will be submitted to Guinness World Records, and it will be up to them to make a decision. If I do manage to stick it out for 8,000km, that is!
Is one of your legs way more muscley than the other?
No. I ride my skateboard swtichfoot, which means that I alternate between pushing legs. This evens the load, and helps especially when skating uphill.
Do you only travel by human power?
All overland travel is by human power, with the only exception being when water and/or bureaucracy gets in the way.
For example, I had to take a train across Turkmenistan due to visa restrictions. My visa ran out in Tajikistan, so I had to take a mini-bus to the capital to extend it. I decided to fly to the Canary Islands from France in order to take up the opportunity to sail across the Atlantic (flights paid by Reliance Yacht Management – my crew finding agent). Of course across water I either sailed or took commercial ferries.
In the US, I skateboarded the entire way across the country except for a 25km stretch in Arizona where I was forbidden to skate on the road due to expressway access regulations. There was no alternative, so I walked for 10km through the desert (I was not even allowed to walk next to the road) and hitched the remaining 25km to the nearest alternative route (a 400km detour) where I began skating again.
Why do you travel alone?
I was mildly afraid of setting out on my own. I was unsure of how I would handle the solitude. It wasn’t as if I had much choice however; sacrificing 2 years of one’s early working career is a big ask for most people. Depsite this, I really enjoy being on the road alone. Freedom to stop, push on, start, eat, sleep, at my own pace. Freedom to alter plans at a whim. Also, traveling alone makes me much more approachable; locals will be much more prepared to approach a single traveler than a pair or more.
Do you ever have any dangerous encounters?
No. The area of the world that I have traveled so far is relatively free of dangerous animals, and the human bipeds that I met have been 99.9% overwhelmingly generous, hospitable, and very friendly. The other 0.01% have been intoxicated.
How many languages do you speak?
I speak English and Japanese fluently. Neither of these languages are very helpful for the majority of the time I am traveling, due to the remote places that I tend to be drawn to. After cycling through central Asia for three months, I leaned enough Russian to get by enventually. The same with Turkish; 1.5 months there had me up with the play on the essensials. In Europe it was difficult to pick up local languages due to the fact that most people speak at least some English.
You must be rich to be able to travel for so long!
Ah, no. I have not stayed at a single youth hostel, hotel, or other paid accommodation since I left Instanbul in February 2007. I sleep outside, under trees, in old barns…anywhere where I won’t cause a nusance. Also, I am greatly indebted to the many Couchsurfing.com hosts that have hosted me during my travels. I regularly stay at strangers’ houses at least once a week through this great initiative. My budget at present consists of NZ$5 a day, which works out to be about US$3.50 a day. More than enough for food. My original budget was US$20 a day, and I stuck to that fairly well during the first half of my trip, from Japan to England. If I was to do things again, I am sure I could easily halve that, even when taking into account visa and consular fees, internet etc.
How do you get across water?
I took a standard passenger ferry for the following crossings: Japan to Korea, Korea to China, Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan (across the Caspian Sea), Holland to England, England to France. I worked on a yacht delivery for passage across the Atlantic to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). As of mid September 2007, I am not 100% sure how I will get from the BVI to the US. Probably by hitching a ride on a private yacht.
Are you going to write a book?
No firm plans yet. This website is about as comprehensive as it gets. I may however consider producing a coffee table photo book. We’ll see…
What is your profession?
See about me page.
What was your favourite country?
Without a doubt, Tajikistan. In fact, all of central Asia was mind blowing. The raw stark nature of the environment there and the remnance of Soviet occupation coupled with local culture striving to re-establish itself makes for an amazing diverse experience. Plus for me, it was extremely challenging physically. Unclean water, steep and rough roads, extremely fatty foods, extended periods without being able to buy supplies, remote areas. I can recall every single day I was in central Asia with clarity, as opposed with Europe, where one day seemed to meld into the next.
Are you married?
I get asked this surprisingly often. The answer is no.
I wasn’t married during my journey, but I am now 🙂
Remember you can ask me a question using the form below.