Change to longboard
Once I arrived in Switzerland, after just under 12,000km and 9 months on the road on my bicycle, I decided to up the ante of the journey and sample a vastly different mode of transport. The longboard. The idea had been spawned long before I actually made the switch in Switzerland. Five months earlier I was walking impatiently around Tashkent, the capital of the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan, running to and from embassies as I juggled visa applications for onward travel – such was the rigmarole of the bureaucracy of those Central Asian countries. At the time I remember thinking to myself how much more convenient it would be to have a skateboard on which to scoot around town with more efficiency. From this came the dream of being free from the bulky bicycle and taking on the challenge of ultra-light travel.
The idea percolated in my mind for those five months from Uzbekistan to Switzerland. In Switzerland the roads at last started becoming smoother. If ever I was going to capitalise on the opportunity to try out the insane idea of travelling on my own by skateboard, this would be it. I had done my homework; previous prominent cross-country longboard journeys, although still very rare, had all been highly organised and supported. The skater skated ahead of a support vehicle carrying all the supplies. Such journeys included a crossing of Australia by skateboard and numerous trans-USA journeys. I was excited in my belief in a story of an exciting adventure, living free and on the edge, travelling by skateboard carrying all my equipment on my back.
When I announced my goal to complete the remaining 1,500km from Switzerland to England by skateboard, the response was varied. The Brit who had skated across Australia was supportive, but warned me that skating with up to 15kg on my back would be tough work. Friends who had cycled in Europe warned me that it would be next to impossible to skate the roads in Europe. A concerned blog reader suggested that I hitch-hike entire sections of my route so as ‘not to die’. But this was my opportunity to explore the idea, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
I am glad that I didn’t believe in those stories I heard from people, especially those who could only try to imagine what obstcles I would face in pursuing my idea. After only a few day on the board skating through Switzerland, I was certain that I would be able to achieve the goal of skating to England. I was doing between 60km and 80km a day, sometimes up to 100km a day on the board. It was tougher going than the bike, but not impossible.
I realised that so often, we compose our assumptions on what we percieve to be reality, or are told by other people “this is the reality”. But often these assumptions are just composed based on fearful intrepidation. So often our fear creeps into our life story and composes lines of belief that will hold us back from pursuing opportunity. The philosophy behind the skateboard journey was, to borrow arctic adventurer Ben Saunders’ line, “questioning accepted practice, exploring new possibilities, and asking why and, more importantly, why not?”