I am a New Zealander, with a passion for outdoor adventure, especially human powered adventure. I still hold the Guinness World Record for the longest journey by skateboard (12,159km – read the story here) and I previously cycled from Japan to Switzerland (13,000km – click here). I am now living in Japan, in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. This place is a paradise. Massive, wide open spaces, mild summers, amazing snowy winters, so much potential for exploring.
Professionally, I work at Hokkaido University, doing research into cultural differences in behavior online. Mainly, I am working with Dr. Masaki Yuki and his great team at the Culture, Social Ecology and Psychology Lab.
Below is something I wrote in 2006, before I set out on a 2.5 year journey around the world by bicycle and skateboard.
I sat down one day and jotted down some thoughts on why exactly I want to do this. Usually I wouldn’t feel a need to justify myself, but, I mean come on, around the world by recumbent bicycle and skateboard?
Of course I have feelings of ‘I want adventure‘ and ‘I want to get away from it all for a bit’, but I think the biggest purpose for this trip is to attempt to confirm what I have come to believe over the past few years about us humans. And that is that I believe that we all share a common humanity. That is, we need to eat, we need to sleep, we cry, we laugh, we want to be happy, we want the best for our family and friends. The list goes on.
Before I came to Japan, I didn’t really even consider that people from cultures other than the English speaking culture felt emotion. That’s a daft thing so say I know. All humans feel emotion. But if that’s so obvious, why do I find myself every now and then being taken a-back and moved when I converse in Japanese to Japanese people? Everynow and then it hits me – these people are no different from me!
Working at Asia Pacific University, I have had the opportunity to come in contact with people from countries from all over the world. This has fuelled a desire to go to some of these places and exprience the culture and humanity of those people first-hand.
As for doing the trip on a bicycle, there a few reasons. On a bicycle, you experience the environment first-hand. Weather, topography, conditions. This contributes to a deeper understanding of the area that one is visiting. On a bicycle, you are travelling with minimal detriment to the environment. Less fossil fuels burnt. On a bicycle I have relative freedom in where I want to go, and when. I am not bound by timetables.
As for recumbent bicycle, this seems obvious.