Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: N/A
Average speed / 平均速度: N/A
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: N/A
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: N/A
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km
Ascent / 上り: N/A
Descent / 下り: N/A
So today is the big day. Leaving Leysin with a pack on my back and a skateboard under my arm. The first few hours of today will be walking. I am currently at 1,400m in altitude, and the valley floor where the flat cycle paths await is at about 500m. Between here and there is a steep descent. Once I have everything dialed and my ‘air brakes’ fine tuned (stay tuned for details of what they are), I should be able to skateboard down most steep descents. But not today.
I must thank the readers of the 14degrees blog for their honest opinions about the big change in mode of transport.
I will also take the liberty to state how I feel about the ‘validity’ of the change.
For me, this journey from Japan to England is not about the bike. It is not about the skateboard. It is about intentionally putting myself outside of my comfort zone mentally and physically. It is about the freedom of packing up a bag full of stuff, and leaving. It is about exploring. It is about proving right about humanity that which I always hoped to be true – that despite the failings of human nature, humans are intrinsically good. It is about adventure.
I have found all these things and more during my journey. I believe that I will continue to find these things as I continue my journey on a skateboard.
As for the reason behind making the switch, it all began in Uzbekistan about 5 months ago. I was without my bicycle because I had caught a train from where I was staying to the capital in order to visit the Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan embassies (see blog post). I was walking down the street, and it came to me that it would be so much more efficient if I had a skateboard, rather than having to walk. And since a skateboard is small and light, I wouldn’t have to worry about having to leave it outside buildings when I went in.
From those humble beginnings, I started fantasizing about travelling by skateboard. I did some preliminary research, and discovered that a team of three guys had once held the world record for long distance skateboarding, by skateboarding in relay across the US. I then discovered www.boardfree.co.uk. This is the story of Dave Cornthwaite and how he skated the length of the UK and then across Australia from Perth to Brisbane, setting a new world record in the process. These are magnificent achievements of human endurance.
What I wanted to do, however, was combine my love for self-supported travel with the physical challenge and joy of physical exercise. On a bike, you have all you need strapped to the bike. What hasn’t been done before, is ultra-long distance on a skateboard with all one’s gear on one’s back. This is what I have set out to achieve.
I believe that it is possible to skateboard long distances comfortably with a pack on one’s back. I have been inspired by fellow travellers I have met who have been walking for months on end across continents. I look forward to the challenge of travelling by skateboard.
Anyway, I will no doubt expand on my travel philosophies at a later date. For now, I leave you with my luggage.
Click on the photo to see notes on what each item is, and see the gear overview page for all the nitty gritty, including a nice solid display of gram-counting weight obsessiveness.