The Why Not? Blog

At the tender age of 25 Dave started skateboarding. 14 months later he became the first person to skate the length of Britain. Another 8 months on he had crossed Australia on his board, breaking a world record & raising over £20,000 for three charities. Now, at 27, he's writing his first book, is a motivational speaker and a businessman, and he's only just gotten started on a lifetime of challenges which from the outside look just darn crazy. So, why? You know the answer, don't you. Why not?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Day One Complete

The local mechanic drove from Dunbeath, some half hours drive south, and fixed the van quick smart. My blog, written whilst the chap was on his way, caused worry across the land apparently. The team clambered into the van and sped off towards the northern tip of Scotland, and my mobile phone began to buzz with messages of support from people nationwide.

We hung around John o'Groats for a little while and the it was time. I kissed the start line, jumped on the board, and five four three two one, push......

The weather was incredible. Perfect. The scenery was breathtaking. I'd been waiting for this for a while and the earlier delay wasn't going to spoil the party.

The first stretch was a two mile uphiller on horrible cracked roads. By the end of it I was knackered. An hour and a half later, not long after cameraman Dimitri had taken a spectacular dive out of the van after his 'foot caught the ground', I hugged Dan, Becki and Si goodbye. They had to head south, back to England, back to their lives. Guys, thanks for being there at the start of all of this. Even though Holly and Dimitri were coming back a lump came to my throat as the van disappeared over the hill. I was on the road from John o'Groats, and I was alone for the first time.

Five miles later I was in Wick, 17.1 miles south. I'd been skating solidly for just under two hours and I was ready to die. Mary and Neil, with whom the whole team had stayed last night, knocked up a splendid cold buffet of salad and prawns, and I blinked away my nervous fatigue as a pudding of cheese filled my belly.

Still, after lunch I didn't want to move. It was half past two, there were 20 miles between Wick and Dunbeath, today's checkpoint, and it seemed like an awful long way.

The road were brilliant. Five miles of uphill turned into consistent ups and downs, steep and shallow, fast and slow. The sun beat down and a sharp wind came in off the coast and I felt like I was on top of the world.

A signpost: Dunbeath. Yes! A funny old man on a 1948 highlands motorcycle kep us talking for 15 minutes and all I wanted to do was finish. All he wanted to do was take photos of us next to his bike. Across the valley was a devastatingly steep climb. First though, we had to get to the bottom, which meant speed. The wheels turned, a roar and a cheer went up from a nearby pub, and the bottom came and went in a blur. It was too steep, pushing impossible. I stood up, walked to the top, talking to the camera until just over the brow waiting trusty Holly in the support van, tucked into a layby. "Let's call it a day guys."

Job done. A quick drink in the pub from where the cheering came, and those who cheered dipped into their pockets and donated £45. That made my day. Well, that and giving Dimitri a whooping at pool.

A big one tomorrow, the next checkpoint is Tain, 60 miles south of Dunbeath. It's BFUK's longest day, for six nights we are now without accomodation so will be camping in the van, so I have no idea where the next internet access is coming from. But with a bit of luck we'll be back online soon to keep you updated with this skateboard journey of skateboard journeys.

Do my legs hurt? Yes, a little. But I have, shall we say, a chafing issue. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Oh dear, deary me. Until next time....

So close but so far...

So, the day is here! I've been waiting a year for this, the accumulative mulch of logistical planning, physical training, stressful days when all of the people you contacted for help say no....well, when I got in the car in Swansea on Thursday all of that started to lift from my shoulders. One thing on my mind, skating Britain.

I'm due to start from John o'Groats this morning at 8am, so it may surprise you to learn that it is now 8:40am, and I'm still in Wick, 15 miles south of John o'Groats, because the van won't start.

And it was all going so well! Becki and Si have trundled off to John o'Groats to see if any press have turned up, but it seems that no one is there. It is bank holiday Sunday, after all. Which just means that the mechanic is going to take a bit longer than usual to get here.

So, what can I do but wait. And eat bananas. It's a lovely morning, sharp and clear. Hopefully I'll get skating soon. I'll let you know later on tonight how it all went on from here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bonny Scotland

So so tired, but high as a kite. On life, mind. About to divebomb a pillow after two days of sitting in cars heading north from Swansea. We're just south of Glasgow and outside is the BoardFree support van, our new home. It looks amazing. It purrs when it rolls along. It's prettier than a princess. In the morning myself, Dan, Becki and Holly get up early early and head to Inverness, where we'll pick up Si from the airport. On the way we'll collect Dimitri from Glasgow, and boy oh boy tomorrow we'll be a few miles from John o'Groats. It's happening...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I am not called Truman

I wake up. There's a cameraman in my study. His name is Dimitri. He is going to be filming everything this week. And next week. He and Peter, another filmy chap, are making a documentary about BoardFree. 13 months ago I'd never been on a longboard. This is bizarre.

It's Christmas everyday. If it's not a press article or a radio interview, it's an exciting parcel or an inspiring message from a stranger. Yesterday this popped into my inbox:

"I am learning all about you and your trip at school. I just wanted to say good luck and hope you do it." - Rupert Butcher, Year 2, Rooksbury Park School

This morning I went to the Footbed Clinic in Swansea. Chris Sharp is an expert in feet, and he had agreed to be filmed giving me advice and preparing a new set of customised insoles for my brand new shoes (sponsored by!). I wasn't fully prepared for my visit to the Footbed. Last week I spoke to Chris and he said he was just going to be sorting out my insoles. Instead, perhaps driven on by the focus of the video camera, he asked me to strip off so he could monitor my footstrike - in laymans terms, the way I walk and how that will effect me during the upcoming journeys. "Strip down" he said, and I though to myself, 'oh, I've got some minging yellow boxer shorts on which are creased to buggery.'

So there I was, walking on this treadmill with three cameras aimed at my thighs, pelvis and calves, and Dimitri stalking around trying to get a nice angle. In front of the treadmill was a big mirror and I looked at myself, naked bar some disgusting yellow boxers which were covered in old paint because one day in the past I was painting my house and it was hot. I was embarrassed, and I will do my utmost to ensure that the pants don't make the telly.

It is now ten to nine in the evening. Tomorrow is going to consist of interviews and packing. Elsa has been stripped down to the bare minimum in preparation to be covered with sponsor stickers. Mark @ sent me through an old longboard traction pad which is soon to replace the old 'BoardFree' grip tape on Elsa's standing platform, and the Sunrisers from came as well, ready to light the UK path - funky super cool blinking red taillights, just special. Oh, and the bearings from, we're rolling baby.

But today's coup de grace was yet another piece of good news from Pictures of our van logo'd up to the hilt!! How freaking cool! And they're getting loads of mugs put together so we can sell them on the road. Stars! I tell you what, it refreshes your belief in humanity when people give something up for a cause that they really would have been able to ignore. Thank you doesn't say enough.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Strangers on the bus

Saturday morning, sat in London. Yesterday Becki called me, all excited. "Dave, there's a picture of you in the Guardian!"

"What!" Trot to the newsagents, page 10! Word is getting around now, looks like the Wales on Sunday is going to have a piece on BoardFree and with a bit of luck one of the weekend supplements will come good too.

Yesterday was a day of presents. Capital Gold Radio, who called me up for a live interview last Thursday, posted a copy of the show. It came out well, except for the beginning and end. Paul Bryce the DJ asked "How are you doing Dave?" I answered, a little flustered, "Thank you mate." At the end, rushing to blurt the web address out, I managed" Nice Dave.

Vapourised sent through the first pairs of shoes, they looks cracking. Extreme Sports sent us a box of goodies and Dogcam provided some new mounts for the bullet camera. Clic Extreme also sent the team their sunglasses, rock on!

More news on the van front, has joined forces with Graffix Detail in Glasgow to give us a new VW van with a swish interior and free logos all over as well. Holly and I were over the moon with a panel van with nothing inside, this takes the biscuit. I can't explain what a big difference having a van wll make to BFUK. Just a couple of months ago, before Holly applied for the photographer's position, I was preparing to skate the UK with a rucksack on my back. Now we'll be able to update the website from the road, keep in regular contact with the media and groups of skaters who are going to join me on the road, and we'll also have a place to stay when generous offers of accomodation dry up.

The sky is the limit. Next Wednesday we have a BFUK farewell party in Swansea. The next day, the morning will be taken up by my good friend Arthur skating the Sail Bridge for charity (see and then in the afternoon Becki and Dan and I begin the long drive up to John o'Groats, via Manchester and Prestwick. In 8 days I'll be on the road. Here goes the final week...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Here comes the downpour

Ok, no training run today. Had a rest, it was peeing down and frankly there was so much happening I couldn't leave the house. I can train in May, hah!

Quickly before I forget, here's yesterday's stats from the morning run...sponsored by Garmin!
Miles travelled: 10.5
Moving Time: 58 mins 41 seconds
Maximum Speed: 15.6mph
Moving Average: 10.7mph

Right, this morning I got a call from my Kate saying "Dave, I've just had a text from my friend Kat, you've got a big article in the Metro!" Cheeky blighters didn't mention that BoardFree was for charity, or that existed, but a fair few people saw it and the Extreme Sports Channel did, so it looks like we'll get some more coverage through them.

That's how the day started. A BBC TV interview with my friend Arthur Hendey was cancelled due to rain, old Arth was scheduled to skate the Sail Bridge in Swansea in full view of the cameras, but I'm not having him slipping about on a damp board, so we'll wait until tomorrow.

Then, as time drew on, I updated the website with some special things, received the first cash donation through the site from Octane Sport, who then proceeded to solve my worries by sponsoring the bearings for BFUK. Woo hoo, we're rolling!

Another sponsor in the form of came along in the late morning. They're going to give us some toys so we can do some reviews of their products in the unusual play pen of the Australian outback. Should get some kangaroos onto their site.

And then, to top it all off, a phone call at half four from Capital Gold. "Hi Dave, we heard about your skating journey earlier and want to interview you live!" Twenty minutes later, shaking, I went on air and stuttered my way through it. Luckily, as it wasn't brilliant, I'd mistakenly told everyone that it was Capital Radio, not Capital Gold. They want to put a link on their website and get regular on the road updates as I skate the UK. Back of the Net!

It has been an amazing couple of weeks for BoardFree. My closest friends have been on my back about nutritional plans and the sheer physical toll these journeys are going to take on my body. But you know what, I can walk, I can run, I can skate. Not everyone can. So I'm going to do it for people who aren't as lucky as me. And I don't care what they say, sometimes I'll eat a burger on the way :-)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Is it Christmas?

What a cracking couple of days! Yesterday, post blog, the new leaflets arrived. I look a little moody, but some will say determined. I prefer determined. The thing is, when 10,000 leaflets arrive on your doorstep there will always be a flash of panic. Please god, don't let there be any spelling mistakes. There weren't. cracking!

And then came the cour de grace. At 11:08 I put out a request on the forum, asking if anyone has a spare campervan we could use as a BFUK support vehicle. Two hours later we have a van, generously donated by It's a beauty and is going to make a massive difference to the UK journey.

Another training run in the afternoon with Sam was tiring and windy but here are the stats, sponsored by Garmin!
Miles travelled: 10.4
Moving Time: 58 mins 48 seconds
Maximum Speed: 15.7mph
Moving Average: 10.7mph

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Global Positioning: BoardFree Style

Hot Cross Buns Eaten: 3
Oranges Eaten: 1
Bowls of Porridge Eaten: 1
Successful support vehicle sponsors: 0

My alarm rings at 7:20. Four beers last night. It was a celebration. Arthur Hendey, longboarding pensioner and recent hero of the BBC's Strictly Dance Fever, won a local playwriting competition. The man is 71, and it's a pleasure to be his friend. Talent doesn't say enough.

There's no sign of the cat licking herself at the end of my bed. Must be too early. Crawl, literally crawl towards my contact lenses. Sponsored by Acuvue! Downstairs Elsa has been prepared, she lies in the middle of the lounge. Sam's been busy already. Last night I made a pact with Sam, housemate and bluesy singer, that if he sorted out food for me everyday then I'd buy it and he can have some. Easily persuaded. He's skinny, I'm skinnier, need to rectify that. And he wants me to lift weights so I tone up. I'm a bit worried about his intentions.

Dan's light comes on. He's coming with me and Sam on an early morning skate. I'm sure I can hear him cursing because we made it up this early. Ten minutes later Sam hands me two plates. Yoghurt and Twix on one, a sliced orange and hot cross buns - toasted, not microwaved - on the other. I'm happy with the situation.

The headwind to Mumbles is strong. Dan is skating on Little Elsa, I'm on Elsa, sponsored by rollsrolls! Sam's on a bike, he's lazy. This is the first run that I fully track on a new global positioning unit, sponsored by Garmin! Takes 38 minutes of skating to get to Mumbles. Quick drink and back again. We lost Sam as we came into town. He started talking to strangers. Never take him anywhere. He has our keys. We wait outside the door for 10 minutes. Here he comes, huffing and puffing. Tried to be clever and circumnavigate us by cycling around the marina. The lock gate opened and he had to wait. Here's the journey stats...

Miles travelled: 11.4
Moving Time: 1 hr 12 mins
Maximum Speed: 22.8mph
Moving Average: 9.4mph

It's only just past midday now. Xavier Rudd hums in the background. On a CD, the real Xavier is in Australia. Have a meeting in an hour or so, documentaries all over the UK in student unions, hopefully. Letters have gone out to potential camcorder sponsors, fingers crossed. Will update later.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Shooting with Snapper

I'm getting frustrated with myself. Good intentions aside, I just can't find the time to do these blogs as frequently as I should. Almost a week has passed since Snapper Holly and her fine man Nat turned up in Swansea. As expected, poor Holls was nose to the grindstone, clicking out hundreds of photos for the BoardFree cause, but we found time to sneak a Chinese (takeaway) into a pub and also go on the first (of hopefully many) communal skates around Swansea bay.

Then on Saturday to London I went to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Xavier Rudd, the brilliant Australian musician was in town and along we went - three people short due to a boozy episode in Cornwall that involved a missed train. Never invite the band to a concert. A superb night, the first time I'd seen Xavier. Also the first time I'd felt like one Englishman in a room of a thousand Australians. Get used to it Dave.

The next day Jamez , a dude who tours with Xavier, joined us in Hyde Park and we talked for hours about the Australian BoardFree journey and longboarding and touring with a famous musician. I think plenty will come of that cold, dry-cum-rainy Sunday in the park.

So now it's Tuesday at 11pm. 18 days to go until I hit the road. Did an interview today. Skated to Mumbles and back and tested out a new GPS system Garmin had delivered this morning. Genius piece of kit, incredible to skate along and see how fast, how far, top speed, averages and totals. I'm a freak for stats.

So now the final straight is with us. Two weeks of emails, graphic design, mapping and...oh yes, training. And then, a fortnight tomorrow I leave Swansea with Becki and Dan and Holly. A 3 day drive to northern Scotland. All so I can take a month to skate all the way back again. Funny old world.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Eat Natural, kids...

The countdown stands at 24 days, 10 hours, 34 minutes and just a few seconds. Scotland is calling gently, I'm not training quite as much as I should be, I suppose, and most days the postman comes along with something special. Because we ask, that's all. Like I said in the last blog, I'm not one for product placement, but boy do I like Eat Natural bars, mmmm!

The last two days have been gorgeous. Sun fully out, the UK preparing for a warm spring. I hope. I was asked a few weeks ago what I feared about the upcoming events of this year, I answered, "nothing." That has changed now. I fear headwinds, I fear horribly rough roads, I fear drunk drivers. Ask me the same question in a few weeks, I might add longboards to the equation!

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