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?

Monday, August 21, 2006

And so it begins…

BoardFree Australia started today and it ended today. But of course I’m only joking about the ending bit!

For the best part of a year and a half I’ve been talking about skateboarding across Australia. This morning I found myself standing by the north shore of the Swan river, looking across the water at a hazy image of Perth’s now familiar skyline, eating my last breakfast before stepping onto Elsa and beginning a journey that by the evening would be national news.

I remember the April morning in 2005 when I woke up in Swansea with my beloved kitten Kiwa pawing at my head asking for food, and I realised that I was just an unhappy guy living a life he didn’t enjoy. There and then I decided to make a change, I decided to go on a journey on a longboard. I’d been skating for two weeks and it felt like the most natural decision in the world, I haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward 16 months and 7 other people have put a hold on their lives to join me in Australia and help make the project a success. They’re all behind me, figuratively and literally, as they buzz around the Dinghy Division at the Royal Perth Yacht Club speaking to people, selling t-shirts, collecting donations.

40+ people turn up, buying breakfast, chatting, listening. Rachael Cox, Sailability’s head in WA, is much respected here and it’s easy to see why. She has made this event happen, she was in a wheelchair when we arrived here last Tuesday, she walks with a leg brace and no crutches when work needs to be done and she does everything with a smile and a wonderful dry wit. There are people here who are blind, without limbs, sometimes both. Yet they are active and happy and capable of great achievement, and in many respects this is down to Sailability’s work. Here, on the back of a bizarre pursuit of an unpredictable dream, myself and my team are in the presence of some remarkable people. I haven’t spent much time at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, but the time I have spent here has left me humbled. I’m not sure that 6000km is enough.

But 6000km is all I have for now, so let’s give it our all.

The RPYC Commodore, Mark Fitzhardinge, gave a kind speech to the assembled, wishing us good luck on an inspirational journey. ABC, Channel 9 and Channel 7 TV turn up to cover the launch. Groups of skaters, 11 or 12 of them, appear towards half past eleven with boards under arm, bright eyes and a handshake for me. They are kitted out in our official reflective jackets (www.themagictouch.com) and pause at the bottom of the Sailability pontoon, where Access Dinghies - the main boats used by Sailability here – were rigged with bright sails. I place Elsa on the top of the ramp, speak to my in-hand videocamera, pose for photos and then say something along the lines of ‘Let’s go to Brisbane!’ And away we go, a grating of skate wheels rushing up as I reached the main drive and the assembled skaters pushed off behind me. BoardFree Australia began beneath fine skies and soft breeze, and I will never forget the dolphin that came into the club half an hour before I pushed off. It couldn’t have been written.

The other skaters, a brilliant bunch, left me a couple of k’s in, the section alongside the city centre took over an hour as photos and video were shot. And then I pushed on, Dan on the bike next to me for most of the way, then Dim, then Kate. Honks from passing cars confirmed that yesterday’s West Australian newspaper was widely read. I’m back on a board, back on a journey, this time with more support, more purpose and let’s face it, a helluva lot more skating!

The day ended at the 30km mark, at Midland. Minutes later the Jackaroo, our first support vehicle purchased yesterday, started squealing and leaking fluid. It was overheated, there was no explanation, and yet again a BoardFree journey had been touched on the first day by a mechanical breakdown. With red dollar signs in my eyes, we drove off to Perth in the second support vehicle (which had been bought and paid for earlier) without Dim and Dan, who stayed with the jeep.

George, who is selling us the third vehicle of three and servicing the other two, took the news in his stride. He inspected Kylie, our second campervan, and said it was a good buy. That means, quite simply, that it was a good buy! Then we chatted for a bit, I laid our needs on the table, he offered advice, then saved our day by driving the Toyota he is selling us (and, by the way, the Toyota that we are now going to call George) to Midland and towing back the Jeep, Dim and Dan. If anyone can fix it, George can.

Three excellent evening news reports on the TV eradicated the disappointment in the breakdown. The ABC report went all the way across Australia. Unbelievable.

Because of the breakdown, the lateness of our acquisition of vehicles and the subsequent need for more preparation time, we’ll be remaining back in Perth for Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully then, by Wednesday, we’ll be on the road for the long haul. Here’s to a new journey. We’re excited, are you?

11 Comments:

  • At 4:04 pm, Blogger Laura said…

    Yessssssssss!!!! I'm so hyped you'd have to spatula me off the ceiling if I wasn't struck down with the worst summer throat infection ever...Congrats Dave, you've got it all to come and it's great to see you back on deck again. You're the man with the plan! Go Team BF!!!

     
  • At 10:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeahhh you can do it!

     
  • At 11:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Dave - loved reading your story and the fact that you're actually achieving what you dreamed of back in Swansea. All the best to you guys!

     
  • At 6:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you are a champion mate, good luck i hope it all goes well.

     
  • At 8:12 am, Blogger silviao said…

    good luck! how I wish I had the same force of you. big kisses from Italy! Silvia

     
  • At 8:13 am, Blogger silviao said…

    good luck man! Silvia from Italy

     
  • At 8:25 am, Blogger Bam Bam said…

    gutted that you broke down dude, but hell, at least its not the end of the world! We've been thinking of ya back here!

    Good luck for wednesday, we're behind you 100% of the way (in mind if not in body) I'm planning on being there at the finish line dude, pint in hand. Drop us an email when you get 2 mins, be good to catch up again.

    Peace and Love from the BeatsWalkin Team (oh yeah, there's 4 of us now!)

    Skate Hard,

    Bam

     
  • At 11:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    E' proprio vero che nella vita non sempre ci sono risposte ma sempre ci possono essere scelte....
    Penso che puoi farcela

    (Se qualche volenteroso vuole tradurre....)
    BC (Genova - Italia)

     
  • At 12:02 pm, Blogger Badger Madge said…

    Go Dave! We know you can do it. xx

     
  • At 5:16 am, Blogger Phil Lomax said…

    GO for it Dave. I'll be watching.

    Cya in Adelaide

     
  • At 10:29 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good Luck, Good Luck, Good Luck! May your feet never be sore and your support vans always get fixed easily and quickly! Blessings to your support crew, too!

     

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