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, August 27, 2006

A long day, a weird and wonderful ending

It’s not easy getting out of a comfortable bed knowing there’s a long day’s skate ahead, but it’s too early in this journey to get complacent so out of bed by eight we were, and in the jeep by quarter to nine.

A short drive out of Northam back to the Great Eastern Highway back to the point where I ended yesterday. And then off again. Rough roads for a few k’s and then it smoothed out, the Road Train Assembly Point sits just a couple of kilometres out of Northam and their impact on the Highway east of the town is clear to a skateboarder who yearns for a smooth surface. The vehicle tracks became darker and more trodden and my pace quickened. It’s only Day 4 and the team is developing a pattern. Dan and Kate and a cameraman join me on the road early and the rest of the team shop and edit videos and sort photos before jumping in the vans. Today I’d skated 15km before they overtook us, two similar Toyota vans logo’d to the nines, Becs behind the wheel of Kylie and her massive bull bar, Bev driving George, so named after the kind mechanic who put us on the road back in Perth. When the rest of the team meets us someone pulls the bicycle out of Kylie and joins me on the road, today it was Dan and the difference company makes to me is invaluable. Even with a jeep close behind skating from town to town is a lonely game, I can’t thank Si enough for winning the bike in Perth!

It’s Danny’s birthday today. Becs presented him with presents and a chocolate muffin as we gathered at the side of the road. 24 today, probably one of the most bizarre birthdays Dan’ll experience, he opened up his water pistols and a cool little straw that played happy birthday when he sucked through it, and then jumped on the bike and joined me on the road for 40km. For most of the way he had his iPod in, listening to Ricky Gervais podcasts and giggling to himself. He’s a good mate, Dan is.

The stretches are getting longer and straighter; the countryside visibly changed this morning with tree-cover becoming sparser and the green fields starting to dot with red patches. The Golden Pipeline running from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie has snaked nearby since the day we left Perth and today it left the hills in the distance and joined the roadside.

I was warned about a few things by knowing locals in Perth. “Don’t end up on a Road Train bullbar” they told me, and I don’t plan on it. These trucks are enormous, sometimes reaching 45 metres in length and stopping for no one, their sheer size creates a draft that sucked me along the shoulder, it’s like being blasted in a wind tunnel for 5 seconds. Reassuring though that almost all of them raise a thumb to me, pull down on their horn or show a palm of appreciation – making friends with the largest beasts around is the first rule of survival.

“Boredom,” they also said, “it’s very boring out there.” But actually, it isn’t that tedious. Sure, the long straight roads begin to merge into each other after a while but I think it’s probably harder for drivers to keep their concentration. Despite the constant pushing things aren’t so monotonous for Elsa and I. Every little change in the road surface, every time the Golden Pipeline gets a little larger or smaller or splits into two, every time a bright green parrot flies across the road or we pass a field containing hundreds of stock-still, staring sheep. Something happens every minute, and the little things keep us going.

Even this far out, almost 150km from Perth by lunchtime, people have read about the journey or seen us on the TV. Becs, Bev and Si had driven on ahead to find some accommodation for the night, so I sat on a Road House bench with Kate, Dim, Holls and Dan and munched on a peanut butter sandwich. A couple of families came up with donations asking for autographs, I signed a young lad’s skateboard and got back on the road, comfortable in the knowledge that there was only 25km left.

Dan rode for another 15 or so and then Dim jumped on the bike. Cunderdin was the target for the day and we rolled in at 4pm, another 62km down. Becs and Bev had done an astounding job finding accommodation for the night, we’d been granted permission to spend the night in an old vehicle museum! An amazing place, we were shown around by Chum, a sprightly chap in his late sixties/ early seventies, who explained a bit of local history and invited us to sit in the Earthquake House, which shook around just like a house would in an earthquake.

Chum left us shortly afterwards, Bev and Becs made a fine dinner and here I sit, in Chum’s chair, with a museum all around with antique cars and tanks and old train carriages. Probably the most bizarre accommodation we’ll be given this journey, but what a place! We’ll sleep happy tonight. 179km down, about 5800km to go.


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