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, October 30, 2006

Moving south

It feels like it took almost as long to leave Adelaide as it did for us to arrive there, but leave the City of Churches we did, but what an effort it took! With my left foot strapped up tight enough to make toes go blue I stepped onto Elsa for the first time in two weeks with Channel 7's news crew on hand to film things if all went pear-shaped. Luckily all was good, I did an interview and pushed off up the hills surrounding southern and eastern Adelaide. Steep steep steep, have had to deal with nothing like this since arriving in Australia, it was the ultimate test for my dodgy foot and the hills showed up my lack of fitness after spending two weeks on my bum. We stopped for lunch in the small but beautiful town of Stirling and then continued on, arriving in Strathalbyn with an hour to spare before the 6 o'Clock news. We all sat down to watch Channel 7, expecting a 20 second hook at the end of the programme. Unbelievably my ugly mug popped up as the third piece in the main news! A minute and a half later, having watched loads of Nullarbor footage Dim had given to the cameraman, viewing the BoardFree website on screen, seeing a cool little graphic showing a skateboard moving around Australia and hearing the reporter talk about our charities we all jumped out of our seats and whooped with joy! What a piece! Dim filmed it all, missing the beginning only through surprise at the early showing, and Si couldn't resist but yell out a loud YAAAAAAY when his footage appeared on the telly, but it was a great piece all the same. (It can be viewed on the TV page of Media Centre.)

This morning, suffering after losing an hour last night when the clocks went forward, was a bit more foot strapping and then back on the road. A headwind slowed us but plenty of people passed and donated, and the news that the TV piece had also shown on Channel 7's Sunrise show this morning was enough to push us into the picturesque Wellington by 1pm. I skated onto the car ferry that sends vehicles across the beautiful River Murray, and as Pelicans floated nearby I counted my blessings. Lucky lucky boy. A great couple of days, one amazing country. We've finally made it out of Adelaide. Should be in Victoria within a week.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

When ya gotta go you gotta go

A short blog this morning, but a happy one. A good bit of strapping, a couple of homemade butterfly stitches and a constantly bitten lip shoud see us on the road in about three hours! I'll be leaving Adelaide from the lay-by beside Mitcham Cemetary on Old Belair Road at 10:30am (2am GMT) this morning, and aim to scale the hills (what a test for someone who hasn't ridden for two weeks!) before riding out the flats to Strathalbyn, some 50km south of Adelaide.

Only a day on the board is going to tell me how well the foot has healed, despite all that has gone before this is the most important day of BoardFree Australia so far.

Smiles all round this morning, we're getting back on the road.

PS. Thanks so much to everyone who has emailed their best wishes and made donations on If you've stumbled across this blog accidentally but it has still caught your interest, then visit for the full story.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When becoming unstitched is a good thing...

In my old age (the team keep telling me I'm 30 - no respect!) I'm becoming a little emotional. Last night I began to pinch myself: I'm in Adelaide, I'm 2800km into a journey on a skateboard, across Australia! People everywhere know about the journey. People have written songs about BoardFree! We've raised nearly eight thousand pounds! Unbelievable, every bit of it. Bev Blackburn, perhaps the most talented musician I know, has the pleasure of sitting in one of my support vehicles every day, and with the help of Dim and Holly (writing credits) has been responsible for the tune flowing around inside my head. Yes, it's so beautiful it flows. I want everyone to hear this song (it's the one at the end of the Nullarbor video on, it brings a tear to my eye....."moving on, I'm moving on..."

Well, soon we will be moving on. Friday, hopefully. Adelaide is a beautiful city, classy and not at all boring as most of the locals seem to think. I've become attached to this city, dangerously so, but my stitches came out yesterday - a kind English doctor told me that the wound had healed well - and although I'm not completely comfortable standing on it yet I'm hoping that Elsa and I will get back on the road this Friday.

To pass time this last week I've visited the Hindmarsh stadium a couple of times to watch Adelaide United play football (not soccer as they insist on calling it here). The first game was wonderful, not because I'd been invited into the corporate box (the hospitality was great!) but because there was a legend on the field, a Brazilian chap named Romario. Once voted World Player of the Year, Romario is getting on a bit for a modern day professional but is striving to reach 1000 career goals. I saw him score his 985th, what a pleasure! The next game I enjoyed from the closer vantage point of the stands and afterwards was lucky enough to meet some of the players. In the UK Premiership players are inaccessable to all but a lucky few, but here the players were happy to stop and chat for a good while. Bobby Petta, formerly of Celtic in Scotland, was friendly and humble. But my personal highlight was meeting 'the other Cornthwaite on Google', Robert, who plays at the back for United. Funnily enough, he said he'd been approached a few times by people asking if we were related. Just feeling welcome a football club reminded me that the sooner I get back on the road the better, it's ever so easy to get comfortable in a place when moving on involves constant excercise!

In other good news, I wiped the sweat off my brow when C1rca sent through some more shoes (I was preparing to push up the east coast in a battered pair of bare feet!) and The Magic Touch delivered a boxful of Boardfree baseball caps for the team to sell on the way - in return for donations.

So, wrapping up a birthday blog and embarking on what will be a memorable opening to my 28th year, I sincerely hope that the chasm in my heel - now the stitches are out - won't hinder progress to much in the coming weeks. An 11 day delay means an immense effort is needed to reach Sydney on December 3rd, in time for a large International Disability Day event at Sailability Rushcutters Bay. The engines are starting to purr again, watch this space for progress to resume.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A blessing in disguise...

I'm at a loss to describe how I'm feeling at the moment. Completely exhausted after a barrage of new challenges to contend with this week, this last week in the city has meant an adjustment of body clocks as we've gone back to latish nights and comparably lazy lie-ins. And by that I mean 8am!

Two months on the road living in each others pockets has driven us all stir crazy. Today, for the first time since Perth, I spent the afternoon away from the rest of the team working on new designs for t-shirts, updating the website, clearing my inbox and planning the route from Adelaide around to Brisbane. The frustration at not being able to get back on the road is tempered by an unsurprising relief at just being able to take things easy. I'm looking forward to getting back on the road but am struggling with the concept of not knowing when that day will come. The stitches and bruising around the gash in my heel is looking messy at the moment - I can only be sensible and make sure there is no threat of reopening the wound before I make the call to skate again.

In the meantime, Brit hurts his foot and everyone wants to talk. I was probably the most bemused out of everybody when the ABC primetime Australia-wide news covered my foot early this week. 20 interviews later I'm delighted at the medica coverage we've received, and slowly but surely as the team swarms through Adelaide with collecting buckets the BoardFree brand is pulling in more donations. Just yesterday we raised over $AUS700, not much in a big city you might think, but try handing out leaflets and asking for donations in a constantly-moving crowd and you realise that it takes a bit of tactical nouse to make city dwellers dip into their pockets.

The rest we're all experiencing has been made all the more pleasurable because of the hospitality of Deirdre and Bob Schahinger, who have made an awkward start in this city a thing of the past. Then there's Chris Riordan, whose cerebal palsy hasn't diminished a quick wit and humble, realistic nature which is going to send him through to the next Paralympic Games as a shining example of exactly what Sailability is capable of achieving. Chris is an inspiration. Sitting with him the other day in Mitcham, Adelaide, he asked me what kept me going when my legs were tired and the sun was beating down and the road was rough. And I struggled to tell him. Drive can't always be explained. Chris is focusing on the mental challenge that lies ahead as he prepares to go for gold. He says, "if we walked down the road and back again I would use ten times the energy that you would, I need to find out what I need to do, how I need to think." He isn't the type of guy who enters for the sake of entering, I'll be watching him all the way to Kuala Lumpur and I wouldn't be surprised if he comes away with a medal.

So, because of Chris, Deirdre, Bob and the countless other people who have appeared in Adelaide to support us, we'll soon be pushing on towards the coast and then around it. The delay means some long long days of catch-up are ahead of us. We're talking weeks of 80km plus days, roads littered with traffic which is now going to be heavy and viscous. They said the Nullarbor was impossible, rubbish. We've done the easy part, luckily we've been given the chance to rest before the hard graft kicks in.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A quick update from Adelaide

It's almost bed time at the end of quite a tumultuous two days. Good: Reaching Adelaide, skating through the middle of the city traffic-less early this morning, finally getting a bed to sleep in and a lovely BBQ cooked for the team. Bad: Vehicles breaking down, accomodation nightmares, seemingly endless bad luck. And then, to top of the negative end of the ridiculously unfriendly karma we've been receiving recently, I am jumping into the air with Dim and Dan to pose for a photo and I land on a metal spike. Wearing only my socks (I'd just finished skating and had whipped the shoes off as I always do). Said spike intrudes my left foot. Five hours later I leave the hospital with seven stitches. I'm on crutches. I'm a careful guy. Freak accidents don't happen to me. Until now. Delayed in Adelaide for at least a week, emotions all over the place, hobbling around like a bear with a sore left foot. None of us can understand what we've done wrong. Perhaps an enforced rest is just what we need after travelling 2700km across the outback in seven weeks, on a skateboard!

Check out,22606,20580984-5006301,00.html
for an article in Adelaide's Sunday Mail today. Will write more tomorrow. For now, its time to rest my head. And foot!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No kangaroos, just cars...

The past few days have gone by in a flurry. On Sunday a hefty crosswind that couldn’t have been more determined to knock me off balance didn’t stop a final 68km push into Port Augusta, which signalled the end of the Eyre Highway which had kept me company for almost a month. Port Augusta was a shabby town with a couple of shiny spots to keep people happy. One of these was the Big4 Caravan Park, a clean and well laid out campsite in which we were kindly given parking space and two cabins in which to spend a well-earned rest day. Port Augusta has a population of 15,000 people, and the incoming traffic confirmed that this town was the biggest urban settlement we’d passed through since Perth. From now on, at least for the most part, the lonely outback roads are past, and the steady whoosh of cars will again become commonplace.

Another reality check: we have mobile telephone coverage again. At ten to seven on Monday morning – our rest day remember! – the phone rang. Interview with ABC South Australia. In the early afternoon I chatted to Jess from Flow FM, which has good coverage throughout much of South Australia. Later I spoke to Triple J, an interview which went national, and went well! The next morning, I’d been back on the road for all of ten minutes before ABC Tasmania called in, and to finish off the flurry I was back on the phone at 5pm speaking to my old friends at BBC Radio Cumbria, having passed through Carlisle during BoardFree UK in May. Unfortunately a bad phone signal cut the interview short, I hope they don’t give up on me!

Back in May I was about 350 miles into my long distance skateboarding career. Now, with over 2500km down in Australia alone, my feet are looking considerably better than they did for much of BFUK and despite a transitory tummy bug that the team are sharing between each other at the moment I’m feeling fit and strong, if only a bit achy. It looks likely that a couple of toenails are on their way out, but if that’s the only damage so far I can deal with it!

65km south of Port Augusta, Port Germein was the stopping point yesterday afternoon. Home to Australia’s longest wooden jetty at over 1,200m, Port Germein is a delightful little village with a population of 250 or so and the Port Germein Progress Association, in the form of the local caravan park, gave us a lovely place to stay for the night. We crabbed and fished at the end of the jetty until the sun disappeared into a remarkably calm Spencer Gulf, and the twelve or so Blue Crabs we did manage to fish out of the water found themselves back in there before we started the long walk back to the caravan park.

This morning Dan cycled with me all the way to Crystal Brook, some 48km south of Port Germein, and we made our lunch stop by noon thanks to a pleasant tailwind and smooth roads. With every push Adelaide draws closer, now less than 200km to go before we roll into the city that has always been in our minds as the halfway point of BoardFree Australia. Halfway in distance perhaps, but I get the feeling, as a large proportion of vehicles passing us wave their hands crazily and honk horns in recognition of a journey they have already heard about through the media, that the urban experience is going to be quite something during the coming months.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A little town called Kimba

Legs like jelly this morning. A record-breaking 104km push yesterday saw us trawl along the ever-dimishing Eyre Highway between Wudinna and Kimba. Either side of an undulating road the countryside turned vaguely British, sheep and horses stared at me as I glided by and I half expected an olde English pub around every corner. Instead, Dim ran up to me holding a dead lizard by the tail, the driver of a ute tailgating me (yes, ute tailgating skateboard) stuck a chubby middle finger up as I pulled over to let them pass - I nearly hurled my water bottle at the passing goliath. A woman drove by waving a five dollar note out of the window and then panicked as two cars appeared behind her. She threw the note which, being paper, didn't gain any velocity and flapped around in the wind until I caught up with it. I was video blogging at the time and looked at the camera grinning, "apparently word has gotten around that I must be crazy to be doing something like this, too crazy even to talk to."

David Attenborough's audio book 'Life on Air' has kept my left ear company for the past few days. The man has led a fascinating life and today, as I listen in to Disc 8 of 17, he talks about flying to Nairobi with a co-cameraman to film a certain Lioness, who was reared by a German Baroness in northern Kenya and whose subsequent story became known as Born Free. The lioness was called Elsa, and Attenborough recalled the moment when he woke up from a siesta with the hairy, sweaty underside of a big cat's jaw looming over him. "If I had sat up with a joly," he recalled, "my head would have collided with her."

I looked down at Elsa, the one who keeps my feet company everyday and bares the name inspired by this wildly-tame lioness from Kenya, and tapped her with my left toes. "That's my girl," I said, and pushed on.

We are now three days of empty country away from Port Augusta, from there we head south, through Clare's wine valley region (don't get any funny ideas) and into Adelaide. We're barely a week away from there now. Our second city on this board-inspired adventure is fast approaching, and as I write from a small computer library in Kimba, which claims to be Halfway Across Australia, I thank my lucky stars that although the road ahead is a long and tiring one, we are not yet even halfway to Brisbane.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Skating on Eyre

"Take it easy today Dave," say the team. "We've just had two rest days and you need to edge your way back into skating again."

So I did. 94km later I write from the landlord's computer in a homely pub which sits right in the middle of Wirulla. A small town with a secret, according to the signs leading to the place. Thing is, nobody knows what the secret is. Ghostly noises around the vans tonight, I think. We've been given free camping across the road on a concrete slab that used to be a tennis court. There are showers in circular concrete huts which have prison-like doors and Huntsman spiders sat menacingly in the corners. Looming over our campsite, which we share with no-one, are two enormous grain silos. Wirulla doesn't seem to be home to much, but we're happy to be here, not least because I thought it would take two days to get here, not just one.

The team pushed me on today, towards our second longest push this journey. A new bicycle, purchased in Ceduna in order to give the crew an outpost for the energy they build up in the vans each day, had a baptism of fire today. Dim started, Bev continued, Becs had a bash, Kate peddled for ten km. And then, as I decided with shadows lengthening to push hard for 30km and finish a day ahead of schedule, Dim patted his paunch and declared, "I'm going to try and push home with you, I've got some steak to burn off." So he did. 30km later The Lens had earned himself some blisters on his hands (about time, as Dan and I have been suffering from similar after the team took on Ceduna's best yesterday in a tug-of-war) and a fine pair of jelly legs. Proud of the boy. A couple of days back, in the linear 100-strong village of Penong, a surfer-chap shook my hand in a pub as I bid hinm goodnight. "Good luck," he said.
"I don't need good luck," I told him, "I've got a good team and that's more than enough."

After pushing out of Perth almost six weeks ago (it seems more like twenty, by the way) we can almost smell Adelaide. Another 700km to go until we reach our second Australian city, of course, but earlier today we passed over the 2000km mark and 700km seems almost dainty sometimes! Ridiculous, I know, but we're beginning to enjoy life on the road more than our rest days. A clockwork-like eagerness to experience what's around the corner seems to be wound up every night. The BoardFree team are on a roll, and loving every minute.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ceduna: The end of an adventure, the beginning of another...

Ceduna is a small town, population 3000. Had we followed schedule and skated just that tiny bit slower along the Eyre Highway from Norseman to Ceduna, we still wouldn't be here this time next week, and that would have been unfortunate, as this weekend in Ceduna is Oysterfest. Oysters a plenty, sure, but the expanded weekend population, swelling this small bayside town by over 6000, has added to our charity coffers.

But generous festival-goers aside, our heads are spinning with people, people, people. For two and a half weeks we have been rolling along the Eyre Highway, battling headwinds, 40 metre trucks and a very real sense of space. The Nullarbor Plain, which covers an area of 77,000 square kilometres and has almost mythically become the nickname of the entire expanse of empty country separating Western Australia and South Australia, is home to miraculous sunsets, endless skies and devilishly straight roads.

Crossing the Nullarbor has been on our minds for months, for some of us over a year. Images of the spinal Eyre Highway running parallel to the nibbled coastline of the Great Australian Bight both awed and scared us. Now, having skated those roads and beaten the obstacles - descriptions of which filled warning messages sent to us before the journey - in our way, there is a real sense of achievement surrounding our efforts since Perth. I may have just become the first person to skateboard across the dreaded Nullarbor, but I couldn't have done it so smoothly, so safely and so successfully without my team. Often camping in the wilderness, surrounded by the ever-constant threat of poisonous snakes and spiders, we've been a team through and through. Becs and Bev sorting the food, Dan and Kate always keeping me safe on the roads, Si and Dim filming everything and more, Holly snapping as she does best. Almost 2000km down now, back on the road in the morning and heading for Port Augusta. It might take us ten days, it might take us six. Who knows what's coming next, this adventure has taken a fair few turns already (except on the 90 mile straight leading to Caiguna!) and we're not quite a third of the way there yet. Keep watching, this isn't quite as singularly dull as some people might think.

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