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, January 15, 2007

Premature reflections

I start with an email just received from an old friend named Kara.
“Dave, G'DAY MATE! You flamin' galah, I just wanted to tell me how much you have delighted me/reduced me to tears over the last few months - I feel like I have been there with you in spirit every step of your incredible adventure, sans metal spike in my foot... You write BEAUTIFULLY. I was so proud when you made it into the London Metro and I almost told a whole (grumpy in the morning) tube carriage THAT'S MY FRIEND! Just wanted to say your adventures have made me laugh, made me cry, have been my best book of 2006.”

I read this message whilst sat in McDonalds, Kempsey NSW, surrounded by people who guzzle on Big Macs and slurp down vats of Coke, and I feel the tears welling up, rising and blurring my vision, dripping down my cheeks. Simple yet heartfelt, honest words from one of those few people who are able to be honest in everything. Enough to make me cry. Even sob. I’m touched to the core and waste three minutes of internet time trying to regain some control. I’m sure a fat man with a too-large-moustache is looking at me sideways. I wipe my eyes for the final time after crying in a fast food restaurant and realise I just learned more about myself in the last few minutes than I did during my 23rd year, when I didn’t cry once. I’m 27 years old, in the middle of something wonderful, so physically and emotionally drained that I can barely hold myself together half of the time yet can blame this state on partaking in what many would consider to be an incredibly macho endeavor. I’ve skateboarded across Australia and I’m still able to cry like a girl when someone’s overly nice to me, and what have I learnt? That I can deal with all of it, as long as some people care.

The first days of skating in 2007 have flown by. Every metre I travel on Elsa now extends the world distance skating record. Every two days more than a 100km falls from the total left until Brisbane. A wave of support from passing motorists on the road pushes me towards Queensland, the last State, the place where it ends. Every other car honks its horn, passengers take photos, strangers hang out of their windows and shout at me;
“You’re a legend!”
“You’re the man, brother!”
“Keep going mate, almost there!”
If you haven’t been on the road with us it might be hard to imagine how it feels to be a part of the BoardFree team right now. I skated across a traffic light-controlled crossroads in Coffs Harbour and every car queuing on the other side - all ten of them – let their horns go. Awesome! After all it has put us through, Australia is willing us on, willing us to succeed.

In Nambucca Heads, at the Big4 campsite which had kindly put us up for night, Dan returns from the toilet to find five kids looking at the back of George. One of them, about seven years old, asks Dan what I do when I need to pee. Dan says something along the lines of “well, he just stops and goes in the bush.” The child then had a think and trumped Dan with a blinder,
“Ok, but what happens with Bush Teddies?”
“What are Bush Teddies?” asks Dan, confused.
“Poos in the bush!” the kid replied, as the others in the group wet themselves laughing.

As time goes on and the road, which was once so long and seemingly endless, becomes shorter and more tangible, our thoughts turn more and more to life after BoardFree Australia. After twenty one weeks on the road we have lived through Bev’s song: “when will we get to Brisbane, how long do we have to go? Through Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney…..” And now, we’re closer to Brisbane than Sydney. The route map, studiously updated at the end of each day, is now home to a red line which leads all the way across Australia. The distance travelled is boggling, having skated it I am still struggling to fathom the achievement and I’m sure that none of us will quite get to grips with the last half year until we’ve had time to reflect. Some will go back to live with parents, others to the homes they left before flying to Australia. Jobs need to be found, debts cleared, and in many ways it may seem to some of the team like they’re going back to square one, perhaps even further back than that. Of course, the memories are one thing, but the experience each team member has gained during this journey will stand them in good stead for progress in future careers. I’m quite sure, though, that at this time, when the journey’s end approaches fast and worries supersede excitement, that the CV benefits are lost on most.

Personally, I’m starting to feel sadness when I think of Brisbane. “Don’t wish away the kilometers,” my cousin Kate tells me, and in all reality I don’t. But saying that, I still have to skate them and every day another 50km or so is scrubbed from the remaining total, a figure that now seems tiny compared to the distance traveled already. I know I’ll miss life on the road when it’s over, but at the same time I’m sure that there are more journeys to come so I don’t have much to worry about. I’m looking forward to not waking up with a grudge against the upcoming 70km day – the irony of my decision to embark on such an adventure because I’m not a man who likes rigidly imposed structure never escapes me. For more than a year I have been bound to attempting an achievement which can only be obtained by structure and discipline. A prisoner in my own ambition.

Mostly, though, I’m shaking with excitement. The opportunity to start anew, again! I want to talk about this journey, about BoardFree, about the possibilities that we all face if we put our minds to it. I want to write a book – a process that is as daunting to me as the journey itself, I now have to relive it all again! – and find myself a new home. And for just a couple of weeks, I want to allow myself a good rest.

For now though, chickens must not be counted. There are 20km or so to skate. It ends on Monday 22nd January. Watch this space.


  • At 9:25 pm, Blogger Bam Bam said…

    Only 8 days to go brother. Keep it up, we're thinking of you!


  • At 6:41 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you crazy dude!!
    we are a couple of brisbanites who would love to see you roll into our city on your final dig... just a quick question,was listening to triple j the other week and they said there may be a bit of a welcoming party?! will this be at 12.30 at roma st parklands?!

    keep cruising man...

  • At 6:53 am, Blogger boardfreedave said…

    Hey guys, the big finish will be on Monday 22nd, 12:30pm in South Bank, Brisbane. Still working on final details but the finish line is likely to be outside the Performing Arts Centre. Keep your eyes on for details! Bring your friends!

  • At 2:11 pm, Blogger Seadog said…

    Less than a week to go...amazing! thinking of you all, and your poor, poor feet! love to everyone, em x

  • At 9:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Dave
    Jo from Primrose Hill here...well done, well done!!!
    It seems so long ago you sat in our kitchen with a stinking we have missed our Holl but such an adventure for her as it has been for all of you.
    I want to be one of the first with a copy of the book...and will sell them to our guests who have been intrigued by your adventure.
    Enjoy the last few miles..give Holl a hug from me....and will somone please take a few photos of her for a change!

  • At 1:43 am, Blogger Juggling Joe said…

    I've only just read about your adventure in the Telegraph newspaper. Wish I knew about this earlier - people like you inspire others to live on the edge more, Live for more than their jobs, live and think about what they can look back on their life and say "Yeah, that was worth it!". You remind me of the ditchmonkey due to your ability to let go of the ratrace somewhat with passion ( You've got an audience now...keep it and do something else after this adventure!

  • At 2:43 am, Blogger leigh said…

    Welcome to gods country...Congrats you made it...Good Luck for your future journeys.

  • At 2:44 am, Blogger leigh said…

    Welcome to gods country... Congrats! you made it...Good luck for your future journeys. leigh


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