Dave Cornthwaite

Dave Cornthwaite is an Adventurer, Speaker, Author and founder of Say Yes More.

Amongst other things he has paddleboarded the length of the Mississippi, skateboarded across Australia, swum 1001 miles, written three books, stayed awake for 72 hours in a row without turning crazy, and for years has tried in vain to get Nutella to sponsor his adventures. But will he give up? Never!
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Posts tagged "adventure"

In 2000, somewhere during that year-at-uni-that-I-wasn’t-really-at-uni, I joined my friends Pip and Kat and shuttled around the lower Western tip of South America on the wonderfully cheap (and quite comfortable) coaches that make this continent such an easy pleasure to traverse.

For some reason, even though the Inca Trail, Machu Pichu, Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines and the Bolivian salt flats at Uyuni were happily added to the journal, a sleepy little fishing village on the Pacific coast of Chile stood out in my mind as a highlight of those five and a bit weeks on the road.

Honestly, I don’t remember a great deal about my short-lived backpacking career. Maybe it was the ease of it all. Perhaps the lack of purpose sustained by aimless Lonely Planet-led ‘let’s go there!’ meant that I didn’t have any proper structure to harness my memories within. But I do recall Caldera.

The quaint, colourful fishing boats in the small harbour. The sealion hungrily poking his head up near the jetty. That little plastic dinosaur with a slightly creepy smile and two horns that was, I’m pretty sure, the only relic I took away from the place. I called him Caldera, and he featured in A LOT of pictures from that trip. 

And here I am again, in Caldera. This time, on a very different journey. Before leaving Santiago myself, Jamie and Ned envisioned long, flat plains upon which we would merrily sail and cover hundreds of miles each day.

It hasn’t happened like that. The 588 miles we’ve covered so far have almost all been by pedal, and our minimum target of covering 50 miles per day (which in our 20 day window meant 1000 miles would be attained) has actually been fairly difficult to reach.

This has, in the main, been a good, old fashioned endurance journey, on beautifully new-age machines. The Whikes are superb and although we’re disappointed that conditions haven’t yet been on our side (we’d LOVE another few days of glorious sailing!) the previous notion that Whikes couldn’t cope with mountainous terrain has been dashed. 

We can climb. Slowly, yes, but we’d be slow however we’d be moving in these goliath hills. And downhills are a blast. We’re often up to 40 miles per hour, easily holding a straight, safe line within a tight shoulder. The trucks roaring by just inches to our left haven’t been much of a concern, these Whikes can be trusted.

So now, we’ve had our one night in a bed, and a morning’s rest in a hostel up high on a hill above Caldera. Ned and Jamie are tinkering with wheels and stuff like that, and I’m doing the kind of invisible job of blog writing and post scheduling that makes a journey like this more than just a boy’s own adventure. 

I love this part of a trip. The story-sharing, painting a picture of a far off land. Creating solid, tangible memories that will ensure every day - not just this one in Caldera 14 years on from my first visit - of this journey will be remembered. 

It has been a beauty so far. Our legs are thickening up. Our minds now brush aside fears of new uphills. In an hour we will collapse once more into our Whikes, and pedal north. Nine days to go, 412 miles to cover. 

Pray for wind, but if it doesn’t come, we’ll still get there. Whike on.


Our Whike Atacama expedition began on April 2nd

Follow the adventure on FacebookTwitter and YouTube

And if you want to see what I’ve been up to before, this website is the best place to spend some time.


Want a ready-made adventure with a free flight thrown in?

Here’s the scoop. I have an ElliptiGO stored in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, France, near Nice. 

It must be picked up between April 21st and April 30th, this year.

I figured, rather than give a courier company some cash, that this is an adventure waiting to happen.

Have you been thinking about doing a journey but have no idea what or when or how? Here’s your answer.

So I’m looking for someone who has the time and the will to fly to France, collect the ElliptiGO, and ride it home.

Oh, you have questions? Here you go then: 

- What’s an ElliptiGO?
It’s an elliptical bicycle. Basically, running without the impact. It’s like a bike but without a seat. 8 gears. Brakes. Everything you need to move. Last year I rode 1970 miles in a roundabout route from Liverpool to…you guessed it, Nice! More information here

- How do you you carry gear?
There’s a great Burley Nomad Trailer ready to travel. It’s big enough to store all the gear any normal person would need to travel with. You DO NOT need panniers.

Is there any other gear for me to use?
- There may be some dust in the trailer, and a couple of bike tools, but I’d plan for nothing to be in there! I can’t offer any tangible gear other than the ElliptiGO and the trailer.

- How far is it and how long would it take?
Depends which way you go, but it’s roughly 950 miles to London. I’ve ridden over 100 miles in one day on the GO, but if you can average 50-70 miles a day you’d have a lovely journey. I have no time limit for you, so if you want to do a big, longer journey, then go for it!

- Where does it need to go?
Well, this is up for discussion. Ultimately, a little village in Warwickshire called Shipston-on-Stour. I won’t be able to collect it until some point between the middle and the end of May because I’m on another expedition, so if you have storage at the other end, anywhere in southern/ middle England, I’ll travel to you and ride it away.

What else do I need to know?
1) I’ll fly you (on a budget airline, sorry ;)) to Nice, from the UK. Or rather, I’ll pay for your flight, because I don’t have a pilot’s license.
2) The ElliptiGO is ginger, but doesn’t have a complex.
3) You should have a half decent fitness level. I’d rather you didn’t have a heart problem.
4) If you take this on, we’ll send you a bit of SayYesMore gear to ensure you make people smile and feel positive every morning.
5) If you want to share your journey on social media then great! We’ll retweet and post and get others ramped up about your adventure.

Any more questions, or if you’re keen on taking up this offer, please do drop me an email to dave@davecornthwaite.com

I look forward to hearing from you!

Dave C

Jamie and I have been in Santiago for the last two weeks, slowly getting things in order for our journey north, by Whike, to the Atacama Desert.

With our departure time set for 3am on Wednesday April 2nd we settled up on the minor factors of prep, then headed to the airport late last night to pick up Ned, the CEO of Whike UK and, critically, the man equipped to build the Whikes.

That is, he would have been equipped had his bag not been lost somewhere between London and South America. An exhausted Ned appeared through the Arrivals gate, half happy to be here, half glum that some essential kit had been misplaced.

So, writing this at noon on April 1st (so you know I’m not joking), here’s the situation. They still don’t know where the bag is.

In it are tools essential to complete the assembly of our three Whikes, and although we could probably forage around the city to get round this problem, the spokes that ensure the integrity of the wheels will be harder to replace. Plus, our camping gear and other bits and bobs are also in the sack.

So, we may well have a delay. With only 20 days to ride on this journey each one is important, so we can only hope that the airline gods are kind to us. 

For now, we’re going to do as much as we can to ensure we’re ready. Ned is starting to piece together the bits of the Whike puzzle. We’ve just wrestled the frames and spare pieces (total weight just under 100kg) down six floors and then a few hundred metres to a wider yard (as opposed to a snug box room). 

We’ll call the airport every hour to see if the bag has materialised, but until it does, we’re staying in Santiago!


The Whike Atacama expedition begins on April 2nd (we hope)

Follow the adventure on FacebookTwitter and YouTube

And if you want to see what I’ve been up to before, this website is the best place to spend some time.


The weeks and days leading up to any expedition are riddled with potential pitfalls. There are jobs you can do yourself, like prepare web pages and social media strategy, go shopping for those last-minute camping pots and ensure that your mode of transport is roughly in working order.

And then there are the bits out of your control, the bits when you have to rely on folks who aren’t invested in your project: the bits where you sometimes get let down. 

If I need something doing and it’s in my control, I just get it done. And living a fairly self-sustaining life it’s quite rare that I’m open to the frustrations of having to spend time dealing with being let down by others. 

Sometimes, though, you need to order a product that eventually gets lost in the mail, or a sponsor you were looking forward to working with keeps you hanging until the last minute and then withdraws, forcing a scramble of epic proportions.

It’s always important to remember that however much excitement bubbles up inside you at the idea of it, your expedition will never mean as much to anyone else than it does to you. Keeping it simple and reducing the moving parts will hopefully protect against too many stressful moments.

Once you’re out on the road there is little else to worry about. The hard bit, always, is getting to the start line. After that, whatever you encounter, it’s just part of the adventure.

It doesn’t matter how much experience you must have, the niggles will always remain. The things I mention above; they’ve all happened in the last week. I’ve had to rejig my entire communications plan. I’ve spent extra expedition budget on replacing goods I’ve already paid for but never arrived (forget the added niggle that a refund has been refused because the system says it was delivered, and the only option we’ve been given to deal with this is to start a criminal prosecution, seriously!! [and also quite difficult now we’re in Chile]).

Oh, it’s been worse. Like ten days before my Mississippi River descent in 2011 my paddleboard sponsor pulled out. I mean, that was quite important! Or when the Bikecar didn’t turn up in Memphis for ten days with no word from the courier. Or getting accused of being a cult leader in South Dakota before my Missouri River swim began (secretly I took this as a compliment, hehe!!)

Whether these challenges are hurtful, time consuming, stressful or just plain frustrating, you can deal with them either with a bit of foot stomping (which actually makes me feel better, I don’t know about you) or you just make alternative arrangements (this isn’t always possible when you’re a cult leader) and grin.

After the Bikecar eventually arrived in Memphis my friend Rod Wellington and I perched upon her and rode out of town, with our friend Dale Sanders (pictured above) driving behind us with flashing lights. A couple of hours later a speeding car crashed into Dale, then us, sending the Bikecar down into a field

Nobody was hurt, but the whole thing was a big shock. Later, preparing to leave the scene, Dale wrestled with his driver’s door, which wouldn’t shut because it had a rather large car-sized dent in it. Eventually he turned to the camera with an enormous, delightful smile. 

'Still Smiling,' he said.

And that’s the message. It stayed with all of us. Whatever happens, take a breath, keep working at getting the door shut. And smile.

Eight years condensed into six minutes. It’s been a ride…

More on www.davecornthwaite.com

Klara Harden’s ‘Made in Iceland’

Love this. @Conway_Sean’s #microadventure to walk 115 miles from Cheltenham to London, spending less than the equivalent train fare

I love travelling on water and my ears prick up every time I hear about a different style of pedal-powered water craft. 

From the Hobie Mirage Kayak to the space-age Torpedalo, the idea of pedalling 1000 miles, rather than paddling, is really appealing.

So the Hydrocumbent, currently being devised by some motivated chaps in Hungary,  holds some potential. Not only does it look great, but they’re trying to do what few other pedalo-manufacturers have managed; to make their boat fast and efficient.

From what I understand, the creators of the Hydrocumbent still need about $40,000 of funding before they can properly produce their first commercially available craft, but I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll reach their goal. I would love to travel with one of these!

The clear road out of Santiago

'Sorry, man,' groans Injeet, as his elbow rakes down my back. It's a relief, feeling empathy from a man whose fingers could snap me in half if they wanted to; his words give me comfort. At least he knows his own strength.

I’ve had a couple of aches and pains spreading down my leg recently, a knock-on effect from the back injury I sustained during my last expedition, so Injeet is executing a deep tissue massage, book-ended by some quite delightful foot and head reflexology, in the hope that the first five minutes of every future day don’t see me hopping around like a pogo stick.

And no, I’ll never do one thousand miles on one of them.

In one week’s time I’ll be on the road again. These last few days in Santiago have been fruitful. A backlog of work pushed aside during four weeks at sea has been reeled in, and all the little jobs needed to be ticked in order for a successful expedition to start…well, they haven’t all been completed yet, but bit by bit…


Our expedition t-shirts. YES!

The brilliant Ariel Body knocked out some cool designs for our expedition t-shirts, our Whikes arrived safely with no apparent damage, a road trip determined that there was indeed a route out of Santiago that we could take without much risk of repeating the beginning of Expedition No. 6, and I’ve watched this video enough times to make a beer can stove with a blindfold on.

For the rest of the week I’m going to go more in-depth with the build-up to this journey, including idea conception, publicity, raising funds, gear selection and dealing with all of those fears that naturally come along no matter how many bleeding’ expeditions you’ve done.


The Whike Atacama expedition begins on April 2nd

Follow the adventure on FacebookTwitter and YouTube

And if you want to see what I’ve been up to before, this website is the best place to spend some time.

This week I’m writing about the various steps that lead to a successful expedition. The first, undoubtedly, is the hardest to make. Starting.

There are a few things to get past before you make the first true step of your first adventure:

1) Other people

People don’t like it when other people around them change. However you dress it up, the single hardest thing when trying to make a big life change is dealing with all the noise around you.
'Why are you giving up the paycheque?' 
'I don't understand your choices.'
'That sounds dangerous.'
'I think you're stupid.'

More often than not, the things you’re hearing are the justifications for them not doing what you’re doing. It’s understandable, but it’s unacceptable. Be strong, think strong, be you.

My friend Rod Wellington experiences this a lot, but this is his view: ‘I carry a lot of things in my kayak, but your fears aren’t one of them.’

2) Money & Sponsorship
Adventures don’t have to be expensive. Travel light, muster up some old gear rather than going for all the new, shiny stuff, and camp more than you sleep in 5* hotels. ie. spend less. Don’t get fixated on sponsorship being the only way you can afford a journey. SO many people fail to get the sponsorship they think they need and scrap their plans. What?! As Tom Allen says, ‘don’t bother with the whole sponsorship thing.’ 

Save. Spend less. Save some more. Beg, borrow and ebay scavenge for your gear, and before you know it you’ll be ready without having to break the bank.

3) Experience
How much experience do you think experienced adventures had when they did they first big trip? That’s right, none. 

You have to start somewhere, so get that uncomfortable ‘I don’t know anything!’ moment out of the way and get on your bike.

Or, if that scares the bejesus out of you, do a few smaller, overnight trips closer to home. Do a #Microadventure. Each time you pack up your gear you’ll become more familiar with what you need at the top of your bag, and at the bottom (bedtime stuff). Each time you do anything is a little more experience you gain, even if you don’t realise it.


Just one of the many subsequent steps I made, slowly skating across Australia

So, now we’ve dealt with the obstacles, how do you know your idea is worth it?

Because it feels good. It feels like you’ve just swallowed a box of fireworks (in a good way). The chemistry that mixes up and just makes you smile even if you’re walking down a city street or sitting at your desk, it comes from an idea that gives you energy. You know it’s going to be good for you. Your palms get sweaty - it’s a hint at how they’re going to feel when you’re on the road or the river.

I can’t imagine anything worse than looking back and regretting letting my life drift past without really doing it justice. We’re all surrounded by people filled with ‘coulda shoulda woulda’ talk. Those people are the ones who tell us we’re silly and stupid and are going to fail when we try to step out of our normal groove. 


The Vicious Circle of Badness: reasons, or excuses?

And we can be those people too, unless we realise that for all of the uncertainty of standing out and chasing a dream and choosing the untrod fork in the road and all of that hippy crap that makes the difference between wannabe and superstar, we’d rather be positive influences for people around us. And the best way to be positive, is to act positive.

I don’t have the right to create a dream for anyone else, which means I don’t have the right to dash one, either.

I will always support someone who wants to do something different, but it helps knowing that it’s going to be good for them, regardless of a pay cut or a far-off danger. Having a purpose gives us something to look forward to, to work towards. There’s nothing like it. Nothing. Enjoying the potential of the future, rather than being scared or unenthused by it. 

Give yourself a challenge to step towards. Then step. Just once. As soon as you cross the line, you’re away.


My Whike Atacama expedition begins on April 1st. It will be the 9th journey of Expedition1000, assuming we can cover at least 1000 miles in 20 days.

Follow the adventure on FacebookTwitter and YouTube

And if you want to see what I’ve been up to before, this website is the best place to spend some time