There are some things one can always be sure of when reading the Metro.
There will always be one story involving a fluffy animal that did something silly.
There will be a picture of a tremendously pretty lady saying very smart things (rather than a very pretty lady being quoted as saying smart things when actually they were put in her mouth by a copywriter) in order for the Metro, which is more high brow than The Sun (just), to justify having a picture of a delightfully pretty lady in NEWS.
There will be an article about an emergency, somewhere.
There will be a story relating to a crisis in London. Next to it there will be a very happy story from somewhere else in London.
Should there be an article about a charity journey, the charity will not be mentioned.
And when they write about me (which has happened four times in eight years, so this isn’t something you’ll be lucky enough to see every day), they will allude to the fact that I’m Welsh, or ‘from Swansea’.
I don’t mind particularly, although I have a sneaking suspicion that there are swathes of the English public who stop reading as soon as they see any hint of Welshness.
But I’m not Welsh, and I’m not from Swansea - although I did live there long ago when mobile phones were about the size of those large mantlepiece candles you can buy in Harrods.
So today, once I’d recovered from the surprise of being woken at 7.10am by my early-commuting cousin, who had texted excitedly with something along the lines of ‘Cuz! You’re in the Metro today!’, I wondered whether this was it. Maybe this would be the day when I was an Englishman in the Metro.
I haven’t yet had a chance to see the hard copy, but a swift Google did find this:
Hehe! It’s quite a good piece, bar the fact that somehow I’m now also from Warwick, as well as Swansea, although I’m not sure I’ve ever been to Warwick. I’m off now to pick up a paper copy and sit on the tube until someone recognises me.
You can read the rest of the article, here
And remember, I’m not from Swansea :)
Should you find yourself with some spare time, you able to follow my adventures on my website, through Facebook, or Twitter. And my latest book, Life in the Slow Lane, is now available in whatever format you prefer to read books these days.
There comes a time in life when you look back at the month just passed and realise that you’ve just ridden 1300 miles on a gym machine with wheels.
It’s been the wettest early summer in fifty years for this part of Europe and our route has been altered occasionally due to a current tendency for cycle paths to become lakes or rivers without announcement. ‘Ah,’ we say, ‘best engineer an about turn…’
When not riding our ElliptiGOs for eight hours a day we’ve found time to feign injury in an ambulance, race up 540 steps through cylindrical spires of the tallest church in the world (before - after), witness the aftermath of a runaway barge pontoon that had crucially damaged a barrage in flood season, and attend a festival dedicated to skyscrapers.
Germany is a beautiful, friendly country. I’ve mentioned the war only once when being interviewed by a reporter who absolutely must have been a poodle in a former life. On our first night in the country a man named Adolf took just two minutes to give us free reign of his property - this would have meant something considerably different 70 years ago (too soon?). The cycle paths make safe navigation a joy. The sometimes-calm sometimes-swollen Rhine and Ahr and Mosel and Fils and Necker Rivers have guided us south through flat lands before the rolling of recent hills have suggested we are about to encounter a certain mountain range.
We have eaten ever so well, fuelling the constant activity that sees our muscles becoming dense and well-formed and replacing the several thousand calories we’ve burned each day. Just before we reached Frankfurt we passed over the 1000 mile mark for this journey, meaning it is now officially number eight for my Expedition1000 project.
In addition to ElliptiGOs we have made the acquaintance of many strange forms of transport, including trikes and trikkes and recumbent and pedal choppers and penny farthings and segways and unicycles. We have slept in barrels and tents and hammocks and karaoke bars canoe clubs and the homes of strangers and friends and paramedics. We have met two mayors, and one deputy, all were splendid.
I’ll be sad to bid farewell to the endless terraces covered in vines and the ripe greens of often far-off hills. I shan’t be sad when this bloody incessant rain quits its nonsense, we’ve been forced to ride much with heads down in brace against persistent and endless droplets. Our gear has been dampened and dried countless times, an unexpected and annoyingly grey test after our blazing yellow ten days in the UK. English weather we absolutely did not bring to our European neighbours.
And now to Switzerland. I couldn’t even begin to guess what it holds for us. Although a few hills will be a good start. And cheese, let’s go and get some cheese.
We’re raising funds for CoppaFeel!’s brilliantly creative ways to raise pre-detection levels of breast cancer. Please donate a couple of pennies if you enjoyed this blog.
We have a habit of getting ourselves into these adventures because we say yes, a lot. Grab a t-shirt to kick of your say yes more habit.
And here’s our official Go Trek website, for the full background.
Axel boasted the most wonderful smile. He looked a full decade younger than his seventy years and had a twinkle in his eye that instantly betrayed a life well lived. I felt forced to ask a question: ‘If a youngster asked you for one piece of advice about life, what would you say?’
He thought a while, processing the joy and the pain that had offered up lessons throughout his fruitful life and after shaking his head in desperation he finally found something. He took a bite of cake and wiped the excess from around his mouth, then looked at me sideways.
'To distinguish that which is important to you, and that which is not.'
It has been one month since Squash and I left Everton Football Club’s training ground at Finch Farm, Liverpool. One month. Twenty-nine days. One thousand one hundred miles right on the nail.
But this has been an immeasurable period of time, one where a simple calculation of days doesn’t do justice to the seemingly bottomless accumulation of new faces, uphills and downhills, grease stains on once-new clothing and confusion brought about by missing signposts at crucial junctions.
I can be sure about a few things. We have camped just three times this last month thanks to the kindness of strangers. This was the first morning since we woke on the English Channel Stena ferry on 11th May that the air has not been filled with rain. I am revelling in the circular by-product of fitness that accompanies travelling this way. Although my bed fellow is a lingering, aching glow of endless work and exercise, I take it as growing pains. The only true physical discomfort I’ve felt has been sore feet after standing for so blooming’ long, but my body isn’t breaking down on this journey, it is improving.
The familiarity I feel with Europe has made this a strange venture. It’s rare that I find myself staring in wonder or surprise although such adventure slightly tugs at the fabric of previous understanding and serves as a reminder of things still good and possible. The simple pleasures of riding in warm sunlight and camping by a nicely flowing river are never lost. I long for more of these.
So, one month in. Has it passed fast or slow? Slow, I think. It is weighed down with memories as opposed to empty space. But honestly, in comparison to my past journeys this one has challenged me the least. The greatest physical test is yet to come in the form of the Alps and then a swift dash homewards from the Mediterranean, so I won’t count my chickens just yet.
I already know my mind is capable of continuing the plod from town to town and country to country but I’ve had time to dwell as my feet ellipse and I’m yet to resolve a few questions that have been posed since this trip began. Those things which I deem most important in life haven’t changed but as yet I haven’t moved towards or away from them since my temporary life as a full-time ElliptiGO’er began.
I long for some change; the lack of personal transition on this wiggle around Europe will mean my next venture shall be extremely different from this. Regardless of the transport I know that I have nothing left to prove by going far, it’s what happens en route that really matters.
Alongside my friend Squash Falconer I’m currently riding a couple of thousand miles around Europe on an ElliptiGO. It’s an elliptical bicycle with 8 gears, no seat and a drive chain powered by a running action. It’s certainly one of the most original forms of transport I’ve tried out in recent years, and a couple of people (with raised eyebrows) have asked me why I’m travelling by ElliptiGO on this journey. Here’s my answer:
Travel along exactly the same stretch of road in parallel universes; each time using a different form of transport. Each journey will be different. Skateboard, bicycle, pedal car, roller skis, unicycle, elliptical bicycle: each one of them offers a unique and original experience. Physical and psychological tests vary off the back of differing viewpoints, stresses, muscles used, speeds travelled, natural resistance, attention attracted and countless more factors.
When the bicycle was invented it was the subject of ridicule. Few people owned one, many scoffed at it against more traditional forms of travel, like a donkey. Now who’s laughing?! Of course, we now know it was only a matter of time before the bicycle became the favoured mode of transportation and recreation for over 1 billion humans. Lesson one: just because it’s original doesn’t make it foolish.
I’ve made some decisions in my life which now mean I’m a magnet to non-motorised machines. That said, I’m not gung ho with my yeses. I won’t travel 1000 miles by pogo stick or space hopper because it’s clear that the joy would wear off after three bounces. When I first laid eyes on the ElliptiGO I was concerned about the novelty aspect of the thing. But I had a go and was struck by a few qualities that a pogo stick or space hopper couldn’t offer: it was fun, it was obviously going to be good for me, and it had the potential to cover some serious distance.
The simple Say Yes More attitude of not letting expectation or stigma prevent a new experience is ingrained into the ElliptiGO. It is basically the combination of two superbly recognisable elements of life in the western world: a cross trainer from the gym, and a bicycle. Yet it still draws solemn head shakes from the odd cyclist and has even confused a few of the folks who have been patient and open-minded enough to follow one or more of my journeys. Ironically, the gold of this current expedition is the uniqueness of the ElliptiGO. It’s an ice-breaker, an instant conversation starter. It turns heads and makes people smile, enthuse and wonder. What else is adventure for?
After 1000 miles on the move I’m at the height of my fitness, it’s not often I’ve been able to say that sincerely. From my 8 journeys of 1000 miles or more this has been one of the easiest, but that is because I’ve been free to put my head down and go and with every stretch of road and hill climb my body has improved. Reliable, effective and enjoyable, the ElliptiGO is a joy to travel on. Apart from perhaps Stand Up Paddleboarding I haven’t found a more effective way to keep fit. I’ll definitely continue to ElliptiGO after this journey is over. It transforms the outdoors into a gym: give me trees and fields over mirrors and MTV any day. Plus, if I have the energy to still have a bit of fun after riding 70 miles in a day on a piece of kit that is a lot harder to power than a bicycle, then High 5 that statue!
And if you have a couple of extra pennies, please help us raise £3000 for CoppaFeel
This has become a familiar routine but the joy never wears off. A knock each day from the postman, a slow accumulation of little gear piles in the corner of my room: electronics, camping gear, food, personal, miscellaneous.
Yes, expedition time is approaching and slowly loose ends are being bound together like frayed rope-ends being cured by a….hold on! I haven’t packed a lighter yet.
During my first two adventure projects I got a little carried away by the sudden realisation that if I had a cool project it meant I could blag free stuff. Seriously, someone even sent me a remote control car because I managed to convince them that it would help me skateboard across Australia.
But those times are gone. The glee I now feel when receiving a sponsored product is akin to placing one of the final pieces into a nearly completed jigsaw puzzle. Almost everything I travel with is necessary. An ElliptiGO is about 30% harder to power than a bicycle, so add a trailer full of gear behind and there’s a challenge on the cards. Keeping things light is essential.
Each day next week, starting on Monday, I’ll be sharing ideas on how to make your expedition happen, from deciding what you need to obtaining sponsorship, getting over the inevitable rejection from some potential partners and also ensuring that you do a good job for those who have chosen to support you.
On April 30th myself & Squash Falconer set off from Liverpool on our ElliptiGO elliptical trainers with 3000 miles of road and 5 European countries ahead of us.
We’re encouraging people to come and join us on the road, spread the word, set up events to get people on our ElliptiGOs at the same time as helping us raise thousands for CoppaFeel!’s efforts towards breast cancer awareness and pre-detection.
If you know anyone on the route who might be willing to host us, have Squash and I deliver an entertaining and motivating talk, get friends out to ride with us for a brief while, or just to simply spread the word, please let us know.
The days/ nights in bold capitals below are the ones where we’re looking for someone to set up an event in the evening. And of course, if you’d like to join us for a day or just a few hours, this’ll give you an idea of where we will be.
Tue 30 April - Liverpool to Nantwich
Wed 1 May - Nantwich to Derby
Thu 2 May - SOMEWHERE BETWEEN LEICESTER & NORTHAMPTON
Fri 3 May - Milton Keynes (event @ 7pm)
Sat 4 May - WE’D LIKE TO HOLD A LONDON EVENT
Sun 5 May - Hyde Park, 3pm
6 May - Brighton
7 May - SOMEWHERE IN KENT
8 May - Gravesend, 5pm
9 May - BETWEEN CHELMSFORD & IPSWICH
10 May - Harwich to Rotterdam ferry
Taken from an April 2013 interview with Cheaptents.com - read the rest of the interview here:
CheapTents: All of your Expedition 1000 journeys have / will be carried out using non-motorised transport. Would you like to see a future where the majority of travel is carried out with non-motorised transport?
Dave Cornthwaite: Naturally. Modern-day humans are so set apart from our ancestors. We rush around in fast, metal cages, fuelled as a consequence of plundering the Earth. So many people seem to live as fast as they can before they die and it’s an awful waste of time, it’s sad. Non motorised travel not only keeps us fit and healthy, but it allows us time to think and develop an understanding of who we are, and a greater connection to the world around us – people and planet. Healthier, happier people result, and I don’t think the wider benefits of that could be argued.