Say Yes to Helmets

Adventurer and World Record holding Skateboarder Dave Cornthwaite shares his story.

A few years ago I took a pay cut in pursuit of a happier life. Well, if I’m honest, it was more than that. I quit my job as a graphic designer in a downtown office in Swansea and decided to skateboard across Australia. I figured I’d see more; meet some interesting folks; get a tan.

Since then, life has been different. I’m an adventurer now; it’s on my business card. I’ve had three books published, a couple of films made about my travels, and I value my memories more than anything. After all, that’s exactly what I’ll have to measure my life by when the time comes to look backwards and assess it all.

I’m currently 8 journeys in to my Expedition1000 project. 25 journeys of 1000 miles or more, each using a different form of non-motorised transport. All in all, I’ve travelled about 8000 miles on road and another 8000 miles on water under my own steam, but I’d like to focus on the road bits, if you don’t mind.

In addition to skateboarding the length of Britain and across Australia, I rode a tandem bike 1400 miles from Vancouver to Vegas, ElliptiGO’d 1970 miles across Europe and rode a Bikecar 1000.3 miles across the American South, between Memphis and Miami.

A Bikecar? A what? It was a 4 wheeled pedal car, 5 foot 7 inches wide. Two people could pedal although I was alone for the majority of the journey. Her name was Priscilla and she weighed in at a quarter of a tonne. I pushed her up the hills, heavy old girl.

In the lead-up to every expedition I’m bombarded with warnings from friends, strangers, officials, anyone with a pulse. It’s the nature of doing something different that scares people but I always feel like the biggest danger is being on a road.

‘Watch out for Memphis drivers’, my friends said as I was preparing for the Bikecar ride.

After 18.6 miles, I realised why. A speeding car struck the vehicle to my rear, spun and knocked the Bikecar and me off track. We ended up thirty metres off the road. Ever so lucky to survive with no injury. I was shaken but decided to continue the journey, which I’m so glad I did despite it continuing to be the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done.

I have five friends who have been either killed or seriously injured whilst cycling on the road. One of them wasn’t wearing a helmet and he’s not with us anymore.

To a degree you’re sacrificing total control and safety because those two things are then in other people’s hands. One dropped iPod, a momentary glance at a text, alcohol in the bloodstream, a sneeze: all of these things and more can mean the difference between a safe, enjoyable cycle ride and a visit to A&E.

With all of this in mind, it’s imperative for everyone on the road to take as many precautions as they can. Be visible. Be careful. Be respectful – roads are for everyone. And wear a helmet. Quite often it’s the difference between life and death, and there are always more journeys to enjoy. Please, protect that possibility.

Dave Cornthwaite