Scoot Japan – Q&A with Dave Cornthwaite
In November 2016, endurance adventurer Dave Cornthwaite completed Scoot Japan, an epic 1000 mile solo adventure on a kick scooter. Now he’s home and rested, we catch up with Dave.
In a nutshell, what was Scoot Japan all about?
DC: For the last few years I’ve been slowly completing a non-motorised project called Expedition1000, involving journeys over 1000 miles, each time using a different mode of transport. The eventual target is twenty-five journeys and I’m glad to say that Swifty Scooters has now filled the 12th spot on the challenge!
So it’s important for you to take on a physical challenge – why?
DC: Definitely. I like a purpose to anything I do and the more challenging any project is the more I get out of it. Expedition1000 is such a long-term, ambitious project but I only decide to do a journey when I’m ready for it. In many ways, these days, a 1000 mile journey is somewhat of a break from my usual schedule dashing around the globe speaking about positivity and adventure, which involves a lot of laptop time. It’s important to me to get fit and healthy and spend a lot of time outdoors and Scoot Japan certainly offered all of those benefits.
In terms of physical preparation, how much experience did you have on a scooter? And for any newbies, what advice would you give to anyone looking to try one?
DC: My scootering experience was minimal! I’d spent a couple of days zipping around London on a Swifty in 2014 and did about four miles training before Japan, but the ease of jumping onto a scooter and covering ground was exactly why I chose Swifty Scooters for this challenge.
It’s fun, just as simple if not easier than riding a bike and even on my first afternoon I covered twenty miles fairly easily, so using a scooter for a commute, exercise session or a leisurely weekend ride is an easy choice. Usually, after 1000 miles I’m ready to take a break from the way I’ve been travelling but I sat on the plane back from Japan really looking forward to scooting around London on Swifty!
Long distances on a scooter, you have proved it can be done – can you give me some stats on speed, distances, up hills and down hills?
DC: Oh definitely, geek time!
Distance travelled: 1052.41 miles
Vertical elevation climbed: 17,574 vertical metres
Estimated no. of pushes: 565,000
Leg used: Right – 65%, Left – 35%
Islands navigated: 14
Tunnels travelled through: 191 (total distance around 15km)
Bridges crossed: 432 (the Japanese love their bridges)
1000 mile journeys now completed: 12!
That’s awesome! What was your highlight of the trip?
DC: There were so many. The 1000 mile mark, of course – it’s always special and never a given, so getting there makes me smile like nothing else. Reaching my first 2000m pass and the downhill afterwards, there is NOTHING like zooming along down a smooth road standing upright, it’s utterly liberating. Discovering the amazing Seto Inland Sea and realising there were hundreds of islands in the archipelago. The Shimanami Kaido, an incredible 7 bridge-7 island combo with independent cycle paths for 70km, just beautiful. Miyajima Island is a fantastic place to visit, deer were just wandering around between ancient temples and shrines, totally unexpected.
I travel day by day without a plan and pick my routes according to instinct, opportunity or recommendation, and with the added bonus of travelling on a super cool head-turning ice-breaker called Swifty I had plenty of often hilarious moments with locals, and found some really random places to camp like beneath railway bridges and in play parks. And simply Japan as a whole, it’s such a unique culture yet blended with globalisation which made it an easy place to travel at the same time as being immersed in a whole different kind of adventure.
And lows? How did you overcome them?
DC: On the whole, I’m a pretty positive chap, but a natural part of the challenge of travelling 1000 miles is the mental toll it can take. Some days I was plodding alongside highways through the undergrowth which wasn’t much fun, and now and then I’d just feel beat and my body didn’t want to do a great deal, but I’ve come to recognise the importance of these moments and even embrace them in a sadistic kind of way. Without the rubbish times, it’s impossible to experience the highs and joys.
How did you feel at the end physically and mentally, and now you’ve had time to rest?
DC: I finished the journey two weeks ago and am still a little weary, although a gluttonous Christmas might have contributed to that! All in all, I was delighted to finish after enjoying such a challenging, fun journey. It’s not easy reaching 1000 miles without a motor but I’ve had a couple of years of chronic back and leg pains and I finished this trip in just the best health. I’m in the best condition I’ve been in for years and my girlfriend is pretty happy with the results!
I know you haven’t asked me to comment on this, but I just wanted to say thank you. I’ve been doing this kind of thing as “work” for over a decade and it’s so rare to work with a company as supportive and generous as Swifty Scooters.
I had a lot of people raise an eyebrow when I said I was travelling by kick scooter but now everybody wants one. I didn’t just ride Swifty for 5 weeks in Japan, it became a friend that I now use to get around London and the fun factor hasn’t diminished one bit.
Thanks for one of the most favourite journeys of my life. I’ll never forget it.