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I skateboarded 85km from Sydney to Wollongong. It took me 12 hours (rotub.me)
192 points by rotub on Apr 11, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments

Hardly comparable, but one of my fondest memories in Japan was a sudden trip to climb Mt Fuji with 2 other crazy gaijin.. Totally unprepared, massive storm, absolutely no knowledge of how cold it would be (about 20 degrees Centigrade difference bottom and top..). We weathered it out outside with rain in our face all night, wearing only 500 yen convinience store rain jackets, ate a massively overpriced cup noodle once the small mountain huts opened up. Was it terrible? Pretty. Was it worth it? https://farm1.staticflickr.com/144/320147593_cc5c8e82ed_z.jp... yes.

I love the story, but as you found out, conditions can be surprisingly different up there. If you have some bad luck (twist an ankle or take an unwise short cut), you will be customers for mountain rescue, which is kind of embarrassing.

You need to be aware of local climate as well - its fairly common for people to look at mountains in Scotland, think they are quite low (they are) and conclude that they can't be risky or difficult. A 1000m mountain in Scotland can kill you at any time of year if you aren't prepared or don't take weather into account - you'd be insane to try it in winter conditions without preparation and appropriate skills (winter conditions being possible anywhere from October to May).

To me anything involving mountains or boats needs a fairly level headed evaluation of risks (NB that's just based on my experience and interests).

Here is a decent article on the subject: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/outdoors/outdoor-activities...

The best memories are often unprepared and unplanned, awesome. Thanks for sharing man

All true - biked from Aberdeen to Skye over summer. We took no sleeping bags but did get a tent. Hell, it was summer, how cold could it get? Very. I think we nearly died. It gets cold in Scotland in summer as it turns out. Fantastic trip.

Thank you for sharing the original story. In other news, definitely buying a skateboard next payday!

As long as it's not winter. I almost got hypothermia cross country skiing in a city park.

That's why I never plan or prepare for anything!

That's awesome, and I'm seriously impressed that you did it on that board and those wheels.

Something I loved, and still love, about the fixed gear crowd was how they'd do crazy rides with little or no prep. Just a child-like fearlessness. To head out, still in jeans, and to ride 200km just because.

The not taking it too seriously, and doing it because you can is great.

I believe that's how the Dunwich Dynamo started. Although I'd imagine doing it in jeans would leave your nethers somewhat akin to a freshly tenderised steak.


I've done it in jeans. Admittedly with padded shorts underneath.

One of the guys I met along the way on that occasion was in regular jeans and no padded shorts. He also didn't bring water or food. He made it to the end, with the biggest grin on his face that you can imagine.

He now randomly delivers free muffins to people across London: http://www.wakeuptomuff.com/how-to-get-muffed-up/

I did it in full-on padded lycra with chamois cream because I am a weak old softie.

On the other hand, in my defence, ... no, there's no defence.

Will be doing it again though, it was hella fun.

Why not use appropriate gear? You'll go faster/farther more comfortably.

I do at times, and I don't at times.

Sometimes I like to shoot for comfort, technical wear, the right food, sunglasses for the job, etc.

Other times I just want to remember what it's like to experience that child-like feeling of just grabbing your bike and rushing out for a ride.

There's something really liberating and fun about not acting like an adult and preparing. And it re-introduces some risks that make the ride more 'interesting'... such as whether you'll bonk, and whether you get lost because you didn't plan, or whether it rains and you get soaked to the bone as you didn't check.

Jeans or not, if you ride enough, often enough, hard enough, and long enough, you will

* Bonk.

* Get lost.

* Get soaked/frozen because the weather took a turn for the worse.

* Get roasted/bathed in sweat because it got a lot warmer than you planned on.

I have hours of anecdotes for all of the above, despite dressing in the best possible gear I had/could afford at the time, and riding the best possible bicycle I could afford at the time (gears, brakes, etc...).

Thanks so much mate. I have always been a shortboard skateboarder - never been a fan of longboards, so I forced myself to use my every day board.

Thanks for your feedback, really appreciate it :)

As an avid longboarder I have to give you props for doing that on a shortboard. I have no excuse now.

A million times this. So high off the ground, and soooo inefficient with the tiny wheels. Mad props.

Not to mention so much more likely to skid on a little rock. Insane trip

this happened a few times especially on the highway in the dark

thanks for your kind words!

would love to have seen a pic of you (don't take that the wrong way - i am sure you are cute as a button, but really i am curious about what you were wearing in the rain; was it warm? otherwise i can't imagine how you survived...).

All I wore was shorts and a t-shirt. I was cold the whole time but it was OK because I kept moving pretty much the whole way.

I was absolutely freezing waiting for my train at the station in Wollongong for a good 20-30 mins, and again on the train because it was air-conditioned. I was getting a bit worried as time went on because I was seriously cold. But I knew it would make that hot shower that much sweeter once I had arrived home, which it did.

Last summer, my extended family and I chartered a bus for a few days of touring in Washington DC. I'd never been before and I was dying to check out all the monuments up-close, but the crowds and the heat conspired to confine us to museums for the entirety of the trip. By the final night I had yet to get a good look at the national mall.

At 8:00 PM on Saturday, I decide that I will not be leaving without visiting those damn monuments. Cue Google Maps: aha, there's a twelve-mile bike trail between our hotel and the mall. I don't have a bike, but I did pack passable running shorts. The bus departs at 7:00 AM Sunday, t-minus eleven hours. Let's do this.

At the behest of a whim, what ensued was one of the most magical nights of my entire life. I could probably go on for pages, but I'll refrain. To summarize, I spent 3.5 hours walk/jogging along a breathtakingly gorgeous trail, two hours running excitedly between the amazing and largely-deserted monuments (some of them, like the Korean War monument, are especially captivating in the dark), and another 3.5 hours battling fatigue, sore legs, and god-awful chafing the likes of which I had never imagined in a race to get back to the hotel before the heat of dawn.

Spontaneity really pays off sometimes.

I drove my Jeep from Alaska to South America, because I wanted to.

In all, I drove 65,000km (40,000mi) in 22 months, through 17 countries.

Without a doubt, actually leaving was the hardest part.

I highly recommend such a trip.

All my stories and photos are at http://theroadchoseme.com

For anyone wanting to do something similar, http://wikioverland.org has all the logistical information you'll need (borders, paperwork, gas prices, etc. etc.)

Edit: I'm in the early stages of planning the next one, which will be bigger :)

> Edit: I'm in the early stages of planning the next one, which will be bigger :)

Better get a G-Wagen then ;)


No thanks. Too expensive.

I plan to show it can be done quite cheaply, and with a relatively cheap vehicle.

A couple of weeks ago I was pretty bored and decided that I wanted to get out. I rode down the street to the grocery store on my board (about the size of a Penny board). After I went in and got some candy (Altoids actually) I decided to keep going to the end of the mall where the store is located. Once I got to the end, I found a sidewalk that went around this big lake and under the highway, so I followed it through a pitch black tunnel and when I ended up on the other side I just found where a road started and decided to follow it until it became a dead-end. After a while it did so I turned and followed the next one until it did too.

Around this time I decided to try and find my way back by going forward instead of retracing my path. I called a friend to ask him to check how far I was on Google Maps. He said I was around five miles away from where I started at this point, and offered to help me find my way back. I declined, since I still wanted to find it myself. After another long while I decided to call him again, and he said that I was now around nine miles away from where I had started.

I was getting tired and had thought that I would be pretty close at this point, so I asked him to give me directions to get back. When I finally got back I was tired, hungry, and so thirsty, but I had a really enjoyed my little adventure. It may seem silly since I was ultimately so close to where I live, but I had never been anywhere along that route so it really felt like an adventure of discovery.

After getting some food and something to drink, I retraced my route on Google Maps and it turns out that I had gone 21.7 miles. It took me around four hours.

Here's my route for anyone who is interested: http://goo.gl/maps/Yvwwj

This is nuts, and a fantastic achievement, both. I have a state of the art push longboard (Dregs Uptown, probably the lowest deck you can buy except for a landYacht, 72mm wheels, very clean Red bearings) and I've injured my achilles a few times on 8-10 mile skate outings.


also, i did the drive from Sydney to Brisbane with a couple surfboards, highly recommended. Next time i'll do S to W (in a campervan)

I was tempted to use a longboard but it just didn't sit well with me. So I managed to do it on my shortboard and am so happy I went with that decision, although my ankles would say otherwise

Although you wrote you'll never do it again, IF you were to do it again anyway some day I would like to advice you to have another look into a longboard, and choose a day when it's nice weather! You'll have a lot of more fun riding.

Check out http://pavedwave.org/ (The Soul of Distance Skateboarding). On the forums you'll find tons of advice (skateboard equipment, technique, nutrition) which can help you achieve awesome goals. You can also find events over there. If there's one time an event close to you you should really check it out, it's a great experience to come together and ride for 24 hours! (sound funny huh)

@rotub, if you care "Bald Hill" is where the Hang-gliders launch from Stanwell Tops.

And going down that hill on your skateboard after having already travelled (I'm guessing) ~50km for ~8hours, is impressive and totally crazy.


Ah yes, that hill was a killer. My knees and ankle/s were not happy. Thanks!

Well done. Great attitude.

Reminds me of beginning a long hike and feeling the pain in your calves start too early in the first hour. And knowing that you have over a week to go. But you just do it rather than skulking back.

Had a full day hiking from Italy to Switzerland in torrential rain, too stubborn to stop at the start, then unable to find a flat spot to pitch a tent later. Obviously traffic and road conditions on a skateboard are one thing, but I think you'd be hard pressed to die from rain itself otherwise. Still, it's such a mental deterrent at times.

Did you take the detour along the Sea Cliff Bridge?

Yeah rather than taking the highway the whole way, I took the turn off in order to ride along the coast (and across the sea cliff bridge), through Coledale, Bulli etc; it probably added a lot of time but it was the way I had always wanted to go. Skateboarding on the highway is fun for about 10 minutes.

"Did you take the detour"

I couldn't help myself but LOL at that :) I'm envisaging this guy pushing himself to even get started, middle of the night, pouring rain, swollen ankles, muscles aching everywhere, almost being run over 100's of times in one night, cold and miserable - and then thinking 'hey, let's take a detour over the touristic route!'.

You'll see from their reply that they did take the detour and I would too. The Sea Cliff Bridge and coastal road are great; the highway is really bland!

I love that all the comments on this HN thread are so positive! Amazing achievement and totally unorthodox.. nonetheless super inspiring. AND the HN community is renewed in its vigor. +! for online society.

Personal achievement stories pretty much always have good comments here for some reason - people share their stories etc. Sometimes it seems like this bit of the Internet isn't like rest.

My thoughts exactly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts too!

Firstly, that's amazing--congrats on finishing. Secondly, really well written piece!

Never boarded to be honest but these type of stories always put a smile on my face and I'm glad stories like this do get on HN's main feed. There is a lot more to these type of stories than the actual journey itself, yours especially. Congrats again! Since you never will do that exact trip again, maybe another is a possibility?!

Thanks - I really appreciate your words. Thanks for recognizing that stories like this do go further than the actual journey itself. Nothing specific planned but if something arises that makes me want it that bad again, I won't say no. Cheers

Great story. Reminded me of two stories from my hometown:

1. When I was in high school, a kid skateboarded the Boston Marathon, I think the first person to do so. He was younger than me, probably 15. The local paper asked him why, and he said something like "no one else has done it, and I want to see if it can be done."

2. When Boston's big ring road (Rte. 128) was built in the 1950s, people were allowed to ride bicycles in the two right-hand lanes (!). I was surprised to learn that a bunch of kids (15 or 16 year olds) used the road to bike from Boston's western edge to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire (1), about 80 miles. A lot of people might say "big deal, I can do a century" but this was using 3-speed bikes. These kids didn't think "it's too far, can't be done" but rather "we have these relatively modern bikes, can take the highway for part of the way, let's try". And they did.

1. http://www.wickedlocal.com/newton/news/x1084479703/Bob-Burke...

Amazing! Congrats. These are the kind of things we should do for just the heck of it, and of course for happiness and satisfaction that we get out of it :)

This reminded me of a guy who cycled 100 miles to meet his first customer.


Thank you! And thanks for sharing, that's a great story

I have a skateboard but not that good. I'm considering getting a long board because I don't do tricks that much. I just want to free ride using any board. And I think it's better to use long board if just free riding.

Anyways, he's amazing. Even though he get back twice, he still continue his plan and do it. Roadblocks didn't stop him.

It sounds like there might not be a 'next-time' in the near future, but maybe think about putting some lights on if you're doing another 3am start. Even riding my bike at 6am without eye-searingly bright front and backlights makes me very nervous, I'd be terrified skating on the road in the dark.

Yeah it was sketchy but thrilling at the same time. I planned to have lights and reflectors but in the end I just had to do it and stop 'planning' it.

You should check out Long Treks on Skate Decks.


Some funny sponsored longboarders (with one of them being a cinematographer) trek from Peru to Bolivia, and down Morocco, filming their all of their antics.

Seriously impressed with this. At the height of my skating and fitness in general I was almost passing out after having to skate 5 miles. Because of that, I was expecting to open up the link and see this was all done on an electric longboard. Nope. Just solid motivation.

99% motivation, 1% sore everything

When I was younger I probably did about 85km of skating a day... in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2. Seriously though, a skateboard requires a lot of effort and when it comes to going uphill it's not exactly a walk in the park. Massive respect, shine on you crazy diamond.

Thanks mate.

PS clocked so many hours in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 as a kid!

Nice! This would've been exciting. I've wanted to do a similar thing with a friend for ages, where we'd go out kayaking to Sydney Harbour and watch the sunrise. It'd be pretty dangerous, but so much fun.

Whereabouts in Sydney did you start your journey?

Hey barbs, Parramatta river and Syd Harbour isn't too dangerous for Kayaking. Just stay close to the shoreline and you're good.

You weren't considering coming in through the heads were you? That would be quite hairy.

Oh, I don't think it'd be too rough, but we were worried about encountering other boats at night etc

I started from Bardwell Park in Sydney.

I have lived without a car for a few years, so I have walked in rain like that a few times. I can't imagine skateboarding in it, but then I can barely stand on a board. At one point, I tried to learn but it didn't really go anywhere.

Good piece.

Great piece of writing, well done.

I particularly liked this section:

I was tired of thinking about the possibility of skateboarding to Wollongong ... But this was it, this time was different. I didn't even think about it. ... I just got up and started pushing my skateboard.

I know what you mean, and have had similar feelings and experiences psyching up for (climbing) missions as well. In a way, sometimes the most difficult part is committing to the task beforehand. Good on you for doing that, following through - and for doing it for yourself.

You've given me a little inspiration, a spark, to do things that I thought would be possible.

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

Since 2004, Rob Dyer (founder of Skate4Cancer) has been doing cross country skateboarding trips to raise awareness for Cancer. He's done this multiple times, the first one going from Newmarket, Ontario to LA, California. Here's the wikipedia article about him (and his foundation) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skate4Cancer

Here's the page for the documentary about his trips: http://dreamlovecure.org/

The most skateboarding I've ever done is playing Tony Hawk but this was a really interesting read!

Congratulations on finishing and for an awesome achievement - you've confirmed to yourself you can do anything you want when you put your mind to it and you did something what a lot of people don’t do (apart from skateboarding the from Sydney to Wollongong) in that despite, previously giving up for various reasons you still achieved your goal. Congratulations once again!

Thanks a lot!

Awesome. Hope you didn't do any serious damage to your ankles.

It is taking a lot of time to recover but I will get there. Thanks!

Very very impressive. I have walked from Bundena to Otford (along the coast) over two days which while not as far is just as hilly. I would not even attempt to skateboard from Sydney to the Gong.

My personal goal has always been to walk from Sydney to Canberra. Would take about I week I estimate, but im unlikely to ever do it mostly because I am not really willing to camp along highways especially around Belanglo.

sorry - i completely mis-read your comment and posted a snarky reply. deleted it now, but had already downvoted. sorry again.

Eh didn't read the reply and not worried about the down-vote. No hard feelings at all.

Don't suppose you could point out the bit that caused the confusion? It would help me avoid this sort of response in the future :)

i don't think there is anything you could do; i just made a very odd/dumb mistake - i read the first "very" as a "not" (got mad; downvoted; thumped out a reply; posted; re-read; deleted; scratched head).

My fault then. I shouldn't have gone for the double very. No hard feelings :)

He mentioned Alastair Humphreys' site but didn't seem to link to it (lot of great reads): http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/.

Here is the route of his around world on a bike trip: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/adventures/roundtheworldbyb...

Its amazing that this was done with a regular board. I would have to imagine with a longboard it would have been much easier.

Has anyone here ever thought about trying to get robots to be able to do skateboard tricks? It seems to me that unless they could be perfect every time you would first have to teach them to fall without damaging themselves. I bet that would have lots of applications in other domains!

After a decade of skateboarding, I would say this is not a possibility now at least. The problem is the constant balancing and the constant shifting of weight. Even after a decade of muscle memory, I fall riding down the sidewalk regularly. Current robots seem to be hard-pressed to handle even a little shove.

I found algorithms far superiour than me for 1-2d problems. (inverse pendulum problems, balancing a ball on a 2d plane and exactly controlling its position).

So problems probably are too many degrees of freedom, challenges like proper vision to plan ahead and steer, and in the shoving case also the security aspect (since there's a hard limit on how much force/acceleration a robot can use if it is handled by humans, and if you can shove it, it surely is).

In that sense, a skate-bot (without security limits) seems to be easier than a walking one with limits (which I assume you meant) to me since it takes down the degrees of freedom.

I bet there are people alive now that will be able to produce something like this sooner than we think. I agree that it is a difficult problem to solve ... I just think that we are the verge of being able to attempt something like this. Start by getting the robot to be able to ride on flat ground then just take it through Tony Hawk's trip tips volumes 1-3 building it up step by step.

Gotta say when I clicked on the link that wasn't the kind of board I was expecting at all. Good on you man! I've been too scared to switch back to smaller wheels after a few months on some soft 60mm's, but you may have just convinced me to go back.

Sometimes I skate from work to home and back in the morning, it's 10km and it takes a bit more than an hour.

It's slightly longer but much funnier than subway.

How would you call a scateboard with steering pole? That's what I use.

That's a nice way to start and end the day

Razor scooter?

Yeah, I guess that's it.

Kudos on using a real skateboard for this ridiculous mission.

Thanks a lot - i'm glad people are picking up on the fact that I chose to use a shortboard rather than a longboard. It was a conscious decision.

Cheers for replying!

You're insane, and an inspiration. I haven't touched my skateboard in close to a decade, but this is driving me to pick it back up.

That's not the best board option for long rides... I'd take a longboard type one with a larger, smoother, wheel set.

It's just this kind of nay-saying that probably partially spurred him on to do it.

There is naysaying, then adequate preparation.

Mad respect dude ... now I feel lame for not going to the gym this morning just because I was tired.

haha thanks man

I want to know how he got back :-)

Trains from Wollongong to Sydney are pretty reliable, so I'm guessing he did that.

Yeah caught a train back. 2-3 hours train ride. Slept most the way

Great attitude, great accomplishment. I liked the part about mental vs. physical readiness.

Thank you!

Paracetamol and ibuprofen required? Are you waking up at night with raging ankle pain?

Omg. I took the train from Sydney to Wollongong once. That was already a long trip..

Sitting on the train on the way back (for the parts I was awake), I could hardly believe I had just skateboarded the distance.

That's pretty awesome man. I wonder how many 360 flips you pulled off on the way ;)

Why didn't he use a longboard? He could of done it in half the time on one.

I grew up on a shortboard, and don't really like longboards. I do own one and it was a conscious decision not to use it.

How did you manage to not lose your fedora on this awesome trip?


Congratulations on getting up and doing it..


hah, wollongong.

/me waves from the bottom of the bulli pass.

wow! he says:

"And I'm never doing it again."

good conclusion!

Of all the complete shit posted on this site now...

This site is now RedditHack and the idiotic comments are a testament to how this site is overrun by hipster douches...

Maybe you're right. But as folks sitting in front of a computer all day maybe it's nice to see these kind of post now and then.

Granted, I could see it on Reddit instead but the homepage is crowded with funny images.

I will patiently wait to be downvoted by people who know im right but choose to ignore reality.

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