Expedition1000 – Dave Cornthwaite Interview

Embarking upon any expedition takes commitment, planning & perseverance. When Dave Cornthwaite packed in his day job to become an adventurer, the goal of achieving a single expedition was not enough to give him the motivation he needed to pursue his new career. After all, why stop at one expedition when you can do twenty five? So, Dave conceived Expedition 1000, a project that will see him complete twenty five expeditions each of at least 1000 miles, all of which are powered by non-motorised transport.

Adventurer Dave Cornthwaite
Dave Cornthwaite celebrates swimming 1000 miles down the Missouri River.

So far Dave Cornthwaite has completed seven of his twenty five adventures. These include a 1000 mile swim down the lower Missouri River, a 2404 mile Stand Up Paddle board expedition down the Mississippi River and a 3618 mile skateboard across Australia. Dave has also travelled by Bikecar, tandem bicycle, sailing yacht and kayak.

Nobody on the planet has travelled further than Dave Cornthwaite on a Stand Up Paddleboard in one journey. His descent of the Mississippi River took 68 days of paddling, 82 in total, and was the first time anyone had Stand Up Paddled the Mississippi carrying all of their own gear.

For his next challenge, Dave Cornthwaite and mountaineer Squash Falconer will ride ElliptiGO running bikes 3000 miles around six European countries. The adventurous pair are scheduled to embark on this expedition, called the GO trek at the end of April 2013. Their journey will take two months during which time they will be participating in a variety of events and meetings aimed at encouraging people create their own personal challenge.

What is an ElliptiGO running bike? All is explained in this You Tube video!

Dave Cornthwaite “the GO trek” Interview

We asked Dave to tell us about his adventures, including the GO trek ElliptiGO expedition, and Say Yes More, his most recent campaign to encourage people to get out and experience some adventure…

CheapTents: What are your favourite memories, so far, from your Expedition 1000 project?

Dave Cornthwaite: This is an incredibly hard question. I’ve spent over a year and a half on the move if you put the journeys end to end and even single days sometimes have countless memories. The beginnings and ends always stand out, and certain chance meetings with strangers who have gone on to become friends. Camping on sandbars by the Mississippi, long downhills on the skateboard in Australia, perching on a long, overhanging log on the Murray River realising that everything I really needed to be happy could fit into my kayak.

CheapTents: Which of your Expedition 1000 expeditions did you find most demanding, and why?

Dave Cornthwaite: I think that physically, swimming 1001 miles was the hardest, although like the skateboarding – which was the most mentally taxing adventure – I was hugely affected by the people around me, and when there were stresses caused by my teams on those occasions I struggled massively. The bikecar trip from Memphis to Miami was the most dangerous because I was on a five foot seven inch-wide vehicle and dodging cars everyday.

Dave Cornthwaite on a skateboard
Dave Cornthwaite crossed Australia on a skateboard.
Photocredit: Holly Allen. ©2012 Dave Cornthwaite

CheapTents: You went on a paragliding course to cure your vertigo. Did it work?

Dave Cornthwaite: It did to a large extent. After a few solo flights I landed and realised that not once had I had a fear of heights during the previous flight. I still get a little wobbly looking over a cliff, though.

CheapTents: Which aspects of the GO trek ElliptiGO adventure are you most looking forward to?

Dave Cornthwaite: October 6th was the last day of my last adventure and now, rested, glowing from plenty of non-adventurous productivity and achievement, I’m ready for the simplicity of getting back on the road. In between events and cities there will be the opportunity to go back to basics, camp in fields and woods, and once again realise that you don’t need much in life to be happy.

CheapTents: How much experience do you have riding the ElliptiGO?

Dave Cornthwaite: I’ve done about twenty miles on an ElliptiGO in total, a figure which is unlikely to change much before the journey around Europe begins. I’ve never trained for an adventure, that’s what the first few days are for!

CheapTents: How does the ElliptiGO compare to a regular bike in terms of handling and maneuverability?

Dave Cornthwaite: It’s a really well built piece of kit, handles very well and can turn and hold line just as well as any bike. In fact, with the 8 gears, you can go anywhere that a road bike can go

CheapTents: Will you be able to carry your gear and spare parts on the ElliptiGO or will you have a separate support vehicle?

Dave Cornthwaite: Unless it’s a parrot or a monkey I don’t want anything on my shoulders, so Squash and I will both be pulling a Burley Nomad trailer behind our ElliptiGOs, which will be more than sufficient for our daily needs, food, camping gear and even a few t-shirts and books to flog on the way!

CheapTents: Do you envisage any particular injuries or physical complaints from riding the ElliptiGO over a long distance?

Dave Cornthwaite: I’m tempting fate here, but beyond the obvious dangers of sharing roads with other vehicles the chances of injury on this journey are slimmer than any other way I’ve travelled. It’s running without impact, there are no pressure points like on a bicycle, so I expect to get to the end of the journey not only superbly fit, but tired more from exertion than physical breakdown. It’s a wonderful vehicle to move on.

Dave Cornthwaite swims the Missouri as part of Expedition 1000
Dave Cornthwaite swam 1000 miles down the Missouri River

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.

CheapTents: You are in the process of writing about your expeditions. What tips can you give to help people write about their adventures?

Dave Cornthwaite: Like the process of doing adventures, the key is doing it. Don’t talk about it, do it. It’s a process of true dedication, I love writing and it’s one of my driving factors but I still find it a harder challenge than the journey I’m writing about. But it’s worth it to relive those memories, make sense of them and then be able to share them forever. I think it’s a responsibility to share those thoughts, feelings and actions. It’s a journey in itself.

CheapTents: What made you decide to set up your “Say Yes More” campaign?

Dave Cornthwaite: A few things. Firstly, I was sitting with my best friend before last year’s swimming expedition down the Missouri and thinking about having a message on the team t-shirts, something more than just a logo that was stuck in time. Something simple that summed up the way I think life should be lived. Say Yes More was the result. After that I had a lecture circuit around the United States, and calling it the Say Yes More Tour had a lovely ring to it – and the response was far greater than any speaking tour I’d done previously. Simply, it’s about breaking down obstacles that we create for ourselves, living happier, braver and less fearful lives. Opening ourselves up to challenge and development, and smiling more. Look around the tube carriage in London every weekday morning, there’s a lot of ‘No’ going on. Experiencing new things and doing what we love is SO important!

CheapTents: If our world leaders were to “Say Yes More” what would you ask them to do?

Dave Cornthwaite: I’d ask them to go off on an adventure and live simply for a short while. See parts of the world their decisions impact and truly forge an understanding of their people and their lands from their own perspective and experience, rather than an accumulation of advisors and other people with agendas. An emphasis on power and money never made a good decision, so it takes a strong leader to buck the trend and lead with values – a good, solid challenge always makes people stronger. So, adventure time Barrack and David!

Dave Cornthwaite on paddling on his SUP
Dave Cornthwaite on paddles the Mississipi River on a SUP

CheapTents: What are your favourite bits of outdoor gear, and why?

Dave Cornthwaite: I have a Sky Tent, made by Hammock Bliss, that allows me to either pitch as a tent or a floating cocoon with a hammock inside it. Rainfly on top, mozzie net all around, love it! I’ve also travelled for years with an Aquapac rucksack, which keeps my Macbook nice and dry (despite having floated off down a few rivers without me!).

CheapTents: Any people or sponsors that you’d like thank?

Dave Cornthwaite: How long do you have? My Mum….! The best sponsors I have have said, ‘we’ll support you and we don’t want you to change a thing.’ That’s really empowering. Dave Summers from Disc Manufacturing Services, Aquapac, Buff, Dave Gordon at BAM Bamboo Clothing, the small team at the Blue Project. And about seven hundred more. I couldn’t have accomplished what I have without the help of others, I’d be nobody.

CheapTents: Anything else you would like to say?

Dave Cornthwaite: Say Yes More! I’d like people to join me on my journeys, if not in person then virtually, then start thinking about what they’d like to do. I’m @DaveCorn on Twitter and all my adventures are covered on Facebook, and for a back history check out www.davecornthwaite.com.

Finally, I’m super proud of a short film just out about my swim down the Missouri River. It was a tough one, and this proves it, www.swim1000film.com – if you enjoy it please think about making a donation to CoppaFeel! There’s a link on the site.

CheapTents: Many thanks, Dave, for sharing your thoughts with us and good luck with the EllipitiGO stage of Expedition1000!

the GO trek Update!

Dave and Squash are currently on the road on their ElliptiGOs. Read about the first day the GO trek!

More Exciting Adventure Interviews

If you enjoyed this interview, why not read some of our interviews with other adventurers?


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