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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.

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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 to 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!

Days: 33
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)
Ferries: 10
1000 mile journeys now completed: 12!

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hat’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 playparks. 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.

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And lows? How did you overcome them?

DC: On the whole I’m a pretty positive chap, but naturally 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.

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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.

 

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