Day 629 – USA (CALIFORNIA): Video Update!

Here’s the latest video update. Personally, my favourite so far. Shows some of the toughest terrain I’ve experienced so far on the board. Including of course the Guinness World Record breaking moment, and the moment I reached the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy. Those with weak stomachs beware: You will see me naked :-)

Guinness World Record journey video update

(Click on the image above, and the video will begin in a new window in Youtube)

UPDATE: I just uploaded another copy of this video to Vimeo. Much better quality, and you can download the original video. See it here.

Day 598 – USA (TEXAS and NEW MEXICO): From El Paso to La Mesilla

Today’s distance / ???????: 46 miles / 75km
Average speed / ????: 8.7mph / 14km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 19m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3255mi plus 280mi (?) / 5238km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 290
Descent / ??: 285
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N32.17.34.8, W106.47.46.4

Feeling great today. A slight cover of cloud kept the heat of the sun off, and despite some extremely strong headwinds with dust storms, I managed to push on for just over five hours to Las Cruces.

It was a hefty climb out of El Paso, but thankfully I was rewarded with a downhill soon after getting to the top of the climb, the road smooth and traffic light, since it was a Sunday morning.

West side of El Pas, Texas, USA

A whole contingency of bikers were grouped outside a motorcycle shop ready to leave on a rally. The would ride to select locations and receive playing cards, where they would then keep and make a hand out of. With rules similar to Poker, the winning team would take a way a prize at the end of the day.

Bikers ready to leave El Paso, Texas, USA

Motorbike in El Paso, Texas, USA

It didn’t take long for the urban sprawl to give way to dry, dusty agricultural land as I made my way into a new state, New Mexico. Freshly plowed fields were easy game for the strong winds that swept across the flat land towards the Franklin Mountains.

Fields near La Mesa, New Mexico, USA

The land was flat, and where there wasn’t freshly plowed fields, there were pecan groves.

Pecan groves near San Miguel, New Mexico, USA

I’ve read other Trans-Am bike ride journals online, and have seen other photos like the one I took above, except that the trees were a beautiful green, plump with fresh spring leaves.

A few signs in New Mexico caught my eye. The tractor sign I was happy about, making me feel at ease at being on the road. A local I spoke to said that I should have no problems along the New Mexico state road 28, a smooth farmland road with decent enough shoulders. The local drivers are used to dodging tractors, so they would be aware of my presence on the road for sure, the local said.

The second sign, outside a school, stood out as stating the obvious…at least from a New Zealand school point of view. Not so in the US, it appears.

Sign near Anthony, New Mexico, USA Sign outside school near La Mesilla, New Mexico, USA

On three separate occasions I had to shelter behind bushes and fences or in ditches to avoid brief, five minute dust storms. These decreased in frequency as the day wore on however, and I arrived in La Mesilla at about 6pm. I stopped at the WalMart Supercenter and bought what I needed for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s breakfast, and tomorrow’s lunch. I hope to be in Deming by nightfall at the latest.

I camped next to Burn Lake.

Day 597 – USA (TEXAS): Another day in El Paso

I had every intention to leave today, but last night I had trouble sleeping. Elevated heart rate, rushing thoughts…I just couldn’t sleep right. This happens when I am exhausted. You’d think I would sleep well when I’m totally knackered. But no. I took this as a sign that I should take today off too.

At the El Paso International Hostel here, I have been sharing a dorm room with Josh Gregory, a long distance hiker who has been on the road for 11 months, and has completed the famous Appalachian Trail. He inspired me with his light load in his backpack, and I learned much from his comments on his style of travel.

Roommate in Gardner Hotel in El Paso, Texas, USA

Day 596 – USA (TEXAS): Updating in El Paso

My Mum just commented:

“What did I tell you! I knew you would be wishing for your bike back!!!!! But you can’t get a skateboard record on a bike so just keep that thought in your head.”

So true, Mum. That’s one of the few things that keeps me going. Here are the things that kept me going across Texas:

  • I said I would skate across the US, so that’s what I’m going to do.
  • If you’re going to set a record for a journey, especially a human powered journey, and claim the record as your own, then do it right. Solo and unsupported all the way*.
  • Time to set the bar higher on a Guinness World Record, and on the limits of every kind of human powered transport.

* I do appreciate the fact that the support I have received from so many complete strangers continues to make this journey what it is – a journey that continues to confirm the intrinsic goodness and humanity of the inhabitants of this world we life in. In a way, this journey is not unsupported at all. Thank you for all the support I continue to receive both on the ground and through this website, both tangible and intangible.

By the way, on the other side of the coin, thanks in part to the Guinness World Record media exposure and largely due to the efforts of his support team, Dave Cornthwaite of England (current record holder for distance skateboarding; his journey was supported by vehicles) managed to raise over US$36,000 for charity. I continue to support Dave in his efforts to encourage people to challenge themselves to live their dreams. Check out for more info!
El Paso is an interesting town. The downtown area is modern with good facilities.

El Paso, Texas, USA

El Paso, Texas, USA

I am reminded somewhat of Miami. More people speaking Spanish than English, and understandably a wonderful variety of ethnicities – something I have missed while traveling through rural Texas.

Resting in El Paso, Texas, USA

I plan to head out towards Phoenix, Arizona, tomorrow. I hope to complete the 450-odd miles in about 10 to 12 days. I am still on schedule for arriving in Los Angeles by the 1st of April (34 miles a day overall average). Still some mountains to conquer (the Continental Divide), and some dry and arid areas too.

Thank you to the handful of people who either called me or texted me on my phone (US number: +1 305 484 0146) in the last few days to check if I was still breathing. Most appreciated! For future reference, if you’re one of those people, a quick comment on this website that you have been in contact with me would be appreciated, for the benefit of other readers :-)

Day 595 – USA (TEXAS): El Paso at last…

Today’s distance / ???????: 45 miles / 72km
Average speed / ????: 7.7mph / 12.4km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 45m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3208mi plus 280mi (?) / 5163km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 190
Descent / ??: 170
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N31.45.43.0, W106.29.16.5

If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. Smooth surfaces today, but what a wind. Cold and strong, right in my face. All day. Time to turn the mind off. Think nothing. Just push. Push. Push. No! Don’t think about Dave Cornthwaite and his support vehicles he had to shelter behind. Just push. Push. Push.

The surrounding countryside kept me sane. Pilfering Poaching Pecan Pickers apparently will be Prosecuted Profusely in Profound Practices of Pious yet Profane Poetry in Fabens.

Poaching Pecan Pickers will be Prosecuted Profusely in Profound Practices of Pious Poetry near Fabens, Texas, USA

If you need a spare airplane tyre, make a visit to Tornillo.

Airplane graveyard in Tornillo, Texas, USA

And if you’re sick of mowing the lawns, move to Clint, Texas.

Desolate houses near Fabens, Texas, USA

Funny, it wasn’t until I was about 10m past the El Paso city limit sign when it hit. I broke down in tears. More or less done. Texas. Once again to borrow the late Sir Edmund Hillary‘s words “I knocked the bastard off”.

I think it is worth noting that no, it is not worth your time or effort to skateboard across Texas. At least the southern section anyway. Just don’t do it. It is a waste of fabulous, mind blowing scenery. I only got half a glimpse of what could have been. Cycle across the state. Be awed by the amazing, massive landforms. The vast deserts. The challenging climbs and the what surely would be blisteringly fast, wonderful downhills. Texas is an awesome state. I will be back some day. On a bicycle. I value efficient human powered transport. A skateboard is not an efficient form of human powered transport in the boonies in Texas.

El Paso at last, Texas, USA

I pushed on for a further 15 miles to the center of town, against the horrid headwind. I didn’t have an opportunity to contact anyone in El Paso from, so I decided to stay at the El Paso International Hostel. US$19 a night for a comfy bed. Safe from the drug runners in Mexico. Helicopters fly overhead, over the barbed wire fences separating El Paso from the city of Juarez on the Mexican side.

Mexican border at El Paso, Texas, USA

Day 594 – USA (TEXAS): From Sierra Blanca to El Paso County Line on State Road TX20

Today’s distance / ???????: 45 miles / 75km
Average speed / ????: 7.5mph / 12km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 30m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3164mi plus 280mi (?) / 5092km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 240
Descent / ??: 495
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N31.23.14.9, W105.58.35.4

Another day of negative thoughts fueled by a headwind and rough road surfaces. I gave up on the concrete expressway and rumbled along the rough chipseal access roads.

Feeling down in headwinds near Sierra Blanca, Texas, USA

I met some more cyclists today going in the opposite direction. I mentioned to them that the rough roads were tough going on a skateboard. “But you’re enjoying it, right?” they asked. No. The answer is no. No I am not enjoying what I am doing right now. This is not fun. This month or so that it has taken so far to cross Texas by skateboard feels like a month that I will never regain. A month wasted. A month of nothing but exhausting hell. A waste of delicious scenery that I have missed with my head down pushing across rough roads. Head down into the wind. I will be back one day to do this all again. On a bicycle. On a recumbent bicycle. Head up, moving in comfort.

State Road TX20 was a welcome respite to the rough roads. A consistently smooth asphalt road, I pushed on as far as I could, despite the headwind. I knew that a headwind was forecast for tomorrow also, so I wanted to get as many miles done today as possible. Miles that I would never have to repeat again by skateboard. Get them behind me.

The land has well and truely flattened out here. Borderland. Mexico a mere 10 miles or less away. US farmers plowing cotton fields with the Mexican mountains in the not so far distance.

Cotton field preparations near Fort Hancock, Texas, USA

Fort Hancock was a sleepy little border town. Relics of once hopeful businesses abounded.

Beer has gone in Fort Hancock, Texas, USA

The border, only a mile away in places, made this whole area have an inexplicable air to it. Forgotten but tense with unseen presence of…something. Border Patrol vehicles passed on regular intervals…

One mile to the border in Fort Hancock, Texas, USA

I loaded up with food in Fort Hancock and continued on. Just before sundown, I trespassed across a field and into some sand dunes to camp. As the light faded, lights from the nearby Mexican town of Esperanza began to define themselves into an unmistakable clump of town lights. No wonder there are so many illegal immigrants in the US from Mexico….

Desert campsite near Acala, Texas, USA

Dinner tonight was unexpectedly great. Blackeye peas, tuna, and sour cream tortillas with tabasco. The tortillas made it though. Fresh handmade tortillas from a small grocery in Fort Hancock. Nice soft tortillas that tasted like tortillas, rather than the chemicals that they put into the ones you get at the big supermarkets. Great end to another tough day.

Day 593 – USA (TEXAS): From Carrizo Mountains to Sierra Blanca

Today’s distance / ???????: 25 miles / 40km
Average speed / ????: 7.6mph / 12.3km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 3h 19m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3128mi plus 261mi (?) / 5034km plus 420km (?)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N31.10.29.9, W105.21.33.3

Rough day, mate. Rough day.

Slept very little last night after going to bed in sweaty clothes which in turn dried, but dampened the down in my sleeping bag. Dampened it enough to reduce its effectiveness. Even tried to wrap up in the blue parachute/hammock for extra warmth. Forgot about the emergency blanket. That would have helped things to no end.

So stayed as warm as I could until the sun came up over the horizon. It was almost dark when I camped last night, so didn’t notice the ‘No Trespassing, $200 Reward’ sign near the entrance to the spot I was camping in. D’oh! I got out of there as quickly as possible.

Cold morning in the Carrizo Mountains near Van Horn, Texas, USA

I set up the blue hammock as a wind block and ate breakfast – bran flakes with sultanas and powdered milk.

Sheltering from the wind in the Carrizo Mountains near Van Horn, Texas, USA

The blue hammock worked wonders to block the wind, as it has in the past also. Yay. Get your own at The Travel Hammock. Jolly handy bit of kit.

At least I was at the top of the pass. A downhill to start the day is always a bonus. The smooth asphalt changed at the bottom of the hill into only slightly less nice grooved concrete. This is I-10. A big, monstrous expressway. It just fits that it would be made of concrete. After a while however, the vibrations caused by the grooves in the concrete wore me down. As did the headwind. As did the incessant trucks. As did the lack of sleep. As did the cramps and gas from too much fibre in the morning. T’was a bad idea to eat so much sultana bran in the morning.

I arrived in Sierra Blanca totally knackered. I checked into the EL Camino Motel at US$29 a night for the night. It was 2pm when I arrived, and promptly took the rest of the day off. Who cares about the strict budget. I need rest. Rest in a real bed.

I need a couple of weeks off. I am exhausted. But no time to rest. Rest will come in Los Angeles before heading to China.

Day 592 – USA (TEXAS): From Kent to Carrizo Mountains

Today’s distance / ???????: 45 miles / 73km
Average speed / ????: 9.1mph / 14.7km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 57m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3102mi plus 261mi (?) / 4993km plus 420km (?)
Ascent / ??: 415m
Descent / ??: 310m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N31.03.41.7, W104.58.04.9

Ummmmm, hello? Ahhhh, hi? What are you doing?

Snowy morning in Kent, Texas, USA

What’s all this snow business about then, aye?

Snowy morning in Kent, Texas, USA

So, in the middle of the night, I was woken by the car port corrudated iron roof flapping. Clank! Clank! Thump! I was not going to sleep in any hurry. I got up and pulled my sleeping bag and mat out and took shelter in the abandoned house. The side door was open, and inside was still warm from the warm day yesterday. The wind was ferocious. I lay awake in the house deliberating most of the night whether to pull my tent inside as well, lest it fly away in the wind. I slipped into a light sleep before I roused up the motivation to brave the cold wind again.

At 7am, the light from the windows told me it was time to get going. I took a double take when I looked out the window. Snow. About 5 to 10 cm. Still being blown by the strong north wind. Freezing cold outside, I quickly transfered my tent and pack inside the house. I guess that means I won’t be going anywhere this morning then, I thought.

Stupid skateboard…I thought as I was eating my standard breakfast of peanut butter and honey on flour tortillas. If I was on my bike, I’d be out in this in a second! Remember that time in Turkey?. It was great fun! But noooooo! Not on a skateboard.

I chomped down on the tortillas, brooding.

Keen to know exactly how long I should expect this weather to continue, I called a friend, Rob Inglish. Rob and his wife Leisl let me stay at their place for a few days when I was in Boerne, Texas. I sneakily figured that since Rob works from home, he would most probably be in front of his computer. My plan worked grandly, and he kindly pulled up a weather forecast for me. The news was good. The worst of the weather was supposed to die down late morning.

Even cooler, Rob had noticed that my website was down, and offered to do what he could to get it running again. I talked him through logging in to my server and deleting some email messages that I figured had put me over the hosting storage limit. Thanks Rob! A great help.

On that note, I must also thank Neil McNeil, a former workmate from Japan, and co-owner of . A web wizard that knows his stuff, he has been helping me with some website issues that I have not had time to attend to. He has had his work cut out for him – with all the hacking on my hosting account, things have not been going smoothly for Neil. Thank you so much for your support, Neil!

Snowy morning in Kent, Texas, USA

By 11am, I was on the road again, being buffeted by a strong sidewind along the I-10 interstate express way. Massive truck and trailers roared by at far-too-regular intervals. I had been dreaming of smooth pavement on I-10. Not so. It was nice gravely chipseal once again. I dealt with it. This is how it is. Don’t complain. Just hunker down and do the hard yards. Maybe it will get better up the road, maybe it will stay like this all the way to LA. Either way, giving up isn’t an option, so stop griping.

Snowy morning near Kent, Texas, USA

After the little pep-talk, I hunkered down and took it. Jolly cold, but I love this stuff. Tough conditions are what I like…

Nearing Van Horn, things changed for the better. Euphoria isn’t the word for how I felt when the road surface changed to smooth asphalt. I wish someone was there to record my reaction. Jumping, elated yelps, fists pumping in the air…generally very embarrassing. But oh so stoked. Finally, finally. After 500 miles of the most terrible surface for skateboarding on, the roads are smooth. I told myself not to get too excited. I reminded myself that the only consistent thing about the road surfaces in Texas is in their inconsistency. Nonetheless, I was elated. An instant increase of about 2 miles an hour is a big plus on a 6 hour day. Instead of a vast majority of your pushing force going into simply overcoming rolling resistance, it all goes to forward motion. Sweet, unadulterated forward motion.

I was so stoked that I didn’t take any more photos today. I savoured the smoothness. I pushed on past Van Horn and camped at the top of the pass on I-10 in a low spot in the Carrizo Mountains at about 1500m. Stoked.

Day 590 – USA (TEXAS): From Fort Davis State Park to Kent

Today’s distance / ???????: 49 miles / 79km
Average speed / ????: 8.8mph / 14.2km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 33m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3051mi plus 261mi (?) / 4920km plus 420km (?)
Ascent / ??: 830m
Descent / ??: 975m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N31.04.06.5, W104.12.59.4

Tough, steep climbing was the name of the game today. Had to rest often on the grind up to McDonald Observatory. Great fun though. Steep climbs are much better than long hardly noticeable climbs. Short and sharp is how I like hill climbs.

McDonald Observatory in Jeff Davis County, Texas, USA

The area is beautiful. Low shrub-like trees abound. The hills are dry and hot.

Cactus near McDonald Observatory, Texas, USA

Now, what goes up, must come down. Over four separate short ups and downs, I was feeling the strain on my shoe soles. My grand plan of using the blue hammock as a parachute was well and truly shot out of the water with a steady tailwind rendering the parachute useless. Foot-dragging it was.

Dragging perfectly good shoes along on the rough chipseal road surface was too much to bear, so I added some more layers to help things. The duct tape, however, is nice and shiny and smooth, so requires more pressure in order to slow me down. My weight (74kg) plus about 18kg of stuff on my back takes some stopping, so the tape lasted about 10 minutes. It was better than nothing however, and saved a little wear on the soles.

Shoe protection on TX118 through the mountains from Fort Davis to Kent, Texas, USA Shoe protection on TX118 through the mountains from Fort Davis to Kent, Texas, USA

After the worst of the ups and downs, it was all gentle downhill to Kent. Downhill with a stiff tailwind. For once I was able to feel sorry for the guy on the bike going uphill into the wind; Russell is cycling west to east ( He snapped this pic –

State Road TX118 near Kent, Texas, USA

Not far after meeting Russel, I was out of water, and still at least 15 miles from Kent. I spied a windmill in a field, and sure enough, it was pumping water from somewhere deep in the hills into a big open tank. Water bottle filled. Yay.

State Road TX118 near Kent, Texas, USA

I was considering carrying on, as I was feeling strong, but decided to camp in Kent just behind the petrol station. Get going early in the morning, I figured.

Hills and clouds aproaching Kent, Texas, USA