Surf exploration, the unparalleled experience of dedicating a period of your life solely to surfing. Your only objectives – finding and surfing waves. Skin and hair become stained by salt and sun, and all of those mundane distractions like emails and Facebook are forgotten. Those who go on surf trips return to tell envy-inducing stories of searching for waves by coffee-stained sailor's maps, scoring perfect empty barrels for hours on end, and bumping into Kepa Acero in the Namibian desert for a couple of cold ones.
But galavanting across the world in a self-serving mission to score waves isn't exactly the most environmentally conscious act. We're not pointing fingers, but it seems rather hypocritical for a group of people whose lifestyle is supposedly dependent on preserving what mother nature has given us. Many do consider their carbon footprint, and taking those long-haul flights to Madagascar, or driving from Norway to Morocco in your gas-guzzling Skoda certainly aren't the most environmentally friendly ways to travel. Everyone's favourite Irishman, Fergal Smith recently pledged not to step on a plane in the name of environment preservation. That being said, there are viable options for those who wish to go on surf trips and yet keep their carbon footprint down. One of these options is the bicycle, a nifty little invention, faster than walking but powered by human labour rather than gas.
Meet Australian bodyboarders Rian Cope and Dylan Brayshaw from Eat.Sleep.Surf. Two travel-hungry surfers who decided to embrace life on two wheels. After a 2800km trip over 3.5 months around the Islands of Sumatra, Similue, Nias, Asu, Mentawai, Java and Bali, the two are now planning a similar venture in Taiwan. This time they have the backing of the Nautical channel who are producing two 45 minute episodes on their adventure. We caught up with Dylan to put the pros and cons of surf travel by bike on the table.
What brought you to the decision of a cycling surf trip rather than following conventional means of travel?
I basically wanted a physical challenge, and to do something that no one had done before. And cycling the length of Sumatra, Java and Bali was it. But what I found was that by using the bicycle, I got a whole lot more out of the travel experience. I didn't want to go on an organised surf tour, I wanted to discover waves for myself.
How much preparation was needed for your trip?
But what I found was that by using the bicycle, I got a whole lot more out of the travel experience. I didn't want to go on an organised surf tour, I wanted to discover waves for myself.
I went with a good friend of mine, Rian, who I still travel with, and we did about 1 year of preparation for the Indonesia trip. We had no idea what we were doing, so we researched equipment, did a few overnight cycle/camping trips, planned routes and then we had to figure out how to carry our bodyboards on the bicycles.
What advantages did cycling provide you with?
The major advantage of cycling is being able to slow down your travel experience, what would take 1 hour by car takes one entire day to cycle. So as you might guess you need to have a lot of time on your hands to really have a full experience. As you pedal through a country you are completely involved in the experience, you can smell all the unique smells, you feel the terrain and weather and you feel the wind. A cyclist's best friend or worst nightmare. But the best thing about using a bicycle is that you interact with people you normally wouldn't, being on the bike you are very approachable by strangers and sometimes they would offer you a place to stay for the night.
How did you bodies adjust, cycling in that heat?
The fitness side of things is great, once your body is in tune with the bike and cycling 3-8 hours per day, which can take 1-2 weeks of riding to get to this level. You find your surf fitness will improve and you will start to eat a lot of food. You get very hungry with all the calories you burn, so you can eat anything and it will taste awesome.
As you pedal through a country you are completely involved in the experience, you can smell all the unique smells, you feel the terrain and weather and you feel the wind, a cyclists best friend or worst nightmare.
I guess you're pretty vulnerable to things going wrong when you're travelling by bike, what issues did you have to overcome?
Things that went wrong include, bicycle breakdowns, sliced tyres, dehydration and of course Bali-belly or bad food poisoning. You have to have the right attitude to ride your bike long distances, and it will teach you to problem solve because it never goes to plan. Its not all amazing travel, often you're on a busy road and you don't even feel like riding, but you just have to push on because you will always find an amazing place in the end.
You can find the documentary the guys made on their blog eat.sleep.surf and watch the trailer above.