Duane is the most insane footbiker doing incredible things.
Hi Duane you’ve been using kick scooter for some time how did it all begin?
It’s a long story. One evening I was round at a friend’s house, the TV was on and a property programme, “Location, Location, Location” was beginning to air and in the open titles one of the presenters, Kirstie Allsopp, was riding what looked like a child’s scooter but with oversized wheels. An idea hit me, why not do the wild Atlantic way on a scooter, it’ll cut the journey time down and therefore the cost but it would still be a challenge. I did some research and found out that Kirstie rode a customised Swifty Zero scooter and when I saw the price I was a little put off, I wasn’t going to invest a large sum into something that may not fit my needs, did anyone else manufacture scooters with big wheels? A quick Google search and the whole world of footbiking was presented to me, so many manufactures and models to choose from and for so many applications, commuting, off-road, racing, touring. Without really knowing what I was looking for and no real way to try out any of the models I decided to go with something similar to Kirstie’s Swifty, a Yedoo Mezeq which came in at half the price of the Swifty. I did actually go on to own a Swifty One but it’s really not for me ( sorry Jason ) so I’m donating to my mother who loves riding it.
So the Yedoo Mezeq was your first kick scooter, how was it ?
The Yedoo Mezeq arrived and I started training on it, my plan being to do around 80 km a day. As I trained it became apparent that the Mezeq was the wrong model for what I was trying to achieve, the steel frame was too heavy and the ride height was too high. It’s was designed as an urban / off road / short journey footbike and probably good for around 30 km a day. The furthest I ever achieved was 50 km, my knees and hips paid for it the day after. I wasn’t put off, I’d got the footbiking bug, I knew I was going to do the wild Atlantic way on a scooter but I needed something fast and light. I looked through all the manufactures and models available and again without being able to try before I bought I decided to go with a Yedoo Wolfer, though with hindsight I should have probably gone for the Trexx.
That’s big step up. Wolfer is much bigger and lighter than Mezeq.
Yes I started to train on the Yedoo Wolfer and all of a sudden long journeys became so much easierAfter 10 months of training I hit the road from Kinsale, County Cork on 19th of August 2017 and completed the 2500 km of the wild Atlantic way 40 days later at noon on 28th September, my 50th birthday, in Muff, County Donegal. It was an incredible journey, every day I was provided with a tale to tell and every day I was presented with the kindness of strangers. The Wolfer was a the star of the journey, it would trigger curiosity in people, they’d never seen anything like it so conversations would be struck up about my very unsual choice of transport. From those conversations I would end up being given free meals, free accommodation and donations for Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, an Irish children’s cancer charity that I was raising money for.
Why did you choose kick scooter over a bike?
I dare to be different a kick scooter appeals to my eccentricity. Doing the wild Atlantic way on a bicycle would have been a challenge but wouldn’t have been half as interesting or quite as challenging, it also wouldn’t have been the same conversation starter as riding a Wolfer.
What are the biggest benefits of scooting?
The biggest benefit with riding a footbike has to be the range of muscles it exercises compared to riding a bike. I fly a desk as programmer so get very little exercise during the day. Going to the gym doesn’t appeal, I find gyms to be tedious but give me my Wolfer along with an open road and I get to exercise a lot of muscle groups and the added advantage of every journey being an adventure and challenge at the same time.
What’s the biggest scooting challenge you’ve faced?
The wild Atlantic way was a challenge in terms of distance, the weather conditions didn’t make for an easy journey, it rained 37 days out of the 40 that I was on the road. I had a place I needed to be at the end of each day and it was a case of just doing what it took to complete each day one kick after another. There were low points when I did consider throwing the towel in but then sheer bloody mindedness would kick in and I’d carry on.
After the wild Atlantic way I’ve taken part in various challenges, I try to sneak in on cycle events here in Ireland as there are no footbike events. Sometimes I get permission to take part and sometimes I don’t, obviously when I roll up on my Wolfer I get a few funny looks and and quite a few questions asked. Most people think me a little eccentric to ride a footbike, why would you ride that? There’s no saddle, where do you sit? Why don’t you get pedals fitted to it?
We’ve met in Holland at the Footbike World Championship 2018. How was it? Are you planning to visit another race?
Yes I guess my biggest challenge was taking part in the world championships, I’ve never been competitive as I’ve never found a sport I was interested in until I discovered footbiking. I had no idea what I was up against and finding suitable places to train here in Ireland is tricky, I did the best I could to train but when you finally meet the competition you soon realise your inadequacies. The marathon event was seriously hard I don’t think I’ve ever covered such a long distance over such a short space of time. My average speed when I’m out on the road is around 18 kph, during the marathon at the world championships I was pushing 25 kph but it was still slow compared to a lot of the other competitors. That all said, I did what I set out to do, take part in all the events and not come last. A glutton for punishment I’m now looking forward to taking part in the European championships in the Czech republic in July just a few weeks after the finish of my next adventure.
Tell us little bit about your next adventure Wild Atlantic Way?
I was sat in the office and one of my colleagues was following an event called “The Sun Trip”, this is challenge to ride solar powered electric bicycles from France to China, he made a comment “Think you could go that distance on a footbike?”. The gauntlet was thrown down, if an endurance challenge can be done on a bicycle then I can do it on a footbike. I got in contact with the the trip organisers and we bounced emails back and forth as to whether I can take part in their 2020 challenge. Riding a foot bike breaches one of their rules “pedals must be connected to the back wheels” so unless they’re prepared to bend the rules then I don’t get a place. I also think they don’t think I’ll be able to cover the 12000 km. Being stubborn I’m now out to prove a point that I can cover a minimum of 200 km per day on an electric footbike.
The plan is that on 16th June 2019 I’m going to revisit the wild Atlantic way and scoot the 2500 km from Muff to Kinsale in 14 days or less using a combination of solar electric and foot power and play by The Sun Trip rules. The wild Atlantic way is an unforgiving environment, if I can complete this journey then I should be able to get from France to China.
So your Wolfer will be “slightly’ modified?
Thats right. I had a conversation with my father, a retired engineer, could we convert my Wolfer to be a solar / foot powered hybrid? Yes but it would be better if I had a second Wolfer as I wouldn’t be able to train whilst my Wolfer was over in the UK being modified. I ended up purchasing a second Wolfer and had it shipped to my father for conversion. The Wolfer has now been fitted with a rear wheel electric motor, 1kW battery and a trailer fitted with 8 solar panels to charge the battery. We’ve now dubbed the customised Wolfer the “eWolfer”.
I heard you want raise money for your friend/ charity, tell us a little bit more?
When I’m out on my scooting adventures usually try to raise a little money to help an organisation or in the case of my next adventure an individual. In the past I’ve raised money for Chernobyl Kilkenny Outreach Group an organisation that helps people who suffered as a result of the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and as already mentioned, on my last wild Atlantic way adventure I raised money for Aoibheann’s Pink Tie.
On my next wild Atlantic way trip I’m trying to raise money to help an ex-colleague and friend of mine, Dave, who has recently gone blind. To help Dave expand his now extremely limited world I’m raising money to buy him an intelligent cane that is fitted with a GPS. The cane is about £700 and I’ve already raised half of that. OP Scooters have very kindly offered to donate 5% on sales of Yedoo scooters between now and the end of my wild Atlantic way adventure. I also have a go fund me page so if anyone would like to donate and help change someones life then here’s the link … A new cane for Dave If I exceed the amount to buy the cane then any excess will be be donated to the National Council for the Blind of Ireland(NCBI)
Do you have a dream scooter route you’d like to complete?
My immediate dream trip would be to take part in The Sun Trip 2020 challenge and prove to the world that a footbike can compete against a bicycle. If I’m denied entry into The Sun Trip then I already have an alternative adventure planned for 2020 that will take me up to the Arctic circle whilst passing through Estonia and taking part in the 2020 footbike world championships in the process.
My ultimate dream scooter route would be to be the first person to scoot to the south pole. I know I could do it on my solar powered “eWolfer” with some modifications it’s just a matter of raising about 50,000 Euro to cover the cost of the trip!
Thank you Duane for your time and good luck on your trip.
You can support Dave here GuFundme
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If anyone is interested in following Duanes adventures then it can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter : @IrishWolfer.