We tracked down Michael DB Levy lounging on a Beach in Ibiza to ask him about his epic journey.
So where are you from and why did you decide to push from Brighton to Ibiza?
Originally hailing from a sleepy li’l village nearish to Brighton, but that’s only one of the reasons why I chose Brighton as the starting line. I mean, who wants to sleep rough in England?
I hadn’t been on holiday for a long time! I wanted to go back to Ibiza and I wanted to go boarding but I also wanted an adventure. Seemed like a simple equation – swap the plane for a longboard.
How far was the journey in the end?
I still haven’t worked out the exact distance as I’m on a beach right now and will be for a long time! I want to know the exact distance. I want to know my top speed and shit like max heart rate and energy burnt. But I’m a skateboarder, right? Since when do we care about that nonsense.
My first route (direct) was 1200km which then changed to 2400, then I re-routed saving about 400km…
An educated guess? 2200!
How hard (out of 10) did you think it was going to be before you set off?
Those rose tints I had on during the planning phase were the nuts!! Wake, skate towards Ibiza, sleep! How hard can that be right? 3/10 difficulty rating.
How hard was it (out of 10) in reality?
Well, then add the pack weight… and the cold, then the blistering heat, a large dose of the shits, the police, a tiny budget, wild camping etc.
Oh, and that you’ll be coping with all this alone.
There’s no way to rate it. Some days it was a struggling, limping, weeping and wet 10/10 on the impossometer. Others, nothing but 10hrs of enjoyment, longboard heaven!
The biggest physical obstacle?
Without a doubt, the first week, but I knew it was going to be tough! I’d chosen to pick myself up off the couch and throw myself out of the top storey window into the deep end. Mentally, I was prepared for that but my system kicked up a fuss and decided to go on strike. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat (and what I did didn’t stay in me long) every day was a struggle. If it wasn’t for the support from friends and the long distance community out there, I wouldn’t have made it through.
Toughest mental challenge?
I learnt a lot during this trip. I knew my mental state affected my physical performance (a few exes’s have confirmed this) but, what I didn’t know was that it completely controls it. The difference between 25 and 80km, purely down to morale. I just needed to perfect controlling the mental state then, right?
Everything went perfectly after the first week, a total turntable. But when I received news that there was gonna be complications that were out of my hands, the mental state took a dive. This snowballed and affected everything – forgetting stuff, losing direction, missing water points… The butterfly effect I suppose.
Happiest moment of the trip?
I was happy being out there on my own in the rural parts way more than rolling through the cities. I loved sleeping with the sounds of nature. But the happiest moments always involved the people I met along the way and even during the planning stages. The generosity of total strangers, the support, the help.
But for the now and the rest of my days, the best bit is the reaction when people say “you did what?”
What was your furthest push in one day
Furthest push in 1 day was 83km
Did you set any other life records?
Other life records? Nothing important. The journey wasn’t about records as such. Just an opportunity to take me out of my comfort zone, experience something totally different and learn a lot more about my personal capabilities.
Did your equipment let you down?
The only piece of kit that failed on me was me and my negligent planning process. My pack kit was just about sufficient and the board never let me down. I chose the right kit through careful research and decided not to take any spares to keep the weight down.
I had to clean out 2 of the bearings after about 1800km but that’s just because I’m a sucker for silent running and that satisfying “donk” you get when it’s all nice and tight.
The board set up didn’t fail me once.
Did you ever crash and why?
The only fall I had was on day 2. No real damage apart from a busted thumb and a torn backpack. This was due to the change in balance when skating with a pack. I’d done lots of long runs in training but never with a 20lb weight. This changed everything!
Day 4 – #longpushtoibiza – Posted by Michael DB Levy on Wednesday, 3 June 2015
Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up?
Every day pretty much! So I did just that! And started again the next. But that system took a while to develop. The first week was the major hurdle, day three being close to turning around and heading back with my board between my legs.
Were there any moralistic or idealistic shifts during the trip?
To put it plainly, I broke rule number one on too many occasions. Safety is the most important factor, especially when you’re out there on your own.
I chose the route and the only option was the highway at times. This should never be an option. Risking rule number one spoils rule number 2, fun. And were no other rules.
I had to opt for public transport when I was ill during the first week and when the highways became superhighways on the way to Barcelona. None of that’s in anyway idealistic, simply unavoidable.
Did you use service station lavatories or go fully Bear Grylls?
Going fully Bear Grills involves sucking the water back out when you’ve done it! So no, not fully. But “stealth crapping” is an art form! A SAS style procedure that is 100x quicker than normal and covered under a leave no trace policy. Sometimes, even with a 20lb pack still weighing you down.
Service stations toilets are a place where you wash and get your toilet paper from.
Favourite camp spot?
My personal favourite was north of Perpignan. It wasn’t the most beautiful but there was a sense of eerieness about it that I can’t stop picturing. A small group of pine trees sat in the middle of 20 acres of cut wheat that offered an 8″ mattress of soft pine needles. Hobo shack nearby. Odd place made even more cinematic by a huge hazy moon.
The worst, that’s easy. 16 tiger mosquito bites in 11 mins. A hedge in Narbonne. My first night near the Mediterranean coast. By the time I’d left the next morning, I had added another 8.
Did anyone support you throughout the trip? Financially, emotionally or with your gear?
This trip wouldn’t have been a success if they hadn’t. The general support I got through my website was what kept me at the top of my game and pushed back when I dipped.
The technical advice I received before but mainly during the trip was what made it possible! This kept me out of danger. There just aren’t any comprehensive resources out there on the web for someone like me to plan something like this.
The support I got with the equipment is what made it fun – I’m no expert on the alternatives for what I chose for this trip but I know I chose the right kit. The board was weighty but cost-effective, proven and my mods did the trick. The 90mm Flywheels meant I could skate almost everything on my path and the Mercury bearings just kept on rolling. My research did me proud in this part of the planning process.
Financial help was donated towards my charity (apart from blowing €10 on a burger because someone ordered me to get a decent meal).
Posted by Michael DB Levy on Thursday, 25 June 2015
Are you sad that its all over?
Weirdly, yes. I mean, I’m sat on a beach in Ibiza right now. Why on earth would I want to be skating with a bloody great weight on my shoulders? Because last week I had a challenge…. bored now!
But there’s no way you’re going to find me skating back to Brighton. It’s pretty but, it’s just not enough of a trophy destination.
Will you be doing another long push sometime soon?
Absolutely! Already contemplating options but I want to go as a team next time. I want to share the load, I want to look forward to a fun days skating and also enjoy the evenings. Celebrating every little milestone instead of just constantly working toward one huge one. You know…
… be a skateboarder!