Expedition Norway: British adventurer Cornthwaite traveling the Hurtigruten route by water bike

Photo courtesy of Expedition Norway
Cornthwaite’s human-powered conveyance is much slower than the Hurtigruten ships like the one behind him, but that’s the way he likes to travel. This is his 14th journey of over 1,000 miles.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

You’ve likely heard of Hurtigruten—the 124-year-old ferry and cargo operator that stretches from Bergen to Kirkenes along Norway’s coast. While most people opt to travel along this “Express Route” aboard a coastal steamer on the well-known six-day journey, British Dave Cornthwaite had something else in mind: traveling the 1,500-mile route on a water bicycle.

A motivational speaker, author, short film creator, and founder of the social enterprise SayYesMore, Cornthwaite is also a record-breaking adventurer with nine world records under his belt. He specializes in self-propelled journeys, with this experience the 14th leg of his Expedition1000—a goal he set in 2004 to complete 25 journeys of at least 1,000 miles using different modes of non-motorized transportation. A few of his previous expeditions have included skateboarding across Australia, sailing from Mexico to Hawaii, and kayaking from Oslo to Finland.

For Expedition Norway, Cornthwaite will be traveling aboard a Schiller Bike, a water bike with a pedal-powered propeller set up on two pontoons with a custom platform in the middle. This unique form of water transportation was developed by Judah Schiller in California.

“I am incredibly inspired by Dave Cornthwaite’s vision, commitment, and courage to set a new world record biking on water. Expedition Norway truly embodies the spirit of a new frontier in biking a blue planet, one that will leave an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of people around the world for generations to come,” commented Schiller on Cornthwaite’s mission.

Photo courtesy of Expedition Norway
Docked with some of the support team, including Angus the dog.

The MS Richard With, the ship named after the founder of Hurtigruten, waved off the Brit as he left the port of Kirkenes on July 24 to begin his long journey. If all goes as planned, Cornthwaite will arrive in Bergen in late September or early October after a total of 60 to 70 days on the water.

During the 135 miles he traveled in the first week, he endured an extreme range of weather from surprisingly warm sunshine to torrential rain and deep fog and saw whales, dolphins, and seals. Although the Schiller Bike is reported to have a top speed up to 10 or 11 miles per hour, Cornthwaite has found that his pace in the conditions along the Norwegian coast has been much slower at three or four miles per hour.

“I actually love traveling slowly,” he said. “It is a brilliant way to understand an area and gives you an insight into how insignificant we are as human beings, surrounded by magnificent landscapes and nature. Every now and then it is nice to have a comfortable bed and a shower, but I never think about cutting any corners.”

Along the difficult journey, he will be stopping at the major Hurtigruten ports and wild camping in the more remote areas. He won’t be alone, however. He will be joined by his land-based crew, which consists of graphic designer Laura; photographer Adam; their dog, Angus; and their VW camper turned design studio, Yellow Matilda.

If Cornthwaite’s journey is successful, he will be setting a new record for the longest journey by bike on water. Breaking the record is not his primary motivation, however.

“As nice as records are, the real aim of this trip is to experience and share the scale and beauty of Norway,” said Cornthwaite, who is sharing videos, images, and stories of his experience of Expedition Norway through social media daily.

You can follow along with Expedition Norway on Dave Cornthwaite’s website at www.davecornthwaite.com/waterbike, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davecornthwaite, on Instagram at www.instagram.com/davecorn, and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/davecorn.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.