Santiago to San Francisco

Here is the full film that Tom and I made from our year-long adventure on Honda XR150’s from Santiago to San Francisco.

This was an interview I did with my good friend Gemma from VC London back in January 2016; at this point we were about three months into the trip and had no idea if we would make it, or what was ahead of us. It made for an interesting read for me a few years later knowing that we made it to California after twelve months on the road.

If you are interested to read more, Sideburn Magazine and Northcore made a really cool little supplement about the trip. Email me if you’d like me to post you a copy free of charge!

What made you decide to set out on such an epic trip together? 

The main reason for such a long trip was to surf, spend time away from the UK especially during the winter, more to do with the darkness than the cold. We both had pretty intense, stressful jobs for the past few years working in a secondary school and we craved a bit more freedom. Tom was really concerned that teaching in a secondary school was going to be the rest of his life and he hated it, he was really unhappy and under a lot of pressure constantly. After a summer spent riding motorbikes and surfing in Indonesia last year, we both felt a bit more empowered to make that kind of lifestyle last a bit longer. It didn't even cross our minds that the route might not be possible, we found out it had been done before and that was it; we started making plans. In order to try to make a different lifestyle sustainable, we started implementing changes in our lives that would help us both on the trip and when we return. I trained as a Beach Lifeguard and a Surf Instructor and quit my job in the school and spent a summer on the beach saving up. The plan was always to pick up a few bits of work or exchange skills along the way. Tom went to part-time at work and started concentrating on his photography work, so far it has been a really positive change. 


Why did you choose to do the trip on motorcycles (especially Honda xr150s) as you didn't ride for long before you left? 

We were both riding 125's on a CBT before we left, we had an old 70's Honda CB and a newer XR, mainly because we were planning this trip. When we were in Indonesia, Tom was the one always riding the bikes and to be honest I was happy sat on the back, but for this trip there was no chance of that happening, we have too much gear and Tom just wasn't having it, so I'd have to get myself there. It's been a real challenge but it's starting to feel natural. There are positives and negatives to riding a bike on a surf trip, already we have been able to access some pretty special places purely because we are on bikes. We have dreamt of a car or van at times but we wouldn't have travelled on some of the roads we have done, the ones that are going to have the lasting memory. We get some crazy looks riding down the highway with surfboards attached to our bikes (along with the odd shaka which is always a boost). The amazing thing is that we always feel part of the landscape on bikes, we are in it, not separate from it as you are in a car. There is a romance to the idea of it and rolling into a town, tired and filthy, chased by dogs gives us a real sense of achievement. As for the 150cc's, they're cheap, £1,500 each for brand new bikes, we have never gone over a tenner filling both tanks and these bikes are everywhere, a new engine will be cheaper than one sensor for a BMW that has to be shipped from Europe or whatever, these bikes are really simple, single cylinder, carburettor, minimal electronics. We don't feel like we're screaming 'we have money' when we arrive or pass through a town. 

Not having surfboards with us was never an option & this is initially a surf trip so 80kmh is tops for our safety. The XR150's sit happily at that speed, any bigger would be a waste for us. Plus, if I drop my bike, I can just about pick it up...The XR150's definitely aren't 'cool' either but they're doing a really good job so far. Fuck me, you couldn't do this trip on an Enfield or an old Harley, there is a romance to that too but I think we already have enough of that with the route, let alone sitting in lay-by's all day. Although an XR250 is appealing at times!

What made you choose your route, starting from Santiago?

San Fran is one idea... Or we might end up in Texas or Mexico, plans are always changing. We read about two Australian surfers travelling through an area in Western Mexico we were planing on going through who wound up dead, burned to death in their van the first night they got there; places like Sinaloa and Geurerro are crazy. We have nothing to prove but we do have flights out of LA at some point. As for starting in Chile, it's well known that Santiago is a good place to buy bikes and its near really good waves. We have made it to another surf town in the North now, nearly 2000km's up the coast; we thought the Atacama desert might have waves but the swell was small the whole time we were there. From here on up to California there is good surf pretty much all the way. There is one language too which is a bonus, we're learning Spanish and it's going OK so far.
 

Whats been the best part of your trip so far?

Two free weeks in a dreamy log cabin next to Punta De Lobos (an amazing Chilean wave), surfing an amazing spot surrounded by beauty and surf heritage, being in the sea with whales and dolphins was amazing. That and meeting great people, in particular Alejandro Briones and his family from Herencia Rides in Santiago. He built our racks and has supported us fully the whole way, giving us keys to said log cabin. Looking back there are lots of high points but at times its hard not to think of the low points too. I think the lowest point was the Southern Atacama, 12 hours riding through dirt tracks and goat roads that we knew nobody has used for a long time. Going over the crest of a mountain hoping for a town as the sunsets and seeing more mountains and nothingness, switching off the engine and coasting down the mountains and hair pin bends to save precious fuel. There were tears and I wanted to give up there and then. Looking back, that was unforgettable, it was incredible and we are sure that will be the most memorable and amazing experience.

How long are you planning on travelling for? 

We are aiming for a year in total but who knows. We quit our jobs and the flat rented out within a day of being online. We might end up quitting in a couple of months or spending a bit of time somewhere we fall in love along the way. We are totally open to ideas of how to live for a while. 
 

How did you find doing your test in the UK? 

I found the process of the test really difficult. I failed my Mod 1 the first time round because I ran over a cone pretty much immediately. The Examiner wore a helmet in the yard the whole time and had piercing mean eyes. I didn't feel like I was actually taught to understand how to ride and instead just told to do it. I changed riding schools and found the next guys teaching style way more helpful, less chauvinist and spent time explaining things more logically. For me actually learning to ride was way more important than passing my test if that makes sense. It cost money but I ended up taking my time, having more lessons than they would usually give. The only problem then was that I was cutting it really fine with regards to the trip. I knew how important it was to have my license for so many reasons but in particular to cover me insurance wise, I am sure there are countries out here that you would never be asked. We cut it so fine that the morning of my flight I had to take a detour to pick up my new license which had just arrived. It was pretty stressful and I ended up putting a hell of a lot of pressure on myself to pass but I did first time, that was after getting the wrong date for my first one, I turned up two days too late and ended up sat in the waiting room next to my old instructor, that was a bit shit, ha. I spent the whole test itself thinking that I had surely failed and when in fact I got two minors for hesitating, smashed it. Never been so happy to finish something and never have to do it again to be honest. Most people I speak to say the same thing, it's not an easy process. I don't mean to discourage anybody because it really is well worth doing, it feels amazing to know that I can now legally ride any bike I want.

 

How do you think riding in the uk differs from riding in South America? 

It's early days yet but after nearly 3,000km's there are definitely positives and negatives. On the plus side, the weather is amazing, it never rains, is always warm and dry. Chile is so big that the cities are really spread out, the infrastructure is not the same as the UK, there are 'gas gaps' of up to 400km meaning you have to carry a jerry can really to avoid getting stuck. In England I wouldn't ever choose to travel on a motorway, here you have no choice sometimes, its the only option for part of the country. The Ruta 5, the Pan American Highway here is pretty horrific, there are huge trucks and busses flying past way quicker than necessary, and then they come up behind you and sit on your tail being really menacing. The smaller roads and dirt tracks are absolutely amazing though; stunning scenery, sea to the left, mountains to the right and when you inland a bit its like a cross between Mad Max and Jurassic Park, not another car for miles and plenty of empty beaches to camp on for free. Those big stretches of empty roads never get boring. One big problem is the dogs. Every time we pull into, or leave a town on the bikes, dogs chase us, snapping at our legs. They don't seem to like the noise of the bikes and they really mean business, I am writing this having just returned from hospital after losing a battle with a German Shepard last night, although that was nothing to do with a motorbike. I'm OK. 

 

Will you be getting a bike the UK when you get back? 
 
We kept our XR125 for when we get back. I can imagine after a trip this long that it would feel strange not to have a bike, I am becoming quite attached to it. For me, the romance is where motorbikes can take you, I'm not bothered about the aesthetics and heritage as much at the minute, though I can appreciate the appeal. Right now, my dream bike would be anything that can let me ride though any terrain, particularly sand and dirt maybe with one of those long range tanks. A set of good OS maps and some better tires would also be mint!  

 

What advice would you give to someone considering to do a similar trip who maybe spent have their licence yet?

I would say that I am not really able to give advice quite yet, but having your licence gives you so much confidence when riding. If you're even thinking about a trip like this, start the process get your license, but do it nice and early! Before this trip, I had no desire to ride bikes really but having this skill feels amazing, that said, I am dreading the next part of the journey (400km's with no fuel on the 'Most Deadly Highway's in the America's). What I would say is get a Garmin GPS, use Bikehike.co.uk to plan routes and take a good tent, a jerry-can and a Primus Omnifuel stove (as these run off petrol). My top tip is a pair of decent old Levis (when they were proper denim), take them to the old lady in the Indoor Market and get her to sew in E-bay Kevlar into the knees and hips, I live in these jeans, on and off the bike, Tom too. Trying to find decent ladies riding gear is a nightmare and it really doesn't need to be expensive. 

Article by Gemma Harrison ( @ghwfive)
January 2016

Yonder Surf
SurfGirl Article

I’m always grateful to work with supportive people and organisations like SurfGirl Magazine and was really happy to be given the opportunity to share some thoughts on getting back into surfing at home in the North East after giving birth to my son last December. I’ve shared my piece here for those who want to read it but I would urge you to support the magazine by buying in any WH Smiths or other good newsagents or by subscribing here.

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It's been a long, flat summer. I've lost count of the days we've spent on the beach, in the sun, barefoot with a naked baby learning to crawl across the shoreline of clear, warm water.

But it's been a few weeks, if not months since I last saw the North East in the mood that drew us to move here in the first place. I'd never wish away the summer, the long nights and light mornings, warm weather and mild sea temperature. I love living outdoors and miss it dearly once it's gone and the nights draw in for the long, cold winter.

I'd never wish it away but I look back on each winter and feel that nervous excitement in the pit of my stomach. Pulling up in to the car park and spotting the right cars or vans already there, a sure sign it must be firing. Getting changed in the elements, feet frozen; cold, wet wetsuit going back on, the feeling of pain as it clings freezing to my kidneys as I put it on, already shivering. The icy fresh mornings and powerful North swells that roll in past Scotland and down into Northumberland or North Yorkshire, hitting the reefs with a cold familiar fury. When it all lines up here, I wouldn't be anywhere else on the planet.

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I’ve spun yarns to far flung friends about waves that break in the shadows of ancient castles, about Scottish waves that do perfect impressions of a freezing cold Nias, of polluted, dark water waves in the shadow of container ships. It takes dedication, knowledge and patience to be a surfer on this coast. It’s the opposite of Bali, but when it’s on, I’d take home any day.

Nearly two years ago I was involved in an accident on the lifeboat, six to eight foot of winter swell and a small RIB saw me snap my humerus bone in half. I needed surgery and was left with a ten inch scar up the back of my arm, an impressive plate and screws and months of needing physio. My husband and I had been trying for a baby at this time and I fell pregnant at the same time. The baby carried me through mentally, knowing that I’d need to wind down to keep him safe through my pregnancy but each time the chart lit up, my heart would sink. I swam until I couldn’t squeeze into my 5mm suit any more, played in the waves but it didn’t scratch the itch.

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Giving birth was hard. My body suffered physically and I was exhausted for weeks. Having a newborn was hard too. He was so vulnerable and needed me constantly. The first time I surfed on both my arm and with the baby was two weeks after his birth in mid-December. It was freezing and pumping. I took out my 5’8 and I sucked. Getting dragged over the falls, smashed off the sand bottom, held down in the freezing water. Over the rest of the winter and into the spring it got easier. It came back to me slowly but surely with each session, learning to glide on a longboard again, how to draw lines on a Singlefin and getting back to the reefs on a shortboard.

I’d never wish away the summer but I’d at least like two foot of clean northerly groundswell to go with it. Once it’s over I’ll be sad to see it go; but the consolation will come in the form of Autumn and Winter swells marching their way towards our reefs and I’ll be there, car heater blasting, hot water bottle ready, thermos full and a little boy wrapped up warm learning what his parents hold so dearly.

Sally McGee - Surfgirl Magazine #65

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Photos by Tom Bing

Yonder SurfComment
Sisters of the North Sea

Yonder was born out of a love being in the ocean, surfing and a desire to take control of my life and work. Surfing has been such a huge part of my life for years and I look at places with a strong sense of community and burgeoning female surf scenes and it’s exciting. In fact, there are so many women now who are taking steps to create communities around the things they love across the world, like our good friends VC London, Days on the Dirt, Wonderful Wild Women in the Lake District to name a small few.

The positive response to Yonder from women in the UK has been pretty overwhelming over the past few months and I really feel that there is something special happening in the North East with regards to female surfing. Through starting the school I have already met so many amazing women of all ages, abilities, shapes, sizes, nationalities and professions that I would not have met otherwise and now these women are contacting each other, sharing surfs and stories. I wanted to introduce you all to just a few of the women that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting recently through Yonder. Every single one of them was truly stoked to experience the beauty of the North Sea, they have showed resilience and maintained the ability to laugh at themselves, encourage each other and simply have fun.

Here they are, at least a few of the Sisters of the North Sea.

This is an ongoing series of genuine, honest portraits of UK female surfers straight out of the sea. This is what we look like.

For now, Yonder (as a surf school) is on a bit of a winter hiatus while I surf in Bali and New Zealand with my family but be sure to sign up to the mailing list and WhatsApp broadcast to receive first alerts for lessons when I am back.

Thanks ladies!

Yonder x K&K Surfboards

One of the easiest and most common mistakes to make when starting out surfing is riding the wrong board.


L-R. 9'6 Empire, 9'4 Empire, 8' Swell, 7' Chris Jones, 6'1 K&K, 5'11 Polymath, 5'9 Polymath, 5'9 K&K, 5'8 Polymath, 5'5 self shaped

L-R. 9'6 Empire, 9'4 Empire, 8' Swell, 7' Chris Jones, 6'1 K&K, 5'11 Polymath, 5'9 Polymath, 5'9 K&K, 5'8 Polymath, 5'5 self shaped

If your board isn't right then you are more likely to get fed up, frustrated and fail to progress. Getting the right board is often harder for women as many of the boards out there on the market are designed with men in mind. Though women and men aren't so different overall when it comes to surfing, statistically the average height and weight difference between men and women is fairly significant. This is an important factor when choosing the board that's right for you. 

There are also different styles of riding waves and the style you prefer will determine the boards you ride; I tend to look to surfers like Leah Dawson and Steph Gilmore (particularly when she rides a single fin), Ryan Birch, Alex Knost and Dave Rastovich for my inspiration, all stylish surfers who capture my imagination and get me excited to surf when I watch them.

I personally ride shortboards, longboards, fish and mid-lengths and have always been a big believer in the 'ride everything' ethos. In fact, I can often be seen riding my trusty 7' Chris Jones single fin affectionately dubbed 'big red'. It is a guaranteed wave catcher, encourages me to relax when I surf and makes me smile whenever I'm riding it. That board has been part of our quiver now for over ten years and we would never sell it.

I feel often that there is a pressure in surfing to progress to shorter and smaller boards as soon as possible, as if it's 'kooky' to ride bigger boards. I would always be wary of going 'short' too soon. Going too small too quickly only leads to a drop in wave count and frustration; at the end of the day surfing has to be about having fun.  A good mid-length is an important board in a quiver however good at surfing you are for smaller days, fat waves and more mellow sessions.

Going back a few years, when I came to commit to buying my first surfboard, it meant a huge amount to me. I remember spending ages looking around for boards, half looking for a board made for girls and all I found was pink and flowery designs on terrible mass produced pop-outs. I knew enough about surfing to know that I wanted it to be made from fiberglass not plastic and I'd rather someone who surfed had had a hand in making it or designing it. 

I don't think I knew what a 'board for a girl' would be, what the difference was, but I knew that I might want something slightly different to my partner, who's 5'11 and 12 stone as I am considerably smaller and lighter at 5'8 and 8.5 stone. I felt there might be some subtle difference between 7'6 he might ride and a 7'6 I might ride. 

Twelve years (and many, many boards) later and I've developed a great relationship with a couple of shapers local to me. They make boards for me based on the way I surf; we share waves all winter long and they know what I like. Matt Ayre, of Polymath made us a load of amazing boards and has passed the baton onto David Kennett since he moved from next door to our house to Canada. 

My go-to shortboard, 5'9 K&K R2.

My go-to shortboard, 5'9 K&K R2.

I chose K&K to make my boards after Matt because on any good day in a good line-up in the North East, there are more K&K boards in the water than anything else - he's making boards for so many people and doing a great job of it. 

So between the three of us, we decided to come up with a design that I would have liked and would have served me well when I first started surfing. It's the board I use to teach improver lessons on, as one of the most common mistakes I see in people at the start of their surfing journey is their board is holding them back.

We're really not trying to re-invent the wheel here; this is just our interpretation of a mini-mal that we think would be perfect to teach our improver lessons on. We will have a small stock of them as school boards and they will be available to have custom shaped to order. 

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Soft lines, plenty of foam for paddle and glide, forgiving rails. It keeps a traditional outline and length as a 'normal' Mini-Mal but it just drops the volume a touch out towards the rails so it requires a little less weight and power to sink the rails when turning.

This model is a 7'6 x 21 1/2 x 2 3/4 and packs 48L of foam.

It's designed to get beginner to intermediate surfers upping their wave count and developing skills that can be transferred either up to a longboard, or down to shorter boards in the future. 

Each board is made to order in Wallsend, Newcastle. 

If you are interested in ordering one of these boards, please get in touch to discuss options. 

info@surfyonder.com

Yonder Surf
Hotline Wetsuits - Brenda Scott-Rogers

This article was written whilst on the road in California in Autumn 2016. I've used Hotline wetsuits for years. Even today, it's a struggle to find decent hooded winter suits for girls that fit properly and are warm enough to see me through a winter in the North East. I found Brenda's story, or what I knew of it, so inspiring that I made it a mission to pay her a visit in Santa Cruz and try to piece together a bit more of a picture of the first female CEO in the surf industry.

Originally published by Liquid Salt.

For the past year I have been travelling up the Pacific Coast of the America’s, from Santiago, Chile to San Francisco, California. I always knew that one of our final destinations would be Santa Cruz, the home of Hotline Wetsuits. After feeling such a strong affiliation with the company for the past ten years I decided that visiting the factory and arranging to meet up and talk to the co founder and CEO Brenda Scott-Rogers was a must.

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With all the other things to see and do in Northern California, visiting a wetsuit factory might seem like a strange tourist stop-off. Here is the thing though; Hotline were my surfing saviors. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life surfing through the freezing winters of the North East of England and Scotland. At the start of my journey into surfing I really struggled to find a hooded winter suit with a chest zip, all that the shops had in stock for women were hoodless back-zip suits which although great for spring and autumn, weren’t able to keep me warm during the cold winter months in the North Sea. There was a small selection of wetsuits on the market but few shops in the UK stocked them and suits that they did stock often just didn’t seem to fit right and would flush icy water and cut sessions short. It might be that I have a strange body shape, but don’t we all? In the words of Brenda Scott-Rogers herself, ‘there’s no perfect 10.’ When my local surf shop owner Steve Crawford in Scarborough, England suggested I try on a Hotline, I finally felt that I had found a suit that was of the same high quality standard as the guys I was surfing with; a suit that understood that women also want to be able to surf where the waters aren't always warm. When I found out that the company was run by a woman from the cold waters and heavy surf of Santa Cruz, California, it all made sense to me. A woman making wetsuits with women surfers in mind.

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Sitting down with Brenda at the Hotline factory we connected immediately, she has a real energy that surrounds her and her personality fills the room. As we leafed through incredible old surf photos of her younger days it was clear to see the passion for surfing and the pride she felt about what she had achieved at a time when it was even more of a challenge for female surfers. The factory itself is like a museum of surfing heritage, a testimony to her involvement and contribution. Old posters, photos, wetsuits and memorabilia lined the walls. Before establishing Hotline as a brand in the USA, she had been an influential figure in the surfing world during an era when women pro surfers were really pioneering the way and ensuring women received the same respect and compensation that the men received on the pro circuit. At just 21 in Sunset Beach, Hawaii. Brenda won the 1978 World Cup and gained notoriety as International Surfing Professionals' prestigious "Rookie of the Year." In 1981 she was rated 3rd in the world. In 1979, in order to support herself on tour and have something to fall back on once she had retired from professional surfing, Brenda co-founded Hotline Wetsuits. This was at a time when, according to Brenda, the idea of women’s wetsuits styles and models didn’t even exist and women simply wore men's suits to surf, Brenda introduced Hotline to the US market and for many years she was the surf industry's only female CEO.

AS WE LEAFED THROUGH INCREDIBLE OLD SURF PHOTOS OF HER YOUNGER DAYS IT WAS CLEAR TO SEE THE PASSION FOR SURFING AND THE PRIDE SHE FELT ABOUT WHAT SHE HAD ACHIEVED AT A TIME WHEN IT WAS EVEN MORE OF A CHALLENGE FOR FEMALE SURFERS.

Brenda is an innovator in the truest sense of the word, she told me that she used to keep a Dictaphone next to her bed at night so she could wake up and make a note of all the ideas that would come to her, some of these ideas have become part of surfer's everyday life. Hotline were the first company in the USA to introduce wetsuits with a front zip. In fact, the first product she introduced was the Vulcanized neoprene and rubber booties that we have all become so accustomed to using. The boots hit the market with great success and the idea has since spread worldwide. However, the women’s wetsuits she produced initially struggled, Brenda recalls how getting women’s wetsuits into the surf shops was a real challenge, the community of women surfers was very small at the time but Brenda and the team persevered and pushed the brand forward by sponsoring a number of pro surfers globally. One particular surfer that they sponsored was pioneering surfer Sarah Gerhardt. Sarah was the first ever female to take on the might of Mavericks, an infamously dangerous big wave spot just north of Santa Cruz. It was the support of brands like Hotline that insured women like Sarah could contemplate the challenge presented by those icy waters. The inspiration for other women that follows as a consequence of this is immeasurable.

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Arriving in Santa Cruz after spending some time in Southern California, the beating heart of the global surf industry, it was encouraging to see that small business are still managing to provide high quality products to their loyal customers in the area. Paddling out at the world class point break, Steamer Lane, less than a mile from the factory, it was clear to see that they do have a loyal following and it felt oddly reminiscent of the scene I am familiar with back home; the ‘H’ logo dotted around the cold, misty line-up means that they too have found an affiliation with this small brand in a world of giants. Hotline has a strong ethos of function over fashion, the suits are simple. A slow-burning improvement and development from the suits first produced in the late 1970's, built to fit and last. According to Brenda, it is not easy in such a competitive market to find independent surf shops to stock their product.

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Through connections with people like Steve in Scarborough, England who passionately believe in what Hotline do, they manage to survive and continue to develop their technology and nurture local talent who will go on to positively contribute to the world of surfing in the same way Brenda, Sarah, Darryl 'Flea' Virostko and many of the other pioneering surfers in Santa Cruz that have been involved with Hotline have. Money isn’t the driving factor here, passion is. I was humbled to walk around an operational factory, complete with off cuts, scissors, sewing machines, paper patterns and evidence of the craftsmanship needed to produce full custom suits by hand in Santa Cruz. Heritage is something that is important in surfing and the true, genuine innovators and dedicated waterfolk who chip away to improve the thing we are all so passionate about deserve to be celebrated; they are becoming a rare breed. Brenda is vehemently passionate about not only surfing, but women’s place in surfing and I am forever grateful for that.

Find out more about Brenda Scott-Rodgers and Hotline Wetsuits here: www.hotlineonline.com.

You can buy Hotline Wetsuits in the UK from Fluid Concept in Scarborough. 

Yonder Surf
Surfing Mothers

My son Billy one has made it to nine months old. Where does the time go?! I breastfed Billy exclusively for nearly eight months and it was amazing, but also by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Those early days and the sleep deprivation, it’s indescribable. I guess we are basically keeping a human alive at the end of the day, we are giving ourselves to them completely and I found it to be one of the most rewarding but draining and exhausting experiences. 

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When Maeve (who broke her leg surfing tiny waves last week) told me that the doctor said she had broken her leg because she had Transitional Osteoporosis, a rare condition where her bones were weakened from pregnancy and breastfeeding the accident made a lot more sense than breaking your leg surfing. To be honest, that just doesn’t happen. For Maeve to have this happen to her is awful, but it has definitely highlighted an underlying issue that needed to be addressed.

I was wary of putting this post out because I don’t want other mums who breastfeed to think that they shouldn’t get out there and do all the things that make them who they are. As a new mother I know how important it is to get out and be active, especially when so little time is your own anyway. I knew it was important to give myself a sense of normality and keep me active but I guess this post is two fold.

To those that worry that breaking your leg when surfing is normal, it’s definitely not, in fact it’s pretty much unheard of.

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To those that want to keep active, experience new things but are breastfeeding, please know that this is a rare condition, keep active, keep, in the words of Maeve, 'staying true to who you are and still do what you love when you've had a baby' because you quite simply need to; look after yourselves, you truly are amazing.

To Maeve, you’re a true inspiration, cool headed and tough as nails. We'll be surfing together in New Zealand in December. 

These are the things that define us. Our kids will grow up, look at our scars and be proud that we are who we are; out there doing it. 

Yonder Surf
Camp VC

I'm still coming down from the high of a long weekend away at Camp VC in the Brecon Beacons a couple of weekends ago. Four fantastic days spent out in the sun, riding dirt bikes, learning to kick turn on a mini ramp, screen printing, sign writing and basically just hanging out with an incredible group of inspiring women. I also feel so lucky that Billy got to experience the event with me and feel really happy that starting Yonder means that he will get to spend more time with strong, passionate and adventurous women as he grows up.  

Tom Bing

Tom Bing

If you haven't heard of Camp VC in a nut shell it's a womens' outdoor motorcycle and adventure weekend but in reality it is so much more. Camp VC was set up by three incredibly humble but talented women with the aim of supporting and inspiring women to get into new activities, predominantly riding motorcycles but the crossover with bikes and other activities means that the weekend has loads else on offer. There was a Vans skate ramp, adventure film making workshops, bouldering wall, trials riding workshops, an enduro workshops, sign writing and loads else going on, all of the workshops were run by talented, supportive and passionate women, like Tamsin Jones, Leah Tokelove and Lucia Aucott, Sophie Allen, Amy Shore, Rachel Joy and Mai Storni. It was awesome to see a huge range of women trying things for the very first time. The safe and supportive environment provided by the event meant that women were confident to get involved and take a few risks, no judgements made or experience necessary. 

Amanda Fordyce

Amanda Fordyce

Amanda Fordyce

Amanda Fordyce

Tom Bing

Tom Bing

Before the event I had been asked by Gemma Harrison, Co founder of the event, if I would take part in a team talk. I was pretty apprehensive to be honest but Gemma is possibly the most encouraging lady I know and she convinced me that it would be great and that I'd be fine. Of course, I didn't believe her but she made me feel a lot better about it. A few weeks later she told me that Victoria Pendleton and Amy Shore would be talking too, I immediately wrote back and said that she had the wrong third person but again Gemma is ridiculously supportive and convinced me that she wanted me there. I think if Billy had given me the time beforehand to worry I would have, but it was all a bit of a rush before the event and I ended up loving being a part of the team talk. The topics that we discussed were important and diverse and Gemma hosted the discussion with a real expertise. I feel really proud to have been a part of it and would like to thank the girls for putting their trust in me. 

Amanda Fordyce

Amanda Fordyce

I have no idea how those ladies pulled it off but I do know that it took a lot of hard work and dedication to the cause. I'm already excited for next years event, we have a great crew of awesome North East ladies who are excited about going for the first time.

Thank you ladies for putting in the time to create something wonderful!

Amanda Fordyce

Amanda Fordyce

All photos courtesy of Amanda Fordyce and Tom Bing.  

@amandafordycephoto
@tombingphoto

Huge thanks to Vicky, Leah & Lucia and everyone else who helped out with Billy. Huge thanks to Tamsin and Craig of Black Desert Enduro for having a magical place and letting everyone in and of course a huge thanks to Gemma, Namin, Mai and the rest of the team at @vc_london and @camp_vc. 
 

Welcome to Yonder!

I've been surfing for around 12 years now and it has been the central pillar in my life since I got hooked right at the beginning. I think the allure started with the challenge and the adventure of it all. I'd see surfers early in the mornings and into the sunsets whenever I was at the coast and felt pangs of jealousy that they had this incredible way to be in the position they were; in the sea, amongst nature and doing something they loved, for themselves. 

Longboarding in the North East

Longboarding in the North East

The transition from watching and thinking, to becoming one of those people wasn't easy. Surfing is hard work but the challenge of it kept me coming back and made me more determined to develop my skills and confidence in the water. 

In the years I have been surfing, it's given my life more than I could ever have imagined it would. It triggered a total restructure; I had a great career in Leeds, working as a service manager in the charity sector, probably with a pretty bright future, but the allure of the sea was stronger than my desire for career progression. So I left it behind and moved to Tynemouth, and focused more on slowing things down, exploring our coastline and taking trips to surf amazing waves.

I've been lucky enough to have spent time in Indonesia, North Africa, France, Scotland and the South West. 

In 2015, my husband Tom and I decided to challenge ourselves with a 16,000 mile road trip on dirt bikes with surfboards attached on side racks. We surfed and camped our way from Chile, through 12 countries, to California on a tiny budget. 

On my motorbike in Baja California, Mecxico after 11 countries and 10 months on the road.

On my motorbike in Baja California, Mecxico after 11 countries and 10 months on the road.

It took us 12 months to complete the trip and we got to surf some incredible places and live a feral life on the road, surfing in balmy warm waters and powerful secluded waves. 

Camping and surfing in Peru (the wave from the film Given)

Camping and surfing in Peru (the wave from the film Given)

The last couple of years since our return have also been pretty life-changing. I had a pretty bad accident on the RNLI lifeboat, snapping my humerus bone clean in half, requiring some pretty serious plating and physiotherapy to get my strength back to surf. We also made the decision to have a child and we welcomed our son Billy to our family in December 2017. It was time for another restructure.

It was a tough year for me, I'm always active and out in the sea so being injured and pregnant really frustrated me. I was back in the water (in some capacity) just two weeks after having Billy; I needed to be in the sea to clear my head and although it was hard, and I was terrible, it was an instant reminder of why I love what I do. I realised that I needed to build a life and business around doing what I love. 

Me and Billy with our Motorhome in Scotland

Me and Billy with our Motorhome in Scotland

I've been an ASI qualified surf coach since 2015, and have built up a lot of experience teaching people of all ages and abilities to surf in Tynemouth at the excellent Tynemouth Surf Co. and Longsands Surf School. 

I've been hugely inspired by my good friends at VC London, Hey Ho Print Co and other strong female role models and wanted to create a service that I think is really needed in the largely male-dominated surf industry. 

VC London and Yonder in Devon

VC London and Yonder in Devon

My camps aim to reflect my lifestyle. The challenge, and amazing feeling of progression after a surf. Spending time in beautiful places with great people, sharing inspiration. Building a love and knowledge of the ocean and understanding surfing, surf craft, safety, etiquette and the culture we belong to. The weekends are fun, with hearty food, wine and good company.

I aim to leave you exhausted but inspired to book your next trip to chase waves. Trust me, there is nothing better than surfing in your sleep. 

The lessons I offer are a bit different too. I'm based in Tynemouth but can travel to nearby spots, taking our motorhome as a mobile base to get changed, warm and have a cup of tea. I offer one-to-one lessons, which might focus on one element or issue which is holding your surfing back, or could really accelerate the learning process with tailored teaching. We are also available to book for private group sessions and it gets cheaper the more people you have on board - excuse the pun. 

Yonder Surf