Monday, May 2, 2011

AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK PREPARES FOR HUDSON RIVER DESCENT


A furniture maker and endurance cyclist from London has hatched an audacious plan to build a boat made of discarded New York City constructions materials, tow the boat behind his bicycle 300 miles to the source of the Hudson River in the Adirondacks, then paddle back downriver. Not as wild as you’d think – the adventurer, James Bowthorpe, 33, has done it before on the Thames River in London, traveling 130 miles. And oh yeah, in 2009 he completed an 18,000-mile bike ride across 20 countries in less than six months, beating the world record by 20 days.

Bowthorpe met us in a coffee shop near the Explorers Club in New York to explain his plan. With fiery red hair and beard that makes him look like a modern day Viking, we shared tea while he explained how he planned to MacGyver a craft together this September, then sail from Lake Tear in the Clouds to the Atlantic.

Bowthorpe plans to scour the streets of New York for metal, timber and anything else of use he can load onto a bicycle trailer and pedal to a Manhattan workshop he has yet to secure. A combination of welding and carpentry will create a one-man, 12-ft. paddleboat that’s strong and reliable enough to withstand the bicycle ride north, an eight-mile portage to the river’s source, then a descent of thousands of feet during an eight-week journey downriver. A documentary of the Hudson River Project will be videotaped by a crew following along in a motorhome.

“I hope to encourage people that adventure should be a day-to-day activity – you don’t have to climb Everest to find adventure,” he said in a dry monotone not unlike Karl Pilkington on popular Ricky Gervais podcasts.

As he left the coffee shop, it was trash day on the Upper East Side and Bowthorpe couldn’t help but gaze longingly at a metal filing cabinet someone had discarded. It seemed like a good gunwale to us, but it’s a little too early for this Englishman in New York to start scrounging just yet.

(For more information: www.jamesbowthorpe.com, Antony Crook, 917 803 1026, antonycrook@mac.com).

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