East-West: A Mitch Wood Production
The following piece is the result of a discussion between myself and LUXBMX co-owner Mitch Wood, based around a 15,000km return trip from Brisbane to Exmouth.
What does one do with an entirely free month? 4 weeks of workless space, unshackled from the strain of life's many unremarkable obligations. The options are plentiful of course. What did one Mitch Wood do with a spare month? Well, he packed his bike and some clothes into his chic 'wanna be on a dirt road but I'm actually an urban imposter' Subaru and headed west, like real west.
With the lure of an open road, undiscovered country and a top quality friend waiting at the finish line, temptation was too much and the decision had been made. The operation at the LUXBMX warehouse was to be Mitch-less for a month.
Stopping the flow of work stresses and opening oneself up to wanderlust sounds easy, but is in many cases, not. The following discussion centres around the tension between pursuing freedom while at the same time, participating in the economy like a sucker and more specifically, running a business you've started from the ground up and maintain a deep sense of pride for. Spending time working on this has given me a satisfying sniff of adventure, of discovery and excitement - very much from afar.
A man and his bike - it's good stuff!
Talk to me about the trip, how did it come about and why did you choose the route through to Exmouth?
Hey Mike. I’d love to!
It had been far too long since my last big holiday, the last one was with you to Tasmania actually. This was actually the first time I’d taken more than 2 weeks off in the 13 years that LUX has existed.
I’d already started looking at holiday options before deciding on keeping it within Aus. After a phone call to my good friend Justy who lives in Exmouth I’d learned about the solar eclipse that was happening. That event and the chance to stay with Justy for a week sold it for me.
I’d looked at booking a 4WD over there for a few weeks but the prices were ludicrous so I decided to take my trusty Subaru XV and do the drive there from Brisbane and back. I’m so glad I did!
The trip was just shy of 15,000kms in the end and I saw some ot the most incredible sights of my life and met some amazing people.
Mitch and his Mother - drone selfy
The rig, ballsy taking something so ill-equipped across the country
It can't be easy leaving the shop/crew behind, being a massive part of your life. Can you describe what the mental process is like committing to a month-long trip?
For sure. On most trips I’ve found it pretty hard to switch off and I generally end up jumping in and checking on things and answering emails. When the team was a bit smaller it was more likely I’d be getting a call to troubleshoot or help with something too.
This trip I set myself a rule that I needed to be a bit more present and not worry about work for a bit. As an employer I definitely wouldn’t expect anyone to be stressing out about work on their time off so I decided to apply the same logic to myself. I deleted email and work related apps and promised myself I wouldn’t log on and check anything and I held strong.
I’m so lucky to have such a supportive crew here and they absolutely smashed it while I was away. I’m super proud of everyone and it’s really good to be back.
You mentioned that the trip was transformative and important to bring you into the present. Describe what you mean by this and how it helped you to lean into these parts of your life? What did you learn about yourself?
I’m going to get a bit real here. The shitshow that was COVID has been such a stressful time to run a business. We were lucky enough to be in an industry that ended up doing well once the initial freaking out had happened but that led to rapid growth, even more stress and a constant fear that anything could go bad at any moment. It felt like we were hanging off the back of a freight train with no control over which way it was headed.
The whole period had left me feeling some kind of lingering stress that never quite seemed to go away. It was always present, even on days off and times that were meant to be relaxing I’d feel a knot in my chest like doom was just around the corner. It got to the point where I knew I needed a bit of a reset to get on top of it. I really felt it starting to affect my health, both physical and mental.
There were a few moments that really stood out for me. One was turning off the A1 towards Exmouth. I’d driven through the night thanks to some car troubles and had just experienced the most epic red sunrise. To my right I saw huge flocks of what I later found out were budgies. There must have been something like three or four hundred birds. They were all moving in unison in a group that looked like a serpent in the sky. I looked to my left and saw a huge eagle ripping into a wallaby. I just had the biggest feeling of absolute freedom and the realization that to experience situations like this you have to put yourself in them. They don’t happen from the couch and you’re never truly stuck in any situation.
As far as what I’ve learned about myself, I think the main takeaway is that I have a threshold for endurance that isn’t always healthy and endurance does not necessarily equal strength. Most times putting the weight down for a bit has a better result in the end.
The trip also rekindled my love for cooking. Pulling up at a camp spot and just taking time to prepare a meal as the sun went down really made me feel present and grounded. I’ve been cooking a lot since I’ve been home.
I love this shot, how interesting to see a 'section' view of the Australian continent. Bunda Cliffs
Mitch & Justy perched up together for the night, a very, very windy one at that
Many of our readers might not know that you have a long background in video production. Even so, the video is of a super high quality and features some of the most incredible landscape shots I've ever seen. From a cinematography perspective, what has your journey been like to get to this point and how did you approach this project?
I’ve always nerded out on film and have been making BMX videos almost as long as I’ve been riding. My parents had a camcorder and I remember setting it up in the backyard and filming myself riding little ramps that I’d built.
I ended up going to film school which I loved and then got a scholarship to do a uni course called ‘Bachelor of Applied Media’ which was all about film, TV, radio and a bit of web. I absolutely hated uni as there was too much theory and we barely touched a camera! I dropped out with 18 months to go and got a job in a bike shop, haha!
To me filming exploration goes hand in hand with BMX. I feel like BMX teaches you to push your limits, ride further away than you ever have and to see and experience things you haven’t before. Some of my fondest memories are my earliest BMX road trips. Just jumping in the car with mates, driving off into the unknown and riding our bikes on anything that caught our fancy. I still feel that drive today with most aspects of my life and I like to think this is all because of BMX.
Australia’s scenery is breathtaking and my riding isn’t as impressive as it used to be so I feel like some crazy landscapes are a bit more interesting to the viewer! The video is mainly drone with a bit of random footage from a point-and-shoot at the start to set the scene. I didn’t really have a vision of what the end result would look like when I set off but I knew I wanted to have something to remember the trip by. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out but, as usual, I wish I filmed more!
How do you pass the time being on such a long drive, what did you fill the void with?
Audiobooks, podcasts, music and some long periods of silence. I had my trusty BMX on the roof so it was such a cool feeling to spot parks in random locations and pull up to stretch the legs.
More cute. This time it's Justy cracking a smile underwater - you can tell by the fishies
This shot shows a lighthouse standing tall as supported by a wide berth of rocks. Cape Leeuwin, WA
Hopefully this post inspires others to handle your own adventures and exploration of our remarkable country. While you may not wish to cross the continent, the satisfaction, enjoyment and memories associated with a roadtrip are still accessible even on a much smaller scale. Set some goals, do a little planning and make it happen!
I'll finish this piece with an assortment of varying images - all taken by Mitch himself.
Must have been soothing to rest the gaze on some greenery. South Australia WIne Country
This valley features in the above video, love how it leads your eye to the coast. Cape Range National Park, Exmouth
Just another incredible setting of the sun. Whalers Way
Mitch has a great eye for lines and light, this being a prime example. Trial Bay Gaol
This would have been the view for 99% of the time
What's more Australian than an open cut mine? Not much unfortunately.