Mats is skating around the world to raise money for Red Cross.
Mats is skating around the world to raise money for Red Cross.

Rollerblades for rollerpeace

When Mats Frankl began his trek to be the first man to rollerblade around the world, he stood on top of a mountain in Sweden, clipped his rollerblades onto some skis and raced down the mountain during the world’s biggest alpine ski race. He then skated through Norway, the British Isles and across Europe before flying to Canada then Sydney.

Mats has been attacked by magpies 10 times since he left Sydney on his journey to the Far North Coast and aquaplaned into Lismore in the pouring rain on Tuesday.

Mats is on mission of roller peace. With his wife and two children in tow driving a support vehicle, he is keeping fit and raising money and awareness for the work done by Red Cross to help victims in countries devastated by war.

“My parents used to take me to Vietnam War demonstrations,” Mats said. “I guess it stuck with me and I’ve always been interested in war and why it is still occurring. Red Cross is a charity I have always admired, every time there is a catastrophe, you see them helping and I wanted to support them.”

Mats grew up in Sweden and started ice skating when he was one and a half years old. He played ice hockey, then his father bought him a pair of rollerblades for Christmas and he never stopped wearing them. He was 21 when he moved to Australia, and he would even rollerblade to the train station in Sydney to get to work. He was inspired 15 years ago to skate around the world and after talking to his wife about it, they decided to set out this year.

Mats has already travelled over 5100 kilometres and he carries his GPS and mobile phone with him everywhere he rolls and keeps in touch with his family to rendezvous.

On the way into Lismore, Mats had left Casino but changed his mind about travelling on the Bruxner Highway after seeing how bad the road was. He tried to hitch back to Casino but Mats said no-one would pick him up “because he looked too weird”. He ended up skating into Lismore via back roads.

“The roads were wet, bumpy and slippery,” Mats said. “It was hard to get traction and I kept aquaplaning on the road… It was a struggle, but you just have to fight on.”

For Mats, what started as a mission for peace looks like turning into a campaign for better roads.

“Australian roads are the worst I have ever skated on,” he said. “The government here just doesn’t spend enough money on them; Holland is built for bikes and skates… we need more bike tracks here which link up towns.”

Before starting out in his journey, Mats trained hard with a personal trainer. He has reached speeds of 30km while rollerblading on his own steam – if the road is flat and in good condition.

“I have a lot of strength in my legs and I can travel 75 kilometres per day, but the roads here are very bumpy and the bottoms of my feet get sore from the vibrations,” he said. “In one day I did 100 kilometres in the Pyrenees in Spain; I was ruined after that.”

The only bad fall Mats had was while skating in Northern England.

“I was coming down a hill at high speed when I lost it and ended up on the ground with ripped pants and my face in a nettle bush,” Mats said.

He’s on his way to Byron Bay next and hopes to travel faster on the Pacific Highway as he makes his way up the East coast to travel another 3000 kilometres to Cooktown. After than he’s off to Asia in his attempt to rollerblade around the world.

To donate to the cause, you can visit Mats’ website at www.roller and follow the links to the Red Cross.

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