Whether he’s traveling the world, discovering new cultures or seeking out his next big adventure, Nick Cummins always brings an immense level of energy and entertainment all his own.
He was crowned the nickname as a way to align his fierce nature with that of the honey badger and its natural born instincts to act quickly in the slightest notion of danger.
In life, Nick outweighs potential risks with the rewards he reaps from discovering destinations around the world and in turn the experiences they offer. “I get a sense of freedom when I’m lost in the bush or in another country or when I’m surrounded by a foreign language,” Nick notes. “I get the sense that I’m truly alive.”
GoPro sat down with the Badger to talk about his escapade across Alberta, Canada, where he went bobsledding with the Australian Bobsled Team at Calgary Olympic Park–the infamous venue of the 1988 Winter Olympics where the Jamaican Bobsled Team competed.
Nick also played ice hockey on Lake Louise, ice fished and dog sledded on Spray Lakes, ice climbed at Johnston Canyon, curled at Calgary Olympic Park and snowboarded at Sunshine Village.
GoPro: What was it like bobsledding with the Australian Bobsled Team at such a legendary location?
Nick Cummins: I felt like I was in the movie Cool Runnings! Bobsledding is powerful and I really enjoyed it. I was in 2nd seat, behind the driver, right up his crack. They put me there because I was the most inexperienced. That way straight off the drive, I’m in the sled. My job was to get in without stabbing the driver with my spikes. I needed to keep my head down in case we stacked it, so my head didn’t get ripped off. Right off the gate we hit 40 kilometers per hour and raced down the track at 130 kilometers per hour, pulling 4Gs. I’ve never gone that fast in my life.
You must be a quick learner. How did Heath Spence, the Australian Olympic bobsled team pilot, manage to teach you what most people learn in two years, in only two hours?
Luckily he’s an experienced dude who knows what he’s talking about. You can see that in the respect that the other bobsledders have for him. He told me we didn’t have much time but pointed out a few things that I was familiar with, being an athlete. We went through the basics - not enough to cloud my head, but enough to keep me energized and excited. The most important thing to remember was, feet position and overall timing. It was critical that we all hit the sled together for the initial push and get in at the same time. Heath warned - when I’m in, get in, or we’ll leave you behind.
Did you kiss a lucky egg or have a good luck charm that you brought with you into the sled or that you bring with you out on the pitch?
I try and add certain energy to the group, so I know that my energy is involved with everyone else and what we’re all set out to do. As we lined up with the bobsled on the starting mark, I said “Alright guys, lets push it like we stole it.” At the start of a rugby match I ask every god known to man to watch over me. I don’t discriminate with gods. They all have something to offer. I ask for guidance, intuition and protection.
Now let’s talk about curling. Do you prefer to play in tennis shoes or sandals?
To be honest I feel more comfortable in pluggers. We call them pluggers because they have two plugs in the back for extra durability. Think of this as your all-terrain plugger. When I went curling for the first time I thought, “Alright, this is a new experience you have to make sure you have the durability and protection to carry out the task at hand.” I’m currently looking into putting spikes on the bottom of the plugger so we can use them in various sports. It’s a work in progress. The plugger could be used more widely. Its under estimated what it can offer.
Give us a few tips you’d share with a novice going dog sledding for the first time.
1. Do not take your hand off the handlebar. All the dogs want to do is mate, run, eat and sleep. They are very high-energy beings. They know exactly where you are focusing your attention. If you look away for a second the lead dog will kick the harness, all the other dogs will think they have to run, and there goes the sled.
2. Lean into the corners, especially if you have someone in the sled. Put weight into the side your turning into.
3. Keep a tiny bit of the foot break on so that the sled is traveling as the same speed as the dogs. The sled goes faster than the dogs. So if you let the sled go too fast, you could break the dog’s legs.
4. Motivate the dogs! Say “good dog” to get them going if you want to break some land records.
What’s more rewarding: hooking onto a panfish ice fishing or ice climbing the face of a frozen waterfall?
Well it really depends how hungry you are. If you’re not hungry and it’s more about the experience, I would say ice climbing. I was bogging and fully panicked in sections where the ice would break off and I was only hanging by the ice pick. My voice did raise a few notches because the harness was right on the family jewels, twig & berries, beans & franks, bangers & mash. Lets just say it was a lot of pressure and all three parts have to work together to survive the climb. If you’re a guy, make sure you choose the right harness and rearrange your set up before you climb. When your dangling its hard to relieve he pressure. It was a real sense of achievement because it felt I overcame the fear that I wasn’t going to be able to get to the top. It was actually my first crack at climbing.
Overall, what has been one of your favourite trips?
My favorite trip was actually riding my motorbike solo from Sydney to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, the rock in the middle of Australia. It took me a couple of weeks. I had just got my learners permit. So I figured I’d buy a bike, hit the road to Uluru, climbing little mountains and hills along the way to connect back to nature. When I needed to sleep I’d pull over and throw my swag out in the dirt. I took few cans of food that I heated up with my gas cooker.
What are you most looking forward to in the near future?
Well for me, you always know it’s going to be an adventure. I want to make a difference in men’s health, limit depression and suicide rates in young males. I actually started an organization called Rouge Gentleman’s Club. We are a group of mates, mentors and brothers. We’re not psychiatrists. In my experience people don’t always want to go to a mental heath doctor because that means they’re sick. If they’re talking to a couple of mates around the fire, on a weekend trip, we can chew the fat (have a chat), so they can express themselves and get things off their chest.
We all know someone who is going through a tough time. We all know people in our inner circles that are a bit low right now, so we’re starting first focusing the organization around our close friends, to sort out what methods work best. In a few months, we’ll open it up to the public. People these days need a bit of a laugh, so they can relax. These days are so stressful. No one has time to do anything and more importantly do anything for themselves. Its key to throw is a couple laughs to lighten the mood.
Originally published on GoPro Inside Line