The youngest of the multi-talented Malloy brothers has added a book to his surf-powered resume' with the recent release of "Slow is Fast," a 112-page travelogue of his bicycle trek along the California coast. For the 58-day, 700-mile journey last fall, Dan Malloy, 35, teamed up with still photographer Kanoa Zimmerman and filmmaker Kellen Keane to document their journey from Northern California's Mendocino to Southern California's Ventura, with a climb inland on Highway 33 to finish in Cuyama.
Along the way, they surfed, of course, but that wasn't the trip's ostensible mission. It was about visiting "good folks getting by," says the Patagonia-sponsored pro surfer, namely the family farmers, do-it-yourself craftsmen, and throwback educators profiled in the book and its companion DVD.
As the trio hit the halfway mark of their summer book tour, XGames.com caught up with Malloy to talk about the project.
XGames.com: How did you find the folks profiled in "Slow is Fast"?
Malloy: All three of us contributed to choosing people to visit, and most of the stops were with families or outfits we had been meaning to check out for years but hadn't found the time. The concept of our trip was loosely based on at setup called WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms), where people with a small a budget can travel and learn new farming techniques by working for room and board. We did meet some folks on the road that invited us to camp on their land and work with them, which was a new experience in California for me. I thought that old-fashioned friendliness only happened overseas. But that just goes to show that when you approach something in a different way, people open right up. The bikes were the key to meeting people. When you are self-sufficient, moving slowly, and leaving time for conversation, it's amazing how many interesting interactions happen. When people would hear what we were up to they let us know about interesting farmers and craftspeople that would be great candidates for our project. We could easily bike this route every summer for the rest of our lives and never run out of new, interesting people to learn from.
During the past couple decades, a back-to-the-land movement has picked up pace, sort of an intentional return to uncomplicated living tied closely to community and, more often than not, family farming. Why is this happening?
I don't think that farming and ranching is at all the quaint, uncomplicated life that people make it out to be. I personally think it is much more complex than a nine-to-five job and fast food. And to live from the land and with the land you have to be more creative than ever. You can't just farm. Being a farmer these days requires a new kind of interaction with your community, whether it be education, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs, farmers markets, farm tours, pony rides, etc. Many people also have to keep their day jobs while farming on the side. To me, all of this makes it even more impressive that there is a major back-to-the-land movement happening.
Isn't it interesting that in the midst of the availability of the most innovative technologies and labor-saving devices in history, some people are choosing hard labor?
I think this movement directly correlates with our generation's realization that what technology and big industry seemed to promise is obviously not the cure we hoped it would be. Not that industry and technology are evil, it's just clear at this point that we have abandoned the idea of real community and hard work for Walmart and smart phones. Giant industrial agriculture makes perfect sense on paper but at this point it seems pretty clear that it's not healthy for the land, our bodies, or our communities. We grow enough food to feed the world but we are not feeding the world. Hell, we aren't even feeding our own country well. I am totally fascinated by this and it was a big part of what inspired the trip.
The second I started paying attention to where my food was coming from, my life took a drastic turn for the better. If you want to meet interesting, inspired folks go meet the people growing your food.
Last but not least, where were the best surf sessions and what made them special?
For the locals who would rather not see their lineups change so quickly (and mainly so that I can surf there again), I will keep the names of the fairly unknown breaks to myself. We did have a blast at Ocean Beach, Emma Wood and Rincon, though. And all the sessions were much more rewarding after cycling all day. Even a crumbly closeout seemed worth a wiggle.