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About Fredrika Ek

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So far Fredrika Ek has created 124 entries.

Daddy du e Cool

Hello there,

Cheers to another one from that good old adventure blog, waiting for you with a new post every Sunday. Except of course for when it’s not..!

It’s Monday evening and looking back at the past week the only excuse I can give you is that life got in the way. To be honest it still very much is – and sometimes that’s just the way things are going to have to be.

My past few posts have been all words and very few photos so I figured it’s time to swap that around for this one. Partly because it makes things quick. Mostly because this is one I wouldn’t have words for even if I tried.

Good to great would be an insult. Great to greater just as much. Greater to greatest?

No.

This is the post of life being one beyond my wildest imagination. And then that – in square.

This is the post when my everyday road view turned from:

To:

When my argan tree camps wasn’t only:

But also:

This is the short blog post from that time my Dad boarded a plane to Morocco and I not only got to see him for the first time in almost 2 years. But also got to share a glimpse of my life with him, riding the Atlantic coast together from Agadir to Casablanca.

A million things could be said – or none at all. It doesn’t matter really. What’s important is that it happened. And that it did – without interruptions from these made up stuff like.. blogs.

I have a million beautiful memories. Then I have a few that for different reasons out worth all others. And yes, this is one of those. 6 days & 550 km of father / daughter hangout-cycling-reunion at it’s best.

Words wouldn’t do much good here. I know that those of you who could ever understand – already do.

Dad. Thank you. Thank you for coming. For crawling into a tent for the first time in 15 years. For leaving the suit – and everything that comes with it – at home. Thank you for letting your 11th visit to Morocco become your first. And for riding that bike like you stole it.

We both know we’re as different as they get. And man – you are weird. But more than anything I thank you for that. Because it so happens, that I am too. Thank you Dad. For giving zero fucks and for keeping on being you. Because without that – I’m quite sure I’d never have been given the guts to be me.

Tack för finbesöket, gubbe lilla. Sista knixen nu – så ses vi snart igen :-) Du är kung.

Jag älskar dig Papi.

Freddan

P.S

Also – thank you for the way too fancy coffee. Lol osv.

By |October 16th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

Q&A – Crossing the Sahara Desert by Bicycle

Sunday 2017-10-08 @ Agadir, Morocco

OK now let’s try this! Like most of you have already seen in social media the Sahara desert is officially behind me – and this post will be an attempt for this blog’s first ever Q&A. As I have no idea how these things are usually done, the plan (as always) is simply so make things up and learn as I go.

First lesson is already learnt though…

‘Answer them all in this Sunday’s blog post..?’

After receiving well over 200 questions on Instagram and Facebook (what the..?) I’m afraid I’ll need to break this promise before we even get started. For your sake as much as for mine, lol.

For now – let’s get going with 20 or so of your most asked questions on my Sahara crossing. (No – I didn’t carry water for 2 000 km all in one go.) Please leave a comment to let me know if you like this sort of thing. And if so – what themes would be fun and interesting to dig into next.

Enough of that. Let’s go!
Prashant Kumar: What was your route? How many days did it take?
Oh gosh..! I’m feeling burnt out from this Q&A thing already. Please, let me be lazy on this one and I’ll do better with the other questions – OK?

My route covered something like 2 000 km. Took me something like 30 days. And looked something like this:

@pampinogreen: Was this your most challenging portion of your world bike tour? How did it compare to other remote sections you rode through?
Setting out – I was expecting Sahara to be just this. Though while bits of the foreseen challenges did live up to the expectations, Sahara actually turned out to be the no. 1 easiest desert crossing I’ve ever done. A test of patience – for sure. Though not much more than that.

@inbikewetrust: How did you work with water and food supply?
Crossing the Sahara along the coastal main road you’re never more than a day’s ride off the next village or settlement. Even at speeds of avg. 10 kmph. A few times I was carrying 10L of water but usually not more than a few liters at a time. Food is an absolute non issue.

@greengeo32: Where did you sleep? Did you feel safe?
As always each evening brings a new story. Though because of the security situation in Mauritania (with al-Qaida & Daesh on the loose) and because of the hysterical protection (control) of foreigners in Western Sahara / South Morocco I rarely found myself falling asleep more than an arms length from the nearest gendarmerie officer. The only time in my life someone has kept me safer was probably while I was still hanging out in my mother’s belly.

Elisabeth Cooper: Was there any other traffic? Or were you completely alone the whole time?
While most of the Sahara is absolutely desolate – the main road is far from that. Don’t think I ever spent more than 20 minutes between 2 passing cars.

@npistora: How do they keep the roads free of sand? Aren’t they getting buried?
While some dunes were creeping in onto the roads in Mauritania – the Moroccans use massive sweepers to keep their roads sand free.

@riggert.anderson: Headwind – all the time?
The prevailing winds of the Sahara move from north to south in direct opposite of my direction. So apart from the occasional turn of the road I was going right into it. I was blessed with one rainfall (bringing a two day wind change with it) but apart from that – yes.

Chris Jones: How did the winds compare to Patagonia? And did you think about cycling at night and resting in the day?
They didn’t come close to some days in Tierra del Fuego. The tricky thing though was that they didn’t follow any real daily rhythm and even early mornings could mean full force. For security reasons (same as above) escaping wind and heat by cycling at night unfortunately wasn’t an option.

@perga: What was the warmest and coldest temperature?
Can’t measure it. On what was probably my hottest day a Mauritanian man giving me water from his car window told me we had 44°C. Coldest camp night was just cool enough for me to bring out my sleeping bag.

@southernbikeboxhire: Did you experience any dust storms?
Thankfully no.

@andreibadearo: How did your bike & chain endure the harsh Saharan environment? What did you do for maintenance?
I’ve never spent more chain oil nor WD40 spray than in the Sahara. Apart from keeping moving parts from getting too dry / sandy I didn’t do anymore than usual to take care of my bike.

David Ekman: How did you manage not to get sand everywhere on you and Mr. Bike?
I didn’t. Because you can’t.

@martinf54: Any flat tyre in the desert? How many spare tyre und inner tubes are you carrying with you?
I carried a couple of tubes and no spare tyre. After months of almost daily flats the new Schwalbe Landcruisers I managed to find in Gambia took me through it flat free.

@auldbar: Biggest dangers/challenges?
Though some things might feel dangerous, the actual risks are usually ones that we don’t think too much about. Biggest danger: Traffic. Always traffic. Biggest challenge: Embracing down to 7-8 kmph speeds at a 2000 km route.

@auldbar: Greatest joy?
Sunrise mornings in Mauritania, riding alongside roaming nomads herding their camels. Before the winds. Before the heat. And before realising that that daily dose of magic had already passed.

@loecknitzpaddler: What do you listen to on these stages?
A few audiobooks, a million podcasts and offline Spotify playlists I should have been tired of already years ago.

Susanne van Aardenne: What was your most enjoyable and surprising encounter with people on the way?
Definitely a crew of Ghanian telecom workers that randomly became my literal partners for in crime for a couple of absurd days in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. Whoever needs the knowhow of how to get way too drunk in (the officially alcohol free) Mauritania, shoot me an email. Or by all means – don’t.

@wambogyIts: What languages do you speak and how was it dealing with language barriers?
My Arabic is non existent. My French is quite horrible. And English is generally about as useful as Swedish in the Saharan villages. People were great though, making communication very much of a non issue. In Western Sahara I was happy to find loads of people speaking excellent Spanish.

Suzanne Stannard: Did you encounter any hassles with men?
Not any more or less than in other parts of the world. Although I think I’ve hit a new PR in received marriage proposals..! Haha.

@kitta41: Alone in your tent at night? Aren’t you scared? Do you sleep at all?
I feel like I could write a whole book about fear. And about our over the top fear of feeling fear. Until then: Yes. No. Yes.

@r_s_w: What gets you through on the tough days?
Music. Thoughts of loved ones. Subtle color changes in the sand. And the realisation of that these kilometers are literally saving lives. Who could ever need more motivation than that?

@thehappywalk: Would you do it again?
One day I need to get back to the Sahara. Though next time I won’t watch it from the road. Next time I’ll be in it.

Alright! This Sunday was a little different than usual. What do you think? Let me know if this is something we should do again – and if so how you’d like it :-)

Sahara is now officially a closed chapter – and I literally can’t wait to open the next one.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |October 8th, 2017|Africa, Q&A, Travel Logs|

A Whole New World

Then suddenly came that well known light in the tunnel..!

It’s early morning in a desert far away and I need to be super quick with this one. I do still want to post something though. If nothing else just to thank you for the support and beautiful feedback you gave me on the last one. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t felt a million times during these last years that only my wheels would be enough of an undertaking. But you lot really know how to make a girl feel like it’s worth putting in the time to keep this small slice of internet rolling too. Thank you for that!

I’m not sure where to start or end this as this last week has been about everything (not even) imaginable – apart from cycling. Literally hours after posting my blog last Sunday the first spark appeared from thin air, initiating the most absurd string of events that is far from over even now.

Cruising down the river of coincidence and impulse I have barely realised that I’m actually still moving forward and that today might really be the last full day before the Saharan out-of-this-world-brick-wall-smack-in-the-face headwinds decides to give up the bullying and leave me be. Fingers crossed.

Like already said – this is a quick one and the tales from the real world domino of this past weeks will have to wait to be told another time. Please remind me of that I owe you the story of how I ended up in the most absurd game of real life charades I’ve ever even been close to. Cast as Disney’s Yasmine’s adoptive sister and daughter to the Saharan Sultan himself – with all not-even-graspable elements that includes. With camels and servants for everyone to go around.

I’m afraid this is all there is to it today. But really what is true and told is that I see the light now. This 2 000 km Saharan crossing is reaching it’s end. And boy am I happy about it. Next week I hope to be able to tell you all about this desert in past tense.

Now I’m plugging in my earphones – blasting up volume on max. Today might be the last Saharan full speed winds I ever experience. But no – I have zero intention of listening to them.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |October 1st, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

Ignorance is Bliss is Bullshit

What a day to be alive! Even if just barely.

It’s Sunday again and for this one I’m actually with you for real. The past two weeks my posts have been presets from before I headed out for the Saharan leg, but today my finger tips are tapping this keyboard in real time. Using the last few muscles of my being that still have the energy to move.

After what seems like an eternity I’ve made it to the Saharan oasis town Boujdour in Western Sahara and today is all about sweeping town of everything that’s even theoretically edible, calling home to refuel the soul with the voices of loved ones, showering a European beach worth of sand out of my ear(erhm)holes – all of course while simultaneously refusing to get out of the guesthouse bed I’ve found myself here.

Plus – sending a small greeting to you lovely lot :-)

I’m nowhere near the end of it and my Saharan finish line is yet another +600 km away. I am drained and have nothing left to give. The equation is not even close to adding up but all that seems terribly unimportant at the moment. Today is bliss and that’s all that matters.

Had I had what it took I would have written about experiencing Mauritania. Its pure and endless deserts of course. But much more about modern day misery beyond words. About brutal racism. Misogyny. Open slavery in 2017. About futureless children playing – or just passively standing – in burning mountains of trash. About the smell of urin and rotting meat in 45 degrees. About all of it.

I would write about a hell on fire and a world’s silent agreement of its nonexistence. And about the most incredible human beings welcoming me to it like something between their long lost daughter and much awaited half god. About being a disgustingly privileged western woman with a VIP seat to watch a world in flames. Close enough to see it all in finest detail. Always with enough distance to not ever get her toes burnt. And I would write about a shattered soul leaving at the end of the show, as always with her version of real life waiting to be picked up just where she left off.

Ignorance is bliss. Right? It sure is for us always ending up on the right side of it.

The question is though, what the hell one’s supposed to do when the illusion cracks. Crawl back in?

Of course not.

Over and over again we all claim it wouldn’t even be possible. State how life will never be the same again. Still I’m here – once more – looking forward with my back steadily turned on everything and everyone permanently left exactly there – behind me. Shamelessly letting watermelon and FaceTime calls to a different universe fill my whole conception of reality.

As always like nothing – and no one – ever happend.

‘I’m nowhere near the end of it and my Saharan finish line is yet another +600 km away. I am drained and have nothing left to give. The equation is not even close to adding up but all that seems terribly unimportant at the moment. Today is bliss and that’s all that matters.

Today is bliss and that’s all that matters?

My own words, literally 30 minutes ago. I think you can tell this post didn’t exactly go where I intended it to.

The worst thing though is that they’re probably true. Today is bliss – because today is ignorance. To the headwind wall of desert that still lies ahead. But more so to the Mauritanian decay left behind. And to all the other ones I’ve seen, felt, lived – and most importantly – turned my back on before that. To the guilt of knowing that I’ll do the same a million times again.

Today is ignorance. Today is bliss.

Today is the reason why the hells of this world will never stop burning.

And now… I’m going for ice cream.

Fuck.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |September 24th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

The Saharan Daily Promise

I’m the middle of the Sahara. So no – I don’t have internet connection. It is Sunday though so I thought I’d preset a small post for you to enjoy anyways.

Any guesses where I might be at? Well.

If you take glance on your North African map my hopes are that I’m mid desert somewhere just north of Dakhla, Western Sahara. And also that I’m in mental and physical shape good enough to pass it, rather than taking that way too long detour to reach town and the comforts of civilisation.

Who knows though?

The last thing I received before leaving Nouakchott was a comment from this Czech dude and one of the few people with personal experience of riding against the wind through the Sahara desert:

‘I will keep all my fingers crossed for you! Cycling from Nouakchott northbound is the worst stretch I have ever done. Every day is just such a pain with those terrible headwinds! I hope you have crossed at Diama, because that NP is the most interesting thing for a long time to come. After Nouakchott and especially after crossing into Western Sahara there is little worth cycling for. Be sure to take 15-20l of water and prepare to be averaging around 50km a day with 8km/h. It’s pure masochism! Good luck and let the winds be kind to you!’

Given that – my hopes of already having passed Dakhla seem about as feasible as having reached all the way back to Sweden. We’ll see though. In my experience boys tend to whine about headwinds the same way they do about colds anyways ;-)

And it really doesn’t matter. I’ve got a toothbrush to get the sand out from between my teeth every evening. And I’ve got time. One really doesn’t need more than that.

I realise now this is one weird post. From past me – without any idea of what present me is doing where.

Or well – cycling is quite an alright guess I suppose.

And of course, keeping the Saharan promise I’ve made to myself. That small promise that looks different every time and yet continues to make all the difference. The one which has kept this Swedish girl sane through insane times a million times before. And which is likely to turn even the ‘masochism of the Sahara’ into one helluva good time.

There are quite a few of them. But I’m expecting my main challenges to be headwind and monotony. Leading the sanity promise to this time look like this:

The Saharan Daily Promise 2017:

– every morning: Dance to one full Tove Lo song.
– every day: Sprint in tailwind. Smile the whole walk back.
– every evening: Journal 3 beautiful things you’ve never seen before.
– & don’t: Read your speed. Only time spent.

I won’t preset anything for next week. Let’s assume that I’ve made it to that first safe spot by then. And if you don’t hear anything let’s decide that it’s only because I lost track of time out there.

Smiling, dancing – and finding the beauty in hell.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |September 17th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Saharan Shivers

Panniers are packed and I’m ready to go. I’m Sahara bound. For real this time.

The first few days of riding in Mauritania gave me a glimpse of what’s up ahead. But leaving the capital Nouakchott tomorrow morning is when the real party starts. As always when leaning over the threshold waiting to uncover a new unknown – I’m excited out of my wits. What’s a little different this time though, is that I’m also scared shitless.

Of the heat. The winds. The mad distances. The Al-Qaida stories. And more than anything of the fact that I don’t trust neither my body nor bike, as they’ve both been giving me more trouble in the last couple of months than during the previous two years combined.

Tomorrow I’m off. Everything is ready – except me. I was supposed to go yesterday. Or to be honest the plan was to leave already the day before that. Still for no good reason I just haven’t.

Something’s off. But as it goes when it comes to gut feeling, I wouldn’t for the life of me be able to tell you what.

I could wait of course, for that perfect window and the let’s-fucking-do-this feeling that sooner or later is bound to return hand in hand with my physical health. But no. One doesn’t cross the Sahara – the biggest desert in the world – on inspiration. One does it with patience. And if there’s one thing I take pride in having no matter the circumstances (not) given, that is it.

Tomorrow I’m leaving civilisation, trees (read: shade) and phone service behind. When you’re reading this I’m already a couple of days into the nothingness – and I won’t catch you until I eventually come out the other side.

Given that I stay true to my route my next town and first pit stop along the way is Boujdour, Western Sahara. Some 1 000 km from here. And I expect an ungodly headwind through the shadeless and burning hot desert to keep me company every inch of the way there.

Though if there’s one thing we all need to remember, it is to never ever fool ourselves into suffering from the headwinds of life before we can actually physically feel them blasting in our face. And today – the only wind that reaches me is the one from my hotel room air condition.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you?

Now – cheers to life! I’ll catch you in a week or three.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |September 10th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

Purpose & Pride

Then finally it was time. Earlier – in completely different parts of the world it had always fallen apart. Sometimes due to my route. Sometimes due to ticking visas. Once in Vietnam even due to authorities denying me entry into the off limit region a project was enrolled in.

But then finally came the day, in small town Koussanar in eastern Senegal. The day when I got to visit the other end of the fundraiser to ActionAid. I got to meet them.

Not women / children / communities like them. I got to meet at least one hundred people who in their own words could tell me straight to my face exactly what ActionAid – and this stupid bike ride – had allowed them to do with their lives only in the last 12-18 months.

I got to look down that solar driven well, drilled only last year – that now allow for independent and sustainable fish and crop farming for a whole community. See proud women work their peanut fields in the pouring rain. Understand how they – above all else – thank ActionAid for that single piece of equipment that ‘changed everything’ .

And. I got to dance with small girls with a future.

I’ll simply drizzle some photos throughout this post. When the time comes, I’ll share all of this in every possible way I can think of. Travel tales are good entertainment, but this right here is the essence of everything that this specific journey is about. I live to see the world. Epic mountains and all that, yes. But no view in the world will ever beat getting to see this place become beautiful for more of us.

Writing this, my bicycle is standing fully loaded right in front of me. Today – now even – I’m off. Off in a way I haven’t been in a very, very long time. Today I’m crossing into Mauritania. And today I’m kicking off Sahara.

There will be time to sit down for one more blog post before the true madness begins. Let’s talk then about what this 2000 km headwind stretch through the biggest sand desert in the world actually entails.

For now. The people of Koussanar are enough. The biggest reminder and boost in spirit anyone could ever wish for. Through every imaginable difficult time on this ride around the planet, the distance based fundraiser for ActionAid’s lifesaving humanitarian work has been pulling me forward.

I’m quite convinced that I’m now standing on the threshold to my biggest challenge yet. But the feeling this time is different. This will not be for a blurry fantasy of how this has purpose somewhere, somehow – for someone.

This..! Is for you. This is for hands I’ve held and for cheeks I’ve kissed. For Amina and Awa. For Fatou and Mariama. For little Fanta that I still haven’t gotten over not getting to say goodbye to on the morning I left.

And for each and every one of the millions of women and girls around the world, whose lives are or will be touched – sometimes saved – by the absolutely critical and true work of this organisation.

I’m off now.

Inspired out of my mind. Though let’s be real.

What is the antidote to inspiration? Yes, you got it – headwind. Expecting this to be the fiercest one I’ve ever experienced (which by all means says quite a lot) that first ‘What the HELL am I doing out here?!??!’ might already be closer than I realise.

I don’t care though.

When body and head asks ‘Why??’ – my heart now knows the answer.

Until next time,

Fredrika

PS.

The ActionAid fundraiser is always open. Thanks to you all we have already collectively raised + 1/2 million SEK. Join as a KM supporter or give a small contribution already today. This thing is changing lives. Read more and get engaged at thebikeramble.com/charity. Thank you all.

By |September 3rd, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

The Pre/Post Saharan Retreat

A million and one things have happened since last, but this week’s post is not about that. Nor anything else really. Because after the past months mad voyaging through West Africa I’m all of a sudden finding myself on… holiday? You know. The kind with white fluffy towels and naps in between meals. Last in line in the constant string of unexpected events that currently constitute my life was a few well timed coincidences that finally led me here.

To Gambia.

And to the hotel room of fellow adventure cyclists Lina and Pelle – the Swedish power couple that one year ago decided to take the plunge and go for their dream. To head out and explore the world on two wheels, simply to see what path life would lead them on. As it would turn out – right here, right now – that path was bound to cross mine.

Lina and Pelle are recooperating after having forced through the Sahara. I’m getting ready to take it on. Turning this empty Gambian off season hotel into a full on Swedish post/pre Saharan retreat centre. Hotel terraces are turned into bike workshops and given the amount of snacks and food that are constantly carried up to out room it’s only a matter of time before we’ll become suspects for running some sort of human trafficking business up here.

Swapping maps, currencies and waypoints for the road ahead are obviously great things. Sharing thoughts and reflections on life on the road with people who actaully know your experiences though – is priceless. Add massive quantites of food, a comfy (and clean!) hotel room and daily swims in the warm ocean to it, and the touring holiday-from-the-holiday homerun is a fact.

These past few days have been absolute bliss and to simply call them well needed would be a terrible understatement. Tomorrow I’m heading back to reality, topped up with energy and inspiration and ready to open this brand new chapter. It’s time to point my nose north and take on my Saharan leg.

Headwind and heat are just words. As per usual I know I don’t know what’s waiting. Good thing though is that until I do – Lina and Pelle’s last couple of videos from Mauritania will give us all a small glimpse.

Make sure to check out these lovely loonies’ journey towards South Africa. As long as Lina can keep her fingers out of their drone (…yes) I’m absolutely convinced it will be an epic one. Their blog and some amazing photography is waiting for you on www.velovelo.se.

Alright! That’s it for now. It’s high time for 2nd breakfast.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |August 27th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

First in Line is Life

‘I can’t wait for getting to actually sit down for the next post. With all that it is and isn’t – Guinea has been and still is one of the single biggest experiences of my life, and I so want to share some of it with you. All goes well and that one will be written – with time – outside the country borders and with both health and bike intact enough. Keep your eyes open next Sunday :-)’

These were the very words I left you with last week. And as that post’s ‘Next Sunday’ is this one’s today, let’s see where we’re at.

Yes. I made (in time!) out of the Guinean country borders. Body and bike have surely seen better days, but I would definitely say they both make the ‘intact enough’ cut. Guinea being an experience beyond my wildest dreams – even truer now than when those words were written. And the desperate urge to share it with you is too.

Frustratingly enough though, that I-just-don’t-have-the-time-so-we’ll-talk-about-all-this-next-time is what I’ll greet and leave you with today as well.

It literally makes me pull my hair. But is in all honesty the ‘problem’ (dilemma might be the word?) of my dreams. Day by day I’m allowing myself to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand that is this experience. Ankle, became knee, became hip and shoulder deep. Even if I wanted to I’d way be too late to get out now.

Luckily – not a grain of me does.

I am however slowly starting to feel like this beaten up pressure cooker about to blow to pieces. Which is probably the reason to why I keep comforting myself with that soon I’ll actually have/take the time to sit down, take that deep breath and let some of the million thoughts, impressions and memories take physical shape, even if only in the form of digital words on someone’s screen.

Writing this it’s early morning in Senegal. Yesterday I finally got the rest day that kept my spirit up for the past 2 weeks. Next to me now my panniers are already packed and I’m riding again today. The city of Tambacounda will become the village of Koussanar. Not far at all – but I literally can’t get there fast enough.

I’ve had people wait for me before. But this time is different. This time I’m actually going to sit down eye to eye with some of them. The very people this is all about. Not women and girls like them. Waiting for me today – in the Senegalese village of Koussanar – are actual human beings leading dignified lives thanks to the work of ActionAid and the fundraiser that is this bike ride. Or in better words, the fundraiser that makes this thing something a whole lot more than a bike ride. Something real. And something important as life itself.

Above all else. The fundraiser – and today, the women – that make a millionth blog post about someone riding a bicycle seem like something that not only can wait. Not even should wait. But something that absolutely have to wait.

And like I wrote in an Instagram post yesterday: If not before – I guess I’ll just sit down to tell my grandchildren about it.

Let’s all agree on something, should we?

Life always comes first.

Now get off your screen and live yours.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |August 20th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

Shut Up & Ride

Had this been any other time this would be me shamelessly whining my way through this text, start to finish. Or to be more accurate – that would have been the case if I was writing this from any other place.

In short the past who knows how many days of this ride have been this way too long, low intensity slapstick theatre show without an audience. Plot? Human girl and steel bicycle slowly falling apart, piece by piece until all that’s left is a lone bike bell lying next to a pair of muddy shoes with no one in them.

However. This is not any other time, nor any other place. I’m writing this now – in Guinea.

Finding itself as lucky number 183 out of the 188 countries in UN’s Human Development Index I assume it goes without saying that life in Guinea is taking place in what can only be described as a different universe than the one the vast majority of you reading this are in. And that western girls’ front hub mechanicals and black toenails won’t be topping the list of issues anytime soon.

The past week I’ve made it halfway through a million curse words. Halfway through bisarre thoughts about bad luck. Occasionally even halfway through justifying feeling sorry for myself. However – there is one thing that that without exception have let me stop the madness before it’s had time to manifest itself in reality. And that has been riding a bicycle halfway through Guinea.

To give a little context I’m currently racing. A few weeks back an embassy employee in Accra messed up his stamps when issuing my visa, resulting in that I since have been pushing hard to not have the time bomb this man created blow up in my face. Even before entering the country I was tired. Writing this I’m exhausted. Even more so than I originally got ready for.

Then again. I’m not writing this any other time, or in any other place. This is now – and this is Guinea.

I’m not sure how to explain it. And in a way I realise that’s the whole point.

While I struggle to choose my words – no more than 40% of Guinean adults have been taught to read or write at all.

My back tyre ripped open in a downhill and had me drag Mr. Bike into the town of Kissidougou where I could finally find a $5 replacement in the local market. The new tyre sucks. The old one I have left still leaves me with the fanciest setup in the country.

I’ve drowned my bike computer. Lost my gloves. Rolled over my earphones and killed a gazillion pixels on my laptop. Not only have I lost stuff more expensive than what most here would even dream of. My biggest issue with doing so is being in a place where I can’t immediately replace them with new ones.

For a few weeks I can’t afford to take rest days from my made up for-fun-game on two wheels – because I don’t want to end up bribing border guards to continue playing. The men and women I passed today wouldn’t even play with the idea of ‘rest days’ from their rice fields – because they need to eat.

I got a cold. Guinea got Ebola.

The cold have had me loose my voice. Unable to speak I look around me – and meet the eyes of women born into life in a society where they never got one to begin with.

And with an unbelievable 97% (UN report from 2016) of those women being victims of female genital mutilation I’m too embarrassed to even spell out saddle sores here.

We could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

I can’t wait for getting to actually sit down for the next post. With all that it is and isn’t – Guinea has been and still is one of the single biggest experiences of my life, and I so want to share some of it with you. All goes well and that one will be written – with time – outside the country borders and with both health and bike intact enough. Keep your eyes open next Sunday :-)

That has to be it for now. I need to be out by Thursday, and it’s high time to give these legs another beating.

We’ll speak soon.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |August 13th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|