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About Fredrika Ek

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So far Fredrika Ek has created 107 entries.

Way-Up-There Wonderland

If you haven’t already given my last post a read you should stop and do that now. Because this is nothing but a continuation of the remote mountain road where that left off. Still accompanied by Lars (www.lostcyclist.com) most days could quickly be summarised in a single shot usually looking something like this.


Photo: www.lostcyclist.com

Each pass took us a little higher than the one before and every new lake seemed to greet us with even bigger colours than the previous one had proved possible. We’d no doubt found the life-is-good sort of existence that had brought us there in the first place.

Then – por fin – came the proper passes. Three of them 5000+ meter above sea level and higher than I’ve ever peddled my poor (lucky!) bicycle before. And yes, as always. As air gets even a little thinner – life gets even a little better!


Paso Abra Arcata 5090 masl. Highest point of Mr. Bike’s life! Well done boy :-)

Apart from being pretty darn high and ridiculously beautiful the one thing that particularly caught my soul during this stretch was one I hadn’t expected. I think a few of you reading this are under the illusion of that I and others out and about on these stunts are – in any way shape or form – doing something extraordinary. Sometimes more than others I think we even fall for it ourselves.

This wasn’t that. It wouldn’t have been even if we’d wanted it to. These remote 5000 meter gravel passes were humbling to the point of no return. They had soul – literally. Because no matter how high or remote we went, not once did we leave everyday life of the souls that lived there.


Brother and sister playing outside their house on 4900 masl


Ignacio. Working his alpackas on top of a near 5000 meter pass in the middle of nowhere.


I don’t have a photo to proof it. But this man is wearing sandals :-)


Girl. GoreTex, GPS and fancy bicycle. Least badass human being in the region.

Days became weeks and slowly we were reaching some sort of end to our high altitude endeavour. That really didn’t matter though. Not yet anyways. Because every morning we opened our eyes to find ourselves in for yet another day in wonderland.


Though of course. Daily challenge no.1 was getting out of the sleeping bag!


Sand dunes on 5000+ meter above sea level!

Until next time,

Fredrika

Leaving Ground

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to properly explain what it is that these mountains do to me. And I’m not sure it even matters. Fact though, is that I’m still to meet a mountain range that I don’t fall hopelessly for. And Los Andes might just be the mountain love of my life. I had already spent months going up, down and across them. Still I couldn’t wait to head into Peru to kick off another leg. The highest one of all.

Joined by Swedish Lars (www.lostcyclist.com) it didn’t take long to get the show going. A few smooth tarmac days from La Paz we left the main road in favor for a route that our maps suggested was a definite dead as the roads we wanted to take supposedly only existed in our imaginations.

As we decided to take our chances and roll onto our gravel road anyways I think we were both a bit hesitant… for like 15 minutes. One first golden hour view and that was it. This was it. Dead end or not – this road was gonna get ridden.

High passes. Mesmerising lakes. Out of this world canyons. Lovely local people. And lots of feeling incredibly small. Shortly put this first week or so was the bomb. And that’s without even mentioning the bonus of actually getting to speak my own language for a bit.

A few snapshots.


Adventure for us. Everyday life for others.


The mandatory river crossing shot ;-)


Chilly mornings…


…and warm Peruvians. Photo: www.lostcyclist.com

Between two passes we stumbled into the tiny mountain town Chojata – which I still hold as my top place in all of Peru. Stumbling into the 61st village anniversary and being pulled straight into the festivities was a lot of things, but boring sure wasn’t one of them. And boy do these people know how to dress!


Photo: www.lostcyclist.com

Truly capturing these views simply can’t be done. At least not by me. But I think these photos can give somewhat of an idea of the scale to it all. These environments aren’t just stunningly beautiful. They’re insanely dramatic.


Can you see me..? Photo: www.lostcyclist.com


And the village down there..?


I’m in this one too! Riding above the who knows how many hundred meter death drop into the most spectacular canyon I’ve ever seen. Can you find me? Photo: www.lostcyclist.com

This ride had every bit of what I search for. It even proved to have all those presumably non existent roads threatening to kill the fun at any given moment.

And the best thing of all? We’d only just gotten started.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |June 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Closing One & Opening the Next

One late afternoon I made it to the finish line of my last leg in Bolivia. La Paz. With a big grin I inhaled and took in the glittering view of the massive city. With Andes all around the whole thing just seemed so utterly misplaced. Like one of the surrounding mountains had gotten bored one day, and decided to spit out this loud and chaotic urban jungle just for the heck of it.

I was excited to get to lay eyes on the bustling city everyone kept talking about. Relieved to get to give my tired legs some proper rest. But more than anything else, endlessly joyous to finally get to meet what I already considered to be my friends.

Adriana and Juan Pablo were waiting. Sister and brother of my good friend from home. And the last part of family Koria, who’d taken care of me like one of their own ever since I crossed the border into their country.

There were days of laughter and delicious food. A soft bed and warm showers. 17th floor views to die for. And what I love more than anything – a feeling of home. There are simply no words for this family.

Eastern came and while my own family was skiing and eating chocolate eggs back in Sweden, we spent La Pascua like Bolivian catholics do most and a few days of mass reached it’s crescendo with a massive Sunday procession.

…and the crucifixion of a plastic Jesus doll.


I liked this photo.

Religion sure is a curious thing.

I loved this break. Though after a few days I found myself spending more and more time up on the building rooftop. Not looking at the city views, but gazing off into the distance and to what what behind them.

It was time. I was mountain bound again.


What do you see..?

If there’s one thing messier than cycling into million-people cities, it’s cycling out of them. On the morning of leaving La Paz I met up with Swedish adventure cycling extraordinaire Lars Bengtsson (read his stories from 100k km in 100 countries on lostcyclist.com), and we quickly decided to start off our ride together by cheating out of town.

Instead of spending the day pushing them up the mad hill we’d both come down when arriving in town, we crammed our fully loaded bikes into the city telefericos to literally get flown out of the city center. Totally the way to go.


Can you believe this is actual La Paz public transport?

Before we even knew it we were out of the chaos that is La Paz. Back on the countryside, and back to normal. With the one exception being that we all of a sudden had found ourselves a riding partner.


Fresh air smiles!

Just before sunset we had made it to lake Titicaca. The border to Peru was merely kilometers away and endless adventures laid ahead. Pitching our tents we watched the sun set, and I think there was something telling us both that whatever was waiting – was going to be good.


‘So.. I’ve heard you too like cycling?’ lol

Until next time,

Fredrika

Salt flat madness & A moment of sanity

Hey friends!

It’s been a while. Can you believe that I’m writing you from Lima this time? After months and months halfway to the stars the Andes are now a closed chapter. One that turned out to be a bigger experience than I could ever have dreamt of.

This blog however, still hasn’t even hade it through Bolivia. I think many of you know how much I truly love sharing this digital diary with you all. The truth is though that I love doing way more things than I actually have time for. And sometimes you just got to realise when it’s time to start choosing.

I will keep posting. In reality probably quite a lot more often than I have during the last months. Those longer storys that have been the core of it all though? They will have to wait.

I don’t think I’ve said this out loud before, but one day there will be a book about this journey. One where I have actually had the time and space to try and give those stories justice. For now though – my focus will stay on truly and wholeheartedly experiencing them.

So what remains then?

As I said I’ll keep posting – more often but still a lot less. Some photos and a few lines from what’s going on here on the other side of the world. I hope to take a few upcoming posts to ‘catch up with reality’, and then go on to share some bits and pieces with you in real time.

Thank you all for your endless support!

Speaking of books. In a parallell universe I could probably have written one purely on the experience of cycling Salar de Uyuni. Though as we just agreed – that’s simply not going to happen this time.

Just do yourself a favor and Google this place. And if you haven’t already – please – make it your mission to go there one day. Yes, you can go at it on a bicycle. And yes – you will thank yourself you did.


Wait… what?! Haha.

Well that’s all for now. If you wish to see more from my journey remember to keep an eye open in social media. The Bike Ramble on Facebook and Instagram will keep you up to date. Talk again soon!

Until next time,

Fredrika

PS. From here I will be one blog post published every week. What day would you like it? :-)

Journeys Happen Inside

Anyone whose ever read this blog knows that I am deeply and forever in love with adventure. And perhaps that even more than on high mountain passes or in vast deserts I find it in people. Stumbling across the threshold to the house of strangers, ever so eager to surf whatever wave life decides to unfold this time. Coming into Tarija, Bolivia – I got to experience this whole thing with the best twist imaginable.

Long story short – I’ve dedicated the better part of my life to tennis. And tennis to me, means Richie. The dude that ever since I was 10-years-old has been playing the role of coach, friend and later also boss in a big mashup that’s never really made sense to anyone. As I’ve gone from kid, horrible teenager, pretend-to-be-adult to world cyclist, he has somehow always been there. There for everyone around to talk to and lean on, but without ever really giving away too much of his own story.

As another afternoon fell, I found myself in Tarija. Standing outside another door of complete strangers. Nervous. Because this time was like no one else. This was the very house were my lifelong unsolved mystery Richie once had taken his very first steps. And inside was his Bolivian family – waiting for me.

I won’t write about the week I spend in Tarija as it’s not really relevant to anything. But I just need to have this post here, as it represent a memory which I personally hold with endless gratitude. The constant stream of uncles, cousins, nieces and friends. The Willy Wonka style flow of food and never ceasing love, warmth and laughter.

No, I’m not even gonna try.

In one weeks time I had long lost count on the times I blamed my lack of words on my broken Spanish. Though the truth is that I don’t have them in any other language either. All I have is thank you. Thank you all – for everything.

Richard, Roxanita, Abuelita Wilma, Adri, JP, Majo, Alejandra, Ricardo, Camila, Sebas, Mamita Vanessa, Marcelo y todos otros. Gracias por dejarme entrar en tus vidas. Les quiero con todo mí alma y les extraño tanto. Les llevaro siempre en mi corazón, por favor nunca lo olviden. Con mil besitos y todo mi cariño – Fika <3


Cocoa fruit!


..& the best sopa de maní Bolivia has ever seen

Until next time,

Fredrika

Turning Corners

I woke up in the surprisingly comfy hotel bed and stood right up. The curtains were already pulled open and I took the two short steps needed to reach the window and look out over the town plaza that was located right beneath me. This was my first morning in the 30th country of this journey.

I was in Bolivia.

After four full months of rambling around Argentina and Chile I was incredibly excited to start off this brand new chapter, and all senses were on full alert. Anyone who’s travelled like this know what it’s like. How taking one step across another of those made up borders can make any- and everything seem a million times more intriguing in a heartbeat. All of a sudden we not only look, but we look for things see. We listen. Taste. And acknowledge even the most subtle change of smells when turning a street corner.

All my attention while wandering the streets this first day in Bolivia was the devoted to amazing ladies reigning the town of Villazon. Best hats. Best braids. And very likely the best ‘f*ck you’ attitude on Earth. While their wrinkled up faces are the sweetest ever, the poise they radiate make things incredibly clear. These women have lived.

And they are not to be messed with.

Equally intimidated and intrigued I was roaming town trying to strike up conversation with these rock stars. I was mostly failing miserably, but receiving the occasional smile or short toothless laughter totally made the game one worth playing.

And taking comfort in the fact that border towns all over the world (for whatever reason) have this rough, and raw atmosphere in common – I wasn’t giving too much meaning to the occasional ‘please die’-glares being tossed in my direction that day.


Zzz.. Sales lady of the day!

I was in Bolivia. I was feeling great. And early next morning, it was time to get going.


Pretty – & a pretty puncture prone camp spot

First days of riding Bolivia were great. An empty, winding and incredibly dramatic mountain road took me through Cordillera de Sama towards the town of Tarija. Up and down big passes I was rewarded with stunning views, and occasionally left in a big ball of dust as a truck or bus made it’s way passed me on the tiny road we all shared.


Never know when a bus is coming full charge behind the corner

Passing small a few microscopic to tiny towns along the way, I got my first interactions with ‘true’ Bolivia. One which made me feel good all the way to the core. Yes – the ladies (still all I had eyes for) were just as sweet on the outside. Now with the difference that they were also nothing but liquid gold on the inside.


Fruit vendors refusing to accept money for the fruit and nuts they ‘sold’ me

Bolivia. Bolivia. Bolivia.

I had longed for this place for a million years. Since way before this journey was even thought of. Not because of epic nature. Not because of sweet ladies rocking braids to their calves and hats to the sky.

But because of something – or someone – else entirely.

And reaching this exact view, marking the beginning of that perfectly paved descent all the way into Tarija, I was no more but one last – massive – downhill away.

Until next time,

Fredrika

Don’t Be Stupid

Early morning the day after my little volcano side adventure I was once again mid-mission of getting dressed with everything in my panniers that was even remotely resembling pieces of clothing. Well aware that the upcoming descent would have me peeling layers in no time, I put on yet another pair of socks just for the heck of it. I know I’m Swedish and all, but sometimes I just don’t feel like being cold.

Starting at 4700 masl, at the very first meter of paved road in a good while – I headed down.


Up high…

Down. Down. And down some more.

Down. Way passed the tree line. Lightyears passed the universe where those double socks wouldn’t put you in a mental institution.

Down – 200 km and 3000 vertical meters all the way to the oh so cute township of Fiambalá.

To an equally longed after and needed oasis of rest.


… & down low

And rest I did. I could tell you about doing nothing but showering and eating for days on end. But I think I’ll just rely on the good old ‘a picture says more than a thousand words’ with this one.

How to know a touring cyclist has had a good rest?

She’s spent 4 nights in a place – ending up with nothing but 2 photos on her 3 cameras – and not a single clue of what she’s actually been doing the last 100 hours.

Yes. All those beds were actually for me.

And no. Pannier explosions simply cannot be helped, no matter how carefully one tries to open them. Please tell me I’m not the only one travelling with panniers suffering from a severe case of chronic stomach flu?

As all this took place a good while ago, I would need to go back to check maps and dates to give a fair recap of my last weeks in Argentina. But as I really need this time online for some research on my upcoming route through the salars of Bolivia, that simply isn’t going to happen. Priorities, you know? :-)

I do however want to get something online for you guys before I head out there. So coming up are some glimpses of the last chunk of my many months through Argentina.

Some impulsive decision making and a few too many failed attempts of using my credit card, I ended up spending a good chunk of time going cashless and carefully living off the last bags of rice, lentils and oats that I still carried.

With zero possibilities to do anything in the towns along the mostly paved Ruta 40, I decided once again to simply stay away from them and take the less travelled route through Antofagasta de la Sierra. The small town or big village also known as ‘the loneliest place in Argentina’ with a good 120-150 km to closest town in either direction.

Reaching it I was relieved to find that the ATM I’d been told about actually did exist. The feeling of salvation was great, for those 5 minutes before I learned that it had been out of cash for a little more than a year. I swore and laughed all in one go. Went ahead and bargained hard to get myself 2 new kilos of rice for my last coins. And got on with it.


Half a day’s worth of traffic

Not many towns. However there were villages marked on my map. And it’s funny how those things work. In China, a completely blank spot on the most up to date map can turn out to be the location of a million-people-city bigger than my own capital. In the mountains of Argentina, an on the map named village generally looked something like this.

Name: Forgotten
Altitude: Approx 3500 masl.
Population: 1 human. 2 dogs.


Meet Herman. Mayer. Goat dude. And quite a rockstar!

I rode pass some cool stuff. An erupted volcano, being one example.

And my first ever salt flat, being another.


Salar del Hombre Muerto

Still broke I reached the small (through not if you ask Herman!) village of Salar de Pocitos. Crazy winds forced me to ride well into the evening on the hunt for some sort of shelter for my beaten up tent. Exhausted after 8 hours of headwinds I came onto the village road where I found only one person. The right person.

Less that 15 minutes later I was sitting on a bed with a cup of mate in my hands. The short elderly lady from the street, whose name I too would need my diary from this evening to recall, was already back in the restaurant building next door. Preparing llama milanesa sandwiches for her waiting customers.

This lady and her husband wasn’t only running a small comedor. They were running a two room guesthouse. A guesthouse I never got to see. Because the bed I was sitting in, belonged to one of their 6 daughters.

‘Do you have a mother? I am a mother. None of my daughters would be that stupid. But if one of them would be alone on the wrong side of the world. Out of money. With one bag of rice and a box of matches. I would pray for someone to help her.’

Our conversation had lasted no more than 3 minutes.

Sitting on the bed I looked down on my feet. Kicking some of the loose gravel making up the floor of the room that was now mine. A single tear left my sunburnt cheek and fell into the cup that I held with my both still way too cold hands. Exhaustion and gratitude was all I had left in me.

I slept well that night. And in the morning I was fed with bread and goat cheese until it came out of my ears. Though my Spanish was starting to be quite alright, no one really spoke that much. Somehow the silence did the talking for all of us.

I can still feel the hug I got as I left. And hear the words she used to take farewell.

‘No seas estúpido.’

Don’t be stupid.

Poor mothers.

To no-one’s surprise, I didn’t listed exactly as carefully as I potentially could have. With my panniers top loaded with even more of that bread and goat cheese, I was safe. Safe as in fuelled up for enough time to feel comfortable with making a couple more of those stupid calls.

When doing stuff like turning onto ‘prohibited roads’ it’s usually a good idea to expect and get ready for some sort of consequence. Here – I had to pay with nothing. Except some equally sudden and brutal cravings for chocolate :-)


Erhm…

One afternoon I found myself making it back onto the main road I’d been avoiding for so long. Back on pavement, rolling into the town of Susques. And can you guess what I found myself of there?

That’s right. Hardcore CASH!

Though even more importantly, a few first signs of – finally – being seriously close to Bolivia.

Until next time,

Fredrika

Another Day – Another Death (Life) Wish

A few of you probably remember me posting this rather long, photo dense post about beautiful and breezy riding through the Chilean Patagonia and Carretera Austral. And in the next post complementing the tale of endless waterfalls and lush scenery with pointing out how those scenic shots from cycling paradise didn’t exactly paint the whole picture.

This post is sort of doing the same job. Because yet again, did I leave out a few details when scribbling down my last entry from and about some of the dreamiest mountain weeks I have experienced in my life.

Along Carretera Austral it was rain.

Along this one particular ride up and along the puna in the high Andes – it was some seemingly never ending stretches/days of exceptionally crappy roads.

I won’t dwell on it, as reading about someone pushing a fully loaded bicycle at 5 kph.. 4.. 3.. and at speeds too slow for the odometer to even register any movement at all.. is about as good of a time as actually doing that pushing.

Anyways – every single word in the last post still stands. This is just me adding some (way too) deep gravel to it.


Probably no speed records anytime soon..


If nothing else – soft ground offers super comfy sleeping!

Alright. Confession session of the day – done. Let’s pick up where we left off.

Coming up to a good couple of weeks off the grid, climbing pass after pass and free wheeling along some of the biggest volcanoes on the continent, my spirit was still that of a kid who’d just cashed in her golden ticket to Willy Wonkas chocolate factory. The cries of my protesting body though, was steadily increasing in volume.


Happy! At Laguna Verde.


With legs about as alive and kicking as this guy.

It was about midday.

‘Come on now. You’ll get to be lazy all you want in a little bit..! Just not yet.’

The headwind was a joke. And the panoramic volcano views that otherwise would have been my companions of the day were hidden behind the thick grey storm clouds, seemingly mid mission of suffocating the whole world. I felt the ice crystals crack open my completely dried out lips as I was silently pleading to my numb legs to stop messing around and get a move on. Simply because the weather didn’t leave stopping as an option, I kept peddling up the intensifying hail storm to what was both the highest, and very last mountain pass of my little Andean getaway.

It sucked, but it had to be done as options were few to none. Paso San Fransisco, 4767 meters above sea level.

Early afternoon, I climbed those very last meters and was – DONE.

2 long weeks in some of the most spectacular environments I’ve ever had the privilege to find myself in. Environments who’s inaccessibility make them a rare sight for those lucky few with an adventurous mind and a sturdy high clearance 4WD. Or in my case, an extensive dose of selective ignorance and will to let body pay the price for the enjoyment of the mind.

In any case. This was the end of the road. Or I guess to be more exact – the beginning of it. A 3000+ meter altitude drop on silk smooth tarmac lay ahead, ready to lead me straight back into civilisation and that oh so dreamy variety of ice cream flavours that are only to be found in Argentinian heladerías. Warm showers, soft beds, crystal clear (erhm, not really..) Skype calls back home. It was all waiting, and I could literally feel those familiar butterflies once again coming to life in my belly.

All that was left was (again, not really).. one last pedal stroke, and some steering while letting gravity lead me through those 200 km all the way down to the longed after township of Fiambála.

Done, in every sense of the word.

Though for the 3rd time in this post – not really.

This was my first ever actual sight of Volcán San Fransisco. The 6000 masl piece of earth that I’d set my mind on months earlier, while drooling over Andean maps and altitude charts. The one that I don’t ever how many people along my way north had told me would be another mission impossible to even consider. Summiting was out of question.

Explanations had been ranging from everything between everything from lack of gear, an apparent lack of sanity to the more obvious – lack of oxygen. Though whatever reason of choice the common message was clear – DON’T.

I do hear people out. Everyone, always. I promise.

What I don’t always do though – is listen.

Apart from having their apocalypse visions in common, there was one more important common element to every single one of these oh-so-knowingly advice givers. Not a single one of them had even seen, let alone climbed the mountain they were referring to. Not one.

In other words, not too unlike the in-numerous people who a couple of years ago told me this whole journey in itself was nothing but a well packaged death wish.

I’m quite glad I didn’t listen to them either.

Still hauled over my bike on the top of the pass I was looking up the only so visible volcano reaching up towards the dark sky. I was smiling. Once again repeating some alternative words of advice I this time had chosen to let drown out all other voices from the past months.

‘San Fransisco is your perfect spot for a few first breaths above 6000 meters. A simple and straight forward pile of gravel with spectacular views. Enjoy!’

The message had been simple, and the words rang clear. Partly because they were exactly what I had wanted to hear. But more than anything else because they came straight from no-one else than Janne Corax, one of Sweden’s most experienced mountaineers and the one person I give credit for some of the best months in my life back in China and the Himalayas.

These were from someone I would not only hear out. They were from someone to whom I would listen. And fortunately, they were conveying precisely what I had been hoping for. Spending the previous evening chilling out at Laguna Verde, picking the brains of an acclimatising group of climbers heading for the crown jewel of the area – Volcano Ojos del Salar – had not only provided some truly valuable advice on the volcano itself, but also some new hope that the weather could or might actually open a window of opportunity to head up high.

Food wise I could still afford to stick around for a couple of days, waiting for a clearance. And patience wise, that was probably were I would have draw my limit anyhow. Because funny as it might seem, the call of that ice-cream I mentioned was seemingly just about as strong as the one of the mountain.

Turning my face straight into the roaring winds, I looked up the mountain one more time. The hail was gone. But the whole place still felt about as hospitable as the imaginations of all those people telling me I was better off duck taping myself to closest railway.

‘I’ll give this one day. Then I’m out of here.’

It was still early afternoon when I hauled my bike into the small ‘refugio’ built on top of the pass. A weather change seemed way off, but so was the mere thought of continuing without even trying. I closed the door behind me, crossed my fingers and didn’t as much as peek out the window until the following morning.


Mountain pass refugio. What a DREAM!


Hotel room as good as any.

A good while before sunrise the alarm clock went off. Already wrapped up in most of the clothes I carry with me, I opened my eyes, quickly zipped up my sleeping bag and headed for the door. I opened.

And saw.. STARS. Millions of stars and a cartoon sized moon beaming down, painting big shadows on the ground long before there were supposed to be any.

Jackpot. And go time.

One massive bowl of oatmeal and yet another couple of layers later, I found myself by the very foot of the mountain, hiding Mr. Bike behind a big rock and finding my way to the rather suddle 4WD track leading up the first part of the volcano. From here there was just one thing to do – walk.

Let’s keep it short. An hour or so in I was already on 5 000 + masl, breathing the thinnest air of life. Slowly I was gaining altitude and watching the snow steadily increase, hand in hand with the suddle acceleration of my beating heart.

This is what it looked like.


Homemade Sea to Summit backpack – approved!


Rocky terrain after the end of the 4WD track


First views of the peak

A bunch of hours later. I could feel my heart pounding through three layers of clothing. In a good way. I was actually up high now – and feeling absolutely great. Taking those last steps to the cross marking the very top of the volcano I was already laughing. Not knowing what one really is ‘supposed’ to do on the top of a mountain, I found myself just standing there. Taking in the panorama with every cell of my body.

Gazing out, letting the sun warm my face and breathing big – I smiled. Just like I 24 hours earlier had done in that raging storm, looking up the very peak on which I was now standing. With my sloggy oxygen lacking mind thinking of how Mr. Bike absolutely would have loved to see this too. The dizzy clarity I was experiencing was intoxicating. And I stood there, with a whole new personal definition of Euphoria.

Yet again, the words rang crystal clear – playing in my head like a new favorite tune.

‘San Fransisco is your perfect spot for a few first breaths above 6000 meters. A simple and straight forward pile of gravel with spectacular views. Enjoy!’

Thank you Janne. Enjoy it I did.


Volcán San Fransisco summit, 6018 masl

Until next time,

Fredrika

Mountain Dreamin’

Hey.

Here’s the deal. I have way too many photos from the section of this journey I want to tell you about in this post. Or at least begin to tell you about. So instead of writing too much about it, I’ll let a few of them do most of the talking instead.

If I did write, this would only ever become another one of those chunks of text where I try and find yet a few more synonyms to the not-even-graspable beauty that this planet keeps revealing a little more of for each new country passing under my wheels. A few new attempts at defining the magic that makes me want to keep chasing new horizons in all eternity.

I would try and explain the feeling being so endlessly small. While at the same time fully feeling part of the greatest thing of all.

I would yet again try to put that absolutely deafening mountain silence to words.

How – after days of climbing it – rolling down the other side of a massive mountain pass beats any and every roller coaster in the world.

Or how thin enough air somehow makes me feel like I’m breathing with purpose.

And I would fail miserably with all of the above.

The one thing I do want to say though, is that if you – even for a second – think that something like this could possibly be for you. And that somehow, sometime, you might be able to create an opportunity to make it reality. To give the middle finger to all those ‘impossibles’ that – as if only to make our lives miserable – consistently stand in between us and our dreams. (The secret few people know, is that they’re really only there to make sure we want them bad enough.)

I realise that peddling an old pushbike up and down a bunch of mountains isn’t for everyone. And that the majority of you reading these lines probably have way more sophisticated and purposeful dreams than me. I don’t care though. The same goes for you:

– If you want, you can. And if you can – you must.

Go for it. Whatever that ‘it’ might happen to be for you. Like, really make an attempt. The least you can do for yourself is try. It’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s supposed to be done.

Trust me. Try.

You will thank yourself forever.

Alright. We agreed on letting the photos do the talking in this one, right?

Here it is. Some of what the biggest smack in the face nature has ever given me looked like.

One early morning I left the small but oh so cute township of Villa Union behind, headed up. I had 2 weeks worth of food crammed down my panniers, and – at last – my big Andean two wheeled adventures were about to begin.

The first few days of climbing were, like always seems to be the case for me when I’m charging up high mountains, breezy and filled with absolutely childlike anticipation. Nature changes fast. Everything is new. The dropping temperatures still doesn’t require much more than an extra pair of socks at night. And still there are far too much oxygen in the air for your mind to even give it any thought.


Day 1


Day 2


Day 3

Surprisingly soon though – also this just like in any other high mountains I’ve been – you find yourself up high for real. And though mind and soul is still souring from pure inspiration, your far from acclimatised body is hating you a little more for each pedal stroke and climbed meter. Heart is beating like a drum no matter if you’re cycling, pushing, or simply sitting on a rock eating peanuts.

And it’s awesome.


How can this even be real?!

Eventually, I reached the first pass – Portazelo de Laguna Brava. 4350 masl.


The mandatory I’m UP!-selfie

And I was officially up on the arid, rugged altiplano offering to be my home for as long as I… could handle it.


Some of the host inhospitable landscapes I’ve ever seen


Vicuñas having dinner by Laguna Brava

This is probably what I love the most. Not the climbing part, headed up mountains. Nor the speedy descent down from them. That little something in between – being in them. Your body is well adjusted to the lack of oxygen. Your eyes have accepted that those ridiculous views and your ever-changing wallpapers are actually real. And making sure to keep batteries and water bottles from freezing at night becomes just as a natural part of your day as zipping up the tent in the morning.

We’re all different. But to me – this is the definition of life. And nowhere else do I feel as strongly that I’m absolutely living it.


2nd pass coming up!


Abra Pircas Negras. 4230 masl.


Rewards..!


Can you see my road down there?

I could go on forever.

Though I think I’ll do us all a favor and save the full photo bonanza for another time. Most likely to the couch of my grandmother, when I finally get there. If anyone in the world – she would be the one with the stamina to get through them all.

So for now, let’s just finish off with reminding ourselves.

– If we want, we can. If we can – we must.

I hope you don’t mind me asking. What is your dream?

Until next time,

Fredrika

Anticipation

Leaving the shady avenues and bustling city life of Mendoza behind I felt like a mad woman on the run from a mental institution. A full week of rest had come and gone since arriving in the fruit and wine Mekka of Argentina, and it was high time to move on. Regardless of how great big hostel hangouts, even bigger glasses of Malbec and water melon enough for a lifetime can be – I not only wanted – I needed out.


Nope. Not even you can make me stay one more minute.

Out. Fast. And after rolling through those few rough neighbourhoods that everyone had made sure to warn me about – I was.

Urgent pedal strokes gave away my impatience. I was still far from where I wanted to be. But more than anything they were proof of a massive dose of excitement. Because I knew I was getting there.

The original plan of crossing the Cristo Redentor pass into Chile (which no doubt had been great too) had been scratched to give place for a new one. A far greater one. One to the starting point of which I simply couldn’t get to soon enough. Though unfortunately one that I still had quite some riding to get to.

What is worth mentioning though, is that the ride there turned out to be total a gem in itself. And no doubt the best ‘warm up’ possible, with just enough switchbacks, shitty road surface and ‘people-lessness’ to get legs and mind ready for what was about to hit them.

Days came and went. I wasn’t far now.

High. Rough. Remote.

Pure.

Hopefully more so than ever before.

It was time to hit the Andes.

And kickstart these South American adventures for real.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |February 27th, 2017|South America, Travel Logs|