The Bike Ramble Blog

Ghana Good Times

It’s Sunday morning and I woke up to a brand new world today. I’m in Cote d’Ivoire – which I’m counting to be country no. 35 of this journey. The clock says it’s still early but the bustling streets of small town Aboisso came to life already hours ago. I think the sun was the last one to rise here today. I crossed into the country only yesterday afternoon and as per usual, I’m a little too excited to throw myself onto the road to start to get to know this new temporary home of mine.

First though – we need to talk about Ghana.

No. Let’s not.

See those 3 dots? They’re there to replace some 500 words I just deleted, realising that this is stupid. Not to mention it also being impossible – to try and squeeze everything from dancing children and the purest connections between people, to brutal faiths and fundamental human rights issues into a quick Sunday breakfast blog post.

More than anything – would it not give this country a grain of justice.

I didn’t even spend 2 full weeks in Ghana. Still this is one I regard as one of the very biggest experiences yet, on more levels than I was ever ready for.

Which is why this one goes out to you.

Not a single one of you will ever know that these words exist. Nor will I ever meet you again, to get the opportunity to tell you that they do. But thank you. I thank all of you. The hundreds of souls that let me into your world, for a chat, a meal, a night’s rest or for a simple wave and a smile as I swiftly zoomed passed you by the road you were sitting.

Thank you for your respect and for your patience. For your curiosity and laughters. And yes. Thank you Joshua, for sitting down to teach the sweaty obruni how to properly eat an orange.

Thank you all. For making a girl who’s still very far away from home – feel like she’s already there.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

Another Rich White Girl’s Blog Post

Hey.

Short stop in this time. Today marks one full week of breathing African air and my head is still spinning too fast for me to make much sense of any of what’s tumbling around in there. I’m used to a 15 kph movement of around 100 km per day – and the (barely existent) speed of change that comes with it. I’m used to moving from one village or town to the next.

Last week the screen in front of my airplane seat showed speeds hovering around 1000 kph and I found myself on three continents within 24 hours. Though that’s not what makes me feel like I’ve fallen into a tumble drier on steroids.

That is Africa.

I’m finally here. On this massive continent surrounded by more contradictions than any other. The one I’ve been told, not-at-all-told and warned about since before I could even spell it. One week in, mentioned contradictions seem endlessly bigger than they ever have before. And I can’t seem to wrap my head around a single piece what I’ve so far found waiting for me here. Though let’s talk about than another time.

The million impressions and future campfire anecdotes that have constituted the last week led me to Accra and the capital of Ghana. Showing up at the Togo-Ghana border without a visa was probably up there on the list of most-stupid-stunts I’ve pulled on this journey – and a gamble to say the least. Needless to say I’m surprised as anyone that it actually worked out. Just as needless to say is that I am equally grateful, happy and relieved that it did. Probably more than anything, since none of us now have to find out just how much of a catastrophe my Plan B actually was.

Writing this I’m on Day 3 of who knows who many, in the chaotic capital Accra. The one mission here is to acquire necessary visas for the onward journeying through West Africa. A mission that so far is moving along perfectly. The full page visa sticker for Ivory Coast is already in my passport and after the weekend the one for Guinea hopefully won’t be far off.

Meaning that this final and biggest adventure is just about ready to take off for real.

Just now I don’t have time nor energy to try and properly put the overwhelming feelings inside me to words. Though sitting under the cool A/C in the shiny upscale apartment of lovely French expat Lorraine it seems absurd not to. The evening of my arrival Lorraine took me for a burger and beer. We both agreed on that the meal was delicious. But didn’t mention the fact that it had cost almost half a Ghanian monthly salary.

Tapping on my laptop I’m now zipping cool pineapple juice and snacking away on imported Swiss chocolate. I’m looking down through the big windows, passed the guards on duty and across the barbed wire fence surrounding the building. A constant stream of people are passing by, balancing everything from fruit and peanuts for sale, to massive quantities of water or big bags of trash on their heads. I have no idea where any of them are going. I just know that it’s Saturday in Accra, and that normal people are spending it doing normal things.

Right here on this website you can still find the words of 22-year-old me. The girl with the big dreams, who was still back in her hometown merely getting ready to make this journey reality:

‘Brilliant sunshine and pouring rain. Lush rain forests and bone-dry deserts. Privileged people with the world beneath their feet and people who can’t even put a pair of shoes on theirs. This is a ride with the goal of experiencing it all.’

Three years later I’m more grateful than ever to not only have gotten to experience all of that – but also all those things way beyond my wildest imagination. The ignorance in my own words though, makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. It’s been long since I realised it, but never before has the fact been so disgustingly obvious.

That the ‘privileged person with the world beneath her feet’ – has been me all along.

There will be only one photo today, taken at 6.30 am somewhere in southern Ghana. One of 3 beautiful sisters walking to school in the neighbouring village.

I think that if you take the time to actually look at it – this one might be just enough.

Until next time,

Fredrika

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

(To)Go Time!

This is life my friends.

Usually I’m referring to life as feeling the wind in your hair while charging down the downhill you spent your day earning. Or to zip your tent open simply to let the world smack you in the face with another so-good-it’s-not-even-funny sunrise performance.

This is nothing like that. Still I’m feeling more alive than since I don’t even know when.

It’s Saturday. I don’t know what timezone would be appropriate to refer to, but it’s been long since I cared much about clocks anyways. I’m awkwardly posing as a rational human being today. Mirroring the people around me I’m zipping airport cappuccino while tapping away on my laptop. Apart from the fact that I (and the suit & briefcase-man sitting next to me) just caught myself blowing my nose in the sleeve of my shirt I think it’s working out alright.

I’m in Europe.

A few hours layover in Madrid marks my first breaths on my home continent in more than 2 years and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more out of place in my life. Not in a bad way. Neither in a good one. It is all just so incredibly weird. I’ve walked these very floors before. Still not. Today makes it very clear how I feel so endlessly disconnected from the person I was before this whole thing started. That girl who had seen – or more importantly felt – nothing.

Today though, this is no more than a passing thought. My whole being is occupied by something else entirely.

– I’m halfway to Togo. –

It’s happening. I’m Africa bound. What started as half a thought somewhere on a lazy day back in Mendoza is now materialising itself in reality. And I’m realising that my childish excitement didn’t necessarily need company by that double shot of caffeine. The onward flight ticket tucked into my passport seems incredibly overkill. The butterflies in my belly could easily have flown me to Africa themselves.

Today marks four continents down – one to go.

Can you believe it? I know I can’t.

As I still don’t know myself, I can’t exactly tell you what happens from here. The unknown factors are lined up like domino tiles and which one will fall first is as unclear as ever. At least getting to start Plan A would be neat though. Please keep your fingers crossed that I’ll be able to acquire a visa to Ghana in the next few days.

Or by all means, don’t.

Sometimes a little game of adventure domino is just what a girl needs.

After all. This is life my friends.

Until next time,

Fredrika

PS. Feeling so grateful to have you lovely people with me on this journey. It simply would’t be the same without you.

By |July 8th, 2017|Africa, Travel Logs|

Wrapping Up

Ever since my first pedal strokes in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina – South America has been blowing my mind in ways I could never even have imagined. Every day, week and month seemed to give even a little more than the previous one and there has been absolutely no end to the madness.

Up until Lima.

In a parallell universe I’m still up in the high, high Andes. Slowly making my way between yet another couple of epic passes, ever so curious to find out what is to be found on the top of the next one – and then the next one again. In this universe though, I’ve had to finally accept what the calendar had already been telling me for quite some time.

‘So you still want to hug your mom for Christmas? Then you better get a move on.’

Racing up the coast from Lima to Ecuador had it’s perks. For the first time in a million years I actually made some proper distance and accompanied by a constant tailwind I literally felt like I was flying north. This was without doubt the least interesting/charming/impressive/varied/challenging stretch on my entire ride on the continent – but to be honest I didn’t mind.

For one I was happy to get to see some big numbers for once. And somehow my mind had made the switch turning this into nothing but mere transport. This was me on my way to the airport.

Though a route through the mountains would have beaten this a million times over, it wasn’t bad. There were some sweet views. And some ever sweeter people. I can’t remember a time when I’ve taken as few photos as during the few weeks between Lima and Quito. The ones I did take though – looked like this:


Morning routine!


Day in and day out…


I asked Isabel for water. She gave me a shower, bed and food until it came out of my ears :-)


No. 1 coastal highlight! Spending a few days riding with lovely Caio from Brazil

Days – even weeks – blurred together and all of a sudden my bike computer told me I’d ridden the equivalence of one entire lap around the equator. 40 000 kilometers. By all means a fair distance on a bicycle…



Today the race ended. My entire ride through South America did. I’m in Quito, Ecuador – and since only a few hours back I’m holding that flight ticket. The one that in less than a week will take me to Togo, West Africa.

Togo. West Africa.

I’ve been so ridiculously excited about this ever since the very idea first made its way into my mind back in Argentina. And I almost can’t believe it’s really time. Almost at least.

Mr. Bike is getting boxed up – soon. But first, this old body needs a proper game of eat, sleep, repeat. And since I’m all of a sudden surrounded perfume smelling people – I think a shower (or 10) might be an alright idea as well.


Apparently not the ‘capital look’ in Ecuador

Where in the world might the next blog post come from..? I sure don’t know. My layovers are as weird as they are many. Let’s hang on and we’ll all find out on Sunday :-)

Until next time,

Fredrika

Furry Love

It’s time to move on from the mountains – but before actually letting go of this too-good-to-be-true slice of adventure heaven there is one specific bunch of souls that deserves their minute in the limelight.

The alpacas!

Everywhere – and in mass. For big empty stretches up there alpacas (and llamas but they’re not as cute) were our main interaction with locals and there’s no getting enough of these loonies. Because they’re darn sweet for one. But mainly because each one of them carries enough personality and range of facial expressions to star in their own Hollywood picture.

There are the wise, the beautiful and the quirky ones. There are the frightened and the brave as well as the heroes and the villains. Seems like such a waste that Disney still haven’t put out a movie – or five – starring these naturals. Whatever genre they’d go for – this is blockbuster material for sure!

Which one would you want to see in lead?

Alright, I promise to stop now.

Big sunsets and even bigger night skies in postcard views are obvious favorites for anyone calling a tent their home. More than ever in these landscapes. What I like even better though – is stumbling upon unexpected favorites.


Not the usual one – but still one heck of a view to wake up to!

Puh. I just had to get that out of my system :-) Writing this I’m already in northernmost Peru ready to cross into Ecuador. Odd feeling to go alpaca flash backing while looking over the ocean with warm sand between my toes.

Next Sunday I’ll recap back to reality and for the first time in I don’t even know how long this blog will continue to update in real time! I’m so looking forward to it – and I hope you are too.

Until next time,

Fredrika

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