The Bike Ramble Blog

Leaves Falling Autumn Calling

Some of you who already follow me on Instagram or Facebook might already have seen this. Most of you probably haven’t. Regardless – take the few seconds to read the lines of this post from a few days ago. Because they’re all what this blog entry is about. Actually, they’re all what everything is about.

For you, this is another sort-of-pretty photo to scroll past on the way down your feed. Now let me tell you what this line of trees means to me. _ This is Canal du Midi in fall. I've been here once before. On a bicycle. With colors just as pretty. _ In 2013 I stumbled onto a blog (not too unlike this one) & was introduced to the concept of cycle touring. To the simple idea of heading out to ride your bicycle without returning back home at the end of the day. – Weeks later me & an old friend stood outside Budapest airport. With some time on our hands, 2 crappy bicycles we'd semi-stolen from family members & not a clue in the world of what we were doing. Laughing hysterically. And agreeing on that 'Shit. We really should've brought a map..?' – _ Fast forward a bunch of westward pedal strokes & I was here. Riding below these very trees, hopelessly and irreversibly in love with this life on the road. Secretly playing with then impossible thoughts of the big one. – This dream was born here. Under the long line of trees along Canal du Midi in fall. _ I try to imagine what that girl would've said if someone told her that in 4 years time she'd be back. Following her own tracks in the opposite direction. Heading home. After fulfilling that too-big-to-grasp dream – of riding her bicycle around the world. 🍂🌍

Ett inlägg delat av Fredrika Ek (@thebikeramble)

I’m on my way home.

Never has this felt more overwhelmingly clear than now. Now – when I’m suddenly back where this journey began. Not began as in where it’s first peddle stokes were taken. I’m back where it began – as in where that first grain of an idea silently took form in the head of a young Swedish girl, so endlessly clueless of the life changing snowball she was about to set in motion.

The air is crisp and fall has never been more beautiful. Someone told me the colours of the leaves match my jacket. Maybe. More than anything though, they match my inside.

Because for the very first time – am I now at peace with having reached the autumn of this ride.

To answer the one question I’m receiving more than any other these days:

No. My life will never be the same again. But then again… That was never the point.

This post ends up being both late and short. I’ll let you in on all the how come’s as soon as possible, though for now I intend to stay 100% present on the cloud 9 on which I’m currently floating. To write about the most beautiful parts of life, one first has to live them. Now if you’ll excuse me – I’ll go right back to doing just that.

Greetings from Bern, Switzerland.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |November 20th, 2017|Europe, Travel Logs|

Star Aligning & Coin Flipping

Happy Sunday!

Can you believe we’ve reached the final destination of yet another week? In last Sunday’s blog post I left it to you lot to decide what story you wanted told, out of a whole bunch of options.

And the verdict was clear.

My intention was to shoot you a bonus blog post, telling this tale already days ago. I was excited about it too, as it so happens to be a good one. Then – as it does – life happened. And it’d be a shame to go all throwbacky and not even let you know about it.

Let’s do like this.

Someday soon, from somewhere not too far away – I’ll jot down the lines from this absurd Alice in Wonderland inspired camp night experience on the Spanish countryside. It really is too randomly hilarious to be forgotten.

And for now – get you guys a quick real time update on what has been and is going on in the universe of this bike ride around the world. Just yet it’s not really, but more and more frequently I’m smacked over the head with the realisation that this adventure of a lifetime is rapidly closing in on it’s final act.

So. Where am I at?

Since late Friday evening – the answer is simple.



I just woke up in France. Just outside Narbonne to exact.

The past week’s rush up the Spanish Mediterranean was swift. The (way too) few magical days of rest and reunions in Barcelona were out of this world. The temperatures are sinking by the kilometer and I’ve finally admitted to myself that summer is now 100% replaced by long johns. And the life I’m blessed to be living has rarely felt this beautiful.

Soon enough you’ll hear about the whats and whys around this. Though for now all you need to know is that I’m headed for Bern, Switzerland. And literally I can’t get there fast enough. Please send me a thought from time to time, and let’s keep our fingers crossed for that for next week’s blog post I’ll join you from there.

Wight this moment I’m about to throw myself into the terribly stubborn autumn headwind that has kept me company for the past days.

But first I figured I would still leave you with a small camp night tale. This one taking place on the evening and night of yesterday. As our paths crossed I randomly met up with swedish-blog-reader-kickass-girl Julia, currently well on her way to conquer Europe on her first big solo tour.

I’ll leave a few photos, but will let her tell the story.

Make yourself a favor by not missing this one. Surely it has happened before that two people come together to randomly share a windy camp night together. A girl deciding to leave her entire faith to the flip of a coin though – isn’t one to ignore. Espeacially not when that coin redirects her destiny to Africa.

Julia’s blog post: Flip the Coin


Photo: Julia Olah

Julia. Sending all strenght and good vibes your way. Summer’s around the corner, Morocco is the best and I absolutely know you’ll smash it.

Tailwinds Sister! You got this.


Photo: Julia Olah

Now. I’m getting my ass to Switzerland.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |November 12th, 2017|Europe, Travel Logs|

Casual Cliffhanging

Now – how’s that for a sunrise?

It’s another early Sunday and once again it’s time for this little slice of the internet to cough up yet a new blog post. One that after a few failed attempts of writing it, will take on a bit of a different shape than most. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough characters.

You’re in for a string of photos from the past week. Random snapshots from the road – or a lot more than that. It’s up to you this time :-) Out of the million little side plots that constitute my rolling life I always struggle with choosing which tiny fraction of it to share with you each week.

This time I’ll be sneaky enough to let you take on the decision making for me!

Each one of the photos below marks the beginning, middle or end of a beautiful / spooky / hilarious / too-random-to-be-true story that I would love to share with you. Scroll carefully now – and have a look to see if one of them might spark your imagination.

So. If there is one – which of these tales would you say is worth bringing to life also outside the covers of my journal? Let me know in the comments. And keep your eyes open the bonus blog post coming up in a few days!

Until next time,

Fredrika

P.S

Someone once told me a decent cliffhanger is proven to extend the average persons life with a good 20 minutes. You can thank me later :-)

By |November 5th, 2017|Europe, Travel Logs|

Cliche Because it’s True

2017-10-29 Águilas, Spain

Hey.

You know how sometimes it becomes overwhelmingly obvious how life is too short for screens?

How wasting time talking about it’s beauty rather than experiencing it with every single breath, seems like as good of an idea as intellectually discussing the potential flavours of a perfectly temperated gourmet meal put in front of us – without actually tasting it?

I’m in Europe. I am home. So much has happened and I have a million things I want to say to you.

But right at this moment – more than anything – I am flying. My soul is soaring way above the clouds that aren’t to be found in the Mediterranean sky. And to be perfectly honest I have zero intention of coming down just yet.

Why would I?

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow’s a new week. Today though, is more than just another Sunday.

Today is LIFE.

Why don’t we all do ourselves a favor and escape grip of these real life dementors and spend today living it?

One.. Two..

Expecto Patronum..!!

.. or the simple click of a button. If Patronus Charms for whatever (not reasonable) reason aren’t your thing.

I sincerely wish you the best of days, this Sunday the 29 of October of 2017. We only get one shot with this one. Let’s get off the screens and make damn sure we seize it.

All love.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |October 29th, 2017|Europe, Travel Logs|

Beginning of the Day at the End of the World

We all know a good sunrise. A great one, too.

Then there are those sunrises that are something else entirely. Those that during a lifetime are only handed to us that many times. Those so beautiful that the including goose bumps are actually giving us physical pain. And most importantly – those that more than anything else take place in our hearts.

Yesterday I woke up. Inside my tent, cuddled up into my sleeping bag. Just like hundreds and hundreds of mornings before. Without reaching for my torch or barely even opening my eyes I got ready. Ate whatever was left from yesterday’s dinner. Changed clothes. Packed up my stuff. And hit the road.

Any morning. Except it wasn’t.

This was my 26th birthday. My first trembling morning on European soil in years. This was the realisation of that this so called adventure of a lifetime is reaching it’s final page.

It was the accumulated joys and sorrows from 3 years of fulfilled and broken dreams concentrated into one quiet explosion of colors across the surface of a still sleeping ocean. It was the end. And it was one of the most magnificent things I’ve ever laid eyes on.

One could say a lot, or nothing. Feel it all – or settle with the sensation of a Mediterranean breeze softly stroking one’s cheek.

I chose the latter.

Because sometimes we just got to let life be beautiful.

Until next time,

Fredrika

P.S

Thank you all for the beautiful birthday wishes! If you want to make me the happiest girl in the world, please consider a small donation to the Action Aid fundraiser – working to ensure that more women and girls of this world will have a fighting chance to be that too.

We are literally saving lives with this. Please, please, please. If you enjoy taking part of this adventure with me, make sure to become part of it all the way. I thank you from the bottom of my heart..! Make your donation here.

By |October 22nd, 2017|Europe, Travel Logs|

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|