Why you never want to ask a motorist about the road ahead.

There are few things that are as mentally tough as being out on a nice bike ride and coming across a really big and unexpected hill that you have to climb. If you’re aware of it before setting out on your ride, you have time to prepare mentally which means that it’s only your legs that will suffer, not your mind or spirit. If you’re expecting easy and flat, it can be really hard to face that hill, no matter how strong you feel. Last summer during my ride to Paris, a lot of the focus was put on the climb up the famous Mur de Huy in Belgium. But no one had told us that after that climb, there was another one which was just as long and just as steep. I heard a lot of yelling and screaming and anger when we came upon it, because when you’re not prepared, everything feels worse. I cursed silently underneath my breath the entire climb, being angry at everything from the people who had laid the route we were cycling, to the people who had created that stupid road in stupid Belgium. No offense, I really like Belgium. But you do have a lot of hills.

First we face a smaller hill, than a huge Mur de Huy and then an even bigger hill that we didn't know about!

First we faced a smaller hill, then a huge Mur de Huy and then an even bigger hill that we didn’t know about!

As my training intensifies, I’m getting to know the country roads around my home town on the west coast of Sweden a bit better. Or more accurately; for the first time I’m getting to know them as a cyclist instead of car driver. And believe me, there is a huge difference.

So let’s say that you’re out cycling, and while taking a short banan break someone stops to talk to you. You ask them about the road ahead, and they willing you tell you what you’ll be up against. Depending on who you’ve asked, you’re facing a very different outcome. 

When you’re in a car, you hardly notice the ups and downs of the road. You might notice a huge mountain along the way, but rarely how long or how steep it is. Why would you? The car is doing all the work, so the hills of the road hardly affects you. This is why you should never ask a motorist about the road, because you will almost never get a correct answer. 

Asking someone who has only driven that particular road in a car about 
what's to come, a study in expectations vs reality.

If they say: “The road is very flat”. 
expectation flat
rolling hills reality

“There might be a small downhill further ahead.” 
downhill exp

racing for the win in the 2011 UCI MTB World Championships in Champery, SUI

“There are some nice rolling hills along to road.”

ROLLING HILLS EXPreality hills

But then you might think, "but what about asking other cyclist, they 
must be perfect for this type of information?"

Well. They could be. Most of the time I’d trust them. But sometimes we have a slight tendency to exaggerate how difficult the ride we just did was. So when it comes to asking a fellow cyclist about the road, it tends to go the other way.

If they say: “The road is very flat”.
expectation flat
reality flat

“There are some nice rolling hills along the road.” 
rolling hills reality

If they say: “There is a pretty steep mountain that you’ll have to climb.” 
expectation hills
Uphill-road (kopia)

What’s your opinion, would you ask a car driver about what the road is like, or do you also mostly get “it’s completely flat” as an answer? 

Travel essentials you don’t want to be without.

The research I’ve done for my bicycle tour has been a lot of fun and very rewarding. I’ve learnt about gear I never knew existed before, and really enjoyed getting to know the do’s and don’ts of bicycle touring and camping.

Well, I’m probably still breaking a lot of the “rules”, but what’s the fun in only doing what other people think is right? If that was the way I lived my life I never would have dared to do this or half the things I’ve experienced. Rules can be good but they’re also made to be broken.

So I’ve made a list of some of the best things that I’ve come across so far in my research, that is great for both bicycle traveling and other outdoorsy adventures.

1. The Scrubba Wash Bag

IMG_0411This clever bag has a flexible inner washboard which cleans your clothes just as good as any machine. Just put your clothes in it, add water and detergent and rub the clothes against the washboard from 30 seconds up to 3 minutes. Rinse and hang and your clothes will be as good as new! It can be found here. 

2. Lush Shampoo Bar and Solid Conditioner
Bringing big and heavy bottles of shampoo and conditioner was never an option for me, neither was shaving off all my hair to avoid that particular problem. When I heard that Lush sold solid shampoo and conditioner bars, I knew that I had to try it out. I was very impressed by the scents and how well they worked, despite being a bit skeptical in the beginning. It takes very little room, you won’t have to worry about it leaking and you can bring it in your hand luggage. What’s there to think about, really? Buy it here.

3. Anker External Battery
 “But how will you charge your electronics?” is a question I get a lot. A LOT. So here is the answer; on the days I’m camping in the woods or am unable to get access to an electrical outlet, this Anker battery will be my lifeline. You can use it to charge three USB devices at the same time, and it can charge an iPhone 6 up to ten times. It’s small but extremely powerful. Find it here. 

4. Spot Gen3 Tracking Device
Every once in a while on my adventure, I know that I will be in a place where there is no mobile coverage or wifi. This is one of the safety gears I’ve found that really helps me out in those situations, as I can just press a button and it will send a message to my family back home that I am safe but unable to contact them at the moment. It can also send out a distress signal to the nearest SOS center if I’m in a life-threatening situation, or in need of immediate help. I can also use it to live track my journey so that those I choose can follow me live on a map. It operates via satellites and it works everywhere in the world. Find your retailer here.

5. The Helinox Ground Chair (dog not included)
Bringing a chair with me on a bicycle tour was not even an option, until I found Helinox’s line of lightweight camping equipment. This sturdy little chair weighs in at 610 grams and packs down really tiny. I can only imagine how nice it will be after having set up camp at night, to be able to rest my back in a real chair while sipping a beer and writing down my latest blogpost. It will definitely be worth the extra weight. The chair can be found here. 

Bonus picture: our dog thought I was of better use playing fetch with her rather than taking photos for the blog. She is such a cutie. There is a tennis ball hidden by my foot that she’s put all her focus on, wishing that I’ll throw it away. Luckily I can multitask…

Do you have any camping gear that you wouldn’t want to be without on a long bicycle tour? 

The start of the cycling season.

Since I arrived to the west coast of Sweden a week ago, my new training regime has slowly begun. This Facebook post by Road ID pretty much describe how I’m feeling about it.
Skärmavbild 2015-04-20 kl. 18.49.59
This past Saturday I actually went for a three hour ride where I was faced with harsh headwinds for more than half the ride. When I arrived home I barely had time to say hi to my parents before I dove headfirst into the fridge because I needed FOOD desperately. And after a shower I promptly fell asleep on the couch for almost an hour. I had forgotten how absolutely exhausting the start of the cycling season is… but I’m glad I’m starting now so I won’t be completely dead to the world when I begin for real in North Carolina in June.

IMG_0344 IMG_0345 IMG_0332
Every time I get on the bike and the sun is shining, the wind is on my back and I’m easily pushing 30km/h, I get this ridiculous grin on my face. I really just love cycling. Especially when it’s easy. But I’m trying to convince myself that the hills and headwinds are great for my mental preparation (and my legs!) so I’m not too unhappy about it.

When I’m not cycling I’ve had time to test some new gear. Like my camping stove, a Primus omnifuel. The thought of using a camping stove has completely freaked me out since I’ve never even been near one and really have no idea how to operate one. But I figured that I was better off giving it a go in the safety of my own backyard before completely embarrassing myself in front of a bunch of people. That was a good thought, if only I hadn’t filmed it. And put it on my Facebook page for everyone to see.

So click on this link to see a film in Swedish of me trying the stove for the very first time, and making a fool of myself. Enjoy!

Who can go on a bicycle tour?

Well, do you? In this post I challenge you to realize that anyone can become an adventurer.

Let’s go through my checklist to see if you really can become a bicycle tourer:

1. Do you want to go on a bicycle tour? 

That’s it. That’s the checklist. If you want to go, you can. It doesn’t have to be around the world, it can be a day trip around the city or staying overnight somewhere. I’m doing the most extreme thing possible now, but it doesn’t have to be that big of a trip to be exciting and change the world as you know it. There are many ways to be an adventurer, and anyone who wants to can become one.

But what exactly do you need to go on a longer bicycle tour?

-You probably need some money. Unless you already have all the equipment, you will most likely need to buy some things, if you’re not planning a credit card tour. That’s the name for a tour where you mostly stay in motels/hotels and only eat in restaurant. Whichever way you pick, start saving up some cash!
-Get a bicycle. Anyone will do. If you plan on doing a longer tour I would suggest getting a bicycle that’s better suited for touring, but otherwise just stick to what you have.
-Pick a date, choose a destination and you’re ready to go touring!

It seriously doesn’t have to more complicated than this. JUST GO! It’s the best way to travel and see the world, and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter age or location or family situation. A family of four cycled from Alaska to Argentina, so I would say that no excuse that you can come up with is a good enough excuse for me to accept. Bicycle touring is all about the attitude, and believing in yourself. You have to be strong mentally to be able to push through even when everything sucks, the body will adapt and you will get strong physically as well no matter what your current situation is.

So I challenge you to do it. Get your bike and head out in the beautiful spring weather and see the world in a different way than you do when you’re stuck in a car.

Bicycle touring is about the journey, not about the destination. 

A lot of goodbyes means a new beginning.

The past week has been absolutely crazy for me. It’s been stressful, my emotions have been all over the place and I’ve barely had time to slow down and just take a deep breath.

But now it’s done. I have quit my job, I have packed up my entire apartment and I have left the keys to the real estate agent. For the next 49 days I will be living at my parents house in Halmstad on the west coast of Sweden, before getting on that flight to Washington on the 2nd of June.

But let’s start at the beginning. When I came to work last Friday someone had decorated my entire desk with balloons, confetti and flags which was very sweet. I left it like this the entire day, I barely even moved the balloons. Well, I left it like that when I went home too, so my guess it that it might still look like this…
I also got some pretty cool gifts from my friend, I’m not entirely sure about the spoke beads yet, but I’ll definitely bring the windmill and the crocodile with me!
That night we had a barbecue at the office, with lots of good food but I also had to say a lot of goodbyes to everyone I’ve worked with for the past 3,5 years. I got a Let’s dance game signed by one of the Let’s dance judges that works with us several times a year (my mom can’t wait to play it!) and a Fjällräven sleeping bag. Excellent gifts, thank you!

My parents arrived Friday night as well, and then we spent all of Saturday packing my belongings into boxes to be stored for several years. It’s a weird feeling knowing that I’m kind of homeless right now. Sunday morning we picked up a trailer and packed everything into it before they drove off south.
As they left, I headed into the city for a last going away-part for my friends living in Stockholm. The cycling group I rode with to Paris last summer came by for a well-deserved after bike, and friends from college and work showed up too to Cykelcafé LeMond. I love the atmosphere of the café, it even has a wall of mounts for placing your bike while you’re enjoying a coffee.
IMG_0080 IMG_0073
From all of my friends in 2014’s version of Team Rinkeby Stockholm I got a merino wool cycling jersey and a gift card to Naturkompaniet. I really enjoy getting gifts that I both love and need, just look at the awesome jersey:
When the party was over a (former!) colleague drove me home and we did a short interview for the documentary I’m planning to make about my adventure. He’s taken on the role of project manager which is great because I’ve had zero energy to do anything about it myself. Now we just have to make a plan and have a purpose for the filming, so I don’t arrive home with hours and hours of footage that never will be used.
Since my apartment had been emptied, all that was left was a couch which I could sleep on in my new sleeping bag. Very good timing with that gift I must say… On Monday morning the cleaners came and then I dropped the keys off, got on a train and waved goodbye to Stockholm for quite some time.
A lot of goodbyes, but sometimes you need to say goodbye to be able to say hello to something else. That something else has begun now, even if I’m having a hard time taking it all in. Most of the time I can’t even believe that I’m actually going to do this. But first I’m excited about hanging out with my family and friends, and going on fun cycling trips around the coast.

It’s all really happening now.