The best send-off party.

It was the middle of February when I started inviting family and friends to my good luck-party on the 24th of May. Planning a party outdoors in Sweden is risky any month of the year, but during May to September it can just as well be 5 degrees and raining, as 25 degrees and sun. You just never know. This year, it’s been mostly 10 degrees and rain, so as the date came closer we got a bit nervous. The weather reporter said that at least it wouldn’t rain, which would help a lot, even if it wasn’t going to be that warm.

During the morning I went to pick up some food and then I pitched the tent and put out the bike so that everyone could take a closer look. I had also drawn my route on a big map so that everyone would be able to see it up close.
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The party was supposed to start at around 14:00 and like magic at almost that exact time the clouds went away and the sun came out. As the guest were starting to appear it got warmer and warmer. Everyone got hot dogs, hamburgers and cake with my face on it and got to mingle around the pool. A lot of family and friends showed up and I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off. I really felt the love for sure.
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When day turned into evening most people had left, but just as dad lit up the barbecue again to cook dinner for my closest family, the last guests showed up and brought this great shirt for me. It’s the Swedish national jersey with my name and birth year on it, and they told me that I should collect autographs from all the amazing people I meet along the way on it. I suspect it will be covered by the time I’ve crossed America.
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I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who showed up and to the rest of you who keep sending me your wishes on Facebook and Instagram and here of course. It means so much to me and I appreciate every single one of them so much! 8 days until take off now, and I feel more ready than ever to get going!

Thoughts and feelings with 13 days to take off.

The past few weeks have just flown by, and more and more often it hits me that it’s now less than two weeks left before I get on that plane to Washington. When I realize how little time is left, I get kind of terrified.

“What if I’ve forgotten something really important!”
“What if I hate it?” 
“Am I really brave enough to do this?” 

These are some of the thoughts that hit me with full force once I let my mind run wild, and it’s not helpful at all these last few days at home. I try to stay confident, but I think that if I didn’t have any doubts, I wouldn’t be taking it seriously enough. I’m heading out on a completely new adventure, unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Of course it’s okay to be frightened, because I’m not really sure what to expect or what it will be like. When I cycled across Sweden it was only for 5 days and 570 km and I spent each night at hotel I had booked in advance. When I cycled across Europe it was with a team of 30 other people, with a core team that fed me, fixed my bike, gave me a beer when I was done for the day and all I was responsible for was to just keep on pedaling for 7 days and 1200 km.

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This time it’s completely different, since I will become a footloose vagabond; a nomad who lives where I put down the stakes to my tent, and who belongs nowhere and everywhere at the same time. It terrifies me  and excites me beyond words. But I am brave. I am strong. I can do whatever I want, and I can handle whatever life might throw at me.  It will be tough, I will most likely cry and want to quit, but I will stick it out.

I’m a fighter, and I can do anything I set my mind to.

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Camping in northern Halland.

The May weather in the part of Sweden where I live has not been very reasonable this year in my opinion. Strong winds and a lot of rain almost every day, so when the weather report told me that Thursday and Friday last week were supposed to be good, I decided to head out on an adventure.

As you know, I’m somewhat of a novice in the whole camping business, so I need to practice before I leave. I also wanted to get some 100 km rides in before leaving, so I decided it was time for that as well. On Thursday morning I headed out, with absolutely everything I need for my around the world trip packed in the trailer. It was heavy, but I figure that I’ll get used to it. I like the handling of it a lot, once I get going I barely feel it behind me, until I go uphill but that would have been a struggle even with panniers. In strong headwinds it follows behind me so closely that it’s no different from when I’m alone on the bike. That is a big bonus, especially on the west coast where it’s always windy!
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It was a beautiful day but you know that when the kite surfers are out on the water, there must be a strong wind… and there was. I was struggling from time to time but I still had fun cycling up the coast on the beautiful roads right by the ocean.
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After 90 km I decided that I’d had enough wind for one day, and pitched my tent at a camp site. It was still early in the afternoon, so I made pretty good time I think.
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I can’t fit Elsa in the tent, but most of Bob at least. Very convenient! I’m so happy I decided to go for the bigger tent.
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After taking a walk around the area I spent all afternoon and night outside my tent reading on the kindle. That thing is such a great invention, I love to read and now I can bring hundreds of book with me wherever I go. I shared the tent area with two Danish families, and I must admit that I went to bed before any of the kids did. I was so tired after the wind and the sun and the long ride!
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(I’m apparently just as messy when I sleep in a tent as when I have a whole apartment to myself…) 

The only thing I hadn’t really counted on was that it got really cold at night. Like really cold. It went down to 2 degrees celsius. That is almost freezing, and so was I. I was completely huddled up in my sleeping bag with not even my nose sticking out, but after warming up inside the bag I was fine and could go back to sleep again.

In the morning I woke up, had my first ever breakfast in the tent and then packed up and was on my way. I think I’ll have to work on that process too, it took me 1,5 hours to get going and I thought that I was being quick!
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On the way back I got some slight pain in my left knee, but after consulting a friend she told me what the issue might be so I’m going to try to build up some strength in that knee from now on. I’m not too worried about it. And as I was struggling a bit going uphill I saw two cyclist approaching in the rear mirror. As they cycled past me I realized that it was an elderly couple on electric bikes, and the man said “you should get one of these too.” 

I might have cursed quite a lot when they were out of sight, I have legs that work just fine thank you very much! 

I cycled to the camp site in 5 hours and 20 minutes in horrible headwinds, and cycled home with pretty sweet tailwinds in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I love when the wind works to my advantage!

So that was my camping adventure. But to more exciting news: today is my birthday! This will be the last year that I get to say that I’m in my twenties, but I’m not very stressed about it. Most of the time I actually enjoy getting older! You know, wisdom and all of those things apparently happen when you get older, so I’m eagerly looking forward to that.

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Last picture of me as 28, at the amusement park Liseberg yesterday with my nephew Leon! I loved the kids rides just as much as he did.  I’ll miss my siblings kids so much when I leave, so I’m trying to spend a lot of time with them now.

DIY: How to make a MSR Hubba Hubba tent footprint.

It’s been a month since I stopped working, and I must admit that from time to time I’m getting a bit restless. The spring weather in Sweden has been really miserable too, so I’m not doing as much cycling and camping as I would have hoped. Sure, I could be heading out in the rain and wind, but I want to avoid it for as long as possible. On the road I won’t have the choice, so I’m enjoying staying warm and dry for now.

One thing I’ve been planning to do has been to make a footprint for my tent. A footprint is basically a piece of tarp that helps keeping your tent floor safe from rocks and sticks that can poke tiny holes and make it not so waterproof anymore. It’s an easy way to prolong the lifespan of your tent. Tarp is also good for covering your bike or using as a roof in case of bad weather. Lucky for me, my dad had a huge piece of tarp in the garage, so after cutting a big square I was ready to make my footprint. 
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As you can see the tarp was a bit too big. It’s really important that it’s smaller than the floor of your tent, otherwise rain will pool between the tarp and the tent which completely defeats the purpose.

Cutting the tarp to fit the tent.

Cutting the tarp to fit the tent.

After having cut the tarp down to the correct size, it was time to put eyelets in the corners to be able to keep the footprint in place underneath the tent. 
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After the eyelets were put in place, I just tied some string through another eyelet ring (haha that rhymed) so that I could put it around the tent pole.
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Finished! When the doors are stretched out, the entire tarp will be covered. And the best news? The tarp easily fits with the rest of the tent in the bag and adds practically no weight!
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IMG_0879A quick and cheap way of making your own footprint, instead of paying way too much for the brands own ready-made ones. 

It’s ok to change your mind, and putting the Hubba Hubba to the test.

So far in my life I’ve been on two bicycle tours, an unsupported credit card tour in 2013, and one fully supported team tour in 2014. Both of these had one thing in common: I worked until the very last day before going on the tours, leaving very little time to just breathe and prepare. It was fine, but it also meant that when I arrived I was not only physically tired, I was also mentally ready for a break. This time I wanted to have a different experience, I wanted to take the time before leaving to just relax and prepare both mentally and physically. I also wanted to have time to really test my gear, since 95% of it is completely new to me and I needed to make sure it was the right choice.

So yeah, I sold the tent that I bought for my tour. 

When I started researching camping gear, I was extremely focused on getting the smallest and lightest gear possible. In the bicycle touring world I heard a lot of good things about the MSR Hubba tents, so I decided that a 1 person tent would be enough for me. Despite not having camped or slept in a tent for more than 10 years and never ever with any type of camping equipment.
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As time passed, I started having some doubts. I realized that maybe I want my gear with me in the tent, and what if it’s raining and I decide to take a rest day, will I have to spend an entire day stuck in that tiny thing?

But then I decided that I’m allowed to change my mind. Just because I thought something was supposed to be right at one point, doesn’t mean that it actually is. So I ordered a new tent.

This time I went for the MSR Hubba Hubba HP 2 person tent, which is the exact same one, just bigger. It’s super easy to pitch, it’s spacious and to be honest I crack up laughing whenever I have to say hubba hubba. I take pride in being easy to entertain. And this time it just felt completely and totally right. I can fit all of my gear inside the tent with me, it only weighs 0.4 kg more than the smaller tent and now I get two entrances.
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The new tent pitched in my parents backyard. I also tried the Scrubba wash bag for the first time, to great success. 
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I can fit in it just fine, with lots of room to spare. 

And since I haven’t slept in a tent since 2004, when I went to a music festival in Denmark, I needed to put it to the test. Despite making the dog very upset with me, because she likes it when all her people are gathered in the house, I decided that last night was the perfect night for testing all of my camping gear. It was supposed to be 8 degrees celsius and no rain, so of course it went down to 6 degrees and rained on and off the entire night.
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But there’s another aspect to this story; I’m a bad sleeper. I’m really bad at falling asleep, and have been for as long as I can remember. And trust me, sleeping in a tent for the first time did not help my insomnia at all. I’m convinced that I actually did sleep some, but not for long or very deep. Since I usually sleep like a starfish with both feet outside of the covers as well, I only panicked once or twice about the sleeping bag. Those things can really make you feel completely claustrophobic…
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But all things considered, I deem the night a success! Mostly because I actually did spend the entire night there, instead of venturing into the house at 3 in the morning to sleep in my own bed. As you can tell, I’m a novice in this wilderness business, but who says you need to be an expert to go have an adventure? I think learning about all of this is such a fun part of the experience, and I want to show people who want to do this that you don’t have to know everything before you head out! Learning as you go is often the best way.

Anyone want to entertain me with their own camping stories?