I climbed a mountain to see the world. 

And there they were. The mountains. I was so happy that I stopped cycling around 20 km before they began the day before, because I’ve realized that it’s about that distance it takes for me to warm up my legs in the mornings. I cycled until the incline began and then took a small energy break. The climb wasn’t very steep at first, so I was feeling extremely confident. That would change.    

      

After a while the mountain got a whole lot steeper. Just as I was feeling confident that I would be able to cycle the entire way up, I came around a bend in the road and at that moment it got so much worse. I tried cycling but had to stop and start pushing instead. And then I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. At every bend I just hoped that it would flatten out a bit, but it never did. I pushed for more than two hours with no relief. 

 

At one point a car stopped next to me, and I was so sure that they would offer me a lift. But he just wanted to warn me about snakes by the side of the road. Well, thanks for that. I just stared at him… 

After a few hours I made it up to a rest stop and could finally sit down. I had seriously never been so sweaty in my life, I was completely soaked. A family was there too, and they got really excited to see me. We took pictures and then they offered me water and chips. I could seriously have cried. So I sat down and watched the beautiful view and had  some chips, it was perfect. 

  
    

But I wasn’t done. There was more climbing to be done. I’m so glad I’m wearing Keen sandals and not ordinary cycling shoes, I would never have been able to walk up that mountain pushing my bike otherwise. It was also really nice weather, just 20 c so that helped a lot. I did have an energy shot that helped too. 

 

After 6 hours and about 65 km I was finally in Banner Elk where I had planned to stop for the day. I immediately decided to take a rest day there tomorrow, that hike up the mountain was so hard on my body and I was so exhausted. 

  

Interesting fact: fart means speed in Swedish. So there’s that…

My rest day in Banner Elk was amazing, it’s such a beautiful little village high up in the mountains. I took a walk, I had to walk beside the road as usual but I don’t mind. If I didn’t walk there I’d never make it anywhere if I don’t want to cycle.    

         

This morning I was ready to hit the road again, this time I’d finally make it to Tennessee and down from the mountain. Yes, of course there were some hills as well, but for almost 65 km it was mostly downhill riding. Amazing! I love going down much more than I do up, that’s for sure. And google maps lead me to some beautiful cycle paths, I was a bit resistant about going off the main road but it was so worth it!

  
       

I cycled 112 km today in 6 hours, which I feel pretty good about. The heat wasn’t too bad, 31 c at most and I was truly enjoying myself today. And yes, then I got myself a hotel room, took a swim in the pool and now I’m just enjoying my first afternoon in Tennessee. I’m only 280 km from Berea, Kentucky now where I’ll join the Transamerica Trail. It will be weird to actually meet other cyclists… 

See you soon! 

Last days in North Carolina. 

My days in North Carolina are coming to an end, as I expect to cross into Tennessee tomorrow or the day after. Yay, a new state! Though I have really liked NC, despite the heat and the hills.

I am feeling so much better now. I am eating plenty, I’m sleeping better and my mind is at a much better place. I’ve been able to call home several times now without even wanting to cry. Success! Though it comes at a price; the price of only cycling during the mornings when it’s not quite as extreme heat, not doing very many kilometers a day and sleeping at pretty good hotels. Well, that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? At the moment that’s what keeps me motivated, so it will simply have to be that way. If I find at the end of the summer that I’m running out of time and have too much distance left, I’ll have to rent a car or get on a train or something, simple as that. My main focus is to enjoy this adventure, and sleeping in a tent and cycling all day will not do that at the moment. I’m already asking myself ten times a day “why am I doing this to myself, why couldn’t I just drive across the country as everyone else?” so I need things to keep my mood up.

I’ve left Charlotte now, and am currently in a town called Morganton. The ride out of Charlotte was luckily pretty uneventful, and I even found a bicycle lane, a rarity in American cities. It was still pretty warm though, but I found my mini fan the other day so it actually helps some. There were some hills to be conquered but at 11:30 I was already in Lincolnton, my destination 60 km outside of Charlotte. I felt pretty lazy to stop cycling so early, but I have promised to be nice to myself so I did. I checked into a pretty nice hotel, swam in the pool and took a walk to Walmart. I’ve never been before, it was fascinating. Super big. And I though the cars would crash when they saw me walking next to the highway in the grass, people really don’t walk here. A lot of places lack both sidewalks and places to cross the street for pedestrians. Very weird for a Swede, we walk a lot…


    

How do you like my bruises? I have no idea how any of them happened… It looks like someone has beaten me. Oh, and the shoes! Best choice ever, I love them!! Very comfy, they keep my feet cool and you can clip them to your pedals if you want. I don’t anymore.

    
This morning I woke up really early, had breakfast at the hotel before riding out at 7 in the morning. It was pretty warm, but soon a fog surrounded me, making the air much cooler. It was sooooo nice! It stayed like that for more than an hour, I even felt chilled at one point! But too soon the sun came out, and with it the heat. Paired with some pretty obnoxious hills, I struggled. At 11:30, after 60 km I stopped for lunch and to consider my choices. I was right next to a hotel, but I knew that 20 km away was a camping. But the weather report said thunderstorms and rain off and on all afternoon, so I decided to check into the hotel. I really am bad at living the simple life, but who cares? I’m loving this! And the moment I stepped into the hotel, the skies opened up and a heavy rainfall began. A good choice to stay then!


            Tomorrow I have a 1200 m/3800 feet mountain to climb.  I’m a bit anxious but hopefully it won’t be too steep. If so, I’ll simply have to push my bike up. Or hitchhike.
But anyway, I’m feeling better and it’s such a relief. Yes the cycling is hard, but hopefully that will get easier too. Thank you for all of your encouraging word, I really appreciate it! I have the best followers.

Thoughts and feeling after a week in the U.S.

It’s been a week since I first sat my foot on American soil now, and in some ways it’s been both the longest and shortest week of my life. I knew before setting out on this adventure that it would be hard at times, but I have really been struggling this week. I feel sorry for my mother, I know she’s been struggling with me leaving too and still she has to watch me cry on Skype almost every day. The worst part is that I don’t even know why I’m sad! Yes, it’s been tough week physically but I’ve been struggling even more mentally. But then the other day I got an email from a follower who said that at the beginning of a change this big, there is usually a sort of “grief period” and when I read that it just clicked. It has really felt like I’ve been grieving this week. No wonder I’ve been struggling with eating and been feeling so low! I’m not sure what I’m exactly grieving, but I’m hoping it’s about to pass now, and that I can be my usual happy self.

Yes, I am finally living my dream, but that doesn’t mean it will only be amazing and I’ll love every second of it. 

The reason I’m sharing these very private feelings with everyone is because usually adventure blogs are all about the great things that happens and how amazing everything is. There is normally not a lot about feeling low or struggling, and I can’t pretend to be fine when I’m not. Maybe this will help someone else too, who might be feeling the same way.

But in better news, I am feeling much better now. I’ve actually managed to eat without feeling nauseous for two days now, though not full portions yet because after a week of barely eating my stomach has shrunk a bit. But I’m eating and I’m feeling much better at least!

On Monday I spent almost all day in bed, only venturing out to get some food. It was just what I needed, but after a while it was time to get a cab and go into central Charlotte.
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After walking around in the sweltering heat for a while I had dinner (well, half a dinner) before heading to the Time Warner Cable Arena and the Taylor Swift concert.
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A lot of people were in costumes which was a lot of fun to watch. I think every single music video she has ever made were represented in terms of clothing… I think I saw at least 10 people in pajamas (see the You belong with me or We are never ever getting back together videos). Everyone was given wristbands when we got in, which then lit up during the concert in a multitude of colors depending on the song, or the beat. It was amazing to see. But first we got to see Vance Joy who sings the huge hit Riptide.
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After Vance Joy, Taylor finally came out and oh wow, it was just amazing. She won “Entertainer of the year” five years in a row at the country music awards and when you go see her in concert it’s so obvious why. She really goes the extra mile to make her concerts an amazing experience for everyone there. Before the show starts there were interviews with her, and fan videos and her own personal youtube videos which was fun, and during costume changes her closest friends had been interviewed and talked about her and her music and their friendships. Pretty great. She played almost all songs from the 1989 album and some of her older songs, but all remixed into something completely different. No more country for that girl… “We are never ever getting back together” even turned into a rock song!
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It was a truly great night, but I was pretty tired when it ended, luckily I got a taxi quickly and were back in my room in no time. When I woke up this morning I decided that I needed another rest day, so all I’ve done today is lie in bed, watch movies, eat snacks and Skype with my family. I’ve also ventured out to eat twice, I don’t think you can understand how amazing it feels to finally be able to eat and actually want to eat again.

Tomorrow I’ll get back on the bike, and head north towards Kentucky. I’ll try to do shorter days for a while now, no need to put so much pressure on myself anymore.

See you soon!

…and the adventure has begun.

Two days of cycling and I’m already forgetting what day it is. This morning I had breakfast (well, I tried, more about that later) and a man sitting next to me told me that it’s getting busier on the roads since it’s a Friday. For some reason I was convinced that it was only Thursday…

But it was actually Friday which means I’ve been cycling for two whole days! Leaving Wilmington was easy since my hotel was super close to the highway out of town. I was a bit nervous about not being allowed on that road, but this sign greeted me right away.
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Don’t worry mom, the traffic was not as heavy as it looks and when possible the cars all got in the left lane, as far away as possible from the shoulder I was on. The NC drivers are really very polite! 
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Hello!

I’ve also learnt that North Carolina near Wilmington is extremely flat, that the drivers really respect bicycle tourists and that the accent is much thicker than I expected. For some reason I didn’t consider NC to be a southern state, but trust me when I say that it is. The roads are easy to find, but an issue I’m having is that I’m cycling on roads that are a bit too small, because there are very few restaurants or any kind of shops at all really. A bit stressful at times, but I’m dealing with it.

Anyway, the first day I was headed for Jones Lake State Park where I knew there would be a camping ground. I had some issues finding it at first because the sign didn’t specifically say “camping” on it, but who doesn’t mind a 5 km detour… I checked in and was assigned a site, which turned out to be the best one of the bunch. Hidden away from sight and with lots of shade, which was all I wanted. I was so tired and actually slept pretty well, and enjoyed hearing the mosquitos trying to fight their way into my tent. Not this time, suckers!
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My beautiful camp site.
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I met a turtle! But he got scared of me when I stopped, and withdrew both his arms and legs. 

I got an early start and headed out on the roads, to a very light rain. Unfortunately it stopped raining too soon, it felt so nice and refreshing. The clouds covered the sky and the temperature was still only 20 degrees so I enjoyed my morning cycling a lot. After a while the sun came out and it got hot. H.O.T. I’m not used to heat, or humidity. I stopped for breakfast at a diner but only managed to eat 1 pancake. The people were so interested in what I was doing though, and everywhere I stop people start asking questions and wishing me good luck. Only one person have guessed the flag correctly so far though…

Also, I have a new hobby: I’m taking pictures of some of the funny church signs I see. I can’t take a picture of them all, since that means I’d have to stop way too often, but I do enjoy them. Coming from Sweden that’s apparently the least religious country in the world, this is very strange to me.
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I wish I had more hobbies on the road, maybe like eating. I’m having such a hard time with food at the moment. I’m not sure why, but it’s driving me insane. Maybe it’s a combination of jet lag, the heat and the exercise, but I get a tiny bit hungry and start to eat something, but after just a few bites I get really nauseous and have to stop or I’ll get sick. It’s extremely frustrating and I don’t know what to do about it either. I’m burning somewhere between 4-5000 calories a day, I need to eat! I am able to drink though, so I’m trying to get as many calories from drinks as possible. It’s mostly empty calories though, so it’s really not a good solution. And today I got mad at a bottle of gatorade for only containing 130 calories, I WANT MORE!

And other than the food situation, my track record for not spending money on accommodation is not the best at the moment (I write from the room of a motel in Southern Pines). When I get sweaty and tired all I can think is “treat yourself! You’re worth a warm shower and a nice bed and a good nights sleep!” So yeah. It’s not like I hate sleeping in a tent, I just enjoy a nice, clean, bug-free room more. But I will probably get better at it. Also there are no camp sites anywhere near where I am at the moment, so I’ll blame that. But it makes my parents happy too, so I’ll blame them too, that I care about their happiness.

My entire body is hurting, I’m tired and since I still can’t eat, I’ll have a shorter day tomorrow. I’ve cycled 212 km in two days, so tomorrow I’ll settle for an easy 70 km. After that it’s only 90 km left to Charlotte where I get a rest day. I can’t wait to be honest… I am enjoying myself, but I think I’ve asked myself a hundred times already why I’m doing this. But the first days are always the hardest, and I’ll power through it. I’ll feel better in no time!

Oh, and the guy working at the motel where I’m staying tonight asked if the official language of Sweden was English. I must have looked super confused, because he quickly said “because your English is so good, I figured it might be both Swedish and English.” Such a nice compliment, I thanked him profusely. And I want to thank all of you who write comments on all my social media and here as well, I might not always answer right away but I do read every single on of them and it means a lot to me. Thank you!
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Enjoying some shade, the heat gets too much for me from time to time… 

I’m finally here, let the adventure begin. 

I can’t believe it’s only been a day since I left Sweden, it feels so much longer. On Tuesday morning I got in the car with my parents and all my gear to drive down to Copenhagen airport. I’m really glad that they were able to do that, even though it was super hard saying goodbye it was worth it. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first crying person they’d seen at the security check either.  

Saying goodbye to the dog too, I’m going to miss her. 

  

After having dropped my bags and said goodbye, I went to my gate in hopes of having enough SAS points to upgrade myself. And I did! A few minutes later I had exchanged my economy ticket for a business one instead. I have never flewn business in my entire life, but thanks to traveling so much for work I had a lot of bonus points to cash in. I got on the plane and was embarrassingly giddy, I sat laughing by myself and pushing all the buttons while sipping my champagne. I think it was pretty obvious that this was a new experience for me…  

    

And the meal! It was served on a table cloth! A table cloth! On an airplane! Wow. And they just kept bringing me more food! It was amazing.


After the meal I watched a movie and then slept for a while, before spending the rest of the flight watching movies reclined in my seat under a blanket while every once in a while visiting the snack bar. I’ve never felt so spoilt in my life.  

8,5 hours passed way too quickly, I could have travelled for much longer without a problem. Too bad I wasn’t going to New Zealand or something… But we arrived in Washington and I met a lovely border officer who stared me down and flipped through my passport several times. I was just waiting for him to ask why I’d been in both Russia and China the past year but surprisingly he didn’t. And then I got in! And my bags were waiting for me, and after picking up my rental car I braved the insane traffic in Washington, D.C. and was on my way. Two hours later I was almost falling asleep at the wheel so I found a motel by the road and spent the night there. I think spent is a better word than slept, because I didn’t sleep that much unfortunately. Insomnia is not fun, let me tell you.


I drove that huge car!! It’s huge! I was terrified at first but then I just felt like a proper American and enjoyed it. It was really nice to drive actually.

This morning I woke up, had breakfast (they had a pancake machine! I repeat: a pancake machine! A machine that makes pancakes by just pushing a button! Wow.) and was on the road by 8. I have no idea how far I drove (miles are confusing), all I know is that I got to Wilmington at 12:45, so it was quite a drive. After having checked in and returned the car I got a taxi back to the hotel, and a lovely lady called Debbie drove me back. I love Americans so much, I’ve been here for a day and people are just so friendly. People start talking to me in the elevator! Very strange to a Swede… But she gave me her card and told me to call no matter what I might need, so sweet. In return I gave her a sticker, so hi Debbie, hope you found your way here!

I have spent the afternoon putting my bike back together and trying to force myself to eat. When I’m stressed and tired I have no appetite, but at least I had some pizza for dinner. Well, half a slice… Yeah, I need to work on that. I also took a walk around downtown Wilmington, it’s very beautiful here. So many movies and shows are shot here, you should google it! Like Dawson’s creek and one tree hill and most of Nicholas Sparks movies too.


      

To be honest this post has been a bit more upbeat than I feel right now. I’m very jet lagged and tired, and I think I’ve cried 10-15 times already since I got here. But it will pass! I know myself, all I need is some sleep and to eat better and I’ll feel great in no time. Tomorrow morning I’ll start cycling, heading west. I can’t believe it’s finally time to go, but I’m ready!

Next time I’ll be on the road for real, see you then!