When bikepacking turns into carpacking.

Three full days of doing nothing. I’m usually very good at doing absolutely nothing, but not when it’s forced upon me. It gives me too much time to think, too much time to worry and I’ve done a lot of both. The doctor at the hospital told it should take 2-4 days for the swelling to go down and for me to be able to use my hand again, and while I can use it a lot more, it’s still very swollen. But you can see my knuckles! It’s actually starting to look like a hand again!
IMG_2726_2
The hand as of Wednesday. 

On Monday I basically did nothing, except decide that I was going to stay positive and keep cycling as soon as I felt better! I watched movies and kept icing my hand.

On Tuesday I quickly checked my bike, and somehow managed to bend the handlebars back to the almost correct position. The gears are working which is a relief! Then I took a walk into town, to go to the sheriff’s department to see if I could get a copy of the accident report. Unfortunately it wasn’t done, but I got to have lunch at a cute place called the Kentucky Fudge Shop.
IMG_2460_2 IMG_2516_2 IMG_2573 IMG_2574_2IMG_2576 IMG_2591
On Wednesday I woke up, went to have breakfast again and the same guy who had been working for the three previous mornings looked at me, and once again asked if I wanted to lengthen my stay by another night. They’re used to me here now… and yes, I did. Since the accident happened, my main focus has been to rest Monday to Wednesday, and then keep going on Thursday. But my hand is still not in good enough shape. I can clench my hand, but especially the area over the knuckles is extremely sore. I went on a small ride today to test the hand out, but every little bump made my hand hurt. I also almost panicked when a car came up behind me, but I just have to keep going. Fear is not something that I’m going to let control my life, I am in control. I also noticed that when I went a bit faster and used the breaks on the left side, they squealed quite a bit. I think I’ll have to have a bike shop look it over after all.
IMG_2603
Delivery pizza, an iced hand and HBO. I feel like this is becoming a ritual… 

I had talked to my parents earlier that day about how maybe I should rent a car and get out of this town at least, but decided against it and that I would ride on on Thursday instead. Those plans quickly changed now, and within an hour I had rented a car from Thursday to Monday, arranged to be driven to the car rental place in Danville to pick it up, and planned my entire upcoming week. It feels good to actually take action, even if I wish it was by getting on my bike to cycle. But I’ll be back in the saddle soon again, my hand needs more rest first. It felt good to finally have decided on something, so happy again I decided to go to the local community pool to tan and swim some. The guy working at the hotel thought I was crazy for going for a 30 minute walk there, but at least gave me a coupon to get in for free. I like how I can always just answer “I’m Swedish” as an explanation to when I’m considered crazy here.
IMG_2741
A medium blackberry lemonade from Wendy’s. I repeat, a MEDIUM. Only in America…
IMG_2743 IMG_2750_2

So this is my itinerary for the upcoming week: 
Thursday: Pick up the car, load all my stuff and drive to Santa Claus, Indiana. There is a huge theme park and water park with a Christmas theme, and I am so excited!
Friday: ROLLERCOASTERS!
Saturday: Pack up and drive to St Louis, Missouri. I will be staying in downtown right next to the Gateway Arch. I’m really excited about doing all the touristy stuff, and luckily my cousin has lived there previously and given me a lot of pointers on what I should do. Also I’ll try to find a bike shop for Elsa.
Sunday: Seeing everything St Louis has to offer.
Monday: Leave downtown St Louis and head for Six Flags outside of town. Return the car and then it’s time for more ROLLERCOASTERS!
Tuesday: ROLLERCOASTERS!
Wednesday: Hopefully I’m feeling well enough to finally start cycling again.

So for a week or so, this won’t so much be a bicycle touring blog, but I hope I’ll be back in the saddle soon. I just don’t want to push my hand too hard already, and maybe make it worse again. I’m super excited about my week though, and I’m very thankful that I’m able to actually change my adventure to fit my new situation, even if it’s just for a week. I am definitely not one of those people who feel the need to cycle every single centimeter/inch, but it would have been nice to be able to say that I actually did cycle across the entire country. But who cares really? I don’t, and this is my adventure, it’s just taking a different shape for a while.

Once again, thanks for all of your comments and get well messages, I appreciate it!

When things don’t go as planned.

So I set off from Berea on Sunday morning, heading towards the transamerica trail despite google maps telling me that there was a shorter way with less hills to Harrodsburg which was my destination for the day. But I had decided to follow the official route, so off I went. I was feeling pretty good, but the hills were pretty brutal and I had to stop and walk up some of them. I hadn’t had one of those days since the middle of North Carolina, it felt like the roads were constantly going up or down, never a flat surface in sight.

IMG_2360

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0982.

IMG_2367 IMG_2374
Can you see the deer?

As I was taking a break after an uphill, I heard a “hey there” from behind me, and I met my first other transam tourers. They were three men who had all started cycling by themselves but were now traveling together. They were doing much longer days than me though, so after trying to keep up with them for a little while I let them go and pedaled on in my own pace again.
IMG_2375That turned out to be both a good and bad decision. Good because I could stop and help a turtle to cross the road. It got a bit scared when I grabbed a hold of it, but then wandered away again. Bad because if I had kept on cycling with them, I might not have missed a turn, and had to make a huge detour.
IMG_2379
I also cycled past some Texas longhorns, and had to stop and take a picture. As I was doing that, a woman came out from the house and asked me about my trip. When I told her what I was doing, she ran back in the house and came out with some beef jerky made from her grass fed longhorns. That is what we call a trail angel. 
IMG_2382 IMG_2384
But as I cycled on, I soon realized that I had missed a turn earlier on, so I had to make a very steep detour. It was getting pretty hot by then, but as always, it’s just to keep on cycling.

It was pretty slow going, especially with all the hills and the heat, so when I got to Burgin less than 10 km from Harrodsburg I decided to stop at a small restaurant and have lunch. After a hamburger and some cold drinks I headed on towards Harrodsburg, eager to be done with the day. And that’s when it happened. I had been thinking all day that I felt that the cars weren’t as respectful here, and that they were driving much closer to me. I wonder if it’s because they see so many cyclists coming past, that they get tired off it?

As I was slowly heading up a hill, a car was trying to drive past me while a car was coming by in the other lane, and she came too close to me. BAM! From that moment my memory is a bit fuzzy, because I went into instant shock. I realized that she had hit my hand and my handlebar, because my bike glove was ripped open and my hand was very rapidly swelling. My handlebar was also bent out of shape. I saw the car pull over further ahead, but then I got so dizzy I had to lean forward. I remember that I was cycling again, but then I woke up and realized that I must have fainted and dreamt that I was cycling. I was suddenly surrounded by people holding me and my bike upright, and I had no idea what was happening. I fainted once more, and the people surrounding me had to lift me up to get me off the bike. I was going into shock, but there were so many nice people taking care of me, getting me sweet tea and keeping me focused. After a short while I was able to respond to questions, and by then the police and sheriff had arrived.
Skärmavbild 2015-06-22 kl. 12.51.37
Where the red dot is, is where I was hit. SO CLOSE! I was almost in Harrodsburg… 

Someone kept my neck locked into position, and a very sweet man named John told me he would keep my bike and trailer safe in his garage. After a while an ambulance arrived and I was strapped to a board while being poked and prodded. They wanted to make sure it was only my hand that was hurt, which luckily it was. I was taken to a hospital in Daneville a bit south of Harrodsburg, and I was so happy that I had sense enough to remember to bring my computer bag where I keep my insurance papers. At the hospital they x-rayed my hand, but luckily nothing was broken. I can’t believe how to be honest, because her entire mirror broke and flew off the car when it hit my hand. But I was obviously under some type of protection that day.
IMG_2398 IMG_2401
I was hurting pretty bad though, so after a lot of waiting around and trying to figure out everything with my insurance, they helped me get my painkillers at a pharmacy and then called Sharon’s car service to drive me to my hotel in Harrodsburg. I was a complete mess the entire day. I was crying on and off and just felt very small, and very much alone.

But I was picked up by a lovely woman called Sissy and she was so nice that I cried some more. Before she let me go she prayed for me, and we cried together. I got into the hotel, still a sobbing mess, and managed to tell the man working there that I had a reservation. He then helped me call John to ask him if he could drive my things to the hotel, which he could. There are some amazing people in this country, that’s for sure. Despite the horrific day I had, I felt so well taken care off. John has also called me today, just to make sure I’m doing alright. Yes, I’m meeting some amazing people on this trip, that’s for certain. And the police were amazing, and the paramedics who rode with me in the ambulance. They kept asking me ridiculous questions to make sure I was doing alright, and joking with me to keep my mind off the pain.

When I got to the hotel, it was 17:40, and I knew my mother would be worried sick. I had not been able to get a hold of her the entire time while I was in the hospital. I had a message telling me to call her as soon as I saw that, so I did. Having to call your mother in the middle of the night to tell her you’ve been hit by a car is not a fun thing to do, that’s for sure. I hope I never have to do that in my life again.
IMG_2407
I kept icing my hand all night and the swelling went down a bit, and I even managed to get some sleep. I was feeling very, very sad though, and thought several times about what my next move would be. I did consider quitting, I considered getting a car instead, and even going home. But I will not let this bring me down. It was a slight bump in the road, but it was just my hand! It could have been so much worse, and I’m very grateful that it wasn’t. But one thing is for sure, from now on this trip will be by my rules! No more doing things because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do, I decide!

And I’ve decided that I want to have fun. As much fun as I possibly can. This is not just about cycling, this is about adventure! So watch out America’s amusement parks, water parks, adventure parks and anything else that might sound interesting, I’m coming for you! This trip is taking a sharp turn, but I hope you’ll still be along for the ride. I can’t wait to get back in the saddle, and head out on this new and improved adventure. As far as I’m concerned, it can only get better from here. 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1017.

 

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
IMG_0395
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
IMG_0417
 “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
IMG_0413
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)
IMG_0415
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…
IMG_0416

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

Things that scare me. It’s probably not what you think.

So recently my body and mind has been thinking that it’s a brilliant idea to wake up in the middle of the night and absolutely panic. I think I might still be sleeping and dreaming, but the only thing I know when I wake up is that I have no idea where I am, and all I can think of is that I need to get out! I need to leave this place that is making me panic and I need to do it fast. Most of the time I wake up halfway out of bed, realizing that I’m at home and that I can just go back to sleep again.

Mhm, real easy to do when adrenaline is pumping through your body and you’re still in full panic mode.

This past weekend I was in Aarhus, Denmark on a work trip. I stayed at a really nice hotel and everything was going great. I went to bed and was looking forward to getting a good nights sleep.

Right. 
tumblr_nlvulo74NE1tato5eo1_1280
Of course I woke up in the middle of the night in absolute panic having no idea where I was. I really don’t know why this scares me so much, but like I said before, I think I’m still sleeping when it happens. So I woke up with the urgent need to leave my room, I wrapped the sheet around me and ran for the door. For some reason my sleep muddled brain couldn’t figure out how to open door, which I am so incredibly thankful for. I was in a hotel room, all I would have had to do was push the handle and the door would have opened!

I get (hilariously) terrified just thinking that if I had managed to get that door open, I would have been locked out of my room in nothing but a sheet wrapped around me in the middle of the night in a hotel in Denmark. And I can only imagine my colleagues face when I would have had to come knocking on his door explaining what had just happened. I don’t think he would have survived laughing that hard at me. Or what if I had to get into the elevator and head to the reception in the middle of the night and tell them why I was locked out of my room. HORROR!

So when people ask me if I’m scared of cars or bears or murderers on my trip, I’ll answer “No. I’m mostly scared of crawling out of my tent in the middle of the night scaring my fellow campers to death while I’m trying to wake up and remember where I am.” 

That is definitely a level of embarrassment that does NOT need to be added to the mess that is my extremely weird sleeping habits.

Anyone who wants to share a similar story that can make me feel less embarrassed?

Road ID, one way of staying safe on the road.

One of the first questions people ask me when I tell them about my adventure is “what does your family think?”

Oh boy.

It has taken some time, but now they’re fairly positive I think. At least they have accepted that there is no way that they can change my mind, so even though they’re not overwhelmed with happiness like I am, they’ve come to terms with my decision.

One of their biggest concerns is my safety. Yes, of course I’ll get a huge can of pepper spray as soon as I get to the states (it’s illegal here in Sweden), but I also have another thing that I’ve recently bought to keep both them calm and for my own peace of mind as well, a very clever bracelet called Road ID.

image2

The idea of the Road ID is that it’s a bracelet for people that workout alone, who goes on hikes or goes bicycling or whatever it might be where you don’t have someone watching your back. You put critical information on it, phone numbers, allergies, medical conditions etc, anything you might want someone to know in case of an emergency.

Of course I’m not ever planning on being in a situation where my bracelet will be a necessity, but there’s a huge difference between being ignorant and being smart about your situation. Anything might happen, but with my Road ID I’m at least trying to stay one step ahead.

image1 2
On my bracelet I’ve put my name, birth year, nationality, phone numbers to my parents, that I have no allergies and a quote from the movie Up.

I am not sponsored by Road ID, but I really think this is such a great thing that I want more people to know about it. There is also an app that you can use while out on the roads, and if you stand still for more than 5 minutes without letting the app know that you’re okay, it will alert a family member. Great idea, but not for me, I would never remember to push the button and would most likely freak my mother out daily if I were to use it…

Speaking of family, there will soon be a post here written by them, since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what they think. I’m anticipating a lot of “we’ve always known that she’s insane so it wasn’t that big of a surprise”.