I feel pretty confident that you didn’t know (or even cared, for that matter) all of this about the WT-expedition, about me and my take on life. …
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
I was wondering if you ever wondered what’s in a round-the-world cyclist’s (being me) bike bags? What constitutes his home? His belongings? Well, wonder no more.
1.305 days and 57.000 km in to my RTW expedition, I’ve made a sort of interactive Flickr photo album with detailed photos of the content of my 6 bike bags.
All the photos (19) contain descriptive notes. When on the Flickr page, just click the individual photos (to see enlargement) and then put the cursor on the photos, and you’ll see square boxes popping up with additional text…
Before you proceed, I warmly recommend you check out these photos in the Flickr album I’ve made. The photos contain small descriptive notes (that don’t show up in the photos below) in semi-hidden boxes on the individual photos.
Just read the comment in the left-hand box and follow the description.
See Equipment List on Flickr
Front pannier, right side:
Front pannier, left side:
Rear pannier, right side:
Rear pannier, left side:
…and all this goes into this…
On top of rear panniers:
The Handle Bar Bag:
Ghana was my first African country in WT-time and I spent 19 days there, pedalling 926 km, from the capital Accra, along the Bay of Guinea to Cape Coast, then inland north to Kumasi – home to West Africa’s largest market – continueing up through the lush center to Tamale and on to Burkina Faso.
This album contains 120 photos with some of the visual and personal highlights of my time in wonderful Ghana.
Very shortly – when WT and Flickr correspond properly – you can also see the photos in the WT Photos department…
A few things to keep in mind:
- List is chronologically ordered.
- Geographically manifested.
- Series of days, rather than single days.
- Mostly (but not exclusively) socially related.
- Most importantly, days full of happiness and personal contentment.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
2. Kathmandu, Nepal
3. Muine, Vietnam
4. Luang Prabang, Laos
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
6. Koh Tao, Thailand
7. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
8. Tioman Island, Malaysia
9. Bali, Indonesia
10. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
11. Adelaide, Australia
12. Melbourne, Australia
13. Sydney, Australia
14. Moorea, French Polynesia
15. Santiago, Chile
16. Cochabamba, Bolivia
17. La Paz, Bolivia
18. Cusco, Peru
19. Lima, Peru
20. Máncora, Peru
21. Cali, Colombia
22. Cartagena, Colombia
23. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
24. Antigua, Guatemala
25. Wrightsville Beach, NC, USA
26. Washington, D.C., USA
27. New York, USA
28. Montreal, Canada
29. Quebec City, Canada
30. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
(and many more to come…Inshallah!)
Chronologically ordered. Personal experience. (What made it hard in parenthesis).
1. Azerbaijan (heat, time/visa pressure)
2. Tibet (altitude, terrain, cold, isolation, crash, terrible washboard roads)
3. Vietnam (headwinds, non-social periods, negative attention from locals)
4. Northeastern Laos (nonstop rollercoasters, heat, feeling weak)
5. Australian Outback (isolation, heat, lack of facilities)
6. Southern Bolivia (altitude, isolation, nightmare roads)
7. Southern Peru (mountains, isolation, altitude, cold)
8. Northern Peru (desert monotony, heat)
9. Southern Colombia (mountains)
10. Panama (time pressure to meet friend, heat)
11. Mexico (monotony, heat, lack of rest days, self-inflicted hardship)
12. Mali (heat, isolation, heat rash, attention from locals, no frills)
13. Mauritania (heat, isolation, endless headwinds, lack of facilities)
Hmm… Uploading huge batches of photos from Mauretania seems to be a bigger task than expected.
Normally, I upload all photos in the lowest resolution (fine for online viewing), but for some reason even that doesn’t seem to work for me. The batches are too big for the connection to deal with, I guess or the visual memory on my laptop isn’t big enough. Something’s not big enough, and isn’t it always like that…
I have managed, though, to handpick a few photos from the last weeks through West Africa and put them in a Flickr album. A rather poor representation of weeks so rich. No text, no trying to be witty, just visuals.
The photos are rather haphazardly selected from the tiny thumbnails on my laptop. That’ll have to do for now. Hopefully, the photos will tell their own story – especially to you non-Danish speaking people out there, whom, it may seem (but it’s not so, whispered the devil in my ear) I’ve badly neglected lately in my all-Danish diary. Just keeping up with the diary, mono-language as it is, is at times harder than the pedaling itself, so bear with me.
Nicolai (Nouadhibou, Mauritania)
As some of you may have noticed on my Facebook status updates, the headwinds have been torturing me lately going up through Mauritania on the western fringes of the immensely desolate Sahara. It’s really tough going, physically and mentally, traversing the biggest arid zone in the world, with sometimes more than a hundred kilometers between tiny settlements and signs of human life.
Sleeping out in the greatest solitude imaginable under the starry African sky, in my tent or simply just in my sleeping bag in the warm dunes off the road, is an incredible experience and somewhat makes up for the daytime struggles.
Somewhat. Still, facing the brisk headwinds for hours and hours and hours, with nothing in the indifferent and stark desert-scape to cheer you up, or to keep your mind strong, is emotionally very demanding, very challenging. Checking my bike computer doesn’t help at all: 12-14 km/h on flat terrain, small chain ring, pushing hard. No free kilometers around here.
But it’s not all bad. I feel delighted having come this far already, somewhat ahead of the “schedule”
that doesn’t really exist other than in my fragmented mind. I now know what to expect from the next 1.000 km stage through Western Sahara – hard work, howling headwinds, inhospitable landscapes, slow progress, canned sardines, sand and grit everywhere, mental battles. No challenge is too big for the well-prepared, they say. I know I can’t go wrong, and the only way is up/north!
I left Accra, Ghana 54 days ago (36 of which cycling days with a total of 4.010 km) and have traveled through Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Mauritania. When the going gets tough and there are no apparent changes in the landscape, only progress makes happy, and (mum, dad, sister, friends, others) it does feel great getting closer to Europe and eventually Danish turf. It really does…
Thanks for the optimism you bring me.
Nicolai (Nouadhibou, Mauritania – 56.793 km from home)
BTW, did you check out the new WT-photos from West Africa?
A friend of mine (thanks, Brian!) just sent me the following link that automatically translates WT into English. Since I’ve just been posting the diary in Danish lately, this might be a help to some. Naturally, it’s not all correct, but still, from what I’ve just checked it looks better than zero.
Link to WT Translation
Am not sure if you need a Google account to make it work. It works for me via the link. Just click it, then go to the DIARY section, click “Nicolai” under “All Diary Entries” and voilá, the translation should be on your screen.
Let me know how it works!
Just a quick note from Mauritania’s capital city, Nouakchott (800.000 inhab.) where I arrived – tired, overheated, dusty, and frustrated because of the constant headwinds – two days ago, after 14 out of the last 15 days on the road from Bamako, Mali.
I’ve spent the last days resting, eating well, being sort of non-social, keeping to myself, cleaning the bike, myself, and clothes, writing diary like a mad dog (it’s all in Danish), drinking café au laits in the shade, contemplating the upcoming WT-section through the Sahara Desert, getting both excited and thrilled, trying to upload photos (in vain so far), trying to keep up with everyone and everywhere. Please, don’t call these “rest days”, will you…
I will most likely be leaving the capital (and the au laits…) tomorrow and have a long, desolate stretch of some 500 km through (part of) the Sahara up to Nouadhibou on the Mauritanian border with Western Sahara. Expect long delays in Camp WT.
Looking forward talking to you next time!
No, it’s not that I’ve forgotten about ye’ non-Danish speaking lot. Not at all. But cycling here in tropical West Africa is quite a weary feat, and at the end of a long days’ cycling there simply isn’t a whole lot of energy left for documenting, note-taking, translating it all etc. Bear with me, the weary worldtraveller…
West Africa has been an intense, hot, exciting, and often exhausting experience so far, 39 days and more than 2.000 km after my arrival in Accra, Ghana. Economically, the region is by far the most impoverished I’ve ever been to – a monetary fact somewhat contradicted by the natural lushness and seemingly evergreen landscape all around me. But make no mistake, ‘cos this is the end of the rainy season (roughly 3 months) that every year turns the otherwise stark and arid savanna into a phenomenally green blanket, so remote from my preconceived mental images of dusty West Africa.
Cycling In West Africa.
In terms of road quality, I’ve generally been positively surprised here. Some 95% of my chosen roads through Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Mali have been paved and I’m not complaining.
In terms of temperatures, I’ve been equally surprised, but not quite as positively. West Africa is hot. Real hot. Just sitting under a shady afternoon tree – apparently a favored pastime around here – is hot, and that pedalling through the landscape on a fully-loaded bicycle is excruciatingly killer-hot goes without saying. Supplies admitting, I drink around 8-12 litres of liquid every day, and my main staple diet consists of mountains of plain rice usually with some sort of sauce (fish-, peanut-, tomato-, you name it-) on top. It’s definitely not gourmet, but it keeps me going, and at 0.30-0.60 USD a plate the budget rat inside of me is smiling.
The White Boy In Black Africa.
Thanks to the facts that a) my French tongue is practically non-existent, b) there aren’t many long-distance cyclists here, c) there are not a lot of blond persons here, d) there are practically no blond men here, and e) there is an infinitesimal number of blond, male, long-distance cyclists in West Africa, cycling is never boring. Never. Everywhere, all the time, I attract so much attention you wouldn’t believe it, and the energetic greetings come from all sides when I ride through the desperately poor villages made up of round and square mud houses.
At very first the feeling of being this white boy in black Africa was quite exciting, but once I hit the next village – and the same excessive yelling and bonjours continued, making me feel like some weird circus act – the novelty had worn off, and the human roadside noise and clatter became a nuisance all too soon.
It’s not that I’m cranky or picky, it’s just that it totally destroys my natural line of thought, ruins my flow turning the pedals – and after 450 (to me completely aimless) bonjours and ça vas in a single day, you become immune to it all and start ignoring the lot, knowing that ignoring people is a huge social insult here as in most regions of the world.
That said, I do love it here, and I strongly feel that the in spe Book of WT wouldn’t quite be complete without this African chapter that I’m living at the moment. Just being here, in West Africa, is a petite adventure every day. It’s not easy travelling here, and not speaking the official (French) or native (Barbera and many others) tongue makes every single transaction with the locals a challenge (and source of misunderstandings and laughter) to me, and God, have I missed those well-supplied North American A/C convenience stores! Can’t have it all, can we.
In between periods of non-communication and hardship of cycling, I’ve been lucky to meet and stay with a few fellow Danish and Swedish friends, which no doubt has been the social highlights of my time in Africa. Hanging out with like-minded souls, indulging in deeper conversations, and enjoying a rare bit of luxury has provided me with much-needed breaks, and these Scandinavian oases have seen me totally revitalized and recharged (mentally and socially), ready for the uncertainties of the winding roads ahead.
On a macro-scale, I just picked up my now completely full passport with a new Mauritanian visa, and will be leaving the Malian capital for Senegal (no visa required) tomorrow, and then follow the southern banks of the Senegal River, going northwest up to Rosso on the Mauritanian border, then straight north through the western fringes of the great Sahara desert, into Western Sahara and Morocco, where I’ll most likely spend Christmas and NYE. At the other side of the Gibraltar, good old Europe awaits me in the new year.
The Au Revoir
Au revoir and thanks for your support, ladies and gentlemen.
My 3 weeks in Quebec, Canada offered me only 750 km of cycling, but were full of social experiences and unforgettable big city time in Montréal and Quebec City.
In keeping with WT-tradition, I’ve composed a ragbag of my impressions from Canada, a country with the most lovable people and scenery that I’ll definitely come back to.
The attentive reader will notice that there’s still no USA album in the otherwise chronological series of WT photo albums.
The patient reader will know, that patience is a virtue, and that there’s a time and place for everything in this world.
I recommend you click the 4-arrow icon in the lower right hand corner of the album itself, to view the photos full-screen.
You may also see the photos in Flickr, the usual way.
Nicolai (wireless from Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso)
Though the calender says it’s only around 4 months ago, those super hot and often somewhat dreary cycling days in Mexico seem light years away…
From my little hotel room in Kumasi, Ghana, I’ve just composed a new photo album (100 photos) from my mere 21 days (1.870 km) through the length of Mexico.
I recommend you click the 4-arrow icon in the lower right hand corner of the picture below, to view the photos full-screen.
You may also see the album in Flickr, standard way.
As you might’ve noticed, there’s a new Podcast logo on WT (look right).
It means that you can now listen to the WT Podcast on iTunes!
Thanks to an old friend (aka Mr. Lova’ Lova’) you can now subscribe to the podcast via this podcast link (or click here).
WT on your iPod, on the stereo, in your car, WT as your ringtone (haha, and thanks for that, Thorbjørn!), WT’s simply everywhere
Nicolai (Kumasi, Ghana)
There’s a little something for the Danish and non-Danish speaking lot this time.
The new English soundbite is from a random roadside meeting with a local Ashanti girl, Victoria (who obviously tried to hook up with me (read: marry me! This is Ghana). Victoria’s beautiful granny was curious and rocked up too. On Victoria’s back was her 1½ yo son, Nicolas.
Hope you enjoy! I certainly did…
Over the last 1.250 days I’ve slept in an awful lot of places, locations, beds, wild camps, and private homes. Enough to make one feel homesick, I guess.
I’ve made a list of some of the most memorable accommodations (non-wild, non-private) over the last 3½ years. The reasons for my choices vary greatly: some places (like that Kashgar hotel) just felt like Paradise after long periods roughing it, other places (like that luxury beach bungalow in Vietnam with my family in 2006) were pure indulgence, while other places were downright weird (like that double-decker bus in Australia).
And though most of my private stays, with friends or strangers in their local environment, around the world generally make for stronger, deeper relationships and memories (and often more comfy beds!), these are not included in the following list (but huge thanks to all who helped me out along the way).
1. Matafonua Lodge, Foa Island, Tonga.
2. Global Village. Greymouth, New Zealand.
3. Rumah Saga, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.
4. Hotel. Kashgar, Western China.
5. Bamboo Village. Muine, Southern Vietnam.
6. Night Bazaar Condotel. Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
7. Ubud Guest House, Bali, Indonesia.
8. Double-decker bus. Batchelor Butterfly Farm, N.T., Australia.
9. Continental Hotel. Saigon, Southern Vietnam.
10. Rainbow Lodge. Taupo, New Zealand.
11. Loki Hostel. La Paz, Bolivia.
12. Mubinjon Guest House (extra photo here), Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
13. Bahodir B&B, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
14. Luxury apartment, Varna, Bulgaria.
15. Alamo Hostel, Mendoza, Argentina.
16. Hostel Trail, Popayán, Colombia.
17. Loki Hostel, Máncora, Peru.
18. Hotel Garden View, Kathmandu, Nepal.
19. Hotel Octagon, Pokhara, Nepal.
20. Tblisi Guest House, Georgia.
It’s been some crazily eventful days since I left Peter (and all the Western creature comforts) in Boston last Friday. This is primarily just a short notice to confirm that I (and more importantly, the bike too!) have arrived safe and sound in Accra, Ghana.
Flights from Boston to Frankfurt and (after 5 hour stopover) Frankfurt to Accra went smoothly and hassle-free. At the immigrant office at the airport I was interrogated by some important Mr. Uniform about my travel plans etc. etc. in Ghana, and after 1 hour they finally gave me the stamp (after cashing out the expected 100 USD) and allowance to stay in Ghana for the next 30 days. Yeah!
Luckily, Abigail – a 27 year old Ghanaian woman that’s invited me to her house just outside of Accra – was still there waiting for me outside the airport. Relief! I was absolutely stoked finally being here, in West Africa, with a new friend waiting for me.
Ever since I set my foot on African soil 2 days ago, my mind has been beautifully raped (yes, such a thing DOES exist) by the radical change of environment, from the tidiness and orderliness of the USA and Canada to the chaotic noise and street life in the Ghanaian capital. Much as I really, really loved the last 4 months in North America, I do welcome the change of rhythm, the orchestration of the city (or lack hereof), the smells (not too sure about that one, though ), the sights (it’s all black!), the sheer feeling of adventures from abroad.
Even after a few days here in Ghana, the stories and anecdotes abound in my head, and I’ll do my best to share. But do expect long delays and periods of silence from me.
Though Africa is no new calf in the cattle shed for me (this is my 6th visit to the continent – see more), I do feel like this is a brand new beginning in WT history, and I have a hard time retaining myself. Looking at my map of West Africa, knowing that it’s all waiting for me, and that I will travel all the way back to Denmark overland, human-powered (minus a ferry ride across the Gibraltar) gives me an enormous sense of joy and excitement, and the goosebumps know no end.
My bike is patiently waiting for me in my room, all clean and equipped with the latest bells and whistles, and I fell pretty much the same (minus the bells and whistles, just the good old legs). This is my 6th and last continent, and I slowly begin to believe and realize that this is an amazing, epic journey, as people keep telling me.
Thanks for the invaluable support out there!
Nicolai (from an internet cafe in an Accra suburb, Ghana)
After more than 55.000 km (3.635 km pre-WT in Morocco and Tenerife, Spain) on different surfaces of the world, my baby – The Koga Miyata Worldtraveller – has naturally seen some changes over the years. Below is a somewhat detailed list of these changes.
I’ve been riding my wonderful bike through 6 continents now, and I strongly believe that it’ll serve me all the way back to Denmark in 2010. I treat it like a woman, and I guess that’s why she’s put up with me for so long without any breakdowns…
1. Mavic. Lasted 13.000 km (from Denmark to China). Small cracks in rim where spokes connect. Changed (to 2) in Kashgar, Western China.
2. Giant (standard). Lasted 17.000 km (from China to Australia). 10 USD rim. Side walls totally worn. Changed (to 3) in Merimbula, Australia.
3. No-name (double-walled from Taiwan). Lasted 23.000 km (from Australia to USA). New entire wheel, incl. Taiwanese hub. 110 AUD. Changed (to 4) in
4. WTB. So far 1.000 km (from Canada to Ghana). New entire wheel, in Shimano Deore hub. 110 USD.
1. Mavic EX 721. Lasted 53.000 km (from Denmark to USA). Changed (to 2) in Wilmington, USA. Incredible durability.
2. Sun Rim Rhyno Light. So far 3.000 km (from USA to…). New entire wheel, incl. Shimano Deore LX hub. 60 USD (special discount).
1. Continental Travel Contact. Lasted 12.000 km (from Denmark to Uzbekistan).
2. Schwalbe Marathon XR. Lasted 14.000 km (from Uzbekistan to Australia).
3. Schwalbe Marathon XR. Lasted 8.500 km (from Australia to New New Zealand).
4. Specialized. Lasted 7.500 km (from New Zealand to Ecuador).
5. Schwalbe Marathon Extreme. Lasted 8.000 km (from Ecuador to USA).
6. Bontrager. Lasted 1.500 km (from Florida to North Carolina, USA), but was changed before worn out, free of charge.
7. Bontrager. So far 3.000 km (from NC, USA to Ghana)
1. Continental Travel Contact. Lasted 13.000 km (from Denmark to Kyrgyzstan)
2. Schwalbe Marathon XR. Lasted 31.000 km (from Kyrgyzstan to Peru). Unbeatable durability.
3. Schwalbe Marathon
Extreme. So far 14.000 km (from Peru to Ghana). No flats until now. Knock-on-wood.
1. A welder in Turkey broke a gear cable trying to weld my (alu) bottle holder.
2. Same cable changed in Chiang Rai, Thailand (not broken, but hard to use).
3. Changed again in Santiago, Chile (not broken, but hard to use).
All cables have been cleaned and oiled a few times at bike shops when I had to make major repairs on the bike anyway.
All in all, after 56.500 km on the bike (3.500 km on pre-WT trips), I’m on my 9th chain.
I’ve used Shimano HG93 (27 speed) several times, which is my favourite. This chain normally last 8.000-14.000 km.
Due to lack of HG93-availability, I’ve used the weaker Shimano HG53 twice. They’ve lasted from 5.000-7.000 km.
I’ve used a SRAM chain once. It lasted around 8.000 km.
1. Lasted 5.000 km. Changed a little pre-mature in Hungary.
2. Lasted 16.000 km. Changed in Singapore.
3. Lasted 14.000 km. Changed in Santiago, Chile.
4. Lasted 19.000 km. Changed in Wilmington, USA.
5. So far just 1.000 km and still rolling.
VI. Front chain rings.
1. Middle ring changed in Singapore after 21.000 km.
2. Middle ring changed again in Medellin, Colombia after 23.000 km.
3. Small ring changed in Medellin, Colombia after 44.000 km.
4. Big ring not changed (but sort of needs replacement)
1. My beloved Brooks leather saddle served me for 54.000 km. I changed it (slightly heart-broken) in Wilmington, USA ‘cos I got a great deal for a new one, and the leather had started tearing apart around the bolts. Never mind, it took more than 5.000 km to sort of mold the hard leather to the shape of my ass.
2. The transition to my new saddle (a aerodynamic, non-leather one with an ergonomic whole in the center of the saddle. June 2009) has been acceptable, but not painless.
VIII. Tubes + flat tyres.
I’m not counting the number of tubes I’ve used, but I reckon around 20-25, in total.
Likewise, I don’t know how many flat tyres I’ve had. Around 30, I guess. Mostly on the rear tyre where most of the weight is.
At the moment I haven’t had a flat tyre in the front for a whopping 14.000 km, thanks to a) Schwalbe’s ironwall tyres, and – to a lesser degree – b) to my carefullness and near-constant visual nails-on-the-road scanning.
IX. Bike Shoes.
1. Diadora shoes. 60 USD. Lasted 52.000 km (minus a few thousand km of flip-flop cycling in Asia). They were a very trusty, if smelly and worn, set of friends to me. RIP in Wilmington, USA.
2. New Specialized bike shoes. So far 3.000 km and feeling great.
No replacement or problems whatsoever.
XI. Brake pads.
Naturally, I’ve changed the brake pads numerous times. Approx. 6-7 times on rear, 4-5 times on front. I remember a steep decent in heavy rain in Turkey near Posof and the Georgian border that almost wore out a set of front brake pads from all the braking in rain. Changing pads is a 5 minute operation.
XII. Bottom Bracket.
1. The original lasted 28.500 km and was changed in Melbourne, Australia.
2. The second one lasted 26.000 km and was changed in Montreal, Canada.
3. I don’t expect another chance of bb before I reach Denmark in 2010.
XIII. Head set.
Cleaned and re-greased in Singapore, after 22.000 km.
No replacement. Just occasional oil-drops.
No fiddling, welding or problems at all. It’s a Koga Miyata goddammit!
The frame has some strange surface freckles around the holes where the bottles are attached, probably due to a lot of salty sweat from me dripping on those parts. It’s only cosmetical. But the Koga is still a beauty!
The Tubus bike racks have done an amazing and impeccable job. No break-downs, weldings etc. Super strong and reliable.
XVII. Handle bar
Still the original butterfly multi-grip handle bar. I absolutely love it, not least because of the 5-6 layers of handle bar tape/duct tape/sports tape that I’ve put on it to get a super firm and fat grip. People are ofter astounded by the thickness of the handle bar. It’s my primary showing-off part on the bike.
NB: This bike maintenance page was made on my laptop 11 kilometers above ground level, on my way from Boston, USA to Accra, Ghana in a Boeing 747, operated by Lufthansa.
The log is now updated, with the latest (and last) bit of cycling in the Americas this time around. The next countries in Africa are listed too.
Countdown has started. The day after tomorrow is the big day. Can’t wait…
Click here for the latest sound bites from Camp WT…
It’s exactly 1 year ago since I – with my heart beating – left the Santiago suburb Peñalolen and started the long climb up the snow-covered, Andean giants, that I’d been gazing at with both horror and excitement for days from the Chilean capital.
Over the last year I’ve cycled through 15 countries, a total of 20,000 km across the two American continents. As the previous WT-years, the last one has been a long, uninterrupted chain of events, places, faces, that I could never forget.
However, I’m running out of asphalt here in North America. Fortunately, I know that there is new, unexplored asphalt on the other side of the Atlantic. I just received the happy news that my flight over the Atlantic – from Boston, U.S. to Accra, Ghana via Frankfurt (so close to home!) – is confirmed. Thus, it’s a pleasure to announce that on next Friday, 28AUG2009, I’ll leave North America for Africa, my 6th and last continent.
It gives me the shivers (the good kind) all over knowing that very shortly I’ll be landing in the Ghanaian capital, more-than-ready to explore West Africa. I expect the changes (social (big, black fellas! ), cultural (no Subway restaurants, lots of dirt roads), from comfortable USA/Canada to the Dark Continent to be very tangible, and I must admit that although I have swallowed the last 4 months in the USA/Canada and could’ve easily continued my North American, bike nomadic escapades, I am incredibly excited for the next WT-chapter. The little adventure troll sitting inside of me is extremely stoked we going to Africa.
I am now 50 km north of the Canadian/US border and will arrive in Boston on August 24th. Accommodation is sorted already. I do look forward to Boston, but Africa is written all over my mental whiteboard now.
From Accra, Ghana I plan to go up through Ghana to Burkina Faso, and on to Mali. Then either to Senegal and further up North-West Africa to Spain, or to Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, etc.
The WT-adventure continues and I need all the support that can be mustered.
I’ve just implemented a new feature, a WT Guestbook in the main menu to the left. Feel free to leave a comment or a buzz…
It’s not too hard. Difficulty Level: Easy
Lufthansa 423: Boston, MA, USA – Frankfurt, Germany
Boeing 747-400 Fri, Aug 28 4:35 PM – E 5:35 AM (next day) – 1
STOPS: 0 7.00 hrs Economy 3660 mi
Lufthansa 566: Frankfurt, Germany – Accra, Ghana
Airbus A340-600 Sat, Aug 29 11:00 AM – 1 3:30 PM
STOPS: 0 6.30 hrs Economy 3130 mi
Wish me good luck! I’m thrilled like never before…
I probably have my iPod plugged firmly in to my ears around 70-80% of the time I’m riding. That’s a lot of songs over the last 1.225 days of traveling.
Some songs make me absolutely wild! (yes, wild!) in the saddle no matter how many times I listen to them. No doctor could ever prescribe any better medicine for my well-being than these tunes.
Here is my Top 20 Songs That Make Me Wild: (click links to listen – comments/suggestions welcome)…
1. We Don’t Need Nobody Else – Whipping Boy
2. City of Delusion – Muse
3. Wicked Gil – Band of Horses
4. Ragoo – Kings of Leon
5. No I In Threesome – Interpol
6. Time Bomb – Dave Matthews Band
7. O Valencia! – The Decemberists
8. Origin of The Species – U2
9. Suck My Kiss – Red Hot Chili Peppers
10. Bombtrack – Rage Against The Machine
11. Neighborhoods #3 (Power Out) – Arcade Fire
12. Den Bedste Tid – One Two (DK)
13. Socker – Kent
14. Missed The Boat – Modest Mouse
15. Ett Slag För Dig – Tomas Andersson Wij
16. Don’t Go – Hothouse Flowers
17. Et satanisk mesterværk – C.V. Jørgensen (DK)
18. King Kong Five – Mano Negra
19. Until It Sleeps – Metallica
20. 156 – Mew (DK)
Click the link below for the latest WT stats…
WT Stats, as per 18AUG2009
I’m happy to inform I’ve made a new entry on the menu (to the left on front-page), called Sounds, where I’ll put voice diary bits and greetings (in Danish or English), and odd sounds from the expedition once in a while.
I hope you enjoy and do come back now and then…
Go to Sound section…
Get selected, high-quality photos from the WT-Expedition for free!
That’s right, free. The world has given me so much, so according the the “there’s no free lunch” principle, I’ve decided to make some of my favorite photos available to the WT-readers. You may use the photo for whatever purpose you fancy (desktop, wall-photo, calender, gift, you name it).
How Do I Do?
Simply just click on the “Download this photo…” links below, right-click on the photo, and click “Save as…” to save the photo on your computer.
Easy. No strings attached.
Nicolai (New York, July 20th, 2009)
Knowing that there are so many beautiful types of beer out there, coming up with an all-round Top 10 Beer Of The World List might seem like a bold thing.
Anyway, I’ve come across a great deal of good beer over that last years, and on the list below is a (sort of) ranked list of some of the best I’ve come across.
As you can tell, I’m into India Pale Ales at the moment. I had no idea that the US is home to such great (micro) breweries.
The last entry on the list, the Thai Beer Chang is more of a nostalgic reminder of all the good times this beer gave me in 2007. There’s definitely something in this beer that makes life look a little brighter – and that they don’t put on the label!
Confronted with a list of other great beers, I feel like a total rookie on the beer scene, so much unexplored territory out there. But I’m working on it, and here goes:
1. ***** Snake Dog (USA, India Pale Ale)
2. ***** H.I.P.A (USA, India Pale Ale)
3. ****½ Dog Fish Head 90 (USA, India Pale Ale)
4. **** Little Creatures (Australia, Pale Ale)
5. ****Montieth Summer (New Zealand, Pale Lager)
6. **** Okocim Palone (Poland, Dark Lager)
7. ****Hoegarden Original White Ale (Belgium, Witbier/White Ale)
8. ***½ Coopers Original Pale Ale (Australia, Pale Ale)
9. ***½ Negra Modelo (Mexico, Dark Beer)
10. *** Beer Chang (Thailand, Lager)
Wow, wow, wow. I made it to New York. Am sitting in a park at the southern end of Broadway, and though there is a strong breeze here, I’m not sure it (the breeze) explains all the goosebumps on my arm and in the jewel box. It is quite simply inexplicable for me to be here in New York, not that I’ve really seen anything yet (just got off the ferry across the Hudson River from Jersey City an hour ago), but just being here is very special to me. Come 51.000 km and 52.000 km: this is a real milestone for me.
50.950 km, 38 countries, 5 continents and 1.192 days after I left Copenhagen, Denmark, New York is finally under my feet, and – soon, I assume – under my skin.
Later this afternoon a host through Couchsurfing will open his Manhattan doors for me, and it feels great that it’s been taken care of. For now, I think I’ll just cruise around Manhattan with my bike, trying to grasp that I’m finally here (first NYC visit as you can tell from the excitement)…
People ask me: Where to next, Nicolai?
I’ve had voices me telling me where to go for a while now, and I think this might be the right moment to tell you about it. Looking at the map of North America, it seems like I’m almost running out of asphalt on my north-east bound crusade across the US. But not quite. There’s still some 700 km of mostly forested pavement up to the Canadian border, and thus, I’ve decided to make it to Montreal! How about that? I mean, how can I not – I’m in the neighborhood anyway, Canada is totally unexplored territory to me, and Canadians are great people. Then West Africa. Then home.
Hope these words find you all in great spirits and shapes.
Nicolai (Manhattan, New York)
Just a quick hello from an a/c cooled Newport News Public Library where I’m taking a ½ working day with my laptop while the heat of noon passes by…
Wifi, privacy, live radio from Wimbledon (tennis), and I can keep an eye on my bike through the window next to me. A treat!
There are a few updates in the diary. You know where to access them.
Am on my way to Washington D.C and that classic pose with me and my bike in front of the White House. How exciting that’s going to be…
Saludos from a sunny Virginia/US.
Just a quick note from Charleston, South Carolina to inform you that the diary is now tiptop up-to-date. You know where to enter the latest entries, I assume. Log is updated too, as is the Milestone page
May the warm summer breezes encapsulate you.
For some reason I can’t update my status here on WT. I guess it’s a sign that I should put these words together then…
I’m in smalltown Port St. Joe, in Southwestern Florida, where I’ve set up my mobile WT-office (laptop, iPod, harddrive etc. ) at the local library. It’s a beautiful setting for a bit of catching up.
Days here in the US continue on the same, great string. I wild camp every night, eat peanut butter + jam sandwiches for breakfast, baked beans from the can for dinner, and drink tap water from gas stations/McDonald’s/Taco Bell’s. It’s a very simple life and I’m loving it.
People are extremely friendly here. Everyone wants to talk, and I’m easy these days. Yesterday, eg. I was handed a 10 USD gift card for the Publix Supermarket by a beautiful soul named Pam near Walton (still FL), with whom I’d just had a little chat in front of that supermarket, while I was resting my legs. How can you be anything but grateful being here, experiencing (bits of) this, in so many ways, great country.
As you may have noticed (through Facebook), I’ve decided to skip my original US plan of “just” going down to Miami. Instead I’ll turn left once I hit the Atlantic coast near Jacksonville, and go all the way up to The Big Apple. I mean, how can I not do that?
Visa wise, I should be fine (until August 4).
Money wise, I just need to eat more of those beans (they even come in a spicy Mexican ranchero style that I love) and run into more great people (no one mentioned this time, no one forgotten), and I’ll be fine.
Physically, it won’t be a problem at all. Body’s strong as ever before. Leg’s know what I expect from them. They know what to do. And they continue to give me the hell of a good time here in the US. God bless my legs.
Mentally, I’m thrilled at the thought of going up the east coast to New York. There’s even a few Band of Horses gigs along the way that I’ll see if I can catch.
Where to next?
From here it’s around 2.200 km to New York. I don’t know when I’ll get there. Over the last 4 days, I’ve pedalled a whopping 560 km, thus averaging 140 km/day, and with that momentum, I’d be in NYC mid-June (which I really have no intention to do). I reckon beginning July, I guess. Maybe.
Hope all is just as negotiable and sunny in your corners of the world.
Wanna to keep track of my whereabouts over the last 3 years? Here you go…
Click on the link directly below the map for a larger map. You can navigate the map with the mouse and via the menu to the left on the map.
Some of the points may not be exact but rather serves to give rough idea about my route around the globe.
You can find the link under the front page menu Routes & Maps for future references.
I might be a wee bit on the early side with this one, but better early than never. Jesus only lived until 33, like me, and I doubt he got to choose the music for his last crusade…
1. One – U2
2. Socker – Kent (S)
3. No One’s Gonna Love You – Band of Horses
4. Autumn Leaves – Eva Cassidy
5. A Thousand Hours – The Cure
6. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
7. Cold Water – Damien Rice
8. Gravedigger – Dave Matthew’s Band
9. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
10. In My Heart – Moby
11. Into My Arms – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
12. Crazy Mary – Pearl Jam
13. Karma Police – Radiohead
14. Hyperballad – Björk (I)
15. Wicked Game – Chris Isaac
16. Ett Slag För Dig – Tomas Andersson Wij (S)
17. Love Is Stronger Than Death – The The
18. So This Is Goodbye – Stina Nordenstam (N)
19. Today – The Smashing Pumpkins
20. Afraid Not Scared – Ryan Adams
21. Skygger af skønhed – C.V. Jørgensen (DK)
22. Fluorescent Lights – Windmill
23. King of Sorrow – Sade
24. Pretty Good Year – Tori Amos
25. I See You, You See Me – The Magic Numbers
26. The World At Large – Modest Mouse
27. What If – Coldplay
28. Endless – Claus Hempler (DK)
29. 20.000 Seconds – K’s Choice
30. Ode To My Family – The Cranberries
() signify country of origin of the Nordic songs: I, Iceland: DK, Denmark: N, Norway: S, Sweden.
The Satisfaction with Life Index is an attempt to show life satisfaction (subjective life satisfaction) in different nations. In this calculation, subjective well being correlates most strongly with health, wealth, and access to basic education.
This is an example of a recent trend to use direct measures of happiness, such as surveys asking people how happy they are, as an alternative to traditional measures of policy success to GDP or GNP. Some studies suggest that happiness can be measured effectively. (From Wikipedia.org)
The Satisfaction with Life Index
As most WT-readers would know by now, I like lists of all sorts. Being a Dane I tend to particularly like this one. It was made a few years ago, in 2006, the year I began this expedition.
…and you might wanna know why I chose to leave that golden country of Denmark, right there on top of that list, but that’s another story for now. It certainly wasn’t because of dissatisfaction with life, I tell you…
Have a look at the list. It might bring a few surprises. I was in Turkmenistan in 2006 which is #171 on the list. Georgia is #169. Bulgarians don’t seem to be very happy about life, at #164, whereas Brazilians (#8) and Costaricans (#13) seem to have a blast…
Nicolai (from The Deep South in country #23 on the list)
Welcome to this new feature! The great Google Maps that makes it possible to keep track of my whereabouts on the planet.
Please click on the blue “drops” that might (might not) have a little piece of info about the accomodation style (wild camping, private, hostel etc.) or otherwise.
Regular Google Map Users know it all, but to everyone else, you can choose between a number of viewing modes in the right hand corner (map, sat, terrain) and you can zoom and fiddle around on the navigation bars in the upper left hand corner.
Also, you can “View Larger Map” by clicking the appropriate button under the map…
I hope you enoy and see you in Google Map World…
WT USA Route 2009 in a larger map
Phew, there’s been a lot of great cycling the last 8 days since I arrived here in the US. So many stories yet to be told. Stay tuned.
For now, the log’s been updated, including the fastest ever WT-day on my first day in the States. A whopping 28.2 km/h over 170 km. Texas, and now Louisiana, has been very good to me so far…
See log here!
Just a quick midnight note here from Rockport, north of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA.
Exit Mexico, enter USA:
I crossed the border at Matamoros/Brownsville yesterday (after 1.5 hours of interrogation, bagage search, finger prints, photos, interviewing and the rocks) and was blessed with a sweet tailwind that brought me a whopping 170 km north, to the village Riviera (the Texas, not the French version) where I guerilla camped behind a gas station after sunset. A beautiful, fist-in-the-air kind of start of my US road trip. It’s damn hot, I drink way too much Diet Coke, but otherwise, life’s treating me fine.
When Texan Hospitality Kicks In:
This afternoon, after some 120 km of cycling) I was picked up on the highway by a lovely lady Kathy who invited me to come and stay with her and her husband David (72) in their house in Rockport up the road. “No” wasn’t exactly in my mouth. And here I am. Installed in “my own” room, am as clean as ever, recharged (but really tired now way past my bedtime) after a great evening with Kathy and David, at a Chinese super deluxe buffet, and at home with probably the best that Texan hospitality can offer. Feel very overwhelmed and happy having met these people. Think those mental shields and shells that I talked about the other day have disappeared already
A rough route through the US is to go through the southern States (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida (maybe Georgia)) staying fairly close to the Gulf of Mexico on the way, including, needless to say, New Orleans.
Expect sort of long delays from Camp WT. Haven’t seen many internet cafes. Seems like most people have their own PC’s which hardly surprises, does it.
Stay tuned – I’ll be back whenever I can with more updates from this, The Land of the Free, that I’m really excited about and eager to get to now (bits of)…
Nicolai (who held a gun + shotgun + rifle in his hand tonight, a first of…This is Texas after all!)
Just a quick note from Matamoros at the US/Mexican border to say that there are new photos in the diary from Day 1.114 – 1.120 plus new diary entries from Day 1.121 and 1.122.
LET’S FACE IT: It’s not about the flu. No, it’s not about the flu. It’s about fear. It’s about the fear of losing control in this otherwise over-controlled world that we inhabit. How else would you rationally explain why people from all over – though it seems to be mostly a Western phenomenon – get so extremely worked up on a mass scale not compatible with the fact that a mere 16 people have died (as of today, 02MAY2009) from the newly detected H1N1 virus?
Fear, I tell you, is a very powerful (if very irrational) force that moves people, makes us react, and – as is clearly the case this time – sometimes makes us lose the grip on (rational) life. Not unlike love. But when love takes control, things seem to go hmm and ahh, whereas when fear takes control (in and around us) things get messy, things get ugly, and the mass hysteria that we are witnessing on a global level these days – in the media as well as in the streets – is not pretty and we don’t need it.
It’s ugly when people look at you like a criminal when you sneeze (because of the aircon, i.e.) in a Mexican convenience store, it’s ugly when the random street vendor you ask for direction takes one step away from you, to cut it short, it’s ugly when humans are not acting human and treating each other as such. And it makes me sad.
As an anthropologist I see certain strata, certain aspects of human life, and I question and try to understand why people behave and react the way they do. I try to find the rationale when there seems to be none, try to make sense of the senseless, and – to be honest – this pandemic angst is quite senseless when you look at the facts and the what-is instead of the what-if without letting fear rob all human logic.
As a private person, I’m disappointed with the way we (including the media) have dealt with this flu situation so far. The precautions made globally seem downright absurd.
I’m disappointed with the ever so greedy sensationalism of the media, but – after all – it’s their bread-and-butter. But do keep in mind, that the media is the biggest hand that feeds the flu hysteria. Not H1N1 itself.
What disappoints me the most is the complete lack of mental filters, the lack of personal assessment of the situation, of the apparently unquestioned trust we show whenever “experts” have things to say about this and that, which all seems to be the name-of-the-game for most of us in our contact with the almighty wisdom and messages of the media. Most people simply seem to just gulp it all down, uncritically and undigested, and it saddens me.
There has always been virus around, there always will be. As unsensitive as it may sound, virus (and the deaths caused directly or indirectly by them) are very much a part of life, and this proliferating global panicking, that seems so out-of-hand, shows us that we are not very well adjusted to this fact.
The difference is that we are now able to detect and track down the origin, the spread, and likely future of the virus. Nothing makes this particular H1N1 virus more lethal than others, but because science and technology now allows us to follow the life of the virus closely – and with the media all too eager to tell us about the possible (and often) horrific outcome – we start freaking out, we start visualizing the worst case scenarios, we start seeing ghosts (when there are no ghosts), and Armageddon days are here. This is out of all proportions.
And come on, this virus (plus the next ones to come – and, yes, there will be more) only does what virus does. They spread. And they spread some more. And that’s no good, but what is really bad is that the fear of getting infected spreads way faster than the virus itself, that people stop trusting people, and that our minds get contaminated with angst, disbelief, and worry. It’s such a waste of our time and good energy.
I hope that this Swine Flu-episode will very soon become history, and that we will look back on the whole thing with relief and a was-that-it? feeling. That we learn from this, that history won’t repeat itself, or rather, that we won’t repeat history.
Stop fearing. Stop panicking. Turn off your TV. Start thinking.
(from Mexico, the assumed epicenter of the Swine Flu)
Because it’s not all about the flu – time to kick some ass.
01. Band of Horses – Everything All The Time
02. Muse – Black Holes and Revelations
03. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
04. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
05. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
06. Interpol – Our Love To Admire
07. Jane’s Addiction – Strays
08. The Killers – Sam’s Town
09. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
10. Cold War Kids – Robbers & Cowards
- As of May 2009 -
If you need a bit of mad dog bike action, i.e not the touring-along-flat-hot-Mexican-highway-kind-of-thing, then check out this dude…Legend!