couple Per Karlstrom and Carolina Nordfors who embarked on a bike tour from
Sweden to The Gambia have shared experiences of their journey with this paper.
Speaking to Pointsports in an interview on Wednesday 23 August 2017, Per Karlstrom said they started the journey on 1st August 2016 at Uppsala City in Sweden and after cycling for a while in Sweden they took a boat to Estonia then cycled to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and when the winter came they went through the north in Italy, France, Spain and then took a boat to Morocco and then again cycled to Mauritania, Senegal then finally to The Gambia.
He said it took them over a year to get to The Gambia, adding that what he likes about travelling slow is “it gives you the chance to do different things”.
He stated that travelling by flight would only take a few hours but you will miss all the good things on the road, noting that they have learnt during the journey that the world is a better place than the global media portray it.
Mr Karlstom also said that there have been little challenges, as they got sick sometimes on the way, but was quick to add that even in Sweden such thinks do happen to them.
He also said that sometimes it was also hard to go with the bikes when it was too hot; when the winds were too strong, especially in the Sahara desert.
Despite the challenges, Mr Karlstom said it was also an experience for them, noting that its good memorial when you look back.
“People think the most dangerous thing about travelling by bike is you will get rubbed, be killed by someone or kidnapped but it is the other way round,” he pointed out, adding that some people also thought they were crazy to use bikes to travel such a distance.
He admitted that cycling on the desert was the hardest part because “you couldn’t find trees to rest”, but added that in Europe it is also hard during the winter.
He revealed that from the Gambia they will cycle to Cape Town, South Africa and then fly to Asia then bike to Australia and probably fly to Argentina, South America, North America and go home.
He noted that they like the combination of big cities and country sides as it is different in every country.
He said they have no sponsor but have some equipment given to them by a German company in the event they need to replace some part of their bikes.
“Most people think if you come to Africa you will be eaten by lions but we meet nice people,” he went on, saying they like The Gambia as it is a nice place with open and friendly people.
Meeting such wonderful people along their way gave them more energy than eating, he concluded.
Speaking also, Carolina Nordfors said: “It has really been a journey”.
He said they biked some days and stopped and rested for other days which was why it took them long to get to The Gambia.
For example, she said, in Morocco they stopped for weeks. She said the journey was nice as they cycled slowly.
She remarked that, what they like about travelling by bike is it gave them the chance to meet people on the road which they would not have seen if they had travelled by car or airplane.
She said it gave them the opportunity to meet local people, talk and share with them, made friends in different places as well as get to know their culture and see nature which has been really important to them.
In the desert, she explained that they had a couple of days with a lot of real strong head winds and “when the sand blows in the wind you don’t see anything” and as such they had 2 days in a raw when they could not bike and had to push their bikes on the side of the road as it was too dangerous to bike.
“Biking on the desert requires a lot of planning because you need to research first weather it will be possible to find water and food,” she further said, adding that they brought water and food with them.
There are long distances in the desert between stops to buy water and food, she went on, adding that their arrival at the desert also coincided with Ramadan with a lot of shops closed during the day.
She said they plan to be on the bike journey for another 3 years, noting that hopefully by then they would have biked all over the world.
She described the journey as a great way of seeing the world.
She revealed that they came with everything they own because they had sold everything they owned to be able to make the trip.
“Everything on the bikes is our home,” she said, adding that on their bikes they have their medical equipment, camping gears, kitchen, tent, cloths among others.
She added that to them the journey is freedom because they didn’t want to work and wanted to have time for each other and also explore the world.