Meet Fredrika EK - On a cycling journey around the world
Meet Fredrika Ek, 24 from Sweden, who 2 years ago started The Bike Ramble, which is a bike trip. A very long one. A bike trip around the world to be exact. In the early spring of 2015 Fredrika strapped everything she owned onto her bicycle, kissed family and friends goodbye and took her first wobbly pedal strokes into the unknown. Why?
'My driving force is the urge to experience it all. I want to go everywhere. Meet everyone. I want to taste all food, and get to take part in every culture. I want to see every view and swim every sea. I want to really get to know this world".
Fredrika, more than 2 years ago you strapped everything you owned onto a bike and peddled away from your hometown in Sweden to set off on a journey to cycle around the world. What inspired you to do so?
I have a million reasons for being out here. Search for adventure, love for nature, an endless curiosity of the world and people around me and a sometimes unhealthy appetite to push my limits are a few of them.
Can you tell us a little more about how far you’ve come? Where are you now?
I'm currently riding Bolivia which makes up the 30th country on my trip. Starting from my hometown Sundsvall, Sweden I spent a year crossing Europe and Asia to land's end in Singapore. After 6 months in Australia and on New Zealand I flew out to Ushuaia, Argentina to take on my 4th continent which I'm still crossing. From Colombia the plan is to fly out to West Africa for the final leg of this journey. I hope to ride home in time to spend this Christmas at home with my family.
What has been a highlight thus far?
The unforgettable experiences are too many to count, but top of mind comes the endless hospitality and good of people in Iran and Uzbekistan. All those to die for mountain months in the Himalayas and the Andes. The vastness of Australia's outback. And probably more than anything else, those deeply humbling times when people with seemingly nothing to give, without batting an eye open their hearts and doors to - even if only for a day or two - make me family.
Packing everything onto a bicycle, you must travel light? What’s your favourite piece of kit?
This varies depending on where and in what season I'm finding myself. But when it all comes down to it I would have to say my tent. After all it is my home.
What bike do you ride? Is it particularly built for long travel?
I'm riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker. A sturdy touring bike made to carry heavy loads across every imaginable corner of the world. I couldn't ask for a better travel buddy.
Did you undertake any longer bicycle rides before setting off on this trip?
My first bicycle tour was a spontaneous ride across Europe with a friend. We ended up spending 3 months riding between Hungary and Portugal. Great memories!
How did you prepare for this journey?
My last year before setting off mainly consisted of running between 3 jobs to save up cash to travel with. For sure I did preparations in forms of route research, acquire gear and so on, but I kept all that to a bare minimum. Looking back at it I'm so grateful that I instead chose to spend that time at home together with my loved ones. And by all means, working loads on growing the fundraiser that today is a massive part of my journey.
Have you experienced any challenges on your journey so far? Any you wish to share?
I truly - to the core of me - love what I'm doing out here. Giving up or going home has not once crossed my mind, but obviously I do run into trouble and rough times. I find it easier to cope with obvious right-here-right-now issues, whether it's having mechanicals in storms or being stalked and sexually harassed by men. Somehow I can just solve the problem and get a move on.
The time I did struggle was in Southeast Asia. Everything 'should' have been great, with amazing sea, great food and smooth roads. And probably that was the very reason why I felt like I lost my spark. The challenge - the adventure - was suddenly nowhere to be found.
On your website you have revealed you’re a bad cook? What has been your go-to meal during your ride?
Just having one pot and a small gas stove is the perfect excuse to escape loads of cooking! I do love to eat though. What I eat changes greatly depending on where I find myself. But the last months way up in the Andes have consisted of a lifetime's worth of staples such as oats, rice and lentils. Carrying food for a couple of weeks at the time doesn't leave much room for luxuries.
Who do you look up to? Any shout outs to other adventure women you think we should know about?
We are so many! Cycling wise nothing will ever beat the grand journeys of dutch Mirjam Wouters (@cyclingdutchgirl). Two Swedish ladies I look up to a lot is the always so inspiring Annelie Pompe (@annelieadventures) and fellow adventure cyclist Ann Johansson (@mairawa).
Any words of wisdom you’d share with She Went Wild readers?
Whatever it is that you're dreaming of, you really don't need to have everything all figured out to go for it. Start, take a first step - and you'll get to watch yourself grow with the task. Take my word for it! The world is a true piece of wonder, and it would be a damn shame not to take the plunge and head out to explore it.
Any soundtracks/podcasts/books you’d highly recommend?
I listen to loads of stuff on the road. A personal favourite at the moment is to get a hold of audiobooks taking place in the very environment I'm currently in. Riding some of the most dramatic landscapes to be found on New Zealand listening to Lord of the Rings was an experience in itself.
You are raising money for ActionAid. Can you tell us a little more about the charity and why this charity is close to your heart?
ActionAid is doing life saving work on securing basic human rights for women and girls of this world. More than epic views this journey have given me the reality check of a life time, getting to personally see and experience how the planet we share is just as brutal and cruel as some corners of it are pretty. This fundraiser was important to me right from the start, but have grown to become my number one priority for this adventure.
I was lucky enough to be born into a society where I could head out to fulfil my dreams. The one thing I dream of now is to give girls that weren't as lucky, the possibility to fulfil theirs. Today we have already collected 40 000 Euros, but we're far from finished. Every single penny helps, and I am endlessly grateful to every single one of you deciding to pitch in. All info is to be found at: http://www.thebikeramble.com/charity