While cycling across Sweden we raised awareness and donations for the Swedish National Fund for Children and Young People with Disabilities (RBU, Riksförbundet för Funktionshindrade Barn och Ungdomar; rbu.se). Both of us have relatives with disabilities and during our trip we didn’t only want to explore beautiful Sweden but even cycle for those who cannot do and for those who can do it but in a different way. In the end of our adventure we had collected over 13.000 Swedish Kronas (about 1.300 EUR) and made those children’s voice heard who should be more visible in our society.
Our new co-operation
Because our next target is the globe itself and because Sam has a personal connection to sponsoring child, we have chosen to support an international organisation working for the most vulnerable of all of us: children. SOS Children’s Villages is present in 137 countries and territories around the world and its mission is to ensure that every child grows up in safe and loving families so that they become independent adults who can support themselves and take care of their environment.
During our expedition we would like to explore the world and make it better.
Your donation goes directly to those SOS Children’s Villages where it is considered to be most needed.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
The most important thing is not to think too much about the round the world journey as a complex trip but to take the first steps towards day 1:
Get some inspiration from other touring cyclists;
See what kind of equipment they use;
Check the visa requirements for those countries where you need a visa;
AND actually just quit your job as soon as you have saved up enough money for the trip, because it really doesn’t matter what starting date you have chosen, you will never feel 100% prepared and ready for such a great challenge.
About one year before the start we downloaded a countdown app on our mobile phones so that we could keep track on how many days there are left until February 1, 2020. We named the upcoming event “Bike around the world” and somehow it sounded way too mighty. Don’t get us wrong, we want to have a real mighty ride, but it’s our adventure that should be mighty and not the stress around it. So Valentin made a little change on the countdown app and the event was renamed to “Start biking around the world”. It might sound silly, but this little difference is a really good help for us to overcome a lot of fears and doubts that we still have around the journey. And as Alastair Humphreys said: “If you can cycle 5 km or 10 km then you can even cycle 100, 1000, 10000 km and so on.”
To be very honest, we cannot imagine that we will have cycled around the world in a few years’ time. And that’s not our goal either. We consider this journey as our new job. New tasks, new challenges, and we won’t get a salary in the form of money, but the rewards will be encountering different cultures, seeing beautiful landscapes, eating local food in all those countries we will bike through. When you start a new job, you don’t think of the last day of your employment say five years later either. You don’t think of what kind of hard tasks you have to solve in one year or in two years. The same goes for us. We don’t care about the high climbs in Tajikistan yet, because we haven’t even left Stockholm. At the same time it’s good to have some part goals in case of having a bad day and you have to remain in high spirits. For us it’s visiting Iran, famous for its hospitable people, or stroking koalas in Australia. 🙂
Most of the adventurers say that the hardest part of the trip is leaving. We really hope that the journey itself will be easier than everything we are going through now. Because the main issue with the leaving part is that it is both hard and a very long process! You begin giving up your current life and leaving for the great adventure already the day when you make the commitment: OK, let’s start planning the journey and let’s leave in one or two years! And these years have tested our nerves and personalities greatly. We have had to adopt ourselves to a totally different lifestyle, where everything we can see around ourselves in our apartments, at our offices, in our neighborhood will disappear and we will bicycle in pouring rain and through hot deserts. We have to carry enough water with us, we must eat way more than we do now. We must ride our bikes carefully on a busy road where the risk is very high to get hit by a truck. We will sometimes not have the opportunity to take a shower after a long summer day and fixing a puncture in a snowstorm is not the funniest part of the journey either. BUT! After almost two years we have realized that all these things won’t happen at the same time and we are going to experience a lot of funny and beautiful things too. It still feels a bit unrealistic that we will be able to switch from a very comfortable lifestyle to a sometimes pretty harsh one. A long-distance bicycle trip is not a long holiday. It is a very hard physical and mental work but we recently read a wise quote on the internet: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not great enough.”
What did cycling across Sweden teach us?
This summer we biked from the northernmost town of Sweden, Kiruna, to the last outpost of this incredibly long country before the Danish border, Malmö, 2055 km in total. It was a very eventful and hard biking trip with unexpected challenges. People somehow don’t talk that much about Northern Sweden, most of the tourists visit only Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The massive Northern parts of Sweden are still undiscovered even for most Swedes. Oh my God, not for us… We biked through the unforgiving wilderness of Lapland in heavy rain where there are only untouched forests and crystal-clear lakes between the small villages. And of course we witnessed the midnight sun above the Polar Circle.
Swedish people are said to be distant and not so talkative but we experienced the opposite during our trip. If you appear on a bicycle anywhere and anytime, curiosity and hospitality will surround you. People gave us food, coffee, even money (!) that we in the end had to accept although we rejected it. We made the most of the unique “freedom of roaming” law (Allemansrätten) in Sweden: we could pitch up our tent anywhere and anytime as long as we didn’t disturb other people’s private property.
We thought that camping out would be difficult. The last time we slept in a tent was in the nineties. So we were a bit worried about how comfortable we would feel with that part of the trip, but after having cycled 90-100 km every day, we could fall asleep anywhere. 🙂
Can you imagine extreme heat in Northern Sweden? 34 degrees and right those days when we were pedaling on the hilliest part of the whole trip on the High Coast (=Höga kusten). A telling name, right? We felt exhausted many times during the first half of the adventure, but all those nice encounters with friendly people and the flat roads of Central and Southern Sweden compensated us big time! So what was the lesson? Pedal hard but not too hard. Eat a lot but actually even more than you think you need to. And just rest as much as you want, because a biking adventure is not Tour de France. 😉
We already now feel strong because we have taken the very first steps towards this unique journey. How it will go, God knows, but we will do our best.
We bike for adventure but also to support young people to have meaningful and active lives, despite having limited mobility. While getting to know each other, we found out that we were passionate about this cause.
The Swedish National Fund for Young People with Disabilities (RBU) is an organization that supports young people with disabilities. For us, doing good works like that by RBU are admirable. We want to raise awareness of their work to further human rights and the activities they organize for young people with disabilities.
If you are interested in meeting us along the journey, we are more than happy to drop by! We will start riding from Kiruna on Saturday July 13th and we hope to arrive in Malmö on Saturday August 10th. We will be present about our ride at Malmöfestivalen on Sunday August 11th while also joining the Manifestivalen parade organized by RBU on the same day.
Here is a list of stops on our journey:
Week 28 – 29
Sandviken – Avesta
We will add a link soon on how you can follow where exactly we are. We will have a GPS tracker on us.
(More on the back story behind cycling for RBU in future posts, to be continued!)
So what to do if you have never ever cycled a longer stretch but are in
good shape and have a simple commuter bike? Pack some food, fill a bottle with
water and go ahead and start!
And so we did this at 7:38 am on August 18, 2018. We left my apartment
in Märsta and headed towards Uppsala on our way to our destination Gävle, 150kms
away. We hardly slept the night before so we were pretty tired already in the
beginning. But we made 1, 2, 10, 30 km and one and a half hours later we
arrived in beautiful Uppsala. It was time for some cookies, coffee and a little
rest. Very good advice: If you are tired, rest! If you are hungry, eat!
Our bicycle journey was not a competition. It was only about adventure.
And I as a runner realized already after one and a half hour of biking
that I can get way further on a bicycle than by walking or running because the
bike does a lot of work for you. Even my cheap bike that reminded me of my
grandma’s old bike did the trick.
So we still had about 110-120 kms to cycle… But one more piece of
advice came to me in this situation: Never ever think of the destination!
We were biking because we wanted to be on the road in the middle of the
adventure. Such a long distance just stresses you out for no reason. After
leaving Uppsala we made two more longer stops (one in Björklinge for lunch) and
a second one in Söderfors for lunch number 2.
During the second half of the trip we were biking across open fields
which made the biking a bit harder because of headwind. But we were not in a
hurry. Slowly but surely, we were pedalling towards Gävle. And we didn’t want
to believe my eyes when we saw the sign saying “Gävle”. We have
One more time: Sam is a two times Swedish classic finisher – which means
that he has bicycled around Vättern, the largest lake in Sweden twice (300 km for
14 hours). On the other hand, Valentin just runs sometimes around his hometown
and hasn’t sat on a bike for ages.
For me, if you can bike 5 km, then he can bike even more, 10, 20, 50,
150 kms. Take your time and you will make it. Because it’s no rocket science.
The day after (August 19 2018) we biked home. It took a long time but we
arrived in Märsta again. Without any injuries or pain in our bodies. The
biggest obstacle was actually to take the first step. The idea that we would
bicycle 150 km a day was so scary that we were not able to sleep the night
But we can tell you that we would never forgive ourselves if we had not
And our dream was still there, and we got the proof: we can and we will bicycle around the world!
Att uppleva äventyr betyder att lära känna en värld som sällan beskrivs i böcker tidningar och magasin. Vi är inspirerade av andra cykeläventyrare som vågar lämna sin komfortzon och förverkliga sina drömmar. Vi håller på att starta vår resa nu och ni är mer än välkomna att följa oss längs vägen.
– Född 1989 (nästan 90-talist) – Datanörd med konstnärlig ådra – Gillar att testa sina gränser i långdistanslöpning, cykling, simning och skidåkning (trefaldig Svensk Klassiker) – Allätande bokläsare; Jag börjar lyssna på ljudböcker istället för att läsa tryckta böcker – Favoritmat: Ansjovis – Varför cykling? Man har mer tid på sig att reflektera och att utforska de platser man besöker
Valentin Lazar (aka Valle)
– Född 1985 – Pluggat tyskt språk och litteratur i fem år – Föredrar det ensliga Sibirien för det trångbebodda New York – Tycker om att springa utomhus även i -18 grader – Favoritmaträtt: Västerbottenspaj – Varför cykling? Eftersom det är det billigaste, äventyrligaste och ibland det enda möjliga sättet att utforska fantastiska platser på vår planet
” Om du vill förbli normal i den här världen måste du vara galen.“
I, Valentin, was sitting home alone New Year’s Day of 2018 and was thinking to myself… One more year has gone by and I have fulfilled my dreams: I have a good job, I have a nice apartment, I have the best friends one can wish for and I have visited some terrific places in the world. But something was missing. I have been working hard in order to achieve all this but it hasn’t been adventurous enough. I’ve always had to come home from a holiday after three or four weeks and keep on living my 21st century Western European life. I would like to experience the world in a much more special way than before! Yes, but how? I am neither rich nor have a lot of free time.
A few weeks later I was sitting on the commuter train on my way to work, reading the morning paper. I found an article about a young Swedish girl who recently came home after having cycled around the world for three years, “That’s it! I want to bike around the globe!” This was my very first reaction and as for me, I have always been a very intuitive person. Sometimes you really don’t need anything else than a cold grey winter morning in Sweden and a local newspaper telling a story of somebody who dared living her dreams.
“Come on, I am crazy enough to do this! But how to start? I have never ever biked longer than a few kilometers a day and I don’t even know how to repair a flat tire. Which countries do I want to visit and what equipment do I need? And honestly… Shall I do this all by myself?”
Well, days and weeks passed by and this spontaneous dream just didn’t want to disappear. I started to check out other adventurers’ websites wondering how they prepared for such a journey and watched crazy videos on internet where a guy was cycling against an extremely strong headwind in Patagonia. After a while I thought: OK, I obviously must be an Ironman to be able to do this madness. And how on Earth can I save enough money for this trip? Argh, just let’s forget it and let’s take a bus from A to B.
To experience the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan and the Outback in Australia, I realized that the only way to do it sustainably is to sleep in a tent and to cycle around on your own bike. I actually have a very good friend from Australia living in Sweden who has completed Vätternrundan twice (300 km long bike ride around the largest lake in Sweden). The last one he made it in 14 hours. He is a strong and smart guy but definitely not an world champion.
Help yourself and God will help you! I contacted Sam and asked him if he would feel like to bike with me from Märsta to Gävle and back on a sunny summer weekend (150 km one way). If I cannot complete this, I will definitely never be able to cycle around the world – was my thought. But if we will succeed, then I have proved for myself, that I am in a good enough condition to make this journey.