After 2 weeks on the road, I’m sitting in Aracena, writing this update and having a rest day. It feels like I have had a lot of rest days during these 2 weeks but, unfortunately, they have been needed.
I always knew that my fitness was pretty low, but it seems that my bout with Covid has robbed me of the base fitness I have had most of my life. Even when I have been unfit previously, I have always had a reasonable base to build on and my recovery has always been quick. Not so this time!
Not only is my fitness very low, but my recovery rate is also way below what I’m used to. After just 3 days of cycling, I have no reserves and basically have to walk up every hill and I need a full day of rest to recover. It could be that I’m getting old…
But I don’t mean to complain too much, the only way to get my fitness back again is to keep plugging away and hope that I get stronger and stronger.
The trail so far:
In summary, brilliant! I have to give a gigantic shout out to Andy Cox, @doubletrackfanatic, for putting together this outstanding trail. I have only cycled a tiny little part of it and can only imagine all the hard work that went into making it a reality. Thanks mate!
That said, I have been thinking a lot about how and even if, I want to continue cycling the trail. Not because I don’t like it, but because I am starting to realize that I may just like walking that much more.
I’ve always liked bicycles and as I have a strong technical interest, I have always liked fixing, modifying and working on them. But when I get out on the road, I don’t quite find the same satisfaction that I have found when walking and hiking.
There is an inherent minimalism in walking that is not as present when cycling. I’m not sure if I can explain the difference, but it is there and I seem to gravitate to that simpler means of motion.
My last long bike-touring/bikepacking trip was through Europe in 2019 and totalled almost 10,000 km. But even then, despite planning to continue and explore more of Europe by bike, I decided to head to New Zealand to hike the southern part of the Te Araroa instead. At the time I blamed the weather, but I am starting to realize that it is just that I like walking more…
Looking back at the-walk and the Te Araroa hike, I find that I came closer to the state of mind I was looking for during these walks than when compared to my many bicycle or even kickbike trips. There have been quite a few during the last 10 years and I believe that I can start to see a very obvious pattern. I feel better and enjoy it more when walking.
So where does that leave me now?
It doesn’t really change anything for the coming weeks. I have at least 2 more weeks to spend on the European Divide trail before I need to head to Barcelona to work for 3 weeks. But what happens after that is something that I will have to think about very seriously. Keep cycling or head home and change to hiking gear, and if so, what will be my next destination?
Lots of questions but I have lots of time to think and don’t really have to decide anything before my work period in Barcelona is at an end.
Exciting times ahead!
It feels slightly ridiculous, but I’m actually having a rest day today. Only a few hours on the European Divide, and I’m already taking it easy.
It’s not as if I have been pressing myself these last 3 days, but I have promised myself to take it very easy the first couple of weeks and ease myself into bikepacking again.
It’s been brilliant cycling along the coast, with great views and plenty of hotels available at good prices. It’s not going to be like that when I start heading a little bit more off the tourist trail, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.
I stayed at a nice resort on the second night and as I was there reasonably early due to not wanting to do too many kilometres for the day, I got to relax by the pool with a beer. But there was no way I was going for a swim, the water was too cold for me!
I found a Decathlon store and bought some camping gas for my stove, which will make me a bit more independent. I no longer HAVE to stop for coffee in cafes…
These last few days I have started to meet some other cyclists, both local, tourists that are here and on hire bikes and the odd long-distance traveller. And the hills have started to get a bit steeper as well. 20% grades are not what I am well prepared for, especially with a fully loaded bike!
I eventually made it to Farol do Cabo de São Vicente, the lighthouse that marks the start (or end) of the European Divide. It was quite windy and I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to try to fly my drone as I was expecting it to get blown away.
I moved a little bit away from the lighthouse so that the wind was blowing inland. That way, if it was too strong, at least the drone would be blown onto land rather than out to sea. Surprisingly, my Mini 2 actually managed to fly and film despite the heavy wind.
After a pretty poor fish and chips for lunch outside the lighthouse, I finally set off along the European Divide. At least I have now started on the route I came here to do!
But it was only a short start and I soon found a rural hide a way where I could stay for the night.
I was only intending to stay for one night but looking at the map and considering the number of possible resupply points in the coming week, I decided to stay 2 nights and have a rest/resupply day. I have had to cycle to the nearest town today to do some shopping, getting both water and food for a couple of days on the road. That way I will be completely self-sufficient and can camp out as much as I want, without having to plan around reaching a town every night.
It feels like the real tour will start tomorrow!
I was finally in Portugal and after a great nights sleep, I was ready to head out on the first day of cycling. Everything fit where it was supposed to, and the bike was ready and loaded.
It was easy going, cycling along paths and gravel roads, trying to keep close to the ocean. There was an ever-present threat of rain, but I somehow managed to stay dry all day!
But it was pretty obvious early on that I was going to have to take it very easy. Have lots of breaks through the day and slowly adjust to cycling with a loaded bike again. Rast means break in Swedish and felt like a sign to take my first break of the day.
I’m cycling through a tourist-oriented area and there were plenty of opportunities to have a short, nourishing break!
The scenery was terrific, but I felt very unfit. After only a bit more than 50 km I realized that I would have to take it very easy these first few weeks. I’m very unfit and still recovering from Covid. Even though it felt like a letdown, I decided to take the opportunity to get a good, cheap hotel and not overextend myself. There are plenty of good deals along the coast, what with it being off-season and still a bit restricted due to covid, I might as well take advantage and enjoy it.
I found a great hotel on the beach and after a little bit of a rest, I couldn’t resist taking a walk along the beach.
I’m going to have to take it very easy tomorrow as well, but it’s a great area to be forced to spend some extra time in!
There hasn’t been a lot happening here. What with corona, too much work and finally getting covid myself, travel hasn’t been the prime motivator during the last year or so.
But now, I am finally heading out on the road again!
Tomorrow, February the 12th, I am flying to Faro in Portugal with my bicycle. From Faro, I intend to cycle to Farol do Cabo de Sao Vincente, where I will start riding the European Divide bikepacking route, naturally heading north.
The plan is to stay on the route until I get close to Barcelona in 5 weeks and then hopefully work with Fotoskolan Sthlm in Barcelona for 3 weeks. After that, I’m not sure what I will do. Continue cycling the European Divide, head back to Sweden to pick up my motorcycle, or go hiking in the Balkans. Plenty of options!
I’m doing some last-minute packing and planning today as I have been too busy to prepare up until now. Just hope I don’t forget too much stuff…
I just happened to be testing a new camera today and took the opportunity to try it at the Hammarby Alpin Marathon. Always more fun to try something on a real event rather than just trying to find something interesting to film around the house. Even more fun when the winner was my old friend Jari Palonen. The first time he ran past me with my camera, he commented that it´s just like the old times. I photographed Jari a lot many years ago when I was the team photographer for Team Silva Multisport, and Jari was one of the team. 🙂
Hello and welcome to the Wombat Vision blog and its companion Youtube channel!
Both are very much still under construction with new material, as well as being resurrected with old stories and pictures from my previous blogs, but it is a start.
I hope to share many thoughts and journeys here, both old and new and hope you have a bit of patience as I slowly bring the website up to speed.
This first post will be a general introduction to what you can expect in the future, and has a companion introduction on the Youtube channel:
Hello and welcome to what might possibly, if all goes well and I have enough patience, become a YouTube channel called Wombat Vision.
I have been thinking about starting a YouTube channel for several years, and have even gone so far as to record and edit some earlier versions of an intro and some content. But I’ve never really committed as I haven’t been able to decide exactly what the channel would be about. My interests have always been wide ranging and subject to rapid change
With that in mind, you will no doubt be wondering just what Wombat Vision will be now that I have finally pulled my finger out…
Me being me, I have decided to go against all the new channel advice that is available online and rather than sticking to a single subject or niche, Wombat Vision will cover whatever I happen to be interested in, or doing at the moment.
Which basically means…
There is definitely going to be a lot of travel and adventure content.
From hiking, with stories from different hikes,both long and short. Reviews and comments about equipment and destinations, along with dreams of future adventures.
But not only “normal” backpacking, there will certainly be content about really long distance walking as well. Both new adventures and material from some of my previous walks, like my walk from Stockholm to Sydney.
Bicycle touring and bikepacking are of keen interest to me so be on the lookout for bicycle travel stories and equipment reviews. Right now, I have a new bikepacking project percolating in the back of my mind that should prove very interesting, but that is still very much in the first planning phase…
Anyone that knows me, knows that there is bound to be some motorcycle content as well. Some general maintenance and customization stuff, but mainly adventure travel content.
From building and preparing the right bike, or as is often the case with me, the wrong bike, to stories from on the road, both new and old.
Although I am trying to stay away from cars as much as possible, my life has been full of so many road trips all over the world that I seriously doubt that it will be possible for the channel not to contain at least one or two car based road trips.
Along with the travel and adventure, there will be lots of content covering photography and filming.
Camera reviews and comments about everything from medium format digital cameras to cinema video cameras.
Lighting equipment reviews and possibly suggestions on how to use it.
Not to mention tips and tricks relating to post production, in everything from Photoshop, to Lightroom, Capture One and Davinci Resolve,.
And then there are the many of other topics that interest me, from packrafting to barefoot running and whatever else that happens to have captured me at the moment. Lets just say that there will probably be a huge diversity of content!
The Wombat Vision YouTube channel is not meant to be a stand alone resource. It is very much a companion to the website, and together they will be where I write about what interests me and what I am doing and planning, so remember to check them both out.
So if you want to follow along, subscribe to the channel, check out the blog and follow me on Instagram, all the links are in the description.