It's hard for them to see that there are adventure athletes today that one year ski to the North Pole, the next year climb Everest, the third year do something else. That's your profession, not that you specialize in one thing. I'm trying to make them understand: that I'm still an athlete, but just a different kind that doesn't have an organization or sponsor. I'm not letting this set me back. It's just another challenge.
This will be a self-supported or "fair means" expedition. What does that entail?
My idea is that what I need for equipment, I want to carry with me. If I need to buy something, I'm able to do that when it's available, so to speak. I'll be buying food along the way, though along some stretches I'll need to carry supplies for a week or so. Originally Göran and I were planning to have a tandem kayak that was foldable that we were going to carry when we couldn't paddle. But all my calculations and common sense has made it clear that I won't be able to carry a kayak myself and walkthat just will be too long of an expedition. So when I arrive in San Diego, I'm going to buy myself a bike and use a trailer to pull my sea kayak across the desert to El Paso, where Rio Grande starts. The kayak and my equipment will weigh about 80 kilos (176 pounds). Then I'll sell the bike or something like that.
What will the very first day be like, when you take the first step of an 11,600-mile (18,668-kilometer) journey?
I think I'm going to be so relieved to finally set off. Especially now, when I'm encountering all the planning difficulties. The time spent before any expedition, all the preparation and training, that's a fun partI wouldn't want to be without it. You see all the preparation that you have done. It all comes together that final day, and you leave. It's a great feelingand a bit nervous.
What part of the trip will be the toughest, and what are you looking forward to the most?
The beginning is going to be the toughest because it's firstand the Pacific is so exposed. I'm looking forward to the Rio Grande, which is 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers), because I'm going downstream. I know the East Coast will be very scenic because of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Are you going to be staying with any people at all, in addition to camping and occasionally sleeping in a hotel?
Well, if I get invited, then why not? I hope to meet a lot of interesting peoplethat's what I like to do, as well. It makes me think back to expeditions I did in Asia, both motorcycling and biking, when I encountered new people all the time, which makes it much more interesting. Maybe it makes it more difficult sometimes, or at least that was the case in Pakistan.
When the Pakistanis see Western people, they think you have all the Western attributes that they don't like. If you're a woman, yes, it makes it even worse, but still Göran had problems as well. People threw stones as he passed. So it goes for anyone who looks different than they do.
You anticipate that this next expedition will take roughly 16 months to completethat's a long time to spend alone. Are you nervous about that aspect?
That's actually something I'm looking forward to. Göran always told me that going on the bicycle trip was the best thing he had done because it gave him so much time to just think through his life and to take time to figure out a lot of things. Especially nowadays, we have a tendency to move forward all the time and maybe stop asking important questions. I think it's going to allow me to do a lot of thatI look forward to it.
Do you plan to stay in the United States after your trip? Do you have a picture of what you'll be doing two to three years from now?
Well, not really right now. That's a picture that I hope will grow as I paddle. So far, I really like the States, or at least what I've seen of it so far.
Other than the immigration service, of course.
Yes, definitely! I was thrilled to move to Seattle. I really like it therethe nature, the environment, and the training possibilities. You have so many things to choose from and to do. In a range of two hours in any direction you have so much variation. I like the mentality of the American people. Who knows? I'll definitely want to give it a try and after paddling, it will probably be nice to be in one place for awhile.
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