Marcus Nordlund is a resident of Sundbyberg, Sweden who recently completed a bicycle tour from Skopje, Macedonia to Thessaloniki, Greece. Here’s what he had to say about his adventure:
Why did you become interested in bicycle touring? And where exactly did you go during your bicycle tour?
I decided I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, so during the fall of 2012 I decided to try bicycle touring, much thanks to Kate Harris and Darren Alff for being big fountains of inspiration.
The countries in question are Macedonia, Albania and Greece, from Skopje in Macedonia to Thessaloniki in Greece.
What was your biggest fear when planning or preparing for your trip by bike? And how exactly did you overcome that fear?
I was really scared that I was gonna get robbed or have things stolen from me. I’ve had issues about expensive stuff that I’ve owned for as long as I can remember, my head tells me I need to wear silk gloves when repairing the bike for example. So I was very worried about loosing stuff and actually never thought much about the things that turned out to be real issues, dangers while bicycling and my fitness condition.
I overcame my fears mostly because of fatigue, when I reached whatever destination I was going for I was forced to trust people. I had to trust that the bike would be safe, I had to leave the bicycle out of sight for minutes here and there and in the end of the trip I really think I had made major progress in regards to these issues even if I weren’t “cured” yet.
What was the thing you liked most about your bicycle touring experience?
What I loved about my trip was that it reinforced my belief in people, that they are kind at heart. I also was spoiled silly by all the panoramic views and beauty that surrounded me in countless parts of the trip. Lastly, I enjoyed being in the moment. I had ideas at the beginning of my tour that I would sort out my life and contemplate on issues from my everyday life, but I didn’t. It turned out I was very “right now” in my mindset while out there and rarely ventured off into thoughts about the past or the future when I was out there.
What was the thing you liked LEAST about your bicycle touring experience… and how did you think that aspect of your travels could be improved upon in the future?
I really disliked the dogs. No, I hated the dogs! I am a dog person but I’m thinking of changing religion to cat worshiper!
On a serious note, the amount of loose dogs on the trip really took away quite a big chunk of the bicycling experience when they come running like possessed whilst barking. At times I just wanted to scream out loud in fury. I found out that if you actually slow down, almost to a halt, they are less likely to actually do anything besides barking. I don’t wanna start looking for stones or sticks nor having like spray with me if I can leave it. However, I guess it depends on the situation.
I also had more problems with hills than expected. I had to walk with the bike for quite extended amounts of time during the steeper climbs mostly because I was so unfit. But another big reason I had to walk my bike was due to how much the bicycle weighed and the road conditions – especially in Macedonia and Albania.
What one piece of information from the website at www.bicycletouringpro.com helped you the most in planning, preparing for, or executing your bicycle tour?
I had big help from the parts about stretching and thinking about your riding position when it comes to your seat and handlebars.
Name three things you learned from your bicycle tour:
- I learned that I am more capable to manage situations of all kinds than I expected.
- I learned that Albania is a poor, weird, beautiful and friendly country.
- I learned that a positive view on things and people is important.
Do you think you’ll conduct more bicycle tours in the future? If so, where do you want to go? And why do you want to go there?
Yes, I would love to continue from Thessaloniki down through Turkey along the coast and western Europe as well as USA are also goals I would like to try out at some point.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is planning their first bicycle touring adventure?
Think about how you wanna travel and remember that you have to get all your gear up and down stairs, hills and whatnot, so packing less is always a good choice.