The Atacama Desert in the year of 1986. I have done the first two months of the long journey by bicycle to Alaska. During my third day, just having left Isla de Chiloe, another cyclist turned up to my great surprise. I asked him:
“Where are you heading, cobber?”
“Alaska”, he answered.
Stunned I said, I tought I would be the first to cycle from Chile to Alaska! His name was Ed Sismey from Boston in the UK. A character of sorts. He had invested in all the best equipment of the time, like a F.W Evans touring bike. I had a three speed bike, a postal one, from Kroon. But he had not brought a foam pad. Inflatable ones did not yet exsist. He was great company and we met up on and off and passed throught the Darien Gap together. He had a few accidents on the journey. Forgot to turn in a corner and went straight into a mountainwall in Colombia. Something similair happened in Costa Rica. So he took his time to Alaska.
I know outdoor equipment is part of my life today. But back in those days it mattered little. The tent I borrowed from a friend Mikael Tännström. The bicycle was a 3-speed one. It was given to me by the Monark factory where I used to work. To gather money for the trip. The camera was a cheap Kodak. Those sneakers I have on are the same ones I scaled Chimborazo with. To look cool and muscular I liked armless shirts and home made military shorts. Trousers “borrowed” most likely from the Swedish Army. Conscription was compulsary in those days.
I was 24 years of age here. I had no worries. I love this life. And being a young male with lots of blond hair meant the best of times in this great continent.
The Atacama desert plateau started my great love for deserts. But it was quite challeging with a strong northernly wind. And every time one needed a break, food, company, it was 2-10 km downhill. Which had to be climbed up when leaving…I did a lot of cursing even back in those days.