My Grandpa once said, “the grass doesn’t grow under your feet” and he knew us all too well. This last couple of months was proof of that. We crammed in so many things my head is still spinning.
In mid-September, Ville FINALLY received his U.S. Citizenship! It took ten years of paperwork, fees, fingerprints, rentna scans, questioning, appearing, more paperwork, getting flagged, searched, more fees, more paperwork, a test most U.S. Citizens would fail, meeting criteria, another test, more paperwork and then an oath ceremony, but he did it. Just in time for us to leave for our next adventure.
Mid-October we rode the train from Portland, Oregon to Tustin, California in Orange County to visit my Aunt Lori and Uncle Steve. My Uncle is a cancer survivor and avid cyclist, and we ride the number of miles for his age on his birthday each year together. This year he turned seventy-six. My Aunt Lori joined the party for two additional rides. We also had a visit with my cousin Shannon, her husband, Kirk, their kiddos, my cousin Sara, Chip, his wife Nicole and their kiddos. It was great to spend some time with family!
When we returned, we spent a week in Bend volunteering at Mountain View High School (my old school) to speak with the Freshmen Foundations Classes. After recently losing a student and coming out of multiple years of lockdowns, the moral was low, so it felt more important now than ever to share our story. A few students signed our bike bags to come along on the adventure. Thank you MVHS for having us, we hope our message resonates and inspires you to live your passion.
Speaking of living your passion, it was time for Ville and I to get back to ours, traveling. We packed up, sold things, cleaned, said our goodbyes and moved into a storage unit. At the same time, we packed up our bikes and gear and flew to Auckland, New Zealand, with a plan to ride from the top to the bottom of the country. It's time to get back in the saddle!
We spent a couple days in Auckland (north island) before taking a bus up to Pukenui in the north part of the island, where our friends, Warren and Glenys live. We met them while traveling home from Ushuaia after completing our long bike ride from Alaska in 2018. They welcomed us into their beach house for a night and then showed us around the area for a few days. Ville, now a "Kiwi Bloke" made a new friend, Shorty, a pudgy, old paint horse he considered trading his bike for. In the end, Shorty preferred the barn to life on the road so Ville is still on his bike.
Before we left, we spent a day at Pukenui School where we did two presentations for the elementary and middle school kids. We had a great time and the kids were a fantastic audience. We added more names to our bags and were ready to set off. Warren and Glenys gave us a ride up to Cape Reinga, we took pictures at the Lighthouse, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea and set off!
From Cape Reinga, we rode south and west to the beach. There we rode fifty-miles on the 90 Mile Beach to Ahipara. While we were riding we passed hikers (hiking the Te Araroa Trail), cars and even spotted a wild horse missing his herd. He was walking away from us, then hearing us, turned and ran towards us thinking we were his herd, stopped, then ran when he realized we were not. We named him Black Beauty. We camped at Ahipara Holiday Park and continued inland, climbing and descending steep hills on out-of-shape legs and butts, but with spectacular views! When it's not raining. After all, it is spring.
We spent a night at The Tree House in Kohukohu and took the ferry to Rawene crossing Hokianga Bay. From there, we rode lots more ups and downs to Opononi where we now sit in a motel, waiting out a thunderstorm before we continue towards Dargaville. While here, we took a tour to the Waipoua Kauri Forest with a Mauri guide named Billy Boy and it was a really emotional experience to see the two largest Kauri trees in the world, in the 2% of rainforest that remains in New Zealand.
Tomorrow we plan to keep trucking. We'll do our best to keep you updated, however, the WiFi has been spotty at best, so bear with us. You can follow us on all the socials: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok. We would love to hear from you, comment, email us or give us a call on WhatsApp. Thanks for your continued love and support! Until next time, keep on keeping' on ya'll...
Hiya Friends! What a crazy past few months it has been for us. Let me catch you up...
For those of you that have known us a long time, know that we have been doing public speaking since 2011 when we thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. After we returned home to Bend, we volunteered most of our time speaking in schools; elementary to college including alternative schools for troubled youth. Our motivation was to inspire others. Neither of us loved standing up in front of a crowd (especially as critical as kids can be), but we deeply believed that 'good comes to those that pay it forward'. So we shared our story. A lot.
When we began the next wild adventure, riding bikes from Alaska to Argentina, we were asked to return and share more of our story. As word spread about our willingness to speak to classrooms, it grew to include community centers, rotary, newspapers, magazines and TV. When we completed the ride, we were asked to speak on Princess Cruises and packed their auditoriums. When we returned home, we spoke for as many classes and audiences as we were willing to. I will be honest, it was exhausting for a couple who had been living two years on the road. But it was also incredibly rewarding! When a child would thank us for sharing our story, a teenager said we inspired them to begin living their own dreams and a teacher took her kids camping for the first time after listening to our presentation, we knew it was worth it.
Then, Ville and I spent last winter (mid-November to mid-January) riding our bikes around Spain. While we were there, an old roommate and friend, Darius, reached out and asked if we would come to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and give a presentation at their Gathering of the Titans (GOT) event this last April. Of course we said, "YES". What an amazing opportunity and an honor to be invited! GOT was a four day event; sun up to beyond sundown, invitation only and packed with a list of talented professional speakers. We were scheduled to speak on the last day of the event, the grand finale, which was stressful, but great for meeting and befriending all the attendees beforehand. What an incredible bunch of people!
Speaking at GOT at MIT was like taking the stage after U2, Bruce Springsteen and Adele performed. Nerve racking as hell! However, we just needed to inspire one person to make it worth it and we felt like we did just that. We had the audience laughing, cheering and crying. It was surreal. We were and are both unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to have been there. After the event ended, we took the train to New York and then Washington D.C. to see the sights. Upon our return, we were asked to speak again. A Titan who had heard us speak at MIT invited us to Vancouver, B.C. to speak at a conference for InvestX. There, we met more incredible people, walked around the city and walked under the Lions Gate Bridge (the bridge we rode our bikes over when riding from Alaska to Argentina).
From there, Ville flew to Croatia to celebrate his long-awaited 40th birthday with sixteen of his closest Finnish friends for five days. What happens in Croatia, stays in Croatia, right? Right. And after a reported fabulous time, he flew to Finland and spent a month with his family and friends. He spent time with his Mom, helped fix her cabin, traveled to Helsinki to see Hampton and then finished the trip with a visit from his Brother and his family. While he was there, I did many back-and-forth trips between Bend and Portland for real estate. I also flew to Los Angeles with my best pal, Natalie to visit my girlfriends, Dani, Kristyn and Kaitlyn. Dani and I use to be roomies in S.F and Kristyn and Kaitlyn are my kids I use to babysit growing up in Bend. L.A. is far too chaotic for me, but spending time with friends was a blast.
Then, another Titan invited us to Ocean Reef in Key Largo, Florida to speak at GOT Family Event and we met even more cool people and families. Since we began our speaking journey in schools, we knew just what to say to keep kids engaged. We stayed for the three day event; learned more about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, we snorkeled, played ping pong (Ville taught Rick a thing or two about how to be a champion ping pong player), learned how to paint, enjoyed a scavenger hunt on golf carts and made some great friends along the way. Each family set a goal to work on before all of us meet again next year. Our goal is to visit each family along my book tour next year!
Then, my brother, Jordan, and his now wife, Ami, got hitched! We are pretty damn excited for them. Our friend, Tim, gave us his place to stay in San Pancho, Mexico (what a great friend!) and we spent a week down there with Jordan and Ami a day before flying to Boston for MIT. Our good buddy, Marc, finally visited us from Vermont and we got to spend some long awaited time with Tommy Ford Teen Heart Throb Fan Club (Olympian extraordinaire). There was some Mom and Dad time, split-boarding time, niece and nephew time (Braydon and Skylar), sister (Lisa) and Sean time, Natasha visit, kayaking, hiking and a Kentucky Derby Party. We were busy!!
What about the Book?! I know, I know. I am sorry gang for taking so long with an answer to this question. Here is the scoop. I finished the book! Which is not the end, but the beginning of making it a published book. All along I had intended to self publish it. Then, I received four different offers from publishers to publish it. Exciting, right?! YES! However, I am now in negotiations with one of those publishing companies currently and will not know a timeline for publishing until we have a signed deal. As soon as I know a timeline, you will know it also. Promise.
What about Ville's Documentary? It is almost finished and he is waiting on my Book launch timeline to get it out into the world. As soon as we know when that is, you will know. Fingers crossed for us that things move quickly!
What about Speaking? We are for hire! If you have an event coming, hire us to come and speak at it. If you are a non-profit, please reach out and we will always make time for you as it works into our schedule.
What about the Next Adventure? Where are we going next? Well, Ville just got his new bike built and we are planning the next trip as we speak. Stay tuned to see where we go...
And what about me? We love you. All of you. Thank you for loving us, for following our journey, for spending time with us and just being your cool-ass selves. Please stay in touch, we love hearing from all of you. Until next time, keep on keepin' on ya'll!
Hello again good people!
We finally made it home after a false start. But before I dive into that, when we left each other last, we were on our way to Madrid from Cordoba. We had hoped to take a train there. Spain has an excellent train system, however, it is run by a bureaucratic mess and they don't allow bikes on them. Well, they allow bikes, but only on the regional trains, and only if they are taken apart and boxed, but sometimes just taped up with handlebars removed. It is possible to walk your bike on board, but only if you have reserved a spot for it on the regional train in advance, but it's nearly impossible to find someone to book that for you in advance, so you might try the bus system, but then you need to break down the bike to the size of a shoe box and then check it on as luggage. Like I said before, a bureaucratic nightmare. And good luck trying to find the person behind a desk to give you the correct information (and it will only ever be told to you in rapid-fire Spanish.) So, we rented a car again and drove with the bikes to Madrid.
We left the bikes with Ville's friend Jesse and his wife, Hanna, and then we caught a bullet train back to Alicante where we stayed with Ville's brother, Antti, his wife Berit and their two kids for four days. It had been over a year since we saw each other so we had a nice time catching up. It was also our first time meeting our new niece, Hedda. Somewhere I caught a cold, but tested negative for COVID and just felt crummy for about a week and a half until it went away right before we planned to head home. We took the train back to Madrid and met up with our good friend, JBro, who flew in from Germany to spend the week with us. Ville and I know JBro from hiking the Pacific Crest Trail together and have tried to see each other, somewhere in the world, almost every year since. We had a great time together in Madrid, sightseeing, walking through museums, eating lots of tapas and even made it out to the mountains for a hike with a Warmshowers host, Scott.
A couple days before our scheduled flight back to Oregon, JBro flew back to Germany and Ville and I had some packing to do. We found two cardboard bike boxes in bike shops around Madrid, took apart the bikes and had to wrap them in pieces of cardboard and packing tape in the hopes they would make it safely all the way home. We took COVID tests at a medical center (Germany required the PCR test within 24 hours of flying) and the results came back to us at 9:30pm, only six hours before we were to leave for the airport to head home. Except, I tested positive for COVID and the flight left without us.
As stressful as it was to book new flights home, we were both so grateful to be healthy and able to roll with the punches. I sat in the hotel room for the next two days until I tested negative and then it was off to the races. With an extra week in Madrid, we saw more museums, did more hikes, had dinners with friends and walked all over the city. A big thank you to Scott and all our new Madrid friends for making our time spent there so much fun!
Ville and I were able to catch our next flight home with minimal scuffs or bruising and my brother picked us up from the airport. Happy to be back in Oregon, we both jumped back in to work on the Book and Documentary with the hopes to get those out to you as soon as humanly possible! I am also still in the real estate game, so if anyone is in need of selling or buying a home in Oregon, I am your gal. We are also looking ahead to some very exciting speaking engagements coming up about The Bike Ride so stay tuned for the info. And last but not least, our website will be getting some much needed updates, so expect to be shocked, amazed and wowed soon.
Until next time, thanks for continuing to follow us and keep on keepin' on friends!
Happy New Year Gang! I hope this finds everyone making new years resolutions to travel more and do more of what makes you happy. Life is short.
Ville and I are in Spain, riding our bikes and in our happy place. The last time I wrote to you, we were just beginning to climb and by golly, climb is what we did! For three days we climbed over 1297 meters (2,992 feet), which doesn't sound like much after the Peruvian Andes, but it ended up including a lot of disappearing roads where we pushed our fully loaded bikes up washed-out ravines, canyons and mountainsides. We purposefully chose 'mountain bike routes' on our GPS and Maps.me, but the routes that were marked were for downhill riders, not uphill and we did not realize it until we were deep in it and headed uphill. As exhausting, thrilling, maddening and wild as the routes were, it made for a fantastic adventure and that is always what we are after. As Ville likes to remind me, no one becomes a good captain without navigating through many rough seas.
On the way up, we also got food poisoning and each spent a night sick as dogs in Guadix, followed by a day of riding on empty energy tanks. We did have some spectacular scenery and it made it all worth while when we reached the Puerto De Los Blancares Summit and dropped down into the city of Granada. Since everything was closed down because of the holiday, we spent Christmas there and were able to see the La Alhambra (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and walk all over the narrow cobblestone streets. Before leaving Granada, we met a super friendly guy from South Africa, Johan and his wife who invited us to their house for tapas and a chat by the fire. It was really nice to make some friends!
While in Granada, we learned that Ville's brother, wife and two kids would be flying into Alicante, Spain (a town along the coast we had passed through soon after leaving Valencia) and changed our plans a bit to make a trip back to see them. To do so, we rented a car (trains and buses do not allow bikes on them in Spain) and drove west to the port town of Cadiz. From there, we rode northeast to Seville, and had a very eventful couple days to get there. We met a very sweet old man on a bike who led us to a hotel in Lebrija, which was an unplanned stop but ended up being one of our favorite towns because it was full of the friendliest people. Up until then, we had traveled along the coast and through more touristy areas where Spaniards were not as thrilled to meet two touring cyclists and where we had met very few friendly people. Lebrija was a surprising exception. People came up to us in the town square to talk to us, an old lady came up to me to tell a joke while I waited outside the post office and people even waived to us! It felt really nice to meet kind, friendly people.
With only 35 miles left to ride into Seville, we were sure it was going to be a fun, easy day. Oh how wrong we were. After a week of rain AND the fact that we had chosen to ride farm roads through an estuary called Brazo del Este Natural Area (didn't know it was a flooded plain until we were, again, deep in it and our bicycle tires were covered in mud.) It felt like riding in glue and Ville's clearance between his tire and bike frame did not accommodate all the mud that was sticking to his tires and he continually had to get off the bike and carry it, digging out the mud with sticks repeatedly along the way. Let's just say, he was not a happy camper and nor was I. We decided to detour into headwinds far off our route to get onto a paved road and then head back north on a highway into Seville.
Once we arrived in the city, Ville booked us a really nice hotel in the downtown with a balcony overlooking the cathedral for my birthday! What a guy. We spent my birthday walking around the city, not getting into any of the sites because you had to plan ahead (which we do not do) and book tickets into everything and went ice tubing in the Winter Park instead. It was a blast! See the videos below.
After New Years, we rode to Cordoba. It took us two long, boring days along a highway and we had an excellent night camping in the backyard of a truck stop, sandwiched between the train tracks of the bullet train (which travels at 180 miles per hour) and a bunch of parked road construction equipment. The nicest lady working there gave us the OK to camp. In the morning, we watched car loads of farm workers gather and carpool to work, many of them African immigrants. We had a typical Spanish breakfast of pork leg and tomato puree on a white bread roll and shoved off towards Cordoba. We arrived by the end of the day in the city and have spent the last two days exploring the Alcazar De Los Reyes Cristianos (Castle or Fortress of the Christian Monarchs) and walking along the Guadalquivir River.
Tomorrow we will head to Madrid, then take a train back to Alicante to see Ville's family. Really excited we get to see Ville's family on this trip to Europe. I will try and post again soon, thanks everyone for emailing us and following along. Have a fantastic beginning to this new year and we hope to see you all soon. Until then, keep on keepin' on ya'll.
Back on the road and looking for adventure...
After a 10 day rest in Valencia, Spain to let my broken foot heal, we were ready, more than ready to get back out on the road. We decided to head south along the coast with a little mountain climbing mixed in. Our original route we had planned would take us high up into the mountains, but as we realized on the first go, it is quite cold in the mountains in Spain, especially this year and almost all the small villages we planned to resupply in, were closed down for winter. So we took the coast.
The first stretch leaving Valencia and headed to the city of Gandia, was beautiful with a winding path right along the ocean front of the Mediterranean. From Gandia, we took a hiking/mountain biking route up into the mountains called Via Verde del Serpis, all the way to Cocentaina. We passed an incredible amount of unfriendly middle-aged-men riding down the hill past us and collected all their valuables they dropped on the trail behind them; a cell phone, headphones and money. It was an eventful day with spectacular scenery. We did have to work for it, however and after riding the following day into the town of Ibi, we were at over 3,000ft in elevation and it was freezing.
Riding out of Ibi, we dropped all the way back down to the coast to the big coast town of Alicante and took a day off to see the city and walk along the malecon. The following day we rode to the outskirts of Torrevieja, where we stayed a night with Ville's good friend from Finland's parents, Hessu and Sirkkis, who were renting a place for a couple months to soak up the sun and golf every day. Sorry Jazzy J we didn't get to see you, but we enjoyed hitting the nightclub with your Mom and Dad. The following morning, we scored some goodies in a Finnish market in downtown Torrevieja and had a pretty crappy ride through a bunch of greenhouses to the next big coastal city of Cartagena (we chose the 'car route' instead of 'biking route' on the GPS and learned the hard way that the slower route was far better even if it was slower, interesting and quite often took us to places fit more for hikers than fully loaded mountain bikes). We took a day off in Cartagena to walk around the city, see the ruins and drink our Lonkero drinks (Finnish beverages of gin and grapefruit juice) on the oceanfront.
The next morning, we climbed up out of Cartagena and things became more interesting. It was a long, slow climb over the coastal mountains and when we dropped back to the coast at the town of Isla Plana, the weather was much warmer, the town's architecture was more beautiful and expats from Central Europe were everywhere. Until then, the winds we battled everyday were fairly fierce and we had been riding in two layers of clothes to stay warm, even climbing! And the architecture of apartments, storefronts and buildings were not what I had pictured Spanish architecture to look like, we had been passing more skyscrapers that were all shuttered and looked abandoned. Every town, village and city we had passed though looked apocalyptic. This being our first time to Spain, we were not quite sure if it was because of COVID and the lack of tourism or if it was normally like this in the winter, but we have been told it is a bit of both. Once, we arrived in Isla Plana and headed south, we found the tourists, en masse. Lots of German and French license plates passing us and we hear there are lots of Central Europeans that live along the Spanish coast in the winter.
For those who don't know, Spain is one of those "siesta countries" and for those that didn't follow along on our ride through Argentina (another "siesta country"), we are not the biggest fans of them. For a touring cyclist who needs to stick to the riding schedule of daylight hours, it is a nightmare. There do not appear to be regular scheduled business or working hours here, one day a cafe will be open at 9am and the next day, maybe noon? Siesta is from around 3 pm until 8 or 9pm, so you better not show up at that time and expect to find anything open to get food. What is siesta you might ask? Siesta is time for everyone to go home and eat lunch and take a long nap. We say "Buenos Dias" to all the people we pass, some say it back, others do not. Since this is a more touristy coastline and not more of a remote route, we don't find the same friendliness from the locals we might if we were off the beaten path. But we can understand that, it must be hard for the local Spaniards to have an overwhelming amount of tourists descend on these small villages, wanted or not.
From Isla Plana to Puntas de Calnegre, about 18 miles, the road and Eurovelo 8 biking route we have been following, hugged the coastline, was sheltered from wind, nice and warm, packed full of playas, tourists, bars and restaurants. It also had long sections of hillsides covered with greenhouses and long stretches of beach with German vans and RVs, similar to the beaches we passed in Baja California full of Canadian and American snowbirds. After Puntas de Calnegre, things got REALLY interesting! We climbed up into the coastal mountains again through the Cabo Cope and Puntas de Calnegre Nataional Park, however, the trail we were riding on became a goat trail and then that even disappeared. We spent five miles, pushing bikes up and down steep washes and ravines wondering why had challenged maps that had said our chosen route was 'hikeable', but not 'bikeable.' Well, it sure was an adventure!
By the time we reached the town of Aguilas, we were sweaty, battered and bruised and stopped at a restaurant where we ordered so much food, even the waiter reigned us in. From Aguilas to Garrucha, for about 40 miles, the road hugged the coastline which was packed full of warm sunny beaches , bars, restaurants and tons of tourists. While we were riding along the sea cliffs in the morning, we passed an older Spanish man on an electric bike, who after a few leapfrogs, asked us to pull over at a lookout. When we stopped, he told us about a town nearby that was a good spot for food and beer. When Ville, being polite, said, "Oh, nice. Food and beer." The man replied, "Oh! You want to go get a beer, huh? OK! Let's go have a beer." And off we went, following him a few miles down the road to a small cafe in the center of the town of Villa Ricos. If anyone knows how to find the characters along the way, it is us.
After leaving Garrucha, we climbed steeply up and over more coastal mountains into the town of Carboneras back on the coast and there we were back in the wind and cold weather. We did get to see a family of mountain goats on the side of the hill and when I startled them, they ran stright up the side of the mountain. That was last night. Today, we climbed through Cabo de Gata National Park and it was beautiful! We climbed through dry, grassy hills of small estancias (farms), past cactus and wildflowers and then dropped down a dry wash of bright red and white rock until we came to San Jose, the small town we are currently staying in. Tomorrow, we plan to ride to the outskirts of Almeria, where we plan to begin a long, slow climb up to Granada.
Thanks everyone for writing us, commenting and following along. Without you, I would ditch the laptop that weighs more than a brick and lighten my load, but since you keep reading, I will keep writing. As for the foot, it is slowly healing. It has posed some challenges on this last leg of the journey, but I don't want my life to get too boring :) I have been taping it every day and Ville helps me sometimes with the bike when it is pushing it up or down major stuff. What a guy. And last but not least, the book is coming along with the editor. I am hoping to be close to getting it ready to print in about a month when we return to Oregon. Stay tuned! Until then, keep on keepin' on ya'll...
And we're off! But...wait...
We started off on our Spain Bicycle Adventure really well! Roy, Ville and I had a few days off to put our bicycles together, run a few errands and see a few of the sights in Valencia. I assumed I broke my foot before we left (because I ran it into our dresser, my little toe went sideways and I promptly popped it back into place before pretending it simply hadn't happened) and without seeing a doctor, I taped it, rested and we flew to Valencia. I was unable to walk more than hobble through the airports, but riding my bicycle seemed reasonable and so we set off into the mountains, Tres Amigos!
The riding went well, the scenery was spectacular and the weather was stellar. Ville and I met a local farmer, Miguel, in a small cafe who took us to his orchard and filled a bag of clementines for us to take along on our journey. What a guy! The route was great, easy climbing, back roads most of the way and our new bicycles were a dream! It was all the other things I had not taken into account that were not, shall we say, optimal with a broken foot: squatting to pee, putting my foot down when stopping the bike and climbing in and out of the tent. On the first night camping in an abandoned olive orchard, I fell on my foot climbing out of the tent and reinjured it. Ville made the call that we would return to Valencia the next day and see a doctor to get a proper x-ray and our buddy, Roy, decided to continue on south without us. We were really sad to part ways and bummed we don't get to travel together, but we were happy he decided to keep going because once we got to Valencia, saw an ER doctor and confirmed a broken toe, we were grounded for a minimum of two more weeks with a total healing time of 6 weeks! No bueno.
The silver lining, is that Ville and I were able to enjoy more of Valencia than we had planned and as it turns out, it is actually a pretty cool city! For a week, I sat in our vacation rental and finished a bunch of online continuing ed courses to keep my Real Estate License active (I work as a real estate agent in Bend and Portland, Oregon, when I am not riding bikes OR writing a book) and I used crutches to get out and about for breaks. No better time to be couch bound. We connected with a local Warmshowers' dude, Alex, and his girlfriend, Alex, and we met for lunch and shared some travel stories. After sending x-rays to my good friend, Sara, in Bend (who also happens to be a Physician's Assistant), I was given the OK to do "light" riding with my taped foot and we ventured out into the city. We rode through a green space, that runs through the length of the city and all the way out to the beach, almost daily. We ingested lots of paella, seafood, pork, goat cheese, pastries and coffee. For those who have not made it to Spain yet, we highly recommend a stopover. The food is tasty, the wine is fabulous, climate is moderate and the architecture is a beautiful blend of old and new.
Tomorrow, we are planning to leave Valencia and head south down the coast. The plan is to, as per usual, not make a plan and ride until we get hungry or tired. We will likely stay in a hotel until I can walk gingerly on my foot. We will talk to strangers, take risks and enjoy life. We hope you will come along with us. Until next time, keep on keepin' on ya'll!
P.S. A BIG Thank You to everyone that wrote us about The Book! It has been the biggest undertaking of my life. It turns out, writing a Blog while doing a two-year bicycle journey was fairly easy compared to sitting at a computer (while in Buenos Aires, Helsinki and Portland, Oregon) and trying to write a book about the ride. Sharing all the stories of kindness from strangers all along the way, was my driving force in doing so and it is our way of giving back. There are so many great people in this world! If you have not already, sign up for The Newsletter and I will let you know when the book is ready to be released and how you can order your copy. Thanks again for your continued love and support.
The time it took Ville and I to ride bicycles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Bahia Lapataia AND the time it took for me to write a book about it. Who knew writing a book would be so difficult, time-consuming and vastly different than riding a bicycle? Surely, not me! But guess what friends? The writing is complete! I know, I can hardly believe it either. But first, here is a brief update:
The last post I wrote was from Finland, just after Ville's father passed away and we found ourselves moving there to help out his Mom at the same time a global pandemic shut down the entire world economy. After six months of Ville living with his Mother in Lahti and I living in Helsinki, an hour south of them, we got a flight back to Oregon, where we found ourselves in a completely changed place. My hometown of Bend, Oregon had already been one of the most popular cities to move to in the United States pre-pandemic, but COVID refugees fleeing big city life only worsened the situation. And if Ville and I have learned nothing else, it is BE THE FISH THAT GO AGAINST THE FLOW. So we rented an apartment in downtown Portland, Oregon, a place with a mass exodus of people and also home to my siblings and our niece and nephew, and settled in to finish The Book and The Documentary.
Somehow, a year passed.
A year is 12 months, 48 weeks, 365 days. A year is an exorbitant amount of time. Plenty of time to write a book and complete a documentary, right? Well, yes and no. We are the coolest Aunt and Uncle and wanted to spend time with the kids; playing at the beach, rock climbing, critter hunting and obviously riding bikes. I also continued to work as a real estate broker in Bend and with the surplus of sales due in large part to those moving in partnered with extremely low interest rates, I spent many weeks driving back and forth between Bend and Portland, a nearly four hour drive each way. We also happen to love the outdoors and the Pacific Northwest is full of beautiful places to explore. Although we were grateful to stay employed and busy, non of those helped in book writing or documentary building. So it took a bit longer. Like, a year longer.
No matter, it is done! I had set a deadline for myself a month prior, to take a much needed work break during the holidays and we booked airline tickets for Nov. 17th to go to Valencia, Spain to begin a short bicycle tour. After booking flights, Ville went to hang out with my Dad in the woods and I broke my foot! As you can imagine, it put a bit of a damper on things, but I kept furiously writing. At least I hadn't broken a finger I rationalized. Then, on the evening of Nov. 16th, I completed the writing of the book! I sent all of it to my editing friend, Alison (a saint who has stood by me through the entire process) and a finish editor (Chuck) and we hopped a plane to Spain early the following morning. Phew! What a rush!
How does one do a bicycle tour in Spain with a broken foot you ask? No idea! But, if I can ride a bike from Peru to the bottom of Argentina with a broken tailbone, then I imagine I can figure out how to do it with a broken foot. Positive thinking is at the very least, a fabulous start. :) As I write to you now, Ville and our good friend, Roy, whom we met while biking in Chile, are out fixing Roy's front tire while I am catching up with you good people. Because I hadn't written enough over the last five years, I figured I would haul this brick of a laptop with me on this adventure and keep you all updated.
What is the plan, you ask? As per usual, no plans. We are going to head towards the mountains and see where the trails take us. So stay tuned. We have a tentative plan to fly back to Oregon mid-January because I will need to design the cover and layout of the book and get it printed once the edits have been completed. We are very close to getting a completed book in your hot little hands, so sign up for the Newsletter if you have not already, and I will be releasing the book title as well as announcing Pre-Sales shortly.
We pulled our new bikes from the bike boxes yesterday, put them together and will take them for a short little lap around the town this afternoon, just to make sure nothing falls off, before our planned departure tomorrow morning. I am planning to carry our camera, a couple lenses and a laptop to keep the Blog going. Although it is a lot of work, I just plain miss you all and want to stay connected. I will try and get an update every week or so as WiFi permits, so stay tuned. If you want to connect with us, we would love to hear from you, click on the CONTACT button above or email us at email@example.com. Wish us luck! Until next time, keep on keepin' on...
Hey all you cool cats and kittens! Long time no hear from. Ya, sorry about that, it was quite the year, right? Ya. About that.
Sorry for the massive delay in posting a new update. I just felt like there was not a whole lot to say. Plus, we were all on standby, waiting to see what was going to shake out from this Global Pandemic, and things only seemed to get worse. Before they got better. At least in Finland where Ville and I were. But then we flew back to the good old United States and immediately they were worse again. Like, WAY worse. And then there was the mess of it being an election year. Glad that is over.
So what happened to us? Well, Ville's Dad died suddenly last time I checked in, (last post). Ville and I flew to Helsinki, where he moved in with his Mom an hour north of the capitol on a lake (where they lived) and I moved into an apartment in downtown Helsinki so I could keep working ( I work as a real estate agent in Bend, Oregon and am also writing a book about our long bike tour). While there, the Finnish government locked down the capitol in an effort to quarantine the virus. And because Finland is small, people follow directions and everyone gets 5 weeks paid vacation time a year (that they used some of during the quarantine), IT WORKED!! And things re-opened. And no one had to wear masks. And borders were closed so no more virus coming in. Life was good.
Although, life wasn't really that great. To be completely honest, it was probably the most depressed I have ever been in my life. Why? Because my husband's father died, he and his Mom were seriously grieving and I was isolated and alone, far from friends or family for support, and felt like I lost my partner too. But, what was hard for me, was a hundred times worse for Ville, his brother and their Mom. We tried to focus on the positive, because life can always be worse we reminded ourselves every day. And I know that many of my closest friends had it far worse than I did. But, it didn't make it less hard. I am whole-heartedly grateful to my Finnish friends that made an effort to visit me, go for walks, bike rides, etc. to get me out of the apartment. Huge thanks to Johanna and Julia in particular.
We did get to spend a lot of time with our friends in Finland, I was able to play football/ soccer for a women's team in Helsinki every week, we spent Ville's 40th Birthday in Tallin, Estonia and then made a short trip to see our friend JBro and Linda in Germany when borders opened for a minute. After five months, we were able to get Ville's Mom moved to a new apartment where she is now living on a bus line, near town, in a neighborhood with new friends and is thriving. Ville's brother and his wife flew from Norway, where they live, to Finland during their vacation time to help with her move. On top of grieving, COVID posed many challenges along the way, closing down all meetings, in-person counseling, stores and any way to get out and focus on anything but grief.
Ville and his Mom championed through it and have come a long way in a year. Although, as anyone out there knows better than I, grief goes in stages and does not just end one day, it lingers, it flows just under the surface, it comes to you at night when you lie quietly waiting for sleep, it appears during holidays or moments when the loved one would normally be there. It just plain sucks. But, both of them are doing really well and continue to be the positive people they are and move forwards while holding onto the happy memories of Veikko.
Ville and I flew back to Portland, Oregon mid-August of 2020 and spent quite a bit of time catching up with my family. My sister, her husband and kids, brother and his girlfriend all live in Portland, while my parents live in Bend. We sold our house in Bend in 2019 and when we came back in August, COVID had turned it into a haven for those fleeing the pandemic. Although, Bend is a small town with not enough room for all those trying to flee and it has become a bit of a housing nightmare. I am back working as a real estate broker (actually never stopped, I continued to work the entire time from Helsinki with the help from colleagues and my Principal Broker), but trying to help people buy in this market has been rough. Great time to be selling your house, a horrible time to be trying to buy. Inventory is at an all-time low, still have a crazy amount of buyers on the market (OK all you economists out there, what can you tell us about supply and demand?), it has made for some ridiculous bidding wars and high prices.
Although Bend has been a bit messy, Portland is where we have been spending a lot of time enjoying my siblings and our niece and nephew. One of the fall-outs of COVID and school closures, is that kids have been stuck trying to learn from online school at home, on a laptop, for the last year. My nephew is 5 and in preschool. Anyone out there know what it is like trying to keep the focus and attention of a hyper-active 5-year-old in the classroom setting? Now, try doing it on a laptop with mute buttons, a virtual classroom full of kids and Mom (my sister) still trying to keep her own job on track as a manager of an accounting department. We felt like we could be of some help in Portland. Not a ton, but every little bit helps. And luckily, Braydon and Skylar are really dang cute and we love spending time with them.
We have been to the beach, parks, back to the beach and then a few other parks. Because, after all, it is a global pandemic, most places have been closed all year and there are limitations with all the rain that falls in Portland. I wouldn't trade all the time with the kids for anything. We have caught a lot of bugs, worms, beetles, salamanders, spiders and, yes, a few squirrels. He is 5 and she is 2. Hunting outside never gets old.
I am still writing the Book and Ville is still working on the Documentary. It is slow going, but we are both making a lot of progress. I am hoping to get to a point of Final Edit for my Book in a few months time, after that it will be ready to publish! And I am really happy with it so far, it has been a massive undertaking, far greater than I ever realized. Who knew writing a book about a two-year bicycle adventure would be so much harder than the physical part of riding it for two years. But I am grateful to my editor, Ali, for sticking with me and working so hard to get where we are. Thanks Ali! And Ville will be right behind me with the Documentary to release.
If you want to be informed about when either the Book or Documentary will be released, for pre-sale or purchase, please sign up for the Newsletter (this is only managed by me, personally, and WILL NOT be sold! Plus, I couldn't figure out how to do that anyways). Thanks so much everyone for sticking with us, we are all in this crazy, wild ride together and hope to be soon out there hugging, eating, beer drinking and traveling with all of you SOON!!! Until next time, keep on, keepin' on...
Where we are, is where we are meant to be...
I'm sorry friends, for such a long hiatus in writing everyone with an update. Our last post was written in Buenos Aires, Argentina over the Christmas holiday. A place so far away, literally and figuratively, to where we are today. I'll try and catch you up.
Ville and I flew down and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for two months, mid-November to mid-January, so that I could work on writing a book and Ville could work on the documentary he is making. After completing a bike ride from Alaska to Argentina, I was so inspired by all the kindness of those we met along the way, those that helped us, let us camp in their yards, stay in their homes, use their showers and spent time with us, to write about it. Without all the kindness of so many, our adventure would have been so very boring. We also learned so much along the way. Enough to fill the pages of a book and to try and share it with others.
Because I have a job, I work as a real estate agent/broker in Bend, Oregon, and also keep a packed social calendar, Ville suggested we move to somewhere outside Bend so we can both focus on our personal projects. Why Buenos Aires? Because it was the place we flew after we completed our Ride, made friends there, enjoyed the City and it would be an affordable place for us to rent and live for a couple months. We had a great time there (scroll down to see the last blog post for Argentina), went to horse races, football games, horse polo matches, visited friends and most importantly, completed about 1/3 of the Book and a good portion of the Documentary!
When our two months time was up, Ville and I flew back to Portland, Oregon and had some quality time with my Brother, Sister, her Husband and our Niece and Nephew. Braydon is a fantastic climber and Skylar is a wild and sassy girl. Ville drove me to Bend, where I continued my work on the book, while house sitting for a friend, and resumed helping friends buy or sell their houses. I also managed a trip up to Mt. Baker with my friend, Sara, to take an avalanche training course (I thoroughly enjoy snowboarding and want to get more into the back country and an AVI course is a must). Ville flew to Finland, where he is originally from, and spent some quality time with his Mom, Dad and friends. A week of the time he spent sick as a dog, visiting the hospital twice, and had to cancel a planned trip to Spain with his Brother, his Wife and our Nephew. After he felt better, he booked a weekend trip to Prague, Czech Republic with his Mom and Dad. Returning to Lahti, Finland to ice fish with his Dad and to Helsinki to visit a bunch of his childhood friends, he was able to get a lot of time with everyone.
He flew back to Portland, after almost a month abroad, where we spent a week with my parents in Portland and again, all my siblings. Back to Bend we went and both of us went back to work. We moved into a temporary furnished rental while we sorted out our next plan. Just a few days later, we got the tragic news that Ville's Dad passed away. Ville's Mom and Dad have lived over twenty years on a fairly remote lake in Lahti, a city an hour north of the capitol, Helsinki. His Mom is a fierce knitter and his Dad loved to fish and chop wood. His Dad was out ice fishing, as he did for years alone, but fell through the ice crossing an unseen crack in the ice, and drown. His Mom was the one who found him after he did not return, and luckily his Brother and his family was able to fly to Finland from Norway, that same day to be there with her.
My amazing parents helped us to book last minute flights to Finland a week later, so many of our friends brought us cards, food and called to check on us. For all of you we are so very grateful. After we landed in Iceland, we received news that the USA had locked down it's borders. We arrived in Finland on Thursday, the funeral was Saturday, and Sunday Ville's Brother and his family had to fly back to Norway early because they were closing Norway's border. It has been a very difficult time, but COVID-19 has really complicated things further. Ville and I spent a week in Lahti at his Mother's house, being there for her and trying to help with everything. We were unable to get out of the house other than short walks and all businesses have closed here as well. I feel so sorry for Ville and his Brother trying to sort through all the paperwork and banking issues right now, with everything closed. As you can imagine, this is a very challenging time for Ville's Mom and any prayers, healing energy, cards or messages you can send would be so greatly appreciated.
Because his Mom has a modest sized one-bedroom house, I am renting an apartment in downtown Helsinki so that I can continue on my quest to finish writing this book. Ville has stayed at his Mom's house to help her. And then, three days after I came to Helsinki, the government shut all entry and exit from the city to keep the spread of the virus contained. Although I completely agree with the closure, Ville and I have not seen or hugged each other in three weeks. And I will tell you, it has been one of the most challenging times we have been through. Loss and grief are difficult enough, but being apart is a whole other level of difficulty right now. I am always thinking of those so much less fortunate than us, those losing loved ones they cannot be there with, those struggling to put food on the table and pay bills. I am grateful we have each other, even separated.
While alone here in Helsinki, I have met with a few friends to go for walks, while social distancing, borrowed a bicycle from a friend and even got to play soccer/football with two kids I use to work with when Ville and I lived here 9 years ago. Thank you to all our friends who have reached out to me and us. I am so grateful for all of you. Word on the street is that, because of the lock down, the numbers of cases has decreased enough to re-open the border of Helsinki soon. If this happens, Ville is going to come spend a few days with me here in the City. I really hope so, I could really use a big hug from him. Until then, I find solace in knowing that nothing is permanent and this too shall pass. Challenges are always great learning lessons and we will grow stronger on the other side of all this. Reach out to those you love, tell them you love them and appreciate them. No better time than now. And until next time, hopefully when I am reunited with Ville, keep on keepin' on!
Howdy Ho Good People! Hope this update finds everyone well and excited to dig into loads of food and family for the holidays. Last update came from Ville, my good man stepped in to tell you about his adventures with Mango, my Dad, circling around through Utah on a quest to see as many National Parks, debauchery in Vegas and loads of male bonding time packed into two weeks. It has been a Bucket List for my Dad and I am really grateful that Ville was able to go and that they like each other enough to spend two weeks together. If you missed that post, scroll down the page, you will find it. And so, here is where I was when they were off playing, I was playing Best Auntie by watching our niece, Skylar, and nephew, Braydon, for over a week while my sister and her husband went to Mexico. Ville and I are travelers, and we miss out on a lot of precious family and friend time. So I was really excited I was offered the job and had absolutely the best time doing it. Here is a few pics from my week:
I like to think of myself as the "fun" Auntie, probably because I get really excited taking Braydon to the local climbing gym by their house. He is obsessed with Spiderman and Tarzan and everything a four-year-old is usually into and he is a natural! The other dude in the pics is Jordan, my brother, who is a crazy good climber and also a major inspiration to Braydon. I took him downtown Portland, Oregon for a day to climb with Jordan on the big walls and you can see how fearless he was climbing all the way to the top and even bounced himself back down like a boss without us even showing him. He will be the next adventurer for sure, sorry Lisa and Sean, but it's true.
We also grocery shopped with a giant car. For those of you with kids, you know how fun this is. I had forgotten that I made a promise the grocery run before that they could have the big car the next time, and then had to pony up some follow through the next run. As you can see, Skylar drove, and Braydon checked us out. A great success. Although exhausting, I loved every single minute and can't wait to get back for more! After my week was up, I got a ride back to Bend from a friend, Nate, where I met up with Ville back from his Two Bros Adventure and we crammed in catch-up, saw a few friends, some work and back to Portland for my cousin, Sara, to fly in for her 40th Birthday Celebration.
My cousin Sara, my sister Lisa and I fabulous time together in Portland - my brother Jordan gave us his apartment for four days so we could party, his girlfriend, Ami, took him in and gave us supplies and my parents and Ville came up to help watch the kids - and the ladies went wild. You will notice we made Sara a cake decorated in penises, because I mean, what forty year old woman doesn't want a penis cake? We hiked up to the Pittock Mansion, got pedicures, walked through haunted cemeteries, hit up happy hours, and stuff. On Saturday, my other cousin , Carrie, drove down from Washington with her son Cade to join in the fun. A great time had by all! And Ville, you can see, is an excellent Uncle. And after Sara flew home to Cali, Carrie left, my parents drove back to Bend, Ville and I jumped on a plane and flew to...Buenos Aires, Argentina!
And here is why, I AM FINALLY WRITING THE BOOK!!! For those of us that followed our two year bicycle journey of the Americas and those who have come to one or many of our presentations, knows it has been a goal to finish. While biking recently through Eastern Europe, I was very inspired to get the book done. Ville had a great idea, that if I wanted to be able to actually find the time to write, I would need to leave the distractions of home to do so. Best idea so far, because write, write, write, see some sights, and write some more is all I've been up to the last month. And I am making great progress, almost six chapters deep. And I promise everyone in wait, the book is coming...
Ville, is here making a full documentary of the Ride. He made two short films, for the Bend Bike Film Festival and also for the presentations we have done, mostly voluntary, in and around Bend. But we can't always be there to tell and retell the story, and so he is building a full film, so hang tight, that will be out soon as well!
As for our side adventures, here is a little look at what we have been up to. Ville and I both played football/soccer growing up and are big fans of the sport. Buenos Aires produces lots of world-class players and has numerious stadiums to see some thrilling games. A bucket list for us, we made it to a Boca Juniors Game! We also went to a Argentina Juniors Game. Big fans of both. We have watched horse races, horse polo, concerts, eaten lots of empanadas and spent some fun time with friends, Felix and Babun. They hosted us in the city right after our ride ended and are great resources for all the cool stuff to do in BA. We watched the parties when the new president of Argentina was sworn into office this last week: Alberto Fernandez. We hope the best for the country moving forwards. And Ville and I have also become excellent photographers assistants (Felix is a photographer and has pulled us in to help out on some fun shoots). It's been a blast. A LOT of work (Book and Film), but a good time. SOOOOOoooo we have a month left. I will keep you posted. Please do check back. I recommend, if you have not already, sign up for the Newsletter. I will be writing everyone once the Book and Film are ready.
Want to get in touch? Write us firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you a teacher, have a group, organization, class, book club, whatever that you think would really benefit from a presentation about how amazing people are in the world and inspire others to get out there and travel??? Write us, we love to give back. And until next time, keep on keepin' on...
K.G. & Ville
Back in Oregon.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson