Why German Solo Cyclist Dorothee Fleck Isn’t Stopping after Having Cycled Around the World Twice

For most people, traveling and adventure are nearly the same.

Luckily, that’s not the case for German world solo cyclist Dorothee Fleck. She sees a big difference between them.

She believes that nowadays many people go on organized “adventure” tours to fancy countries, and think this is adventure. It’s not. For Dorothee, real adventures cannot be planned, they just happen, unplanned.

Let’s check our her wonderful bicycle journey around the world (twice!) and find out more about her latest cycling tour in Africa, her book, plus her favorite gear!

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck
Photo credit: Dorothee Fleck

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Dorothee Fleck. I am a German female solo cyclist. I cycled twice around the world. Now, I am cycling around Africa. After cycling from Germany to Cape Town along the West coast, I am now on my way back along the East coast. At the moment, I am enjoying Malawi. I have a great time at the lake where I also can swim and relax.

How and why did you get into adventuring and traveling?

As far as I remember my first bike trip was when I was 14 years. I enjoyed the freedom I had, just getting on my bicycle and go wherever I wanted to.

At the beginning, I did the longer tours with friends. But soon I realized, I shouldn’t wait until somebody else has time, money and the mood to go cycling with me and started to go alone. This was even more freedom.

Because I was always cycling, also to work, I never had to get physically prepared for my trips. Also, if you go alone, you can get in shape while traveling. You can get as fast and as long as you want.

11 years ago I went cycling to Madagascar. At this time, I was still working as a project manager at a big company. When I came back I realized, I don’t belong to this world anymore. A year later, I quit my job and started my first round the world trip. 2.5 years later I came back, but didn’t get settled again. I knew I will leave again. So I did for another 2.5 years, again around the world. After a while back in Germany where I stayed with friends and family, wrote a book and gave talks, I started again. This time around Africa.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck

Why is adventuring and traveling important for you?

After my first round the world trip, I didn’t want to go back to my old job. As I already had the feeling, I don’t belong to the business world before, it was even worse after being free for 2.5 years. I learnt so much, made great experiences and met fantastic people. I saw the world from a completely different perspective. I could make up my own opinion about things. Especially during cycling you have a lot of time to think. You don’t get influenced by something or somebody. It’s just you, your thoughts and the world around you. No music, no internet, no radio or TV.
People normally don’t have time or also the mood, to reflect. They just see the image of the world how it is presented by the media. That’s not only sad, that’s very dangerous.

Going to so many challenging situations I got more and more independent and self confident. In most situations, I can stay calm knowing I went already through worse once.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck

What has been the best parts of your cycling adventures?

Besides what it is important for me, as mentioned above, the best point is, that I could approve Africa is not only war, hunger and diseases.

Africa is a continent with 54 different countries (so far I’ve been in 26). Each country and tribe is different. But they have one thing in common: They are all very helpful and hospitable. Also, a woman alone can cycle through this continent.

I don’t want to prioritize countries. Some have the best roads to cycle, some have the most beautiful landscape other have the best places for wild camping. It also depends very much on the shape you are in. If you ask five different cyclists, you will get five different answers.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck

What has been the most difficult parts?

Actually, there are no really difficult parts anymore. After quitting my job, the most difficult part was the administrative stuff, getting rid of all the insurances, getting the bank accounts in order, finding a tenant for my apartment, finding a storage place for my furniture, and getting the transport organized. I was just looking forward to the moment, I only had to sit on my bicycle and ride.

In general, I only plan as much as necessary and as less as possible. I have roughly an idea through which countries I want to go through. Then I need to know if I need visa and where I can get those. The best info you get on the road. In Africa, things are changing so fast, you cannot plan long before. Just try to keep informed when needed.

The biggest danger is beside the traffic, big trucks, the weather. In Lesotho, I got on a pass in a thunder storm, which was not funny at all. All the lightnings around me and no shelter, I just had to keep going and hoped that now lightning hits me.

In most cases, I don’t have to keep going when I am tired. In Africa, you can ask in each village for a place where you can camp. If there is a chief, this is the person to ask.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

During the day I eat whatever is available. In most cases, not very much is available. I carry a lot of food with me. Whenever I find a supermarket, I stock up whatever I need for breakfast and dinner, like peanut butter, oat flakes, bread, honey, coffee, soups and pasta. When I am lucky I get some peanuts, fried potatoes, vegetables or fruits along the road.

In the evening, when I am not in a city, I cook for myself, which is mostly the case. But if there is streetfood, I just go and get something on the hand and a bottle of beer. I never go to restaurants. Mostly I am hungry and it is much faster to cook for myself than to wait for my meal.

My stove is a MSR WhisperLite, which runs with petrol.

I also hardly ever sleep in a room. My tent is my castle, my home away from home. I am very happy to have Hilleberg as one of my sponsors, which are simply the best tents. The Soulo fits perfectly my needs and is extremely reliable. It’s a big part of my freedom.

Because I camp in all weathers, also in snow, I didn’t make any compromises with my sleeping bag. The Western Mountaineering is probably one one the most expensive sleeping bag but worth each cent. If you buy cheap stuff, you are only happy once, when you have to pay it. Afterwards, you are only upset about the bad quality. If you buy expensive stuff, you are only upset once, when you have to pay it. Afterwards, you only enjoy the perfect quality and you forget the price very soon.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck

What are your best advice for new adventurers and travelers?

Just do it and enjoy it. Don’t plan too much. Be open whatever happens.

Before you start with your first big trip, start little. You can read a lot about other people experiences, but you have to do your own. Everybody is different and everybody makes his/her own trip. Stay curious and don’t worry too much. The world and all the people are much better than the media are telling you. Don’t take yourself too serious. At the end of the day, you should still be able to laugh about yourself. Don’t loose your humor.

How do you prepare for your adventures and travels?

I don’t plan my adventures, they are coming, anyway. Real adventures cannot be planned. You just have to let them happening by not planning too much.

I also don’t plan my travels. 20 years ago, I also traveled with guide books. But now I stopped doing it. I also don’t like the “10 Most Important Things To See, To Do…“. I’ve seen already so many things. In most cases, I am disappointed when I see the biggest, the greatest, or the nicest whatever. Because I’ve seen it already better, greater or nicer somewhere else.

Traveling became another dimension. As a cyclist, I prefer to go to places less-travelled. And the time in between places gets more important, things no guidebook, no travel blog is telling you.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck
Instagram @wocyguide

What inspired you to write your book?

At the beginning of my big cycling tours, around 20 years ago, I not even thought anybody could be interested in what I am doing. So I not even told anybody about it, except close friends and family. That was also the time long before Facebook and blogs.

I read the books of Dervla Murphy for example. Then I realized people, especially women are interested in what I am doing. And I realized there are no such books on the German market. Most cycling books are written by men.

That was my decision to write a book. I just wanted to have it written and started the next trip before I found a publisher. For me it was more important to finish the book than to get it published. And all of a surprise, somebody wanted to publish my book.

It’s actually for everybody but it is mainly to inspire and motivating women to do “their thing”. You can do much more than you think.

The best part was writing the first version of the book, cycling at the desk again around the world, going through all the adventures, meeting all the people again, remember all the situations. That was great.

After I’ve written the book, the real work started. Working together with the publisher, especially shortening the book, rereading, correcting… I was cycling from Morocco to Senegal during this time as well.

How do you balance normal life with adventuring and traveling?

My normal life is traveling. I don’t have any obligation back in Germany. When I am back I miss more because not traveling than the other way round.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck
Instagram @wocyguide

How do you finance your cycling tours?

I have sponsors but only for materials, no money. In general, I only need a little bit of money. Living outside of the western world is very cheap and I avoid flying as much as possible. I sleep in my tent, which is very often for free or very cheap, I don’t go to restaurants, I don’t need money for transportation, etc. Here in Africa, the most expensive part are the visas. I already spent more than 1000 Euros for them.

My rental income covers the running costs back in Germany. So far my book was sold better than expected. The biggest income I have from talks and TV shows. So far there is still money coming out of the ATM.

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

Things I don’t want to miss anymore on my travels are:

What other favorite gear do you have?

Besides my Hilleberg tent and MSR stove, my bicycle of course is very important. I have a Velotraum bicycle with a Rohloff Speedhub and Magura Hydraulic Rim Brakes. Been using them for almost 15 years and more than 150.000 km, I am happy with these components.

Cyclist Dorothee Fleck

What will the future bring?

After my Africa trip, I will write my second book and give talks until I will set off again. I haven’t decided yet where I will go. There is not very much left. 🙂

I am happy with the gear I am using since more than 10 years. I don’t need all the new fancy gadgets. I would prefer to get rid of some things I already carry around.

But I am sure the future, as the present, will be fantastic!


About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.


3 Comments

  1. Thank you. Keep rolling..

  2. I enjoy this article.Great and good luck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Tweet3
Share331
Pin
334 Shares