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A Photographer's Journey Around the World

Map showing Helge's "10 Years on 2 Wheels" travels.


Crossing the Sahara

Having no previous experience in desert riding, I had to learn the hard way. I was told to lower the pressure in both tires, shift down in gears before loose sand, and in general, keep the speed high enough so the bike and I could float on top of the sand. Easier said than done. But as time passed, I certainly saw improvements. All of this had a price: sore muscles and cramps that woke me up in the middle of the night. During the day it could be hot with no possibility to escape the sun. At night it was the opposite, with temperatures close to freezing.


You just don't travel through the Sahara, the worlds largest desert, by yourself. Fortunately I had met two Dutch guys on their way to West Africa who didn't mind my hooking up with them. This picture is from the stretch between Reggane and In Salah, and our first real test before we came to Tamanrasset, the last major oasis before the real crossing.

Two years later I met up with Frank, riding a Yamaha XT 550 (in the foreground), in his hometown of Eindhoven.

Gas Station

We had come to Niger , the Sahara desert lay behind us. Food and gas was readily available although the standard was not what one is used to from home. But who cared about that as long as their were supplies to buy. As I would learn in the coming months, that was not always the case.

MC Nytt

My first article about my trip made the front page in a Swedish motorcycle magazine "MC Nytt". I was so proud that I had to show it of to everyone that I met along the road. In this picture, I am sharing my excitement with a young fellow that had come to visit my camp somewhere in the jungle of Zaire. He had brought me a huge juicy papaya fruit as a gift.


The end of the world had been reached, at least the way I saw it. After nearly one year I had traveled the length of Africa. My odometer read 28,000 km. If you look at a map and measured the distance from Oslo Norway, to Cape Town South Africa, it would measure 10,000 km, as the crow flies.

The most southern point of Africa is Cape Agulas and I needed a picture of this historic moment: the turning point. Self timer and tripod, run, pose and smile. Before I had come to the pose part, a strong wind blew the bike over on its side and "click". Quite a proper picture for the horn of Africa with a Chinese shipwreck in the background.


Most of the time I traveled by myself which made me appreciate the few times I met other motorcyclists. Some of these encounters ended with traveling mates for a little time. Michael Tucker had traveled on his Suzuki DR 400 from England down through East Africa when I met him in Tanzania. We spent a couple of weeks together in beautiful Malawi. Later, Karen and I met Michael again in Atlanta, USA, where he parked his bike. Today Michael is well known for his scientific research producing test tube babies.


Traveling in the Third world with all these "primitive" people taught me a very important lesson in life. It was me who was the helpless person and they knew how to help me when needed. They knew all about improvisation when there were no spare parts available, as there seldom was. This picture is from the local market in Lilongwe, Malawi. In order to fix a pair of glasses, the soldering iron is heated by burning coal, which receives oxygen from a man pumping a bicycle wheel. It looked as if they used some sort of tin coin for a solder.

Speed limit

I had no idea what the speed limit was in Saudi Arabia... how could I with signs like this one. Having no knowledge of Arabic language, I felt very isolated from the culture in which I traveled.


At many of the gas stations, one could join other travelers for a puff from a rented water pipe. Smoking was just as social as drinking tea in Saudi Arabia. I found it to be a good place to meet new friends. At this particular place, I was invited home with Mohammed. The curious thing was that I never met his wife. She was keeping out of sight all the time I was there.

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