Since winter spread its veil on my eastern Canadian home all I've thought about was summer. Summer to me means bicycle riding.
Several times now I've thought about asking two good friends of mine if they would be interested in taking a summer off and riding bike with me. I think about it for a little too long and I reconsider.
The thought of riding with another person suddenly loses all of it's beauty and I look at the bad sides. The route choices; starting - stopping; what to eat; etc. It must take one hell of a cooperative person[s] to be able to do this.
What do you folks do to make the trip enjoyable, because I wouldn't be able to handle it.
Some people ride with groups, significant others, friends. Some people ride solo. I tend to ride solo and have been doing so for years. Partly, it's because I'm so difficult to get along with - - but partly because I'm single and haven't had much luck getting my friends to commit to be nasty and tired for three months.
What has happened over and over is that I have met great people along the way. Usually it means changing my route and plans a bit - and the other person often does as well. I met one guy from England in Yosemite and we rode to Colorado - we stayed in touch until recently - I think he's teaching English somewhere in China.
Have you toured much already? If not, maybe take a solo tour. It seems that you want the experience for yourself. There will be plenty of chances to meet folks. In provincial and national park campgrounds, just pull into a site next to a bunch of folks and they will surely invite you over. I met a great Iranian-Canadian family that way. Had politics and spiced tea over the campfire.
Kind of like deciding where to go out for dinner, only 1000 times more complex
I'm lucky, my wife is willing to follow me anywhere -- mutual, I assure you. It's hard to pick the best trips we've made together, whether it's caving in Borneo or cycle touring through Banff. (After each trip, I get an earful, though, on what I shoulda done different....)
Here's four things I've learned about team or group activities, applies to just about anything, not just touring.
-- If there's one person who's most accomplished and experienced, that person can usually make the decisions (the important ones -- route, schedule, difficulty, etc.). That person doesn't have to be a natural leader, but they have to be attuned to other people's needs and abilities. Most mature people in the group will accept this role, as long as the "leader" doesn't screw up. If you're that "leader", it's a very satisfying role to see the team succeed. Corollary: If a second person in the group is most experienced in choosing food/entertainment/whatever, let them take the lead there.
-- If you're not experienced and accomplished, join up with someone who is. Don't put all your trust in them until they prove themselves; don't let them do all the work (unless you've paid big $$$ for the privilege). Learn and share, but mostly learn because they're making the big decisions that determine the team's success.
-- If the group is equal in experience, go as an organized club. Pre-plan (within reason) the route, the difficulty; loosely pre-plan the schedule, the costs. I've been on group tours that wouldn't have worked as "hey, ya wanta go for a tour?", but were a blast as a club ride. Local bike clubs here have fantastic week-long self-supported tours, from 12 to 20 riders, open to anybody. Never had so much fun!
-- Riding solo is a soul-cleansing experience. There's nothing like knowing you can challenge anything nature throws at you and come out on top. You can do this once, twice, or all the time, choosing your own challenges. Only thing you don't get is the social interaction of learning and sharing how to overcome them.
In a group, any personality conflicts can destroy the first three scenarios. Choose the group carefully.... but still it can happen.
You might find #1 most satisfying -- try to find some friends who are adventurous enough to go, but need someone to take the lead and learn from. You still get to make the big choices, and cooperating on the little ones ties everybody together.
When touring with others, it helps if your cycling abilities are equal. It helps if you have similar philosophies on touring, ie. distances in a day, site seeing off the bike, what time to get up and hit the road, etc. If you are compatible travellers, then having someone to share the experience with can be fun.
I cycled for a year by myself in Australia, NZ and US/ Canada. I don't mind being alone and it does give you more freedom. Other sections of my trip, Asia, Africa and later Patagonia I did with my partner. I actualy met my wife in NZ during this biketrip. Iwould not want to ride alone in the 'harder' countries. You get sick quit often and it sure is nice to have someone to rely on then. Also, it is nice to discuss expierences and share memories.
Ah Newfoundland! What a great place to go biking...
I like biking solo, I like the freedom. After grooming my partner all spring for his first tour, he flew to North Sydney and joined me for three weeks of cycling there on the Rock.
That he made it home was a testement to my fear of Newfoundland prison. I could have just killed him a zillion times over.
Mind you we never fought about anything, excpet whether we had time to hike up Gros Morne before dark (I was right, we did not). It was all those silent maddening things like him not seeing the turn-offs, passing me on hills, ordering soup every single meal, being picky about food when there was not option, wanting showers when there were no showers, doing the dishes badly or not doing the dishes as all, wanting to go places I did not want to go, not wanting to go places I did want to go, and in fact, just his existing drove me kooky.
Ah! You know, it was nice to tour with someone for a while as it taught me a few things about myself that I had not learned while riding around free as a bird. I am a lousy collaborator, I am bossy, manipulative, equal parts salt and vinegar, and when I am not those things, I am passive agressive. And I must have coffee every morning or there is hell to pay. I did not know all these things about myself.
He'll meet me again on the road for three weeks of cycling (poor devil keeps a real job...thank god, or I'd be posting from the homeless shelter, assuming they have wireless at them these days). I guess when he shows up, there will be a very painful adjustment period of a week, then likely a week of hating all the little choices he makes while he eats soup too loudly and too often, and then a week where I boss him around and he resents my sheer brillance. In the end it'll work out. He lives and I'll go bike it off!
I kinda missed him when he wasn't around. I still prefer biking solo, but I like learning how to collaborate better on the road, it's just a different way to have a trip.
BTW, your Labrador plan is audacious! A little bug juice, a whole lot of food, and you'll be golden.
..doing the dishes badly or not doing the dishes as all..
this is the stuff I'm talking about!
My hat goes off to those of you who have yet to murder close friends. Or at least haven't been caught yet. Like anything it'll have it's highs and lows I suppose, and at least with a partner you'll have someone to blame the lows on.