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Old 06-16-06, 04:56 PM   #1
kamoke
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Tired of touring

last year I did a short 1400km tour from saskatchewan to BC and this year I thought it'd be nice to do the whole country - BC to Newfoundland.
Well, after about 18 days I ditched my bike and gear along the road outside moose jaw, SK and called it quits.
It's funny sometimes how you just realize you don't much want to do a specific thing anymore, like riding a bike 7 hours a day for 90+ days.
I thought I'd just drop in here and let people know that it's fine to quit something, but make sure you really want to qit and that you're not just having a bad day.

take care and have fun
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Old 06-16-06, 05:13 PM   #2
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18 days is around when everyone gets doubts on long trips. Just went throught that on the N. Tier. Did a few 30mi days, took a rest day, and now I juust did 70mi in 3.5 hrs. I'm thinking of going for a century tommorow and have really hit my stride.
That said the downhill (Just finished the rockies) and the 20mph tailwind has also helped improve my mood.
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Old 06-16-06, 05:44 PM   #3
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On my 3 month adventure, there were three times where I took breaks from the touring, for a few days each time, because I just grew weary of getting up each morning and pounding off another long hard day in the saddle.

I would still love to do another long tour ... perhaps even longer than that one, but next time I will deliberately include "off" days where I will just stay in one spot for a while and rest, or will plan to rent a car or something and drive around a particular area or between one spot and another.

Even when we work, most of us take at least one day a week off ..... it's normal to need time to rest.
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Old 06-16-06, 07:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for having the guts to start this thread. Last year I was planning on 5 weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador and threw in the towel after 2 weeks. I had a great route planned and was looking forward to it. My previous tour was 10 months and loved (almost) every minute of it. This time I could not get into it no matter how hard I tried. Before I thrived on being alone and that's where I got my motivation and energy but this time I just couldn't do it and it didn't seem to click. I ended up back in St. Johns for a week and had a blast. I had somewhat of a similiar experience 10 years ago riding from AK to Seattle but was able to continue.

I wouldn't write off touring forever. Nothing is going to feel right all of the time no matter how much you like it.
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Old 06-16-06, 07:07 PM   #5
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....

Do me a favor? Send me the bike, gear and the extra cash from your tour fund! I'd LOVE to be able to afford to go touring now!!!!

*sighs wistfully*

Ah, well... I'm collecting my gear... making some... Hopefully I'll be able to do a short tour or two before the end of summer.... but I can't afford more than a few days at a time right now, even if I already had all the equipment.
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Old 06-16-06, 07:30 PM   #6
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Yep, I agree. Very courageous to start this thread.

This year - for the first time ever - I got sick. I had had some serious tooth work done this late spring and 3 days out my jaw swelled up the size of a baseball. Fortunately the dentist had given me a powerful antibiotic prescription before I left and I had decided to stay in town rather than head out into the boondocks as planned. I was lying on the concrete in front of the Walgreens writhing waiting for the pharmacy to open. Took a day off. The painkillers and antibiotics kicked in quickly, but as I started to climb the Sierras to Mount Lassen, I realized that I has a bad sore throat and a fever. I didn't even stay the night at Mount Lassen, but went down the east side for lower elevation since the weather was going to get bad. Turned out that it rained all night in the Black Rock Desert then changed over to snow before morning - no hint of such from NOAA. So I was riding in the cold and the wind and somehow the bug got down deep into my lungs and - maybe - turned into early pneumonia. Made crossing all those passes in Nevada really tough. My left lung was compromised and it felt like someone in golf shoes walking across my left side. Somewhere along the way, I realized that it wasn't fun anymore and called it quits in Ely. Still, I feel mega-guilty.

So - thanks again for the thread. Best - J
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Old 06-16-06, 08:50 PM   #7
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Did you have rest days? I'd never go for 18 days of straight biking myself. Gotta take two-tree days off here and there! Of course, if you just wanna quit - you're totally entitled. Quitting is ok.
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Old 06-16-06, 10:01 PM   #8
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I'm too old to tour every single day- and not even for the mileage you said.

When I tour, I make no real plans. Nothing specific. I just plan to ride some, and ride somewhere. If I like a place, I stay longer. If I don't, I leave quickly. Some days are harder than others, but when you have a hard day, you have to plan for a laid back day or else you're gonna crack.

I hope you go back and continue your tour. Sounds like you just need a little time off. And if you have no interest in touring there, find a new place to tour- go to Europe or Asia.

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Old 06-16-06, 10:24 PM   #9
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Maybe I'm not entitled to reply becuase I haven't 'been there done that' yet, but it seems to me with anything, not just cycle touring, that you risk burning out if you don't give yourself a break. Just travelling around (not by bike), we have learned over the years not to rush and make sure we have plenty of non-travelling days. On our upcoming tour, we plan at least 1 rest day for every 3-4 of cycling.
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Old 06-16-06, 10:26 PM   #10
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Right on! touring ought to be casual. It seems that a big destination is inspirational but not always enjoyable. One meets people on the road who are just banging home the last few weeks because if they gave up they wouldn't have finished. Reasonable enough.
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Old 06-17-06, 05:46 PM   #11
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I got tired of touring *alone* on my last ride, in Australia. I loved riding alone on a my previous 3 tours, but this time, I just felt... lonely and bored with myself. But touring with a partner brings up all kinds of other issues, not to mention I don't know anyone who wants to do this.

The whole where-to-sleep/eat/get water thing gets pretty boring - I end up spending too much time thinking about these basic necessities. I think I'll use an ACA map or plan a bit more next time, so I can spend less time thinking about this stuff and more time "in the now."

Also, I think I'm done with "goal oriented" touring like XC rides - too many uninteresting miles, just so at the end you can *say* "I rode across the country" or whatever. I really like tours that every day has interesting/new/challenging terrain. New Zealand was perfect. The colorado rockies were fabulous. Australia was not so great, despite it's fabulous reputation.

Also, I got sick of the "tour conversation" whereyougoingwhereareyoufromhowmanymilesblahblahblah"

Oh and I am really really really really tired of peanut butter.

Right now I am super tired of rock climbing, I've been doing that since March. Now I want to tour, but I don't want to go alone... trying to decide what to do.

Tough problems to have, I know. Guess I'll get a job, and that will put it all in perspective!
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Old 06-17-06, 07:26 PM   #12
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Life is too short to spend it doing something that you don't like. Most of us do that enough at times in our work life but we can "justify" it by saying we're getting paid to do it. But when you're doing something that you should be enjoying (like cycling/touring/traveling) and you are not, then you have to listen to your instincts. If something isn't right then you should stop until you figure it out.

Maybe you might do that trip next year and have a great time and be glad that you didn't push on. Or maybe 18 days is your limit. Part of pushing yourself is to find your own limits. Maybe you've found your's.

I did a 2 week solo tour last fall in the rain and snow and now I'm having second thoughts about a European trip I was thinking of. I enjoy my road bike so much that I think I'd rather bring it over and set up a base to do day trips out of, then move on and do more day trips out of another place, rather than do loaded touring.

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Old 06-17-06, 09:01 PM   #13
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I think the original poster raises quite a few interesting issues.

1. Goal vs the road itself. Depending where one lives and where one is used to ride, riding in unfamiliar terrain brings a different set of challenges. I am almost sure I would love to ride in B.C. but I'm not so sure about crossing the Prairies, for instance.

2. Facing the elements. I almost quit a 10-day Summer tour because of the weather. I only saw the sun on the first day. For 8 days it rained solid, and for the 9th, it snowed. Actually, the only reason I did not quit is that there was no bus or train service available. I also learned a lesson: I now tour with the kitchen sink; it's slower, but I have enough clothes to be comfortable at any temperature.

3. The mood. After my 1st year as Professor, I loved the job but really wanted to get away from civilisation. Too many people, too many contacts... On that tour, I really started to enjoy myself when I started to cycle in Newfoundland. Nothing like 3 or 4 days without human interaction to feel better.
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Old 06-17-06, 11:56 PM   #14
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Like the others have said, I wouldn't totally write off touring just yet. From your description, you probably had a pretty ambitious schedule, and that may have contributed to your mood. I had a similarly ambitious schedule on my recent tour of New Zealand (albeit over a shorter time frame), largely because I wanted to see as much of the country as possible in the limited time I had available. In hindsight, it was ridiculous to think I could cover the amount of distance I had planned in the time I had, and I ended up getting a bus for the last 400km or so. While I remained flexible about where I stayed each day, I always had it in my mind that I really "should" be covering x kilometres each day. There were times when the prospect of riding so many kilometres in a certain timeframe seemed daunting, times when it seemed like I didn't particularly want to ride that many kilometres. Had I not been seeing such inspiring sights everyday, I may have considered bailing as well.

After shortening a couple of days due to some unbelievably crap weather near Invercargill, I changed my outlook, and instead focussed on just enjoying the time I had left. After that decision, with some of the "pressure" relieved, the days that followed were some of the most memorable of my life. The moral of the story seems to be that when planning a tour, you need to have more realistic expectations, with some "slack" your plan, so that you can have days where you do something else, or wait out the worst of the weather, or whatever you feel like at the time. I'll keep that in mind when I head for Scotland next year.

Either way, take some time off touring in the short term and see if the desire returns, then put this one down to experience and learn from it.
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Old 06-18-06, 01:36 AM   #15
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Hey man, I remember talking to you before I set out on the same trip (which I am now on as I write this in Brandon, MB). Believe me, I've had days where I really considered dropping it myself. I actually went through a half-week crisis where I seriously asked myself if I even liked touring at all- if maybe I made a mistake. I may still drop for all I know but I don't think that it means that I'd leave touring for good. Actually, the day where I came the closest to dropping out, it was a 'perfect' day: no mountains, no headwinds and no rain... I just didn't want to ride. There's nothing wrong with dropping man, there's no point in going on if you don't like it. I can totally understand it. But as time went on, I came to like it more and more, despite the constant rain, mosquitoes and headwinds.

Touring is a funny thing, sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. This seems to be the case (at least for me) on both a large and small scale.

Good post though! Dropping is a possibility everyday for most of us but despite this fact, it is discussed surprisingly rarely on this forum. I gotta give respect for bringing it up and just declaring it man! Actually setting out on the ride might mean something though... it could indicate a willingness. You might still have an interest in touring. Maybe another time, another place?
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Old 06-18-06, 06:55 AM   #16
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I've been going on tours for most of my life. I've never contemplated ending a trip early (though on the last day of virtually every tour, I just want to get to my destination). I think the biggest reason why I never thought about stopping is probably because I've never been "goal oriented" on my tours, as valygrl put it. I've always been very willing to take advantage of public transportation to bridge the more interesting areas and avoid areas I suspect would be less enjoyable or even dangerous for touring. I will also spontaneously change plans when it seems to make sense. While I don't meticulously plan my route ahead of time, I do a lot of research and have a good idea of places I'd like to visit along the way. My tours these days tend to be shorter and in foreign countries. I went on much longer tours when I was younger, both at home and abroad, and they tended to be mainly camping & hosteling. Over the years, I decided I didn't really like camping anymore and I haven't carried camping gear for 9 years. The lack of camping and the shorter trips make burn out less likely. True, it will inevitably cost more if you don't camp, but as many of us get older, we can fortunately afford to spend more on our vacations. Mine are still very cheap compared to most folks my age. Touring in much of the world can be very inexpensive, even with lodging required each night. Of course, the airplane ticket to begin can easily cost several times what the touring expenses are. That was certainly true on my tours in Thailand and Sri Lanka. I think my choice of foreign destinations, however, is also a critical factor in avoiding burn out. There's always something new and interesting to see. I'm not just racking up miles/kilometers. I also know that the distance I ride each day has gone down over the years, another important factor, I suspect. But, I've always enjoyed biking over mountain passes, and that's something I still do on occasion.
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Old 06-18-06, 08:25 AM   #17
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I just finished my 4 week solo tour of the eastern US (well, to Denver, CO) and there wasn't a day that went by that didn't have some time where I regreted it. But let me tell you, the feeling at the end of the trip is totally worth it. To look at the map and say that my legs, those little stubby things got me all of those 2500 miles.

I remember one day in Missouri (I was making my own path the entire way, and the section of missouri I went through had the WORST roads I had gone on) everything was going wrong. I almost got hit 3 times, one resulting in me going off the edge of the road into a 3 foot ditch, the other resulting in almost slipping on a grove in the pavement at 15mph, and the last I was forced into the gutter and jolt messed up my handlebars (thankfully it was all fixable). All my close calls in the entire trip happened in a 1 hour, and let me tell you, I seriously could not think of any time in my entire life where I felt worse. I was so close to calling a cab to take me to the nearest airport. I hit the lowest low in my trip. And to add insult to injury, the traffic on the road was so high (and of course there was no shoulder to speak of) that I had to walk my bike 5 miles in the rain before I got off that road. Not only that, but the reason that I was even going to go on that road is that the offical Missouri "bike" map (it don't believe it is completed, but you can download some of it) said that there was 4' of paved shoulder on the stretch of road. But there was NOTHING. That made me mad like nothing else. This map was supposed to make cycling safer, but it probably lead me to the worst road in missouri (and no offence to people who live there) and that is saying something.

But when you hit the bottom, all you can go is up. The next day was awesome, I did 132 miles and it felt like nothing, I could have done 50 more if it wasn't getting dark.

Anyway, like I said, it is totally worth it in the end. The things you do and the people you met when cycling gets tough makes the trip (and life in general) worth it.
That said, quitting isn't the end of the world, just make sure that you really want to stop.


Edit: I just remember a funny thing that happened. As anyone who has toured solo before knows, it can get lonely on the road, sometimes you haven't had a real conversation with anyone besides yourself for a few days. I remember that one day in Kansas (which had the best roads and the nicest drivers) a car was pulling into the road and I did the little hand wave to make sure the driver saw me, and I remember thinking, "hey, human interaction."
You know you are really lonely when waving to a driver counts as interaction.

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Old 06-18-06, 12:40 PM   #18
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No shame in stopping if you are not getting what you want out of the experience. I was going to say "...no shame in stopping if you aren't having fun...", but many worthwhile advetures aren't really fun at the time yet we still love to do them.

I bailled on my first bike tour after 3 days of a planned 3 week tour. I had not tried out my gear well enough in advance and ran into some stability issues that made biking totally nerve wracking as my bike weaved around under me. I had planned on going kayaking afterwards so I just switched gears and had a 2 month kayak camping trip instead. I did regret not preparing better for the bike tour, but getting 2 months off was a major investment for me and I wanted to really enjoy it.

I learnt lots from the experience and still had a great time.

Ultimately time is the only thing in your life you'll never get back or be able to make more off so use it wisely.
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Old 06-18-06, 03:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kamoke
Well, after about 18 days I ditched my bike and gear along the road outside moose jaw, SK and called it quits.
Saskatchewan would do that to a person.

Great thread. Thanks for sharing, kamoke and others.
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Old 06-18-06, 10:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valygrl
I got tired of touring *alone* on my last ride, in Australia. I loved riding alone on a my previous 3 tours, but this time, I just felt... lonely and bored with myself. But touring with a partner brings up all kinds of other issues, not to mention I don't know anyone who wants to do this.

The whole where-to-sleep/eat/get water thing gets pretty boring - I end up spending too much time thinking about these basic necessities. I think I'll use an ACA map or plan a bit more next time, so I can spend less time thinking about this stuff and more time "in the now."

Also, I think I'm done with "goal oriented" touring like XC rides - too many uninteresting miles, just so at the end you can *say* "I rode across the country" or whatever. I really like tours that every day has interesting/new/challenging terrain. New Zealand was perfect. The colorado rockies were fabulous. Australia was not so great, despite it's fabulous reputation.

Also, I got sick of the "tour conversation" whereyougoingwhereareyoufromhowmanymilesblahblahblah"

Oh and I am really really really really tired of peanut butter.

Right now I am super tired of rock climbing, I've been doing that since March. Now I want to tour, but I don't want to go alone... trying to decide what to do.

Tough problems to have, I know. Guess I'll get a job, and that will put it all in perspective!
Valygrl,
I had to quote your entire post because you nailed it, at least for me. My first tour, across Canada, was the best. One of those life changing experiences that will never be duplicated. That set the mark and I have never been able to match it. I think it has to do more w/ what's going on in a person's head than the destination. I hardly knew anything about bikes when I did Canada and it was great because I spent time talking to people about real things, not gear or "tour conversation". Now I am into the gear and that's the major topic of discussion when encountering another cyclist. I don't care what the activity is, it's not going to be as good as it was the first time you did it.
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Old 06-19-06, 08:16 AM   #21
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On the subject of touring more than once -

Yes, the first tour is ofttimes compared to your first love. And for good reason. It opens up an entire new realm of experience previously unimagined. However, there are many reasons to continue to tour aside from the idea that you are attempting to recapture that first experience. I am reminded of the reasons someone chooses to reread a book or to play a Mozard sonata for the umpteenth time. Anyone who has reread a favorite book knows that the second or third reading brings with it entire new levels of understanding. In addition, the cadence of the words themselves bring pleasure. The same applies for a Mozart sonata. Many pianists continue to learn new repetoire throughout their lives, but they continue to play a favorite sonata nearly every day for 60 or 70 years. Why?

If your goal on a second or third or fourth tour is to recapture the unique emotions of the first, then I fear there will only be disappointment. On the other hand, if you approaches later tours with the idea of expanding and enriching the experience - and if you enjoy the physical experience of riding - of motion combined with land and sky and the smell of a clover meadow - then you will be pleasantly surprised year after year.

Best - J
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Old 06-19-06, 08:20 AM   #22
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Saskatchewan must be the most boring part. No?

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Old 06-19-06, 01:13 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani
On the subject of touring more than once -

Yes, the first tour is ofttimes compared to your first love. And for good reason. It opens up an entire new realm of experience previously unimagined. However, there are many reasons to continue to tour aside from the idea that you are attempting to recapture that first experience. I am reminded of the reasons someone chooses to reread a book or to play a Mozard sonata for the umpteenth time. Anyone who has reread a favorite book knows that the second or third reading brings with it entire new levels of understanding. In addition, the cadence of the words themselves bring pleasure. The same applies for a Mozart sonata. Many pianists continue to learn new repetoire throughout their lives, but they continue to play a favorite sonata nearly every day for 60 or 70 years. Why?

If your goal on a second or third or fourth tour is to recapture the unique emotions of the first, then I fear there will only be disappointment. On the other hand, if you approaches later tours with the idea of expanding and enriching the experience - and if you enjoy the physical experience of riding - of motion combined with land and sky and the smell of a clover meadow - then you will be pleasantly surprised year after year.

Best - J
I totaly agree with you. And I would also like to add.
My wife and I just finished a tour from Maastricht, The Netherlands to Barcelona, Spain.
On my first tour to Athens, Greece I went alone, this time my wife joined me. We both had a great time, even with the bad weather, we had most of the time.
Even though I had a fantastic time last year being my first tour, if I was to ride again to Athens I think I would like it just as much, not only because my wife would be coming along, but knowing much more about touring, I would make a few changes to the route.
The ride alone is not enough, the people, the languages, the land scapes, the food, the architecture of buildings, there is a lot more to touring than gear ratios, amount of kms, hills conquered and timetables for destinations.
cheers
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Old 06-19-06, 04:33 PM   #24
stokell
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I feel the pain.
I used to tour hard. Really hard. After a while I had to ask myself; Where is the fun here?
Now I don't do nearly the kilometres I used to do, but I do have a good time. If the road is up-hill against the wind, I settle for 70 kms a day instead of 100. If there is something to see along the way, I stop to see it.

It's all about expectations. This is supposed to be fun after all. Sucking it up for a day of bad riding is good. I can still take the worst of what the elements throw me. At the end of the day I want to have a little comfort so I know that tomorrow is another day.

Some one said that pain is God's way of telling you not to do something. Whether you believe in one god, many gods or no god, this is a universal truth.
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Old 06-24-06, 10:03 PM   #25
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I've already quit 2 tours this year.

I planned on doing a transam/northern tier ride to maine from oregon. I got about 10 miles from glacier n.p. and said screw it. I turned around and went to Whitefish and took amtrak back home. It rained over half the time. My tent leaked terribly. Both of my tent poles busted. I wimped out and stayed in hotels half the time and blew my budget all to hell. I did anywhere from 12 miles to 125 miles each day, usually averaging about 65 or 70. I didn't see any places that I hadn't already seen the year before by car. Glacier was still closed, so I only had a few more major mountain passes, then it was on to grasslands and plains for a real long ways, which didn't apppeal to me either. My motivation and desire to ride across america completely faded, and rather than push on and be miserable to complete my goal, I decided to stop and do something more enjoyable so it doesn't completely ruin bicycle touring for me.

After that I spent 4 days at home, then I went southwest to the coast. I only had 3 days of rain, but I was sick and had allergy problems most of the trip. Originally, I was hoping to do baja. I made it to TJ last year and ran out of money. By the time I got to San Francisco, it became very clear that there was no way I could afford to make it that far with the money I had left. I took the train back to Oregon from San Luis Obispo. Now, I plan on doing 1-3 day tours to the coast and mountains around where I live the rest of the summer untill I get enough money to do baja. Since baja has evaded me twice now, I am gonna start from San Diego instead of Oregon so I don't run out of money next time.
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