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Old 07-26-06, 01:17 AM   #1
srrs
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gave up the tour

so i left at the beginning of may on what was supposed to be a 10 week long solo tour. i made it two weeks before taking a train the rest of the way. nasty headwinds for 10 out of 14 days. rain and cold for a lot of them, too. it just wasn't that much fun, and by the end of the couple of weeks, it didn't feel like vacation. it definitely changed my life in a lot of ways, but it wasn't at all what i expected.

so at this point i'm wondering, what now? i think i'll try another, shorter tour next year, probably a more scenic route (instead of across ohio, illinois, and indiana).. it's hard though, because i'm fighting the feeling that i'm a big failure, that i couldn't hack it. since i got off the train, my relationship with the bike hasn't been the same - it's been really difficult for me to ride it much. it's almost like i'm afraid of it, like something's gone sour.

can anyone share their experiences after they cut a tour short? what's going on here? is there a way i can conquer this feeling that i failed and should just never touch a bike or a pannier again?
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Old 07-26-06, 03:40 AM   #2
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I didnt so much give up as change direction.
Heading over Exmoor, a granite upland in SW of the UK, I was riding into the teeth of a NW gale, uphill and getting nowhere. It was quicker walking so I flipped the bike around, headed back down with the wind behind me and did the fastest 17miles ever to get to the nearest station. I went by rail to a more sheltered part of the area and has a great tour.
You do have to factor wind into a tour, esp over flat plains and with rail transport you can change your plans according to the conditions.
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Old 07-26-06, 06:56 AM   #3
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I think it’s difficult to give an advice, so I can only share my experience.
Two years ago my wife and I were on an unsupported bike tour in the Czech Republic. That was in May too. The weather was fine at first days and it was even hot. But it was only May, not summer, so suddenly it became cold and rainy. Temperature had fallen below +5C and a thunderstorm with snow began. Wind was very strong, water with snow poured on us like from a fire-pump. What I can say, we stood on the road at the center of a huge field in the dusk, in the unknown country and looked at each other. She almost cried. “Mommy, I want to go home” that was her single thought at that moment. She had told me about it afterwards. We planned to stealth camp that night, and it became clear that we have to change our plans. So I said “Listen, we have to ride 20 km to the nearest town and I promise you hot shower and romantic supper in a hotel tonight”.
She wrote in her diary afterwards "I was happy that evening in the hotel like it never was before and there was no regret about our adventure”.
Happy trails.

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Old 07-26-06, 08:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srrs
so i left at the beginning of may on what was supposed to be a 10 week long solo tour. i made it two weeks before taking a train the rest of the way. nasty headwinds for 10 out of 14 days. rain and cold for a lot of them, too. it just wasn't that much fun, and by the end of the couple of weeks, it didn't feel like vacation. it definitely changed my life in a lot of ways, but it wasn't at all what i expected.

so at this point i'm wondering, what now? i think i'll try another, shorter tour next year, probably a more scenic route (instead of across ohio, illinois, and indiana).. it's hard though, because i'm fighting the feeling that i'm a big failure, that i couldn't hack it. since i got off the train, my relationship with the bike hasn't been the same - it's been really difficult for me to ride it much. it's almost like i'm afraid of it, like something's gone sour.

can anyone share their experiences after they cut a tour short? what's going on here? is there a way i can conquer this feeling that i failed and should just never touch a bike or a pannier again?
Solo touring is a lot tougher than you think, especially if it's a miserable tour. You have no one to complain to or share your misery with. Stop kicking yourself, you did 2 weeks and you made it x number of miles. Look for something positive about the trip (there is something there, trust me ) and keep planning. After a few more tours...short ones...you'll say to yourself at the end of it, "I'm never going to do that again...Hmmm. Wonder where I should go next time?"

Go look at my trip (link below).
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Old 07-26-06, 08:36 AM   #5
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There is no shame in bailing on a bike tour if you are having zero fun. After all it isn't a job. You are not a failure at all. You had the guts to try out a 10 week solo tour. That's cool.

What now? Well I think the idea of some shorter tours - even just a night or two is a great idea. You'll be able to get a good weather forecast and avoid being cold and wet. Then for you next extended tour pick a location and time of year that has a high probablity of good weather. I'm not really familiar with Ohio, Illinos and Indiana, but around here (Alberta) May is very unpredictable and it could be hot and sunny or snowing - and in the course of a week it might do both!

Also spend some time thinking about what you liked about your tour and what you disliked (aside from the wind & rain). Were you lonley riding solo? Would you have been in better spirits with some company? How were the roads you selected and the scenery? All I am trying to get at is that you can plan some wildly different touring experiences depending on what is important to you. Just because you didn't like one tour doesn't mean you won't have a great time next year when you go on a completely different one.

Lastly if you have a long tour planned (like 10 weeks) you will most likely have some portion that isn't ideal. The weather will get ugly for a while or the roads maybe be unpleasant in a section, etc... The beauty with a long tour though is you have the time to either wait out the weather or to reroute yourself to avoid whatever is bothering you. Maybe you could have taken the train south and biked to your destination along a different route with better weather or if your destination wasn't set in stone maybe taken a train somwhere else and toured another part of the country?

The bottomline is you tried and you learnt something important that you can use to make future bike tours more enjoyable. Don't feel bad about that.
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Old 07-26-06, 08:45 AM   #6
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On my first North-South transcontinental tour (Canada to Key West), the first 15 days were non-stop torrential downpours. I seriously considered quitting but stuck it out. Once I abandoned all hope of being dry, it got a lot better. At night I'd camp in commercial campgrounds, take all my stuff (which was soaking wet) to the camp laundry and dry t in the big dryers-- it helped being able to put on dry clothing and have a good night's sleep.

Once the rain quit the trip was that much sweeter.

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Old 07-26-06, 08:53 AM   #7
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I've done all sorts of touring, from solo self-supported to big supported group rides. Both have advantages and disadvantages, If you want to try something a little more easy-go, check out any of these. Many are relatively low-cost camping trips, but you get lots of support and an immediate social network.

http://www.nbtda.com/SearchTour.asp?...ay#scrollpoint
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Old 07-26-06, 10:20 AM   #8
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I have done quite a bit of touring and have quit a couple of tours. once I got sick riding from Atlanta to Washington DC. I dealt with being sick a couple of days and then it was cold and rainy for two more so I caught a train home and rode the tour a couple years later. Another time I got caught in a 100+heat wave riding from ST Louis to Atlanta. I was miserable and not having a good time so I quit and rode a Greyhound home.
Touring is suppose to fun if you ain;t having fun there is no point in doing it. taking a solo 1O week tour when you have relatively little touring experince is not usually a good plan. So hang up the guilt and take a weekend camping trip on the bike or do a 3 day tour . I find the little tours to be often more enjoyable than 10 week slogs across the continent.
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Old 07-26-06, 11:25 AM   #9
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I wouldn't think of it as failure. After all, you can't control the weather. It sounds like you ended up with conditions that you did not expect or plan for. That's OK. It'll probably be better next time.

In the meantime, take the opportunity to review the trip and identify what worked right and what didn't. Look over your packing list and refine it to leave behind things you really didn't need. Add to it things you really could have used, but did not take. How did your gear work in the rain? Dealing with leaking tents or panniers can certainly take a lot of joy out of any trip.

Maybe you planned a bit too ambitious schedule? If you are dealing with a stiff headwind, one way to cope is to simply reduce your planned mileage for that day and stop after fewer miles. For the same effort you may be moving more slowly, but if you have the time, it shouldn't bother you if you don't make as much progress that day. Chances are that the wind will soon shift and you may be able to make better time later so it all evens out.

Taking some shorter trips might be a good idea so you can further refine your techniques. Nobody gets everything right the first time.
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Old 07-26-06, 11:30 AM   #10
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Don't even consider giving it up.
Even if you aren't able to achieve your objective, you can always try again.
Put those feelings of failure behind you - you ought to be proud that you made it as far as you did.
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Old 07-26-06, 01:23 PM   #11
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The only thing is that if you told yourself this was going to be a great gut check, and no mater what happened you were going to fight through to the end, then giving up is a failure of sorts. But if you were just not having the experience you expected, and planed for, then it's hard to see why you should put yourself through 8 more weeks. Everyone has a story like this about something. So I wouldn't beat yourself up about it. Live and learn.

One way to avoid the failure set out in the first paragraph is to be sure you have cut yourself the necesarry slack in terms of your mission statement. I normally have a goal in mind, but I also say I'm taking it day by day. In my personal case I wouldn't want to whimp out over weather (though the amount of misery one should self-inflict is a personal issue). But due to ostio reasons I never know whther I am going to have to stop day by day, and if I make it my full distance, it's a bit of a surprise.
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Old 07-26-06, 01:41 PM   #12
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Fun is the main goal, sometimes fun doesn't just happen, you have to make it happen. I love to tour on the shoulders too and I'll be in Northern Europe next May and I'm into serious planning right now.

Winds are my main problem too. I've done Exmoor and I know what it's like to turn a corner and find yourself biking backwards because of heavy winds. It's always good to have a 'Plan B' too.

I do a weather log for at least a year before a major trip. Log info includes wind direction and speed, humidity, high and low temperature as well as synopsis. Wind direction is tricky. Prevailing winds are important, but sometimes it is alo wind strength. If light breezes are predominently out of the west, but when the wind is out of the east it blows up a gail, you might consider going from east to west.

If you need a good a good 'recovery' short tour, do something easy, nearby and comfortable. Remember having fun is more important than proving something.
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Old 07-26-06, 03:43 PM   #13
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I think quitting is good. You wouldn'ta quit if it was fun, after all! Quitting looked at in another way is "cutting your losses". Never a bad thing.

I think solo touring is harder than touring with a companion. Every decision is down to you. That is a lot of work, and a lot more decisions in a day than we tend to make at home. That can be exhausting.
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Old 07-26-06, 06:49 PM   #14
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My Bicycle and i also had a bit of a fight after i got back from my first solo tour. (Just got back 1.5 months ago) I planned this big thing, Flew to paris from JFK and then biked out of paris...turned around and biked back within a day. then tried again...turned around and said...at least a week! so i didn't let myself go back to charles degaulle airport.
from there i just kept pedaling...this was also my first serious bike anything! eventually i got used to the lifestyle of stealth camping...but when i got to ireland i said i'd do a loop around the coast and i almost made it...but damn that beautiful irish rain!!! I was aiming for scotland...but just didn't have it in me to be wet anymore...and not have a 100% dry place to go to at the end of the day with a warm shower and hot cup of tea. and so, so, so, lonely. I stepped out of my comfort zone for a few months...but most of it wasn't fun. most of it was pain... and i'm not talking french bread...

ok so i got back and couldn't look my bicycle in the eye for a couple of weeks b/c i didn't accomplish everything i set out to spiritually/physically/emotionally. what helped me was finding the best part of my tour, extracting that and doing it at home. for me it was waking up every morning at 5:00 am to birds and knowing i have the whole day to do whatever i want with...and riding the bike with no traffic and that sleepy feeling before everyone else is even awake and I was grabbing hold of my Day! so i started riding in the mornings, and wow! I also started riding in the rain (knowing i have a dry place to go to after) and my fear of that is gone. cycling is now more joyful for me...has an element of freedom...and i'm planning my next tour...
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Old 07-26-06, 09:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1
One way to avoid the failure set out in the first paragraph is to be sure you have cut yourself the necesarry slack in terms of your mission statement.
This is a sensible idea. If you're getting day after day of crap weather, sometimes taking a day or two off and spending it inside a cabin or motel, or doing something completely different for a day or two isn't such a bad idea. It may just give you a chance to recharge the batteries and look upon your situation a little differently. And yes, doing a shorter tour a little later and working your way up to a bigger one could also be a good way to go. How about a long weekend?
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Old 07-26-06, 09:46 PM   #16
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10 weeks! Solo!

What the heck were you thinking? That's more than most of here would try, even with massive touring behind us.

You made it though two weeks of hard riding....that would be victory enough for me.

And stop not being friends with your bike.... it isn't healthy.
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Old 07-26-06, 10:35 PM   #17
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Life doesn't always work out the way you plan. Put it behind you and move on, it's really only the future that matters. To suffer through a long miserable trip one has to have some good trips already under your belt to sustain you, so maybe plan a fun trip next time, like go touring in Europe with a friend.

When I was a teenager I was into hitchhiking as a mode of travel, and one winter I flew over to Europe to spend the winter hitchhiking around Europe. I have never spent so much time standing on the side of roads without getting a ride as I did that winter, and I have never been so cold, wet and lonely. It took me a couple of months before I could admit that I wasn't enjoying myself. And once I broke out of that mindset and just took each day as it came (and yes, I traveled mostly by bus and train), well then I started to enjoy my trip.

Count yourself lucky that it took you only 2 weeks to figure that out.

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Old 07-26-06, 10:52 PM   #18
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Going through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois means you were headed into the wind most of the time. Having grown up in central Illinois I can tell you that by afternoon there is a strong wind out of the west most days. Personally, my recommendation would have been for a more angled route if you really wanted to see the corn fields, otherwise heading northeast would probably have worked out better since you'd have the wind at your back while heading uphill and you'd go into the wind while going downhill.
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Old 07-27-06, 05:22 AM   #19
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I once freeked out after a week on the road, I had reached my first goal of visiting my grand fothers burth place in west Verginia, sinica rock camp ground was where I was at. I had come over 3 mtns. and was told that the next camp ground was 5 mtns away. I went around the camp until I found a ride over those mtns.finished my planned ride back to the planes, That winter I found an artical about sub consus brain talk about survival mode when the body is ingaged in a new activity that is preceved to be dangerous. That folowing yr. I and bike in the old van went back and did the 60 miles. got some strange looks had some laughs met more nice people all was good. He that strikes and runs away lives to fight another day!
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Old 07-27-06, 06:15 AM   #20
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Touring is about self-reliance. Sometimes you don't meet your goals, other times you do. Be flexible, make goals achievable.

I've spent days on a tour doing something other than touring. You haven't quit your tour unless you have given up.

Take a break, get back on your bike and take a spin for a day or two.
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