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  1. #1
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    Calming the irrational fears of your family members...

    I'm planning a tour from Georgia to Oregon, along the southern tier and up the Pacific coast during January and February (I may rent a minivan and drive a portion, maybe through Texas, so I can make this trip in 50 days).

    Anywho, my family members all think I am completely nuts and are advising against it.

    Their concern ranges from worrying about me getting turned into a pancake on the side of the road because "lots of drivers hate cyclists", to worrying about me getting mauled by wild animals when I'm camping, to getting mugged or having all of my stuff stolen because there are "lots of crazy bad people out there".

    Is there anything I can do to make them understand how relatively safe it is to do a tour across the country? From what I have read and learned from others, most solo trips go off without much trouble at all besides the occassional flat tire and such.

    Thanks for any advice!
    Ben

  2. #2
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    ARE the fears irrational? Ken Keifer himself was killed while touring.
    Comedian Bill Hicks once said, "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a jet ski, and you never see an unhappy person riding a jet ski."

  3. #3
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    Just buy a *** and keep it always loaded in your handlebar bag. That should calm their fears.

  4. #4
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    That is true, and not to make light of what happened to Ken, my point (I guess) is that it's not that much more dangerous than driving a car across the country. You can never prepare for drunk drivers, no matter what you do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PiratePete
    Just buy a *** and keep it always loaded in your handlebar bag. That should calm their fears.
    I already have a ***, but I'm not taking it with me. I think guns can get you into more trouble than good when you are in a confrontational situation (to each his own though). That said, I plan on taking a decent knife and carrying pepper spray just in case.

    I feel like I am taking all of the proper precautions. I have safety gear such as a highly reflective vest and reflective tape, lights on both ends (even though I don't plan to ride at night), mirrors, etc. There is no way anyone could miss me on my bike.

    I have done a lot of crazy stuff in my life, like climbing to the top of a 20,000 foot volcano, glaciers and all, and I have always survived. I feel like, safety-wise, a cross country tour is probably going to be one of the safest things I've ever done! I just don't know why they are so worried... maybe because they are not cyclists? And they never travel?


    Ben

  6. #6
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    My family was terrified when Amanda and I told them we were going to drive through Latin America and nearly died of fear when we shipped the van to Africa. We traveled for three years in some of the most - quote, unquote - dangerous countries in the world.... but we were never robbed, physically treatened, or harmed. When we returned to San Diego our storage unit had been looted....

    This afternoon I spoke to my mother on the telephone she told me that they (my parents) where thinking about spending a few months each winter in Mexico.

    Go on your trip.... you may pull those terrified family members out of their plastic bubbles...
    www.VWVagabonds.com
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  7. #7
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I've had the same thing in the past, although I've managed to calm their fears by surviving over a decade of Gold Coast drivers. In the end, about the only thing that calm's anyone's fears about a trip like that is actually surviving it. I read somewhere that most "accidents" happen in one's home, and that most "traffic accidents" happen within 5 miles of home. Is touring in another destination really so dangerous?

    I had people tell me I was mad for touring Tasmania, for example, because of all the supposed "crazies" living there. These were the same people who didn't blink when a lunatic in this city baracaded himself in a hotel room he'd filled with explosives demanding a cup of coffee. I had people tell me I was insane for considering other destinations, too. The one thing these people all had in common was that they had never been to the places I was intending to go. That just about says it all.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    I had people tell me I was mad for touring Tasmania, for example, because of all the supposed "crazies" living there.
    Oi!! Who are these people?? Me and me twin brother on my shoulder want to know!!







    Very in-house joke for Australians.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FXjohn
    ARE the fears irrational? Ken Keifer himself was killed while touring.
    I thought Ken was killed on the way home from town, not on a tour. He was still recovering, as I recall, from a broken hip sustained when he fell from his bike on to a kerb several months earlier.

    As to the fears, I don't recall any experienced touring cyclist on this forum claiming to carry a *** with them. It's not necessary. There is sound advice in this: If you look for trouble, you will find it; if you see trouble, take steps to avoid it.

    While you have engaged in other adventures, it is likely that your family and friends cannot relate as well because they don't see things like that in everyday life. They can, however, see cyclists every day, and can perceive a level of danger in how that cyclist and other road users behave. It is a difficult perception to overcome, and I don't think you ever can. Even partners who both ride can share concern about their safety while cycling. I might add that complacency is a very dangerous foe that can allow tragedy to occur at any moment. I just get a hint of this complacency from your writings about your other adventures. You don't mentioned how experienced a cyclist you are.

    One way to maybe get them onside is to have them act as sag support for one of your "practice" tours. Have them meet for lunch and at the campsite at the end of each day.

    You also will have to think seriously about how often you intend to contact them. It can be onerous to do so everyday, but if you leave contact for long periods -- a week or two -- then anxiety is very likely increase exponentially. I have found the PocketMail device an absolutely essential item in my recent travels; it has allowed me to maintain contact when email access through computers was impossible. It only needs a public phone box and the subscription is comparatively cheap, along with the unit. It runs on only two AA batteries, and it allows you to maintain daily or bi-daily contact via email. There also is a journal facility that is bundled with the membership, so you can elaborate on your emails for others to view. I thoroughly recommend it.

    You could also try to this strategy. How would they feel if they believed others felt so uncharitably about them. That they themselves are intent on pancaking cyclists because they hate them; that they set out every night to mug innocent people. Sorry, I don't have a technique on how to combat the animal issue --except maybe to get them to google the "dangerous" animals in the regions you're riding, then find out how many people have been attacked by those animals. I'll guarantee not many.

    Of course, you could downright lie -- tell everyone you're going by train or bus or hire car on the route you're touring, and sneak the bike away and ride on that.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    I find this works: Just tell them to "stop harshing my mellow, dog".

    But seriously, get them set up with Jerry and Ester Hicks. Ester channels Abraham, who teaches how to use your vibration to attrack the kind of outcomes you want. Their negative vibrations, if they resonate with you, will actually attrack the bad stuff you don't want. If you have positive vibrations it's impossible to be unsafe. In fact, if you could vibrate pure positive energy for 18 seconds you could create world peace. It's that powerful. I'm not kiding.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FXjohn
    ARE the fears irrational? Ken Keifer himself was killed while touring.
    Actually, kk was killed 6 miles from his home on an errand 2 weeks after completing his longest tour.

    So, its more likely you'll die near the house, not on a tour. which is where most motor vehicle accidents occur. a combination of repetition and relaxed attentiveness, i think.

    hmm, maybe you should get away from the house so youll live longer.
    Last edited by seeker333; 10-04-06 at 03:28 AM.

  12. #12
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    Oi!! Who are these people?? Me and me twin brother on my shoulder want to know!!


    I could tell you, but I don't trust your brother. He has at least three more toes than I do.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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  13. #13
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    "So, its more likely you'll die near the house, not on a tour. which is where most motor vehicle accidents occur. a combination of repetition and relaxed attentiveness, i think."

    It's all what you spend time doing. If you comute 20 miles each way every day, that's like 10000 miles a year. average distance from home, 10 miles. Then you ride a 2000 mile tour in open country. Which is going to get you?

    I was a traveling salesman for a few months, got in a minor fender bender, other two guys were... (drum role) traveling salesmen. Bet you didn't see that coming.

    Even in the bloodiest battle, nomally the side that collapses looses about 15% of it's personel. Of course the first wave may be wiped out, but the overall loses prior to collapse are like 15%, according to Keegan. Conversely about one cyclist is killed per million miles. of average danger riding. a 1 in one thousand chance. Not to worry.

  14. #14
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    Maybe you could show your family whatever you have been reading, or crazyguyonabike.com, and they can read for themselves about what it's like to bike tour.
    ...

  15. #15
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    Hello,

    You almost definitely will experience a few "dangerous" things out there during your tour. It's just inevitable. My advice is to NOT tell your loved ones about these experiences, unless you absolutely have to.

    For example, during my 2005 multi-month tour, a truck purposely "pushed" me off the road, a jackass threw an empty plastic bottle at me from his car, and I somehow loss control of my bike, went into a ditch, and then flew "slowly" over the handlebars. I wasn't hurt in any of these happenings.

    I decided not to tell my loved ones about these experiences, because I knew they would over react. They, and most people it seems, freak out at the thought of being out of the "comfort zone."

    For example, an 82-year-old man in VA told me, "Maybe your girlfriend will teach you some sense" when I told him of my continuing journey. Imagine! A person who has lived so long who can never begin to understand what I was trying to do.

    Anyway, the bottom line for me is that what your loved ones don't know won't hurt them.

    David in FL

  16. #16
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    Good point, we probably need a sticky for all our war stories so we could purge without getting the LOs all rilled up.

    I know what people mean by danger, but I used to take a postivist approach to it, and kinda discount it's existence. Stuff either does happen to you or it doesn't. Some of the misses make a lot better story than the endless close calls of being passed by cars passing you with 4" to spare. I learned that approach from climbing. I would have liked to have hyped some of the every day near disasters that happened to me. At the end of the day, danger stories are like someone telling you how they nearly were elected class president, then they nearly got into university, then they nearly got a good job. Somewhat like boasting.

    I want to sail my trimaran to the azores. I was recently thinking about what kind of experience that would be, and how "dangerous" would it be. In reality, you are much less in the presence of things that can kill you than you would be on a bike trip of equal length. You would have to be run down by a tanker, or hit an extraodinary storm, to be killed. Every car that comes along can kill you. The thing that makes the difference is that cars don't want to hit cyclists, the vast majority of drivers, basically all of them, are on our side.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Caspar_s's Avatar
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    Any of the "other things" would happen if you were camping with a car. You could argue it is more likely to happen because of the car - getting robbed for it.

    So basically it is about the riding. Do you commute? Then you ride every day anyway, so what is the difference. The main difference is that you aren't in the middle of rush hour traffic with people who are half asleep at the wheel in a rush to get to work because they are late and have to do that presentation, and have to call Bob in finance to find out "Bang"... "Oh, I didn't see him."

    On tour you also have panniers/trailer which seems to make people give you a wider berth anyway. Sure you'll have a truck that you think comes a bit close - just like you can in a car.

  18. #18
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebben123
    Is there anything I can do to make them understand how relatively safe it is to do a tour across the country?
    Yeah, go on the tour. When you return, tell them what an amazing time you had.

    Seriously, I'd get a Blackberry and email them every few days. They'll calm down after a week or so.

  19. #19
    jon bon stovie
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    when i told my parents my touring plans, they seemed cautious but okay with the trip. but when i mentioned that i wanted to tour solo, they both freaked out.

    but that is what parents and family members do. so here are a few things that i have noticed seem to start turning there feelings in the right direction.

    1: i invited them to come along. even though i would prefer solo, if they came, then they could see how safe it was. of course, i knew neither of them would accept the offer (although dad has mentioned he would like to do montana with me) but even if they did, it would still be a great time.

    2: site precedent. each of my brothers spent large chunks of time in countries much more dangerous than the united states (where i am planning on touring). one brother spent two years in west africa. and another a year in europe. if they were both completely fine (even though they spoke the language) there, how can a three month tour across the united states be any worse?

    3: keep them informed of how your training is going. when i told them about my first century a few months ago, i think it helped them realise that i was serious. it also proved that long distances can be accomplished safely, even if you are biking through new areas (even without a map).

    4: this one seems strange even for me, but we had a discussion of where i COULD ride. if a trip across the US was too much for them, what states were okay? well, i got more information than they realise. it was okay to bike in my own state (which is a good thing!), and in the state where they live in, as well as a few others. since our states touch, and i have their "permission" so to speak, i'm biking home for thanksgiving! won't they be surprised when instead of picking me up at the train station, i am on their front porch with my bicycle! sure, they might freak out a little, but all will (hopefully) have gone well and i am sure i will have a few good stories to tell about the ride. with a short tour under my belt, it will be easier for them to accept a long tour later.

    glad to hear you are not taking a *** also. even after your trip i wouldn't tell them of anything bad that did happen (and hopefully nothing will), but you are right, mosttroubles on a tour do seem to be bicycle mechanics related. if they see that you can fix any part of your bike, then they will know that you will not get stuck in the middle of nowhere and that you will always have a way to get to safety if you need it.

    still, they will worry. if they can't give you all the support you need, that is there decision. i am sure they will support you in the end.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    I learned that approach from climbing.
    oooo another climbing bike tourist!

    hi!

    (the valley in valygrl is yosemite valley)
    ...

  21. #21
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    As with so many things in life:
    You can mitigate risk reasonably, but rarely eliminate it.

    I often make it a point of explaining to the few nutty (and generally ignorant) family members like this that I'm aware of the risks, have taken reasonable measures to mitigate them, and am willing to accept the rest. They need only respect my decision. It usually shuts 'em up. If not, I'm willing to hang-up.
    Mike
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