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  1. #1
    Has opinion, will express
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    How much do journals gloss over the bad bits

    I have read many, many journals about bicycle touring. I was there at the beginning when Neil Gunton started CGOAB with his own personal cross-continent journal. I've read privately posted websites, too.

    To be frank, and probably coming from a journalist's perspective, there are very, very few that grab the attention a journey often deserves. I can recall probably 10 out of the hundreds on CGOAB that I have wanted to return to and follow closely as the tour has progressed. There was one that was fantastic... then suddenly it just stopped mid-tour. And Gunton's own journal, I think, set the standard in many ways.

    Maybe of late, I have become so familiar with the Adventure Cycling routes through other people's experiences that their journals don't hold much interest after the intro page. And there are others that are just there to let their families and friends know they have gone from Point A to B to Z... boring.

    But the ones that have grabbed my attention have a special quality -- they talk a lot about the author's internal emotions -- not just the reasons why a bike ride is being undertaken, but their day-by-day feelings, the highs and lows.

    Their souls are laid bare. They relate their enjoyment of cycle touring... as well as their frustrations and disdain for it. Their descriptions of the physical things they see are enhanced by how they feel deeply inside. They accept responsibility for their decisions on the tour. They reveal how their emotions have resulted in where they are. They delve deep within their souls to tell you things that strike a chord with you, with anyone. They discuss things that others might find embarrassing or are simply incapable of expressing.

    They're honest. They are the real (and real-life) story-tellers.

    I have read journals where everything has been hunky-dory, and not a thing has gone wrong, and the description has been entirely about the minutae of "doing" the journey. Sometimes, I get to the last page when the writer says: "This is something I will never do again". The reasons have, of course, been hidden from view through shyness, or maybe a lack of honesty, or that they don't want to upset another person. Who knows?

    Of course, as time passes, many of the less-than-nice things that happen on a tour fade, and the best things stand out. Even a day can make a lot of difference in how we might describe something awful when we come to sit down and write a journal.

    I've started this for several reasons, and I started to think about it when reading velonomad's excerpts from the journal of his first tour. And when looking at material on that *other* thread.

    People use journals to document their own dreams and adventures. That's all well and good, but what happens when they become an accessible resource when indulgence-published on a website?

    As can be pointed out, people who use the web should be able to filter out the static and identify what is useful to them. To experienced cycle-tourist, the information in a glossy, all-positive journal is of no more use than an advertisement in a frivilous glossy magazine or on television. Likewise, a negative journal is like one dissatisfied customer out of a thousand satisfied ones, ranting here on BikeForums. But if you don't know what you are looking for, how can you tell the differences? There are many who believe both the glossy magazines and the BF ranters...

    How do *you* filter or balance the good from the not-so-good? If you have your heart set on doing something, do you only look for all the positive stuff... and dance over or around the bad stuff in the belief that it could only happen to others?

    Do you get suspicious about the integrity of the writer if things don't add quite the way they are written?

    How do *you* determine a good read? How useful have journals been to you in planning (a) a destination, (b) your equipment and travel strategies and (c) seeing if you are emotionally up to it?
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  2. #2
    Senior Member velo2000's Avatar
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    I'll answer your questions with an example: http://www.geocities.com/leon_mauric...rone/index.htm. That journal was one of the first I read and I still think it's one of the most entertaining and captivating. The author doesn't gloss over the bad parts of his ride. In fact, I loved it when he started the entry for several days in a row the same way: "Today was the worst. Colder than buggery again.".

  3. #3
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I have read many, many journals about bicycle touring. I was there at the beginning when Neil Gunton started CGOAB with his own personal cross-continent journal. I've read privately posted websites, too.

    To be frank, and probably coming from a journalist's perspective, there are very, very few that grab the attention a journey often deserves. I can recall probably 10 out of the hundreds on CGOAB that I have wanted to return to and follow closely as the tour has progressed. There was one that was fantastic... then suddenly it just stopped mid-tour. And Gunton's own journal, I think, set the standard in many ways.

    Maybe of late, I have become so familiar with the Adventure Cycling routes through other people's experiences that their journals don't hold much interest after the intro page. And there are others that are just there to let their families and friends know they have gone from Point A to B to Z... boring.

    But the ones that have grabbed my attention have a special quality -- they talk a lot about the author's internal emotions -- not just the reasons why a bike ride is being undertaken, but their day-by-day feelings, the highs and lows.

    Their souls are laid bare. They relate their enjoyment of cycle touring... as well as their frustrations and disdain for it. Their descriptions of the physical things they see are enhanced by how they feel deeply inside. They accept responsibility for their decisions on the tour. They reveal how their emotions have resulted in where they are. They delve deep within their souls to tell you things that strike a chord with you, with anyone. They discuss things that others might find embarrassing or are simply incapable of expressing.

    They're honest. They are the real (and real-life) story-tellers.

    I have read journals where everything has been hunky-dory, and not a thing has gone wrong, and the description has been entirely about the minutae of "doing" the journey. Sometimes, I get to the last page when the writer says: "This is something I will never do again". The reasons have, of course, been hidden from view through shyness, or maybe a lack of honesty, or that they don't want to upset another person. Who knows?

    Of course, as time passes, many of the less-than-nice things that happen on a tour fade, and the best things stand out. Even a day can make a lot of difference in how we might describe something awful when we come to sit down and write a journal.

    I've started this for several reasons, and I started to think about it when reading velonomad's excerpts from the journal of his first tour. And when looking at material on that *other* thread.

    People use journals to document their own dreams and adventures. That's all well and good, but what happens when they become an accessible resource when indulgence-published on a website?

    As can be pointed out, people who use the web should be able to filter out the static and identify what is useful to them. To experienced cycle-tourist, the information in a glossy, all-positive journal is of no more use than an advertisement in a frivilous glossy magazine or on television. Likewise, a negative journal is like one dissatisfied customer out of a thousand satisfied ones, ranting here on BikeForums. But if you don't know what you are looking for, how can you tell the differences? There are many who believe both the glossy magazines and the BF ranters...

    How do *you* filter or balance the good from the not-so-good? If you have your heart set on doing something, do you only look for all the positive stuff... and dance over or around the bad stuff in the belief that it could only happen to others?

    Do you get suspicious about the integrity of the writer if things don't add quite the way they are written?

    How do *you* determine a good read? How useful have journals been to you in planning (a) a destination, (b) your equipment and travel strategies and (c) seeing if you are emotionally up to it?
    The "Good Journals" you've read are the riders that are in it for "The Journey", I'm not surprised they would write about it well, not to mention most people really don't know how to have a conversation with a piece of paper, or their target audience!
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  4. #4
    Member Zommaz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I have read journals where everything has been hunky-dory, and not a thing has gone wrong, and the description has been entirely about the minutae of "doing" the journey.
    I feel that lots of people are "forgetting" the easy parts rather than the hard parts when describing a journey. That way it's easier to impress people.

    On my last trip I had with me a copy of, I don't recall the exact title, some thing like"The worst journeys... Edited by...". Most of it was written by proper authors and journalists, describing sleeping among scorpions and **** and running out of water in the middle of a desert, etc.

    It made my Europe trip easy and also a bit boring, because I realized that for me the best trip really is the worst trip because, and perversely, that's really part of why I'm riding places. I almost want to get lost and get into trouble to a certain degree.

    I'm always looking for the worst journals. That way the bad stuff will probably be fairly accurate.

  5. #5
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    I've never published my journals, but I have kept them over the years and look at them every so often. Since the intended audience was me, the entries tend to contain enough detail to remind me of the day (it's amazing what those entries can bring back to mind even 25 years later) but not so much that anyone else would have more than a basic feel for the trip. I certainly did not omit the "bad stuff," but again, while my entries can instantly put me back in the middle of Nebraska for the single worst day I have ever spent on a bike (headwinds, rain, non-stop rolling hills, trucks passing close by at 65mph+ and one passing really, really close featured prominently), they do not begin to convey the day to someone else who happened to read about it. By the same token, my entries do not begin to convey just how wonderful some of the experiences were.

    If I were ever to write them up for someone else's consumption, I would try to bring out what you are talking about: the ebbs and flows of the trip; the awe instilled by watching the Tetons slowly rise into view; the frustration caused by the rear wheel that seemed to want to spoil my cross-country trip; the simple but all-consuming joy of dropping down miles and miles of perfect, smooth downhill off of Yuba Pass towards Downieville, CA, on a perfectly clear day; the fleeting moment of blind terror as a cow moose scrambled up on the road about 10 feet in front of me in Yellowstone - that sort of stuff. I agree that that is the sort of perspective that is missing from most bike trip journals, even most published ones.
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  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    .

    How do *you* filter or balance the good from the not-so-good? If you have your heart set on doing something, do you only look for all the positive stuff... and dance over or around the bad stuff in the belief that it could only happen to others?

    Do you get suspicious about the integrity of the writer if things don't add quite the way they are written?

    How do *you* determine a good read? How useful have journals been to you in planning (a) a destination, (b) your equipment and travel strategies and (c) seeing if you are emotionally up to it?
    My journals come out of letters I write home. When I write my letter every night I try to tell my wife about something that happened that day but I don't bore her with details. She doesn't need to know what I ate for breakfast or that my legs hurt or that I got buzzed by a car. I stick to the big picture. If I saw something interesting; if I meet someone; if I saved a turtle...all of it is stuff I want her to know about.

    I then take those letters and use them for an e-mail newsletter I do for my bike club. I distill them, embelish them, find odd ways of looking at things, remember stuff that I forgot to tell my wife about and, in general, try to make the story larger than it really was. Each of the chapters of my journal comes from a weekly newsletter so it takes me month's sometime to cover the trip. Some of my stories are true, some have a kernal of truth and some are made from whole cloth. If it makes me laugh, I'll write about it. If it makes me cry, I write about it. One story, The Hulk, in Picking the Scablands still makes me cry. It's from a terrible place on a terrible day where real people died and I really felt all the things I wrote about.

    The one thing I try not to do, is to make a travelogue. I hate reading journals that simply list where the rider went and how many miles he covered. Those are bones. Give me meat!
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
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    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  7. #7
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I'm far from a good journal writer but I did attempt to describe some of the negative feelings I was having. Mostly missing my wife and child, eating the same food everyday, and those **** winds in Texas.

    I agree with you that the best journals covers both the negative and positive aspects of the ride. My personal preference is journals where they camp out and describe that.

    If you haven't read them, the late Ken Kifer's bike journals & touring articles are a good read.
    http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/sitemap.htm

    Heidi's journals on CGOAB really cover the positive and negative of a ride also, especially her Alaska trip and return on a trike. I really enjoyed her honesty.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Thank you for this post. In early March I'm going to try the Southern Tier, my first long tour. I'll do my best to keep your observations in mind as I post my journals on cgoab.

  9. #9
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    After a tour in France some years ago I was met at the ferry by my wife with the car. She had thought , reasonably enough that I would appreciate being carried the rest of the way home. This was after cycling/camping around a thousand miles with only around twenty miles to cycle home from the ferry. I was angry that she was there to carry me home and would have much preferred to cycle.
    What the incident did do, was cause me to question why I did like to cycle with a little tent, alone in a foreign country, for a couple of months at a time. Especially as I'm approaching seventy and my health has been a bit dodgy lately.

    The answer is that I need the risks involved. Life is too safe, too predictable and too boring. I enjoy heading out for somewhere under my own power and being aware that many things may go wrong. This is the reason that I don't plot my route precisely but only a general direction. It is the uncertainty that is the fun. The pleasure comes from being thrown on your own resources in order to deal with anything that may arise. When I'm on tour I come alive and become aware that for most of the time I live a half life, where I know, certainly for most of the time, exactly what's going to happen. On tour, nothing is certain, anything can happen and nothing pre-ordained and therein lies the pleasure.

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpsblake
    I'm far from a good journal writer but I did attempt to describe some of the negative feelings I was having. Mostly missing my wife and child, eating the same food everyday, and those **** winds in Texas.

    I agree with you that the best journals covers both the negative and positive aspects of the ride. My personal preference is journals where they camp out and describe that.

    If you haven't read them, the late Ken Kifer's bike journals & touring articles are a good read.
    http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/sitemap.htm

    Heidi's journals on CGOAB really cover the positive and negative of a ride also, especially her Alaska trip and return on a trike. I really enjoyed her honesty.
    I hate writing in a journal. It's odd, because I have to write everything I do at work in a lab notebook but, for personal stuff, I find my journal writing becomes a laundry list. That's why I started the letter writing. I find that I want to tell my wife about my trips and it forces me to tell a story instead of just a list of things. If you have to describe your day to someone else, especially if you do it like a conversion, you end up with a better narrative.

    Another trick is to try to distill your observations after the trip is over. Give it some time to ferment (not too much) and then start writing a little at a time. Instead of trying to do one long story, break it into chapters.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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    original quote by onbike 1939

    The answer is that I need the risks involved. Life is too safe, too predictable and too boring. I enjoy heading out for somewhere under my own power and being aware that many things may go wrong. This is the reason that I don't plot my route precisely but only a general direction. It is the uncertainty that is the fun. The pleasure comes from being thrown on your own resources in order to deal with anything that may arise. When I'm on tour I come alive and become aware that for most of the time I live a half life, where I know, certainly for most of the time, exactly what's going to happen. On tour, nothing is certain, anything can happen and nothing pre-ordained and therein lies the pleasure.
    I couldn't of said it better myself.

  12. #12
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    How do *you* filter or balance the good from the not-so-good? If you have your heart set on doing something, do you only look for all the positive stuff... and dance over or around the bad stuff in the belief that it could only happen to others?

    Do you get suspicious about the integrity of the writer if things don't add quite the way they are written?

    How do *you* determine a good read? How useful have journals been to you in planning (a) a destination, (b) your equipment and travel strategies and (c) seeing if you are emotionally up to it?
    Personally, I filter on the basis of what sticks in my mind. There are so many things that go through my head on every ride that it's ridiculous. Sometimes they're thoughts that have absolutely no relevance to the ride itself at all. Often on a bike tour (particularly in the less interesting stretches), I'll be riding along thinking about how I'm going to deal with something else going on in my life at the time -- seeing that particular issue from a new perspective and coming up with ways to deal with it. The point of all this is to illustrate just how many things go through my mind during a trip.

    Often some of the emotions I was feeling at a particular time of the day will have disappeared completely by the time I get around to writing about them. Sure, I can jog my memory pretty quickly by looking at the map (or simply starting the process of recording the day's events) and thinking of where I've just ridden, but that isn't going to bring back every thought from the last six hours. Consequently, I take the view that if a particular emotion doesn't come flooding back at that point, perhaps it wasn't in my head all that strongly to begin with.

    I don't believe that I skip over the bad things, but then I'm also a great believer in an old business expression: "Things are never as good or as bad as they seem". Often something that I thought was the end of the world a little earlier will appear as something that wasn't so bad after all by the end of the day. A classic example was snapping my pannier rack in New Zealand last year. I actually thought for a few horrible moments that my tour was, if not over, then certainly seriously impeded. By the time I came around to publishing this in an online journal (i.e. by the time I next had Internet Access to do it), I had put together an "emergency" repair which had managed to last over 200km.

    Sure I could write about the uncertainty of the repair at the time (and I did). However, at the time I was feeling those emotions, I was too busy trying to find a solution, so I'm not sure it would have come out the same.
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  13. #13
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    To be perfectly honest - I am sometimes worried that my journals are too negative. I have a tendency to play "What's Wrong with This Picture?" Even when practically everything is perfect, I can find something to kvetch about. I would suspect that most people writing journals are writing them for themselves and friends/family - not for a broader audience. I, personally, don't care if someone writes almost exclusively about what she ate and another person writes about speed and distance covered. I don't - but we are all different. Same goes for reading them. Find the ones you like - and skip the others.

    Perhaps, this is why is is often difficult to find another person to ride with on very long bike tours. It's hard enough to find somebody crazy enough to quit his/her job, put everything in storage, and take off for three months. Then you find out she likes to stay in towns and you like to be out in the wilderness. He likes to chat while riding and you like silence. You like showers every day and they could care less. Many journals that involve groups talk about the tensions that crop up - understandably. On one cross-country solo trip I started yakking with a cyclist going the other way I bumped into at a picnic area. Two minutes into the conversation she said, "You've been away from people too long - it's obvious."

    Here's an example of the joys of touring from my 2005 journal:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...68&v=2lc#27530

    "We woke to a drizzle which soon became a heavy rain. At first, the cedar canopy kept the rain off my tent, but as the rain intensified, it penetrated everything. Truly a soaking downpour. I cussed in English because I was tired of speaking French. Jean Pierre smiled weakly and began packing up his things. I was totally pissed. I went back into my tent and dwelled on all the times that I had had rain on my Canada trips. Just made me madder."

    And that doesn't cover wind.
    Best - J

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    The point is, what's the point?

    A lot of journals exists to guide other people, or inform friends who are curious about the travel.

    I have read the odd journal that succeeded as literature. They may have been completely invented or very true, I wouldn't really be able to tell.

    Being a Canadian of a certain age, I'm sorta half way between the stiff upper lip culture of the brits and the compulsive frankness and winging of the americans (which in a sense is truer). Now we have the reality culture, that makes moutains of cash out of molehills.

    I can be reduced to rants by the odd misfortune on a bike trip, so I'm not claiming to be cut from sterner stuff at all. But really, what goes wrong on a Bike trip? It's much closer to the "I couldn't immediately get vallet parking" end of the scale, than the "they accidently cluster bombed my outdoor wedding" one.

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    Oops, Peterpan!

    Now don't get the idea that I don't like Canada or anything.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    From my experiences, sometimes journal writers are limited and even hampered in their attempts to create an accurate account of the journey by their cycling partners.

    If you've got someone (who you depend on in some way) reading over your shoulder, you don't want to write negatively about that person and the tour on the chance that you might be left alone out there in the middle of nowhere to fend for yourself. So you paint a rosy picture of the whole thing ...... despite the fact that you can hardly move from exhaustion, you are constantly painfully cold, you've had hardly anything to eat in days, you are deeply disheartened by the fact that your ride partner dashes off into the distance every day ... and you've got no hope of a reprieve from any of this any time in the foreseeable future.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jnoble123's Avatar
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    I think that different people have slightly different perspectives about touring and what matters to them about the tour so they tend to focus on the things that they care about when they write the journal.

    As an example most of my journals tend to emphasize the positive experiences like the things I see or the people I meet rather then then negative aspects. So I will mention how cool it was to stay at a family home in Rochester because those people did an amazing thing by making me a part of their family for the day. That's a memory that I suspect will stay with me until I die it had that strong an impact on me.

    I seldom spend as much time focusing on what could be considered the bad parts. I have examples here too:

    - Being confronted by a punch of drug users in the Cleveland water front area who were looking for money. This happened while I suffered a saddlebag failure. The experience was a bit scary and definitely played with my mind a few days later when I approached Detroit during my Lake Erie tour. It's mentioned in my journal but not in the same detail as other things that I personally like remembering my tour for. In the end I talked my way out of the situation and came out none the worse for it

    - Stealth camping in the woods was an incredibly magical experience for me in Central Michigan but it was also really scary at first because I saw a fox go through, then darkness hit and this incredible spine chilling screaming noise started happening. It sounded very much like someone was being killed about 100 feet away. Today I look back at seeing the fox and sleeping in stealth mode at that place incredibly fondly and a highlight of the tour. When I had my wits scared out of me at the time it was a slightly different experience (grin)

    - During my journey around Lake Ontario this summer I was accompanied for a good portion of the tour by one of my best friends. We have totally different touring styles and had a couple brief clashes as a result. When writing up the journal I felt conflicted by wanting to tell the story and also not wanting to hurt my friend. As time has passed we can both talk about the many, many great experiences we had together on that tour without either being worried about hurting the other. Meanwhile I've taken time finishing this journal to allow myself to really reflect on what I learned from the experience.

    I love writing journals about my adventures. There really are people who seem to like reading about the things I do so some of my motivation is clearly sharing with others.

    I also love to reread my old journals and as has been mentioned by others here, I really can find myself transported back to the various days from each of my tours. I can often even recall the views from the roads when I trace them on a map with my finger. That's pretty powerful stuff and hard to convey in written form.

    Someday I hope to reach a higher level of journal writing ability.

    My personality is such that I often prefer to focus on the highlights and positives. I don't forget the negatives nor do I fail to write about them but for me to move forward with whatever it is I am trying to do my brain often seems to minimize the problems and maximizes the success. A head wind day becomes a learning experience, getting lost becomes an opportunity to see something new etc....

    The last comment is that sometimes people can get incredibly caught up in the activity, so much so that it's only when they start writing up the journal that they realize the deeper meaning for them behind what they did. It's possible that only then do they realize deep down that this thing wasn't really for them.

    ~Jamie N
    Interested in Bicycle Touring? -- Bicycle Touring 101

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    jamawani

    Ooops me too! No I'm talking perceived national characteristics as celebrated in US movies as anywhere else, and not ones that are necesarilly true today, or even in the day. But parents would tell us to keep a stiff upper lip, or not share our feelings (as doubtless many US parents told their kids), but then you get Shelley Winters on the Tonight Show. Even in the modern day, the Queen has yet to play her sax on the late night TV... So I'm just saying that I'm not sure I want to read people's inner most feelings about how their underwear got wet from the rain. It's not that remarkable, and the culture like the weather is just a little colder. No Anti-good neighbour content intended at all.

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    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    cyccommute Quote< Another trick is to try to distill your observations after the trip is over. Give it some time to ferment (not too much) and then start writing a little at a time.>

    I think this is about right. A poet talked of his poetry as "Passion recollected in tranquility" and perhaps that goes for journals also.

    Human beings do have a built-in tendency to forget the negatives, and this is needed in order to give us the optimism necessary to go on with our life even after many set-backs. Not to have this trait would be to give in to despair.

    As regards the writing of journals, nothing is more depressing for me, than to read of someones trip in a foreign country which is complete with photos, route maps et al, but with no record of any meaningful conversation with a native. And this on a bicycle, the great leveler, the vehicle most open to human interaction. That does sadden me I admit, for where is the joy of touring in foreign lands without some insight into the life they lead and their values, hopes and aspirations.

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    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    I read Neil Gunton CGoaB journal in 2003 and it inspired me to do my own cross-country in 04. His journal does not gloss over the bad or hard parts, in fact it is somewhat negative, but it was easy for me to put myself in his (bike) shoes and know how I would have reacted to the same situation. His journal also made me want to write my own, for others to read, they might connect with it and they might not. Many people did connect and I got a lot of correspondence through the guestbook and email, which really enhanced my overall tour experience.

    A couple observations;
    On a solo tour you have more time to write than if you are in a group, and has been said, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings in your group with negative comments. I think the journals show peoples personalities, optimist, pessimist, somewhere in between. Journals written on a daily basis directly into the CGoaB site are a little rougher, but express more of the actual day to day experience than the ones rewritten after the fact. Finally, some people are simply better writers than others, their experience was wonderful, but they could not express it in writing very well. (especially huddled and tired in a tent using a tiny pocketmail keyboard)

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    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    Oh, and brevity is something to strive for.

    Better yet;

    Brevity = Good

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    From my experiences, sometimes journal writers are limited and even hampered in their attempts to create an accurate account of the journey by their cycling partners.
    That's why it took me ten years to put my journal from Oregon up on the web. I didn't want to hurt the feelings of the other participants. I'm hoping that now, ten years later, it won't cause hard feelings. But it shows the good and bad of group dynamics. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/oregon96

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    Senior Member CyKKlist's Avatar
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    I derive a great deal of pleasure from the many journals I've read the past year. Some folks, as the OP states, are naturally good story tellers, and I settle back for a good literary journey with those folks. There are some great personalities and characters to be met on the road, and that's part of what gets me out there, the chance to connect with people. Since my technical knowledge and skill are lacking, I also enjoy reading some of the more technical (boring?) journals, which are loaded with tales of modifications of the bike, repairs, tips/tricks, etc. I devour these because I have so much to learn, and have even taken to creating a packing list on Excel which I tweak based on what I read online.

    Some of the most moving journals I've seen on CGOAB have been family-oriented ones. There are some remarkable stories out there, esp. the family that's riding a triple (twin boys) and a single (the mom) for a year all over the Western US. I'm taking my teen son on our first tour of the Outer Banks in NC in April and I enjoy reading about the up and downs of family life on the road.

    But the OP is right, there are some numbingly dull journals out there. But I don't feel compelled to read everything that's within a click's reach. I get a sense of the author from the intro page and make my decision then, whether to dive in for 30-50 pages, or whether to move on.

    FYI, I have been hesitating about launching my first journal on CGOAB, but since I'm an English major and enjoy writing, it's inevitable that I will do so. I'll also offer my son a chance to contribute each night.

    Ken
    Latest bike tour journal now posted -- PALM ride across Michigan!
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/palm2009

    Also -- NC Courthouse Tour, using Amtrak to Charlotte
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/nccourthousetour

    Trek 520 for commuting, touring, family rides and smiling at life.

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    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    I have read a few of CGOAB journals. Last year I met one of them NYC. I asked him if there were any really bad or frightning incidents that he did not mention. "None" was his answer. He carried a small laptop and kept a daily journal. I still think that his is the standard of interesting, fun journals.

    Here is the link to Mike Riscica's journal
    Bike riding New England gentleman.

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    Journals and trip reports

    Hi,
    My take on the subject:
    In the early 90's, I started researching bike trips by reading journals. I came across one that emphasised the importance of writing versus photos. He set high standards which I don't aspire to reach and probably couldn't regardless.
    From one of my earlier trip reports:
    "I used the internet for much of my trip research and for booking airline tickets and initial hotel reservations. Reading trip reports inspired and transported me vicariously to the mountains and provided much enjoyment. I hope this report provides enjoyment, some resource information, and the impetus for some to do their own trips."

    I try to include a slice of life on the road, riding conditions and my general feeling.
    I did my cross country tour report from daily Pocketmail emails sent to family and friends. Since this was a trip in progress, I didn't put anything in that might cause worry for my safety.
    This is not a concern for journals written after the trip.
    Consideration must be taken not to offend travel companions when publishing, or you might write off the friendship.
    I like reports that include routing and the general experience. I normally don't read extensive journals, I appreciate brevity. Again, I read the reports for research on routes I'm considering doing, I don't need to get into their deepest emotions on the trip.
    I appreciate all efforts of those that document their trips. They make a useful and free resource.
    For those that find a report boring, skip it.
    Best regards,
    Lee

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