Like those from other posts I've seen on this forum recently, I'm about to embark on a substantial trek, my first long tour, the Southern Tier. I've ridden a lot locally on club rides, many centuries, and last summer a 330 mile unsupported tour across Iowa (in 100F + temperatures) in 4 days. I've done a trial run and equipment check-out and I believe I have the physical and mental toughness and the mechanical capability to deal with nature and other challenges that might crop up. I'm allowing as much as 90 days to complete the crossing, but I believe I can easily do it in more like 60, so none of this concerns me. For sure, I'm not going to make this a race, but instead do everything I can to make the experience the essence of the trip across our great country.
Here's where I can use your input:
My concerns deal with adapting to life on the road. My first concern is how I might deal with loneliness. I've been married for nearly 39 years, and my wife and I are inseparable. She's my best friend, cycling buddy, and everything to me in all ways, but she's not into long-distant touring. We've had some periods in our lives when we've been apart a week or so, but never this long. I'm told the first week or 10 days are the hardest when it comes to dealing with loneliness. What is your experience?
How about the discomforts of living in a tent, sleeping on a sleeping pad on the ground, dealing with what foods may or may not be available, and being dirty and smelly for days on end at times. I'm thinking that I'll probably be tired enough every night so that I won't (usually) have a problem sleeping. I sleep well now, but that's on a nice comfortable bed in my comfortable home environment. As to being smelly, I had a friend who used to say; "Don't worry, you won't see these people again, but if you should, they'll remember you!" And what about food issues? Any thoughts here will be appreciated.
Finally, have you had frustrations and difficulties that just made you (want to) quit? I can imagine that you can feel extremely vulnerable at times dealing with traffic, weather, people, and so many various challenges that I can't even imagine right now. I will try to maintain a can-do attitude and also relax as much as possible and just go with the flow, but there must be times when you have wanted to throw in the towel. My sense is that if one enjoys cycling and experiencing new things and meeting new people, as I do, most of the battle dealing with the frustrations, loneliness and discomforts of touring will be off-set, and the experience will be extremely rewarding. This is the attitude I'll bring with me. Will this be the solution to my concerns, or is there more?