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  1. #1
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    How do you decide if you're ready to tour?

    I'm graduating from college in the spring, will be starting grad school in the fall. That gives me 3 and a half months with no plans. I know I won't have this kind of a summer again for a very long time, and I would love to get out there and tour. The problem is, I'm not sure if I'm ready for it.

    I know touring is mostly mental. I'm a little afraid of all the things that could happen and I'm not sure I'm ready to 100% commit to touring. I have enough money saved up I could get some pretty good equipment and probably stay in a hostel for a couple of days at a time, which makes me a little less nervous. I have a good bike (although it's a MTB, but that might be better for carrying things).

    I guess the problem is that I'm not sure I'm ready for such a long tour. It would be my first and I would certainly try some smaller, shorter rides before June. But, there's going to come a point where I'll have to commit to either touring or find a stationary place to live and a job. I won't be able to reverse paths halfway through the summer.

    How do you know if you're ready to commit to a long tour? The road is calling but I don't want to get stuck in a bad situation this summer. Thanks.

  2. #2
    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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    Just go for it! It's incredibly easy to talk yourself out of it!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  3. #3
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    +1 get on the bike go for a ride don't stop until you aren't having fun. You are right you won't have a block of free time like that often in your life without a struggle so jump on this chance. Worst case if you end up done with touring after 1 month just jump on a bus and do something else.

    Use the shorter rides to make suer your bike fits you well amd there are no show stoppers with your gear. Other than that don't over analyze just go for it.
    Last edited by vik; 03-14-07 at 09:53 PM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    I'm finishing up grad school this semester and it's a no brainer for me. I worked a full-time job all through my under grad and grad school careers and I either go on a 2 year tour or commit myself to the psych ward.
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

  5. #5
    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksathus
    I'm graduating from college in the spring...
    You're ready.

  6. #6
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    The first week or so might kick your ass....but push on, and everything will work out.

  7. #7
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    My experience is I less often regret the things I do than the things I don't do.

    - borrow as much gear as you can, to reduce the financial committment. My first tour I borrowed a bike from my sister and a trailer from her friend.
    - you never know if you like something until you try. this applies to everything. dip a toe first, if it feels good, jump in.
    - you don't have to be stuck, it doesn't take a whole lot of cash to bail if you aren't having a good time. i bet you have a friend or a parent who will put up with you for a month or two if you don't finish, or you can always move to your college town early and get a mcJob until school starts.
    - if you aren't having a good time, give it a few more days before you commit to the bail.
    - pick a vacation-tour not an epic. something that sounds fun to you. don't bite off more than you can chew - you can always do more later. picking a known-good bike route might be good for your first time - pacific coast comes to mind.

    listen to your inner voice, not the internet.

    good luck!
    anna
    ...

  8. #8
    Hooked on Touring
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    Ratios -

    It's been my experience that the ratio of people who talk about touring vs. the people who actually do it is about 20 to 1. I can't tell you how many friends, co-workers, and grad school colleagues have insisted that they want to tour in January only to find some other pressing matter come May. If you don't do it now, I suspect you will be 75 before you realize that you never have gone on a tour. Which side of the ratio do you want to be on? It's 99% mental.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Go for a short weekend tour as soon as possible. Borrow the gear if you have to and take off for the weekend. That'll give you some idea if the whole cycling/camping thing is for you, and will allow you to experiment with your gear to see what works and what doesn't work.

    Then plan to go for a week-long tour a week or two after the weekend one. If you are still enjoying it by then end of that tour .... go for more! You'll still have quite a bit of time to work with.

  10. #10
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksathus
    I'm not sure if I'm ready for it. I know touring is mostly mental....
    I have to disagree here, I think it's more "experiential" than "mental." You need experience more than mental toughness.


    I'm a little afraid of all the things that could happen and I'm not sure I'm ready to 100% commit to touring.
    So, don't.

    Put aside enough cash so that if things aren't working on tour, you can hop on a Greyhound and go home.


    I guess the problem is that I'm not sure I'm ready for such a long tour.... there's going to come a point where I'll have to commit to either touring or find a stationary place to live and a job. I won't be able to reverse paths halfway through the summer.
    Sure you can. It's called "Temp Work." If you need to end the tour early, just sign on with a temp agency and work with them for a month. That's what they are there for.


    IMHO you need the following worked out before you go on a long tour:

    • Can you ride on a loaded bike for 50+ miles a day, for several days in a row?
    • Is your saddle comfortable enough for long rides?
    • How are your navigation skills?
    • Do you have the right gear?
    • Do you know which stuff to leave home?
    • Do you know basic bike repair?
    • Do you know how to keep yourself properly hydrated and fed while cycling?

    Mind you, cycling isn't all that difficult. If you're in decent shape you could likely do just fine on the road. But without some experience, you're very likely to make numerous classic n00b mistakes that will make the experience more difficult than it has to be.

    I might add that if I was in your position, I'd hop on the first flight to Thailand, spend $10 a day on food, rent and beer, and enjoy the backpacker experience instead...

  11. #11
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Touring is 90 percent mental and only 10 percent everything else.

    Like others have said, do a 3 or 4 day tour before beginning your new one.. and hopefully one of those days will consist of bad weather. That will give you a chance to find out if touring is for you and a chance to find out what gear you need and don't need.

    If you discover touring is not for you while on a trip or just bored, just quit, no shame in doing that.

  12. #12
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    I took a year off between college and grad school, and spent half of it looking for work and the other half at a part-time slacker job. I wish I'd done something reckless instead. (My new crazy ambition is to celebrate finishing grad school with a tour of all the Michigan sites I've been too busy to see. It may yet happen...)

    Go touring. This is the best chance you'll have for years.

  13. #13
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    You need something to tip the scales over to the "Wow! I can't wait!" side of the balance. Pick someplace you've always wanted to see: Yellowstone? A tour of Florida beaches? Volcanoes on the west Coast? Life in the Appalachians? The footsteps of Lewis and Clark? (I'm assuming you're US-based.....)

    Sure, you still have the preparation to do (mental, physical, and logistical), but putting it in terms of achieving a life adventure should tip the balance. You may find that trepidation still wins out, but that's OK.

    Not many people will hop on a bike and head over the horizon just for the sake of touring. (Well.... there are a few, and they're probably here on this board...) My most memorable tours were wrapped around exploring the National Parks of the West.

    -- Mark

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
    You need something to tip the scales over to the "Wow! I can't wait!" side of the balance. Pick someplace you've always wanted to see: Yellowstone? A tour of Florida beaches? Volcanoes on the west Coast? Life in the Appalachians? The footsteps of Lewis and Clark? (I'm assuming you're US-based.....)

    Sure, you still have the preparation to do (mental, physical, and logistical), but putting it in terms of achieving a life adventure should tip the balance. You may find that trepidation still wins out, but that's OK.

    Not many people will hop on a bike and head over the horizon just for the sake of touring. (Well.... there are a few, and they're probably here on this board...) My most memorable tours were wrapped around exploring the National Parks of the West.

    -- Mark
    Good points ... and some I was thinking of as well. If the OP is still in the "I'm not sure" stage, it is possible he/she is not ready.

    Before I did my 3 month tour of Australia, I quit my job, then sold, tossed, and packed all my stuff. About 3 days before heading off to Australia I moved everything 1000 miles away into storage. I was MUCH, MUCH more worked up and concerned about the packing and moving process than I was about the fact that I was flying to a country I'd never been before, to spend 3 months cycling around it (when my longest tour before was about a week), with a guy I barely knew.

    As I was in the middle of a panic attack about the move, a friend made the comment that she would be calm about the move and in a panic attack about the Australia trip ... but I was feeling completely relaxed and comfortable with the idea of the Australia trip.

    I figure when you're ready ... you know it. You feel comfortable with the idea. You're excited about going where you're going and seeing all the things you've wanted to see.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for your advice everyone. This is something I want to do more than anything right now. It's something I almost feel like I need to do... to get to know myself, focus on myself for a few months, go exploring and have fun, things like that. As for the route comment, the Pacific Coast is exactly what I'm looking at. I'm in Central Washington right now, so I could start here and head over to the coast. According to what I've found it shouldn't be too difficult to turn it into a round-trip back and roll into my new college town at the end. The thought of it gives me goosebumps of joy.

    I plan to test some things out with a weekend tour or two before I completely commit. I can rent some equipment from my university's outdoor pursuits rental shop, so there's very little financial outlay there. I need to get some panniers to carry things with (but I'd want a trailer for the long tour). The more I look into it, I think I could bail a month into it without a financial crisis. I think I'm mentally ready, now to get physically and materially ready...

    Thanks again for all your advice.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    You're only young once. Once you get a job, you'll be hard pressed in most occupations to have an opportunity like this again until retirement. I'd go for it!

  17. #17
    Senior Member chrisch's Avatar
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    This is definitely something you will not regret. In life you have to try new things. You have the will, so get going! You'll soon find out if you're ready!

    One piece of advice based on my first solo tour last summer. My mistake was setting a goal of where I'd like to be in four weeks. This made me push hard each day, sometimes at the expense of not slowing down and enjoying a particular area. Give yourself daily goals but perhaps keep the final destination open. You won't feel guilty (like I did) for taking a day off.

    Have fun!
    chris

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    You're only young once. Once you get a job, you'll be hard pressed in most occupations to have an opportunity like this again until retirement. I'd go for it!
    + 1 The big transition points in life: between graduation and a new job, between single & married, between undergrad & grad, between one job & the next are the best opportunities we are likely to get for extended adventures. Sounds like you're ready and thinking clearly about logistics - I second the "Go for it!"
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  19. #19
    ChainringTattoo
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    I second the advice to go for a short tour very, very soon. My first was a 24 hour trip that looped around familiar roads. I ended up camping only 15 minutes (by car) from my place and had a 15 mile ride home the next day. I figured I couldn't mess it up too badly in that amount of time, and I knew I could have a friend bail me out if I did!

    Plan short mileage days when you start off--that will help you ease into touring mode w/out too much pain. After a couple of weekend trips, I did a 4-day tour in an unfamiliar and hilly area, got rained on perpetually, had to detour around flooded roads, and couldn't find a place to camp one night. I should have been miserable, but I ended up with some great hospitality from some old people who let me sleep in their neighborhood church and a whole bunch more confidence that I could handle whatever the road threw at me.

    For my big trip last summer, I decided ahead of time that if I was ever tempted to quit, I'd get out my credit card and get a hotel for two nights to rest and eat before making the decision to bail. Never even got close to that point. It was a blast! And it will give you something unique going into grad school. Based on experience, you may want a summer outside before you end up locked in a library for the next five years or so!

  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
    Just go for it! It's incredibly easy to talk yourself out of it!
    The wisest words ever spoken to me, "You can always talk yourself out of an experiment."

    Ksathus, what's the worst that can happen. You might be killed...but then you probably won't. Wolves might feast on your liver...but probably not. You might be killed by a serial killer...but probably not. You might eat some bad food...okay that might happen. And you could be bitten by bugs, sunburned, get wet, fall down, burn yourself on your stove and a whole host of other minor things. You could also sit in your chair at home and have an airplane fall out of the sky on you.

    Or worse yet, find yourself being 80 years old and never having gone anywhere. That, my friend, is the very worst that can happen to you. Go. Have an adventure. Your future self will thank you for it.
    Stuart Black
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    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  21. #21
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    Nice post, cyccommute.

    Once apon a time I used to race road bikes. Sometimes it was really fun, when I managed to finish in the pack and not crash. Sometimes crashed out and often got dropped of the back and this just wasn't any fun at all. Racing as at best, a mixed bag. Mostly bad.

    Touring, on the other hand, is always fun. I've crashed in a snowstorm, got bit by like 5,000 misqutos and got really sick, broke an axel and had to walk over 20 miles on a dirt road, had a few other mishaps. But trouble seems to add to epic journey of touring. It's sometimes hard, but it's always enjoyable.

    Dear ksathus,

    Are you willing to wonder if you could do this summer tour for the next 50 years? Screw real life, kid, get on the bike and ride. Real life is going to catch you and drag you down soon enough.

  22. #22
    Senior Member dauphin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    My experience is I less often regret the things I do than the things I don't do.

    - borrow as much gear as you can, to reduce the financial committment. My first tour I borrowed a bike from my sister and a trailer from her friend.
    - you never know if you like something until you try. this applies to everything. dip a toe first, if it feels good, jump in.
    - you don't have to be stuck, it doesn't take a whole lot of cash to bail if you aren't having a good time. i bet you have a friend or a parent who will put up with you for a month or two if you don't finish, or you can always move to your college town early and get a mcJob until school starts.
    - if you aren't having a good time, give it a few more days before you commit to the bail.
    - pick a vacation-tour not an epic. something that sounds fun to you. don't bite off more than you can chew - you can always do more later. picking a known-good bike route might be good for your first time - pacific coast comes to mind.

    listen to your inner voice, not the internet.

    good luck!
    anna
    Damn...I coulda used a muse like Anna

  23. #23
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Go for it, you will be a different person, after this adventure

  24. #24
    momsaysrideabike
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    do it

    i haven't done it yet, but im doing it.
    out of college, saved up for a year, bought/buying gear, starting to dream about all the things to see and stuff to do.

    screw jobs/more school, problems etc...

    just do it... these guys here can't be wrong saying we'll be 80 and wondering why the hell we didn't just hit the road and forget about everything else out of college

  25. #25
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    You're never really ready. You just go and do it anyway.

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