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  1. #1
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    Ever had a tour fall appart on you?

    My wife and I are in the middle of our first tour. Things are not well with our cycling (mostly injuries, and all kinds of logistical issues). We have decided to finish the rest of our vacation by renting a car and camping/hiking. I am mostly OK with this (and both my wife and knee are thanking me) but I am almost mourning abandoning the cycling after all of the planning, anticipation and excitement leading up to the trip .

    Anyone else had times when you had to salvage a vacation by abandoning a tour?

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    In my view, holidays are FAR too precious to allow anything to spoil them. If the cycling isn't living up to your expectations, you're quite right to do something else instead. Doubly-so if persevering would cause injury, disharmony or even resentment. Enjoy your vacation!

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    Attrition on even "professionally" organized tours, such as those run by ACA, is common. For example:
    Southern Tier 2005: 2/11 - self-inflicted accident, impatience with (slow) pace
    North Star 2006: 3/14 - fitness x 2, infection
    IGRR 2007: 3/16 - fitness, brought down by dog, hit by car
    PNW 2007: 6/13 - fitness, called away, self-inflicted accident, impatience with (slow) pace x 3

    Of 54 riders on 4 long unsupported ACA tours, 14 didn't make it to the end.

    30% due to impatience with group
    30% due to lack of fitness
    30% due to accidents (only one not the fault of the participant)

    This doesn't include injuries considered by the participant as too minor to abandon the trip like giardia (!), norwalk virus, broken ribs (!), and cuts and scrapes from dramatic downhill crashes.

    The knee issue should be addressed, first through analyzing fit and riding style on your present bike, then by considering alternative kinds of bicycles (if you get a recumbent, you'll need to grow a beard - see concurrent thread). Medical options should also be evaluated and considered before making any decision to quit.

    Touring isn't for everybody. My wife and I agree that she is not a camper and she has never ridden, nor ever cares to ride, nor will even consider even trying to ride a bike. So I go with ACA or alone. You might want to try an unsupported tour with ACA to ease into it. Theres always next year!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDevil View Post
    My wife and I are in the middle of our first tour. Things are not well with our cycling (mostly injuries, and all kinds of logistical issues). We have decided to finish the rest of our vacation by renting a car and camping/hiking. I am mostly OK with this (and both my wife and knee are thanking me) but I am almost mourning abandoning the cycling after all of the planning, anticipation and excitement leading up to the trip .

    Anyone else had times when you had to salvage a vacation by abandoning a tour?
    It is your trip. Do what makes you happy.

    Don't do something that will lead to permanent injury though. Pushing a bad knee too far might do that.

    OTOH... Knee problems while cycling are usually something that you are doing wrong. Cycling should be easy on and even good for your knees. The most likely cause is either pushing too big of a gear or some bike fit or position issue. Saddle height and fore and aft position, or the angle your cleats are set on your shoes (assuming you use cleats) are the most likely culprits in my experience. Whether you bail on the tour or not, you need to get the knee thing sorted out.

    BTW: Any knee issue that isn't easily correctable with bike fit and position, might be bad enough that you shouldn't be hiking either.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 08-01-08 at 09:30 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Moment Member jagraham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Downie View Post
    In my view, holidays are FAR too precious to allow anything to spoil them. If the cycling isn't living up to your expectations, you're quite right to do something else instead. Doubly-so if persevering would cause injury, disharmony or even resentment. Enjoy your vacation!
    +1 -- yes, I've had to "bail" on more than one occasion. Last year, I heard nothing but grumbling from Libby's friend (13 year-old girl), so I arranged an early "extracation" for her. Lib decided not to continue because she wanted to go to do a living history event over the weekend -- my riding partner wanted to bail. Not the first time. We went home. I thought about aborting the trip, too. I had a heart-to-heart with Libby, and it wasn't that she didn't want to finish with me, she was tired and wanted to do other things. I lightened my load, ditched the BoB, and had my husband drop me off where he picked us up. Libby and I met up with each other down the road about 125 miles later, and had a great time.

    Salvage what you can, enjoy your vacation. You'll still have your bikes, right? Maybe when you're camping, incorporate an "out and back" trip or two from your campsite -- maybe in an area you wanted to bike through. All is not lost.

    Judy
    Last edited by jagraham; 08-01-08 at 09:32 AM. Reason: i before e, except after c

  6. #6
    Senior Member GeorgeBaby's Avatar
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    I'll just agree with everything that's been said so far. I've cut short a tour that wasn't working, because I wasn't having fun. Instead, I used a car for a few days, and returned early. You're not out there to prove a point; you're trying to have a good time, and if it's not a good time, then do something that is enjoyable. You can always try the same trip again later, if circumstances change.

  7. #7
    Crazyguyonabike
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    I cut short my tour this year, mostly because I wasn't having any fun at all with the constant headwinds and generally unsettled weather. I was trying to cycle from St Louis over to Oregon to look for a new house (we're moving there in August). I thought I'd make a trip out of it, and had big plans to go via Yellowstone and Glacier. As it turned out, the trip kicked my ass. I had 20-30 mph headwinds many days. I think that, combined with the fact that I had something on my mind ("finding a new house") within a certain time limit, really affected my ability to totally commit to the trip. I aborted in Cody WY, when I got to Yellowstone one of the gates had been closed due to snow, and that was the last straw. I booked a flight to Eugene and rented a car there to drive down to Medford. I regret cutting it short, in the sense that you regret any failure of that nature, but I am confident that I was "done" with that tour. I did 1500 miles, so it wasn't nothing, but neither was it very satisfying, as I never reached my goal. I think having unfinished business on my mind (how to make a living from my website work, finding a new home) was definitely a block to being able to totally immerse myself in the tour. I was frustrated by the slowness of progress caused by headwind. I also found that updating a journal in real time caused some additional stresses and pressure that I hadn't anticipated. I think in future, I'll just keep a local journal on my PDA or Eee PC and do the online journal when I get home. I believe you have to be truly ready to "let go" when you go on a longer tour (i.e. more than 1 month) and ideal times for such events probably include "turning a corner" times in your life - e.g. between jobs, before college, after college, retirement. Finally, I wasn't really enamored with the bike - it tended to wobble too much for my liking (the frame was, I believe, too flexible for loaded front + rear rack + handlebar bag). Anybody who's interested in reading a really long whiny, complainy tour journal can feel free to check it out:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/FromGatewayToOcean

    Sometimes the failures teach you more than success. I will definitely tour again, hopefully with a better attitude and more time, and more inclination to just push through. But if it does become untenable, even if it's mostly mental, then there is an argument to be made for canning the trip. There's no right or wrong answer, it just depends on you and what you want to be doing. I think many people end up not talking about such trips, as they perhaps feel ashamed of "giving up". It's not a simple thing, though.

    Finally, I think my route may have had an impact on my mood - I went off the beaten track, and I didn't meet a single touring cyclist on the whole trip. I think on established routes like the TransAm, it's exciting and motivational to meet other tourists and trade stories. It helps make you feel like you're not alone, and you can keep going along with all these other people. When you're out there in the middle of nowhere, pushing headwind all day long, and no interaction with anybody else who's doing what you're doing, it can be a little dispiriting. But that's just my opinion.

    I think the main thing here is that you need to be in the right frame of mind to tour; for me, this means "letting go" of your usual everyday responsibilities and worries. If you can't do that, then you may find you get frustrated more easily, when you ask yourself "Why the hell am I doing this again?" (as everybody does at some point) it helps if you don't have an easy "out".

    Neil

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    Thanks for the kind words everyone. I need to keep this short as we're heading out.

    We're definitely going to make the best of our last week.

    Will post more when back in civilization.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Nowhere is it written that when you set off on a cycling tour, you have to stick with that method of transportation. Sometimes it adds to the fun when you use a variety of methods of transportation.

    Enjoy yourself whatever method you use.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDevil View Post
    My wife and I are in the middle of our first tour. Things are not well with our cycling (mostly injuries, and all kinds of logistical issues). We have decided to finish the rest of our vacation by renting a car and camping/hiking. I am mostly OK with this (and both my wife and knee are thanking me) but I am almost mourning abandoning the cycling after all of the planning, anticipation and excitement leading up to the trip .

    Anyone else had times when you had to salvage a vacation by abandoning a tour?
    I had to abandon my tour in June because of injuries I suffered in a fall and trouble from the person I was touring with. Unfortunately I let it get to me. Don't let it get to you.

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    Oh, sorry to hear things aren't going so great. As others have said, find a way to make your precious vacation enjoyable, learn what ever lessons life is trying to teach you, and let any woulda-shoulda-coulda feelings drop away. It's your life, you live it the way you want.

    I haven't abandoned a tour (yet) but I have used motorized transportation many times where needed to make an unpleasant situation go away.
    ...

  12. #12
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Certainly I've altered a tour. I started a ride from Denver to LA then north past SF. Snow closed a critical mountain pass so I rented a tiny U-haul for my faired trike and drove around the snow until I got to clear roads. Two weeks later I was severely heat stressed and accepted a lift for some 200 miles.
    This space open

  13. #13
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDevil View Post
    Anyone else had times when you had to salvage a vacation by abandoning a tour?
    At the start of 1997, I made a goal to climb to top of Mauna Kea (13768) from sea level under my own power. At end of summer, I booked a flight for Thanksgiving weekend with plans on making a four day round trip to the summit. At start of November my job suddenly changed and I was getting into the office @ 6am to talk with east coast and working very long days. I didn't think much of my Mauna Kea trip until I was finally on the flight.

    On the first morning out, there were slight headwinds and I was slightly out of shape. However, more importantly I finally got a chance to pause and think after my hectic work. I came to the conclusion that while I could probably make it to top of the volcano...this wasn't exactly what I wanted to do right then. At the 30 mile mark, I turned around and descended back to Kona. I found an inexpensive motel checked in for the weekend. For Thanksgiving weekend, I relaxed, read three books, lounged around town. That was the right choice and I'm glad my vacation bounced that way.

  14. #14
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    Flexibility and contingency planning are important but often ignored.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  15. #15
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    There's no point in a tour if it makes you miserable and especially not if it might be injuring you. We've always had two rules about our tour: we'll continue as long as we have the money and as long as we're having fun. Sometimes we go over our budget, like now as an example because we are not enjoying the food here in Cambodia so we're seeking out Western options. And sometimes we take a more expensive hotel or a bus because we need a break from the road. We've never considered abandoning our tour entirely but we certainly take rests when we need them and we don't feel guilty any more about little cheats like using public transport if that's what's required for an overall better picture. Learn what you can from this failed tour and then make some changes next time.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  16. #16
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    Don't worry about it. You can read about abandoned tours all over the crazy guy site. Have a good time.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    We've never abandoned a tour but changed it quite a bit along the way. Last year on our Milan to Athens tour we just cut sections off because of bad weather, lack of campings, having some of our things stolen and a few others. Sometimes it just doesn't work out the way you planned.
    Don't worry about it, now you got a reason to try again

  18. #18
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I've finished a tour where, starting at about the halfway point, I started asking myself questions like, "Why did I set such an ambitious goal? Why not half this distance?", or, "Why am I doing this again?", or, "Isn't this supposed to be fun?" And yet, when I finished I was very happy, and looking back I think it was one of the best experiences of my life.

    Since then I've been less definite about the goals of my tours. Now I set out with a nebulous goal, but with an "I'll see how far I get" mentality. "I'll quit when I feel like it."

    Two years ago I quit my tour about 2/3 of the way to my nebulous goal, but I had already ridden a long way and had a lot of fun. I was okay with that.

    Last year I quit about halfway through. I had some equipment issues and my knees were complaining after two hard mountain passes carrying too much weight. I also got offered a ride back to my truck, which solved my "How am I going to get back to the start to pick up my truck" conundrum.

    This year I made it all the way to my goal, despite having plenty of moments of doubt and discouragement along the way. I don't know if it's me or the fact that I tour alone, but I pretty much always have moments when I feel like quitting. But I stuck it out and ended up having a terrific tour, and pride in achieving my goal. Now I'm fired up for next summer!

    My philosophy is that bicycle touring is something I do for fun, for myself. I don't do it to impress anyone else, or to brag that I rode from point A to point B. If I'm not having fun, why continue? However, I also need to be aware of my personal psychological makeup, and realize that, while I sometimes feel discouraged, those moments usually pass and if I terminate a tour early I may end up with personal regrets.

    I think everyone should make these decisions for themself, by themself, and not worry what anyone else thinks. Unless, of course, you're touring with a close friend or significant other. Then it should be a mutual decision. If you can't agree then do what you must and accept the consequences.

  19. #19
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post


    My philosophy is that bicycle touring is something I do for fun, for myself. I don't do it to impress anyone else, or to brag that I rode from point A to point B. If I'm not having fun, why continue? However, I also need to be aware of my personal psychological makeup, and realize that, while I sometimes feel discouraged, those moments usually pass and if I terminate a tour early I may end up with personal regrets.

    I think everyone should make these decisions for themself, by themself, and not worry what anyone else thinks. Unless, of course, you're touring with a close friend or significant other. Then it should be a mutual decision. If you can't agree then do what you must and accept the consequences.

    This is a great philosophy. I think too many bicycle tourers get too wrapped up in the destination when they should be enjoying the journey. Who really cares that you do 150 miles in a day? What does it matter if it means you have to blow right though a wonderful little town or past a beautiful mountain stream? But once again it is your tour and if you really want to do 150 miles in a day then that is your choice. Just don't think you have to do it. For me, if it is distance that I want then I would stay home and do long distance loops from and to my home.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Nowhere is it written that when you set off on a cycling tour, you have to stick with that method of transportation. Sometimes it adds to the fun when you use a variety of methods of transportation.

    Enjoy yourself whatever method you use.
    Another great bit of advice. My last tour of Italy incorporated trains and ferries. Oh there were places I took a train and later wished I rode and places I rode but wished I had taken a train but I still wouldn't have traded that mix of transportation for anything. It was all very interesting.

    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  20. #20
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    Ahhh, but you see, the people who are dreaming of doing a tour look at the forums like this one, and read crazyguyonabike journals and see all these impressive distances, periods, experiences, and "knowledge". And their dreams take on the same proportions, and especially the proportions created by those who are considered "hard core". The grand dreams make these people driven.

    Friends on mine had great dreams of cyclng across the Nullarbor Plain starting in Western Australia. I had done it well beforehand. I didn't really sell them the idea. But their enjoyment values were a little different to mine -- he was a gadget person, and she a more casual rider -- and I suspected that they wouldn't last long riding the bicycles. Indeed, they hired a motor vehicle when they tired of the weather and the "monotony".

    Basically, everyone who tours or travels is following a dream of some sort. It's just we do it on bicycles. But it's when the experience is somewhat different to the dream that things can start to turn sour. And it's even worse when someone is caught with low monetary resources and a total lack of enjoyment and no "escape" from the nightmare. Hence my comment about flexibility and contingency planning.

    Sometimes the bad things on a tour can be magnified, too, and a decision to pull out comes too easily. This can arise from too ambitious scheduling, fatigue, illness, or inability to assimilate with local cultures, or just plain intimidation by the task ahead.

    And, for many, it just comes down to not heeding that most important advice of all -- practise on short weekend or longer tours to ensure some, all or more of the following are right: (a) bike fit; (b) mechanical reliability with emphasis on wheels and tyres; (c) the load and how it is loaded; (d) riding skills and heavy bike handling; (e) daily distances; (f) the budget; (g) camping, cooking and/or other accommodation and feeding arrangements.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  21. #21
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    And, for many, it just comes down to not heeding that most important advice of all -- practise on short weekend or longer tours to ensure some, all or more of the following are right: (a) bike fit; (b) mechanical reliability with emphasis on wheels and tyres; (c) the load and how it is loaded; (d) riding skills and heavy bike handling; (e) daily distances; (f) the budget; (g) camping, cooking and/or other accommodation and feeding arrangements.[/QUOTE]

    All of the things you mention have merit. I plan on leaving Anacortes, Wa in about 7 days and with maps in hand will be heading off on the Northern Route. My plan is simple. As long as I'm having fun and enjoying the time on the road for the most part I will trudge onward.

    I always wanted to climb Mount Rainier.... Well...The first time wasn't a success and the second time was and the third time wasn't.... anything can happen and I'm one to call off plans if it's about my personal safety or health in general. A certain amount of suffering I can deal with as long as I can see that ridge... hilltop or valley... If it's all about suffering I wouldn't bother.

    Practice, practice and practice some more.... Train as much as you can before you leave... If you hate camping... your not going to learn to love it on a long tour.

    enough rambling for now...

  22. #22
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    (Typing this on a phone so this won't be too long)

    Quick update: abandoning the cycling was the perfect decision.

    We have spent the last week doing some awesome hiking that we would never have been able to do if we were biking all day. It has definitely been a great alternative to the bikes. Let me just say, this trip has been EPIC in nature. We set off in search of adventure, and that is exactly what we found (just not quite the adventure we anticipated ). We cycled through some incredible country, did some of the best hikes we have ever done, traversed a glacier, saw a ton of wildlife, and met fantastic people. We also learned quite a few valuable lessons along the way. Through all of the times where things felt like we should just go home early (there were several) we adapted, found a way around, and in the end, kept smiling.

    That, in my book, is a successful adventure!

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDevil View Post
    (Typing this on a phone so this won't be too long)

    Quick update: abandoning the cycling was the perfect decision.

    We have spent the last week doing some awesome hiking that we would never have been able to do if we were biking all day. It has definitely been a great alternative to the bikes. Let me just say, this trip has been EPIC in nature. We set off in search of adventure, and that is exactly what we found (just not quite the adventure we anticipated ). We cycled through some incredible country, did some of the best hikes we have ever done, traversed a glacier, saw a ton of wildlife, and met fantastic people. We also learned quite a few valuable lessons along the way. Through all of the times where things felt like we should just go home early (there were several) we adapted, found a way around, and in the end, kept smiling.

    That, in my book, is a successful adventure!
    Excellent!!! I've very glad to hear it ... you really have had a successful adventure.

  24. #24
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    Of 54 riders on 4 long unsupported ACA tours, 14 didn't make it to the end.

    30% due to impatience with group
    30% due to lack of fitness
    30% due to accidents (only one not the fault of the participant)
    So, since I haven't done that type of group tour yet...

    What is "impatience with group?" I'd assume you could ride off the front without any issues. Was the daily mileage on the pre-set route not long enough for those riders?

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    So, since I haven't done that type of group tour yet...

    What is "impatience with group?" I'd assume you could ride off the front without any issues. Was the daily mileage on the pre-set route not long enough for those riders?
    No ... it probably means more like 'personality issues' ... 'irreconcilable differences' ... or something like that.

    If you were to put me in a group of ... say ... all the people in the building where I work, and tell us to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together for an extended period of time in a more stressful situation than usual (exerting ourselves every day, eating together, sleeping in tents right next to each other, highly scheduled lifestyle, etc.) ....... I'd probably be one of the first to lose it. I'd probably finish the tour, but would ride off into the distance by myself.

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