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Old 09-25-09, 12:49 PM   #1
rocketshipready
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A crisis of cyclotouring faith..

I'm currently sitting in Granby, CO, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. I started my first solo cross country about 22 days ago in San Francisco. The first ten days or so went really well. I had to take some detours, but did some nice climbs and saw some interesting things (Sonora Pass, Death Valley, Lee Vining CA, etc, etc), then the next 3 or 4 days were just boring (Nevada, Ariona and Utah deserts, but I finally made it to Moab), but the last couple days have really been hard, emotionally. The biking is going fine, but it's just a terrible feeling to be completely alone. It's to the point where that's probably 60% of what I think about. I of course meet people (I've met quite a few other tourists along the way), but they always seem to be going the other direction. I've also been calling friends and family pretty regularly, but it doesn't really seem to help alleviate any of these feelings of loneliness. It's beginning to really take over my mindset on the trip, and I've been spending today (a rest day) looking at Greyhound tickets out of Denver. Maybe I just wasn't cut out for extensive solo touring? I figure, if I do cut out at Denver, I'll have at least made it over the Continental Divide, which is an impressive landmark, I'd imagine. I can always do the Trans Am, also, and pick up my current route once I hit Colorado (with a partner, of course).

Anyone have any similar experiences/thoughts while touring? I'd feel awful if I cut it short, but I'm not really sure if I can continue.I've made it about 1730 miles so far, and making it to Denver would put me at about 1800-1820, which seems like a good try for my first solo venture. It still really sucks, though, not to complete i, but it really doesn't seem worth it if I'm at this stage less than halfway through.

I should also mention I was hit by a car about 4 days ago. Me and the bike are a-ok, but that certainly didn't help with my mental/emotional state.

Thanks for any advice/words/whatever.
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Old 09-25-09, 12:57 PM   #2
Niles H.
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Weather it. You'll come out stronger.
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Old 09-25-09, 12:57 PM   #3
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I feel your pain. I say just keep on going and you will work it out emotionally. If you abandon now you will regret it in the long-run. Who knows, maybe you will meet another tourist in a few days.
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Old 09-25-09, 01:05 PM   #4
Niles H.
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If you observe the loneliness, you might find that it is mainly composed of thoughts.

You can try switching to some other thoughts, and see how you feel.

Doing this might help you to observe and catch the other (loneliness-related) thoughts before you get carried away with them.

Thoughts tend to come in families. If you are on a roll with the loneliness thoughts, they tend to come in and amplify or reinforce one another. It becomes more and more 'real' even though it is just a bunch of thoughts.

Some thoughts are depressing. Others are inspiring. Some are loneliness-enhancing. Others are exciting. Some are calming and peaceful. Others can stress you out. They affect your emotional state considerably.

Some bring weakness, others strength.

Try a chain of the most inspiring and strengthening ideas and thoughts you've come across, and see if you feel different.

You can also keep in mind that this is temporary.

Some people are very glad they did not commit suicide when they felt like it, because they discovered afterwards that the feelings passed.

If you just observe the thoughts, without buying into them or believing in them, they will naturally pass. Your state will change.

Last edited by Niles H.; 09-25-09 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 09-25-09, 01:10 PM   #5
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Fully loaded, 1730 miles in 22 days through Death Valley and up into the rockies is a lot of cycling. Exhaustion can do funny things to your mind. Your legs are probably pedaling while you sleep.

You might consider resting a few days before making any decisions. And you might also consider slowing down and pedaling fewer miles per day. If you find an unexpected, pleasant place to stay, do so.

With the previous two weeks under you belt you've certainly proved your strength. Now might be the time to prove your wisdom.
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Old 09-25-09, 01:18 PM   #6
Niles H.
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I was hit by a car while on tour. You can look at it in all kinds of ways, including as a survivor. You may have come close to dying (and such thoughts can make you feel awful), but there are many other aspects as well. If you look at those, it can help.

And you aren't just a body -- that sort of thinking can make you feel pretty weak and vulnerable and mortal and worthless and lonely.

There may be many other aspects to your being than just a body.

***
We haven't been educated to relate very well to silence and solitude and rest. They can be beautiful and enjoyable and nourishing. Finding that out for yourself can be of some value.
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Old 09-25-09, 01:19 PM   #7
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Without question, the mental aspect of solo touring is the hardest part.

But, why are you staying all by yourself?

Try one of the hospitality sites and begin meeting people as you ride across.

The one I use is couchsurfing.com. On couchsurfing.com there are two people listed in Granby, CO (you need to be a registered user to see them (free)). One only wants to meet for coffee or a drink. Boom, someone to talk to. The other entry is offering a place to stay. Keep in mind that neither of these people may be available or able to see you but with a little effort you should be able to meet people every day who are looking to meet other people.

Also, while you are feeling the depths of loneliness, you might see this as a growth opportunity and just keep at it. Eventually, you will come to a deeper understanding of your own needs and desires. Yes, it can be tough. But, that is the nature of solo bike touring.

Cycling with a partner has a different set of problems. You might never be alone, be able to agree on where to go or when to stop, and experience the overall friction of people spending too much time together.

Most people focus on the physical challenge of bike touring without paying any attention to the mental aspects. Give up if you feel this is the best thing to do. But, try to remember the excitement you had when you first started this trip. It will get easier, eventually.

But, whatever you decide to do, take a while to make sure it is the best decision.

Good luck,

Ray
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Old 09-25-09, 01:54 PM   #8
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Hey rocket... yes, I've felt that way. It's hard to be alone sometimes - every conversation is a conversation with a stranger, they tend to be kind of repetitive, no one really knows you. It can be lonely.

So, it's your life. You're doing this ride for yourself, right? For the experience you ARE HAVING NOW not the story you can TELL LATER? No one but you can decide what will make you happy. I very much agree with the comments above that you are probably really physically tired and you might want to rest a couple of days before making a committing decision to bail. But if you *do* still feel that way, go ahead and go home! UNLESS you think you will have strong feelings of failure, there's really no downside. The roads will still be there if you decide to do it again, and maybe next time you'll find a partner and that will be a better experience for you.

CO dept of trans shows trail ridge road closed right now. Could be the start of the winter closure. If you were planning to go that way, check with the park directly for current conditions. If it's closed, you'll need to come over Berthod Pass - there's a hostel near winter park http://www.therockymountaininn.com/ that might be a good place to hang for another day, people at hostels are often friendly and interesting (there's a killer one in Leadville, don't miss it if you are nearby). Don't wait too long, weather is good for the next 3 days then may deteriorate.

P.S. - getting hit by a car can definitely mess with your head - were you feeling the same way before?

Take care, and PM me if you need help with local logistics or end up in boulder.
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Old 09-25-09, 01:55 PM   #9
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Talk to yourself out loud. Be positive and maybe even silly. Talk to the birds, animals, trees and even the scenery that you see. It will make you feel more a part of the whole experience and will lessen the feelings of loneliness. Good luck!
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Old 09-25-09, 02:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rocketshipready View Post
I'm currently sitting in Granby, CO, ......

Thanks for any advice/words/whatever.
You are your own best friend!
Don't ever forget that.

I find it easier to meet people along the way, traveling solo. Make sure ya have a cup of coffee in a cafe/roadside diner every day.

Your best 'wellness indicator' is whether you sing or not. If you do not sing as ya ride along, something is bothering you. Look at that countryside you are riding thru. Maybe those deserts shouldn't be as boring as ya thought....ever seen the desert sky at night?

In any case keep riding. The best is yet to come...people in the midwest are the friendliest in the country.

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Old 09-25-09, 02:10 PM   #11
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I'm no psychologist, but I have read about introverts and extroverts. The best description I ever read of what an introvert is, was this: "People make you tired". That so describes me. When I'm in social situations for too long, I need to just go away somewhere to be by myself and recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to thrive and even need human interaction. So I could see how someone might not really like all that alone time very much - it just depends on your personality type. There's nothing wrong with one way or the other (and most of us are a blend) - but maybe in future think about touring with other people. You need to just listen to yourself and do what makes you happy. Touring is great for finding out things about yourself, one way or the other you always seem to come out of it a little bit more enlightened!

:-)

Neil
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Old 09-25-09, 02:10 PM   #12
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Maybe you are pushing yourself too hard and feeling depressed. You've come along way over difficult terrain for just 22 days. However, I can identify with the loneliness. When I was in college, I hiked the entire Long Trail in Vermont one summer. The last two weeks I hardly saw any people, even at shelters, and got very lonely. I made a stop for provisions in a town and felt much better, but the last week was even harder. At one point, I went about 4 days without seeing a single person -- and when I finally met some people, they were hiking the other direction.

My advice would be to take a rest stop in a town or a campground with other people around. Try to socialize, meet some people, talk. I'm pretty quiet by nature but feel much better when other people are around, even if we're not talking much. If you're a drinker, some times small town bars are a good place to meet people and talk.
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Old 09-25-09, 02:39 PM   #13
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I too, think you are going too far, too fast. Slow your roll, smell the flowers. I like the go to cafe or coffee shop idea. FLirt with the waitress. Play tourist or go kayaking to mix it up a little. Introduce yourself to people who are curious, (especially in campgrounds) and be positive and smile even if you don't feel like it. people will want to meet you, and occasionally feed you, and accept you into their group in exchange for hearing about your adventure. HAve fun! It's not about the biking!!!

I also want to point out that the emotional roller coaster is normal, especially for your first tour. Your probably waaay out of your comfort zone. The emotions calm themselves as you gain more experience. You'll be fine! Again, Have fun!!!
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Old 09-25-09, 02:44 PM   #14
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Hah, I already sing out loud, talk to myself and the animals I see (cows have pretty great startled reactions), meet people at bars/campsites, and use Couchsurfing and Warmshowers. Heck, as far as singing, I think I've gone through th entire Bruce Springsteen discography. I think the main problem is, I started out really excited, and the first week or so was a blast. It slowly devolved, though, from a fun time, to a chore, to boring, and now it's at a level where I really don't want to continue. I have a friend in Evergreen, which is a day away, and if worse comes to worse I can catch th Greyhound out of Denver. That's obviously the worst case scenario, but if I'm feeling like this on day 23, I'm wondering what I'll feel like on day 46.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:03 PM   #15
Niles H.
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.... but if I'm feeling like this on day 23, I'm wondering what I'll feel like on day 46.
That's another very selective, one-sided, depression-family, single-possibility, depressing thought. Day 46 might not be along those lines at all. Maybe it will be entirely different, and along new lines.

Maybe you will have learned something else by then, and will handle yourself in a new way.

***
Boredom may be behind some of the loneliness.

Why not look into and penetrate the boredom itself?

Last edited by Niles H.; 09-25-09 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:10 PM   #16
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If you "really don't want to continue", then don't. After you cross the Continental Divide, the scenery is going to quickly get a lot less interesting and stay that way for a very long time. If you can stay at your friend's place in Evergreen for a few days, you can wait and see if your mood changes. But if you're not having fun and have no reason to believe that that will change, don't torture yourself.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:17 PM   #17
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a chore

boring

I really don't want to continue

saw some interesting things... etc etc.

looking at Greyhound tickets out of Denver

It still really sucks

it really doesn't seem worth it

whatever.


What do you need? permission? approval?

Just quit. Its your life dude.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:18 PM   #18
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i reckon if you pack in now you'll be sorry big time,in a week's time you will see that entire tour as a complete waste of time you proberly will sell all your gear /bike never cycle again and you will think you doing the wright thing.listen buddy my france disaster was very much like your's basically first couple days great even brilliant but it all went belly up i taught home i would never get ..take a few days off get drunk take in a few movies chill,honest man i've been there look at it this way it can't get any worse (well it can but only in your head) if things don't change jump on that bus but only if your completly happy.listen i hope this all makes sense to you if i had a magic wand i would pop over there and finish the tour with you,best of luck with whatever decision you make...
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Old 09-25-09, 03:19 PM   #19
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Let's fast forward a month. You've been at home for a few weeks, falling back into the routine of work and responsibility. Are you going to be sitting at home wishing you were still out there?

Is it possible to go home for awhile, then take the bus (and bike) back, and continue your travels?

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Old 09-25-09, 03:29 PM   #20
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Oh, and by the way (and for the record): I completely agree with everyone here that says you'll be sorry if you quit. I know it for a fact, actually.

But...maybe enjoying the beautiful world by bike isn't for you?

The real advice: I would wait until you feel pretty good, and then decide.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:38 PM   #21
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The real advice: I would wait until you feel pretty good, and then decide.
Good idea. If you quit while you're caught up in a bout of diarrhea of the negative thoughts, you might regret it and get even more depressed when you get home.

And what if you get home and it isn't as great as it is looking (through not so clear thoughts) right now?

Why did you leave, if it was really so good?

It probably wasn't going all that great there either, right? You seem honest enough to admit that.

At least you're out of that rut for now. Why not see where you can take it?

This can be an opportunity to find something else.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:47 PM   #22
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I was on a tour this summer, and I was down by a swimming hole. The river was chilly, and this girl was wading in from the beach, into the deeper water. She was all complaining and hesitant and girly about it. Her mother was next to her, and noticed. She looked like a good tough mother (had a few tattoos, you might know the type) and she just looked down and summed it up in a few words: "Ah, suck it up."

At first I thought this was a little crude, on a philosophical level at least.

But then I realized: it was right to the point, *very* concise, and best of all it was instantly effective.

It was like watching some band of primates teach their young.

It worked. She went right on in, next to her mother, without any of the whining and squealing.
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Old 09-25-09, 03:54 PM   #23
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Try cycling London to Sydney with your girlfriend only for her to leave home 2000km into the trip. Pretty lonely free camping solo after that...luckily that feeling only lasted a few weeks as I was smashed by a lorry in Croatia and hospitalised for a month.

But...I look back at the whole episode as an incredible, defining point of my life. No regrets, and only pleasant remenisces. Starting a new 20 000km trip in December.

Just do it, man!
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Old 09-25-09, 04:14 PM   #24
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I felt that way. It got the best of me and regret the hell out of stopping. Luckily, I'll have another chance and I'm taking it. I say take a 2-3 days in one place, rest up, go see a movie, get your mind off of the bike before making any decisions.
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Old 09-25-09, 04:30 PM   #25
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One of the better tonics for this kind of thing is to look up at the sky and say, "Thank you -- while we're at it, may I have another?"

And to laugh.

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