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Old 03-13-10, 10:28 AM   #1
naisme
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How long to decide?

I have been talking about touring for so long now that people are starting to be nauseated and just say "GO!!!"

I find myself likening this to a favorite Zen Koan, "Jumping off the hundred foot pool."

I almost did it in 2001, with a month in France, but came home. Then when my mother passed and I lost my job, I almost went, but felt I wasn't ready. I have purchased everything I need for this tour, I have the bike, the tent, the panniers, the clothing, maps, books, tires, tools, have tried different bikes, and combinations.

I've gone out on small tours just to see if it is possible that a sane person can do this and come back wanting more. I commute to work the long way just to get miles in and in shape. I have no reasons to stay, I've made a list of things I'll miss, but the adventure of just riding and seeing and experiencing life from a Brooks saddle outweighs them. I've even calculated how I can take the last of my vacation time, then come back and put in my two weeks, collect my last paycheck and vamose.

This has been in the works for years.

So, I posit this question, how long did it take you to step off the 100 foot pole?
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Old 03-13-10, 10:53 AM   #2
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After the bug bit, took me about a year to get in condition and acquire the gear and knowledge. 4 years and many tours later, still learning. I'm a slow learner.

Just do it.
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Old 03-13-10, 11:02 AM   #3
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It depends on how you look at it. I almost started in 1976 (Bikecentennial) but things didn't work out. In 2007 I decided it was time to go and did the TransAmerica maybe 4 months later. So either 4 months or 31 years depending on how you look at it.
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Old 03-13-10, 11:03 AM   #4
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I did a week-long 500mi credit-card tour after a week of investigation and about 8 (ok: maybe 10) weeks of training+gear acquisition+planning.
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Old 03-13-10, 11:37 AM   #5
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First tour....we decided on Wednesday we were going and off we went on Friday and came back on Sunday right on the plan. Longer tours take a bit more planning but you just have to get on and go.

I headed out a year or so ago for what was "supposed" to be a short week tour, I was enjoying in so much I called the office and told them I was taking the rest of my vacation time and would be back in 3 weeks. Fortunately it was a slow time so it was no problem, I suspect if I had done it during a busy period I would still be on tour...

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Old 03-13-10, 06:49 PM   #6
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What's the big deal? If you've got 2 or 3 or 4 weeks vacation time, rather than travelling with the car or using busses or trains, take your bicycle. I suspect this is what most cycletourist do. They work most of the year, do a few short tours on long weekends, and do one longer tour each year with their vacation time. Once you've done that a few times, there isn't much prep time ... it just comes naturally.


Or are you talking about a much longer tour which would involve quitting your job and hitting the road for several months or years? If so, I'd recommend taking your vacation time and doing a 2-4 week tour this year to see if being on the road for a somewhat more extended time is really what you want to do. Then, when you have enough money to support yourself, just go.

You made a list of things you'd miss if you went. I can't imagine what those things might be. It's not like you'll never see your friends and family again or that you will be out of touch with them. There are any number of communication methods these days. You don't have to get rid of your stuff ... you can put it into storage if you want to keep it. Although it can be freeing to get rid of some of it. It's a great opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff you've got hanging around that you just never use. If you figure you'll miss the area where you live, you can always go back there. If you will miss your job ..... well, maybe you should just stick with touring during your vacation time.


When I took off for a 3-month tour in 2004, I made the decision to go in about March and was on the road in September. I quit my job, gave up my apartment, and got rid of about half my stuff in order to do that. And when I got back from that tour, I went back to University and got a degree. Now Rowan and I are talking about hitting the road for an indefinite period of time. We do need to make some arrangements which will take a little bit of time to sort out, but the plan is in place and the countdown has begun.
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Old 03-13-10, 07:19 PM   #7
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I headed out pretty much as soon as the thought occurred to me. I didn't have any panniers or anything, so I bought a rack (a cheapie $5 K-Mart rack - wouldn't recommend that route!), tied plastic bags full of stuff onto it, and headed out for a few days.

Now, it's a whole lotta years later (that "tour" was probably in 1979 or 1980) and I'm still out there. Now I have panniers though.
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Old 03-13-10, 07:59 PM   #8
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It's a great opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff you've got hanging around that you just never use.
This is definitely true. I sold most of my belongings when I quit my job and relocated by bike- and to be honest, I don't remember what half of that stuff was. Most of my DVD collection can be Netflixed

Also, when I told my boss I wanted to take a month off for a bike tour, that I understood I would only have 2 weeks of vacation time and the rest would be unpaid, and explained why it couldn't be less time (by explaining the simple math- here to there, x number of miles between, and travelling at 50 miles per day), he was totally cool with it. Of course, I later changed plans to an indefinite leave, but that's beside the point....

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Old 03-14-10, 03:34 AM   #9
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"I do not regret the things I've done, but those I did not do." - Rory Cochrane

To answer your question: Not very long. I went on shorter tours in the beginning before taking the plunge on a longer solo tour. I was full of fear leading up to departure, but that went away as soon as I started moving. It was a fantastic experience.
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Old 03-14-10, 06:19 AM   #10
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I headed out pretty much as soon as the thought occurred to me. I didn't have any panniers or anything, so I bought a rack (a cheapie $5 K-Mart rack - wouldn't recommend that route!), tied plastic bags full of stuff onto it, and headed out for a few days.

Now, it's a whole lotta years later (that "tour" was probably in 1979 or 1980) and I'm still out there. Now I have panniers though.
IMHO that is the way to go!

That is basically how we did our first tour. IIRC we were 14 years old riding a Western Flyer, Raleigh 3 speed and a Schwinn Breeze. BTW I was the poor guy on the Western Flyer. I suspect our parents did more planning than we did...

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Old 03-14-10, 06:53 AM   #11
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IMHO- the saying "best is the enemy of better" is a parallel for this matter.
Getting the optimal equipment, training, route planning, etc get in the way of starting a trip. Some of the best "tours" my partner and I have experience have been 3 or 4 day trips.
Epic journeys may be our dream, right now a long weekend is very satisfying.
For example- there is a state part about 80 km east of our house. For us it works better if we leave early on a Thurs morning, get there and settled in mid afternoon. My partner especially likes it if we can get a certain lake side lean to. Take a dip in the lake. have a nap. make dinner on an open fire while the sun is setting. then snuggle in and watch the stars go by.
next day starts out slowly, the trip is a shorter leg south & west - 60 km but a little hilly to a stealth camping lake side spot. usually have dinner out this eve. Next day is a longer ride back home - about 100 km.
Don't delay - Go on a few mini trips

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Old 03-14-10, 09:54 AM   #12
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I did it soon after I got a 10-speed Raleigh in 1973. I needed a rack and saddlebags. I had the tent and sleeping bag. I bought a Pletscher rack at Fred Meyer and some pack cloth and sewed my own panniers, and I was off. I started with weekend trips of 2 or 3 days, then did a trip for a whole week, although I was sitting in one spot most of the time. I took 2 days to ride 75 miles into Canada, and rode home in one.

One of the things that struck me immediately was the difference in seeing the countryside by being in it, rather than viewing it through the frame of a car window. Another was the difference in what you could see at 15 mph on a bike, compared to 65 mph from a car. Bike tourists know how you see every bit of roadkill. Another was where my mind drifted as I was pedaling along. People in those days were getting in to Transcendental Meditation, Primal Therapy, Transactualization - paying lots of money to try and find inner peace and relaxation. I found it by riding my bike long distances.

I was hooked immediately. However, it took real employment for me to be able to afford good equipment and really get into it.

Now my 100 foot pole is a cross country trip. I may not be able to attempt it until I retire.
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Old 03-14-10, 02:43 PM   #13
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I started touring after doing some long (~90 mile) exploration rides east of Seattle. I figured I could see a lot more and do more exploring if I could stay out one or two nights, so I put a cheap rack on the back of my bicycle, strapped my sleeping bag and a few other things to it, and did a couple of long-weekend rides.

It was only after those mini-tours that I decided to ride around the Olympic Peninsula, built a touring bike, and got some really good racks and panniers.
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Old 03-14-10, 05:32 PM   #14
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I learned about bicycle touring last october. I've been in school since then. I plan to go out on the road the second that school gets out.
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Old 03-14-10, 06:35 PM   #15
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I decided some time in January this year that I want to start touring. This was a direct result of becoming an all weather, no-matter-what commuter and enjoying riding a loaded bike and deciding to spend more time on my bike, going car-light, etc., plus reading these forums; the posts here really ignited my desire to hit the road with loaded panniers

I seem to be on track to do some 2-4 day trips stating April. My bike should be ready in a few weeks, I just need a lighter tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. In the beginning I'll be buying food as I go, no cooking, no hauling large amounts of food to keep it simple and I'll be hoping between State Parks to make camping easier.

I really don't think you need a very long time to prepare for short tours. If you've been riding a bike actively you should be able to do at least 40 miles a day. Planning an international trip may take a year, but short tours shouldn't be that hard to prepare for. At first I was even going to tour on my commuter bike.

Also, my wife expressed some interest in short bike tours so that may delay things a bit as we'd need a bike for her and some extra gear. I just picked up another 2009 Kona Sutra 49cm (complete bike) for her on Craig's List today, but it'll need about $300 worth of modifications. So it all quickly adds up.

I'm also hoping for a couple of weeks long trip around NY State in Summer.

I'm just itching to do this. And yeah, preparations, trying to make things perfect can ruin the fun. I hiked around NY a lot for the last couple of years and some of the best hikes were the impromptu ones when I picked a random location, got up early on Sat and just drove there without even getting food or anything. Just grabbed my boots, shorts, camera, Camelbak and off I went. I bought food at a deli by the roadside.

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Old 03-14-10, 07:42 PM   #16
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http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/map.html

Looks like Minnesota Valley, Frontenac, Afton, and William O'Brien are all within daytrip distance of Minneapolis by bike. If you ask locally, one of them probably gets slammed on weekends with folks looking to "escape to the country". I know there's a particular Madison area park (Devil's Lake) that's supposed to see very heavy use. So pick a localish park, and plan an overnight. If you're worried about being cold, maybe wait til May. But it's not a giant hairy deal to bike to a state park and stay overnight.
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Old 03-15-10, 06:30 AM   #17
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Hi,

I'll decide quickly if I'm financially independent or my prognosed dead will be soon. I took my a few years to decide on that. In the mean time I spend every (woking) day I have off to travel. But the big long world tour I'll make later. The reason was that I don't want to search for a job to earn money after years of totally independence. For instance: I've they prognose cancer I'll try to get healed in a certain period of time (I'll set a deadline) then I'll leave

Thomas
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Old 03-15-10, 07:29 AM   #18
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Two years.
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Old 03-15-10, 08:19 AM   #19
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Almost as soon as got back into biking in 2008 I started thinking about touring. A buddy and I 'jumped off' and booked plane tickets in April of '09 for an August trip. As they were restricted/refundable (only for hardship, etc) we were committed. So, for me, less than 1 year to make the jump. Mine was a 3 week tour in Ireland/Scotland/England. The time from April to August was all planning.
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Old 03-15-10, 08:58 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naisme View Post
I have been talking about touring for so long now that people are starting to be nauseated and just say "GO!!!"

I find myself likening this to a favorite Zen Koan, "Jumping off the hundred foot pool."


This has been in the works for years.

So, I posit this question, how long did it take you to step off the 100 foot pole?
I wrote this in my journal a couple of years ago.

On that trek I met Larry Sprague. Like many, he initiated the conversation when he saw the panniers. We talked for a while and when touring took over the chat he said, "I would love to do that some day". Another one. People on tour must hear that so much. My advice....Do some research, pick a tour and date and go for it. Even if it's only a few days. Life doesn't wait, it chugs along day after day and then one day it's too late.
MORE


We are all full of trepidations leading up to the tour, but like everyone else wrote. "That all goes away within a few minutes biking".

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Old 03-15-10, 11:12 AM   #21
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Quote:
[naisme
how long did it take you to step off the 100 foot pole?
It depends how high your "100 foot pole" really is. If I understand you correctly, it may be higher than most of us are talking about. It sounds like you are thinking about quiting your job and committing yourself to an extended ride. If that is the case, your hesitancy may be well founded. FWIW and I know you did not ask, but taking a moderately long, physically challenging tour might give you a better perceptive of what an extended tour might entail. Short tours prepare us for the long rides (and are fun), but they are not the same as getting on the bike and doing 50-80 miles 75 days in a row. My point is that maybe I'd slide down that 100 foot pole rather than jump which gets me to the same place anyway!

I've been bike touring for over 30 years, both solo and with my wife. Our longest ride was a self supported 11 weeks so I can't speak about long epic tours. However, after about two months on the road we had a good feel for how we would handle some of the longer rides we are planning. It is also a good way to gain confidence. I believe that being successful on a tour is a lot more mental than physical.

Good luck with your decision and ride!

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Old 03-15-10, 01:00 PM   #22
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Took me a nanosecond. In the mid-90s my company was acquired. The process of regulatory approval and implementation was going to take years. I knew that I didn't want to work for one of our acquirerors and I always wanted to ride across the country so I decided to do it. In fact, one implementation started, I begged to get canned by the end of April so I could start my ride in late May. Ended up taking two years off from the working world and doing three extended tours--two in the U.S. and one in Andalucia. Wouldn't trade the lost money or career advancement for anything even if hand't gotten my old job back.
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Old 03-16-10, 01:39 AM   #23
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Is there something to think about??
When you want to try it: please do, if you don't, then don't.
It's not obligatory, you know...
different folks, different strokes
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Old 03-16-10, 01:42 AM   #24
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Naisme.. You said you came back wanting more.. A longer tour is no different than a shorter tour, just longer.. Plan you route to suit your needs.. As Nike says, "Just Do it..." What might be the biggest time consumer. Once you've decided to just do it, do a little planning.. Like what kind of terrain will suit my degree of fitness. Like any other vacation. Are you going for the beach or the museums. Do you want to go on a group bike tour or solo.. Will it be a ride from hotel to hotel or will you camp... Will my routing involve long stretches of wilderness or will services be in close proximity. Would a group tour carry all my stuff can it all be carried in my panniers...... Is my bike ready and suitable for cycle touring....etc.
... It's no different from any other vacation, except you're means of transportation is more fun..
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Old 03-20-10, 09:59 AM   #25
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thanks for all the helpful advice. The weather changed here and I got out on the bike and rode some of the anxiety off. I did some planning and have worked out two possible leaving dates, the end of April or the middle of May, have even thought about how to get my vacation time and come back to work quit jump on the bike, go and have the final check deposited in my account.

Talked to the landlord, he's expressed the desire to let me hold on to the place at a minimal cost, since I won't be living in it. His concern is that I would need a place to come back to, and I admitted that would be nice.

Everyone who hasn't gotten tired of my discussion, has shared that if life were different they would be thinking the same thing. I've also gotten in touch with a bunch of people (Can't hide on Facebook) I haven't heard from in years, and it would be fun to roll into town to see them, and they have expressed the same.

Thanks again.
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