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Thread: Trip journals

  1. #1
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Trip journals

    When you're touring, do you keep a journal, either a private record for yourself or a public blog or site?

    I'm interested in what people record in their journals and why, and whether the journals are meant for an audience to read.
    Life is good.

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    I keep detailed record of my trips. The statistical information is in there, including how many kilometres I traveled, the time on the bike, average speed, maximum speed and total odometer reading. But that's only a small part of the journal. Much more time is spent describing where I went, what I saw, what I ate for lunch, how the sun or rain felt and more. I try to include everything. A one-week trip last year filled 108 pages in a notebook — and I could have written much more.
    Life is good.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Early in my touring career, the journals were meant to wow friends and family with my daring. That quickly wore off as they lost interest in the wanderings of an old man. Now, I journal as a discipline tool for myself. If you're writing a journal, you tend to pay more attention to the passing scene. Journaling is also a stab at immortality. After being posted on CG, I print them in hopes my grands might get a kick out of reading them long after I'm gone, and that they may be inspired to climb aboard a bicycle and get to experience the thrill of life in the slow lane.

    Posting a journal on line has the huge advantage of containing pictures. Printing it assures a semi-permanent record.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    The number one place for bike tour journals is CrazyGuyOnABike.com. Others use blogs.

    I used to keep a written journal on tour. However, it was a hassle to sit and write for half an hour when I was tired, but I felt obligated. When I was too tired and didn't do it, there would be a gap in my journal that I would kick myself for later.

    Then I got an mp3 player that has a voice recorder. Now I sit and dictate the day's events into it (or lie comfortably in my tent and dictate.) I listen and type up a written journal after I get home. My musings are much longer and more interesting this way. (Interesting to me, I mean. Your mileage may vary.)

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    When you're touring, do you keep a journal, either a private record for yourself or a public blog or site?
    Yes, I have three journals on CrazyGuyOnABike.com.

    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    I'm interested in what people record in their journals and why, and whether the journals are meant for an audience to read.
    I record whatever comes to mind about the trip and the day. I also try to include info that might be useful to other tourists or would be tourists. I think of my audience as being a mix of family, friends, and strangers, but actually write it primarily for my own entertainment. It is a fun way to remember the trip.

    I do get a kick out of it when folks tell me how they enjoyed one of my journals or say that reading it inspired them to tour. I am surprised how often that happens.

    Two Grads and a Dad on Tour
    is about our Trans America tour in 2007.
    Santa Fe Trail Tour is about my 2008 solo tour that was supposed to be done with my Buddy who broke a hip at the start.
    Mountain Man Wannabe Tour is about the Sierra Cascades Tour with my daughter that didn't make it to the Cascades.

  6. #6
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Way back in the days before Crazy Guy, I used to handwrite a journal. I love looking back through it and remembering little bits and pieces that I had forgotten.

    But then in 2006 we were taking off with the kids for a year and I figured I would start up a journal on CGoaB so my mom could know where we are and what we've been up to. It never occurred to me that anybody my our families and friends would read it. All of a sudden, it was getting 500 page views a day and we were blown away! I posted something on the blog to say, "Please tell us who you are and why in the heck are you reading about the wanderings of a family?"

    When we decided to take this trip from Alaska to Argentina, we started up a blog which is, basically, our documentation for the world record. WE have to have a daily diary for Guinness and daily mileage, etc... It was easier to put it all in blog format than try to have all that paper filling up our panniers.

    What I like best about having hte blog is the incredible people we meet through it. It's incredible to meet up with someone who already knhows all the stories, so we can move on to talking about other things - otherwise we spend the whole time with them telling them about our journey.

    I am not interested in the basic stats at all -I don't care how far we go (we have an odometer and I record the mileage only for Guinness), how high we climbed, what route we took, etc... I want the stories. The storeis of the people we meet and the adventures we have are what I want to remember, so that's what I write.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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    I have plans in their infancy to do my first, and hopefully not last, cross country tour next year (that will hopefully come to fruition). I'll be keeping a journal in a notebook and an online version on CG (which will basically summarize the notebook version until I feel comfortable enough to put my in depth thoughts out in public, heh). My reasonings behind it is to have something to look back on after the adventure is over to stir the memory and smile about (have a horrible memory ever since I was a kid when it comes to vacations and the like, my older brother can remember almost every detail from family road trips to Florida 20 years ago, me? not so much), keep friends (old and newly acquired) and family updated on the road, etc. Going to use CG instead of a blog because after a solid 4-5 months of obsessive journal/blog reading, inlcuding all of staehpj1's, I feel it is much easier to follow along with CG, whether it be for people reading as I go or after it is over.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Didn't you ask this question a few years ago?

    I do keep a journal - either handwritten in a little book, or in the form of email. Emails are great ... with a 60 wpm typing speed, I can knock of a few days of trip information in no time at all.

    The main intent of my journal is to help me remember what happened on the trip because some of the details can get rather blurry as the years pass. As a secondary thing, the type of journal I keep keeps my family informed of what's going on. I send emails to my parents (and sometimes other family and friends) periodically throughout the trip, and use those emails as a record of what happened on the trip.

    After the trip is over, I compile what I've written, trim and edit it, and post it on my website (www.machka.net), sometimes along with some post tour comments. If someone reads it there and enjoys it, or finds some of my comments helpful, that's great ... but if not, that's OK too because, as mentioned above, my main intent is to keep a record of the trip for my own benefit.

    What do I record?

    I record distance, because distance interests me, but I won't necessarily include that in my online record. I don't care about time on the bicycle, the speed I travel or other details like that, although if it was an extra long day, I might mention that we started cycling at 8 am and didn't pull into camp until about 8 pm or something like that.

    If the weather was something dramatic, and especially if it has some significant effect on the day, I'll record it (i.e. when the temp reached 44C in Queensland; the huge tropical storm that blew through one afternoon; the night it dropped to -6C in the Snowy Mountains and the tent was thick with frost ... etc.) ... otherwise I won't say much about it.

    I won't record what I ate unless it had some significance associated with the people we met along the way, or tradition, etc. (i.e. the evening where we were about to have our usual can of beans and couple eggs, when the fishing party sharing the BBQ shed with us noticed what we were eating and insisted on sharing some of their massive quantity of sausages, hamburgers, etc. with us; the cheese selection in France; the Australian hamburgers ... etc.).

    And mainly, I will record stories about what I saw along the way, who I met, what I learned, etc. When I write the stories up to post online, I will include links to places, events, etc. that I've come across. These days just about everything is on the internet somewhere. So if I visit a museum, I'll include a link to it on the off chance that someone reading the account might might be interested in further details about that museum.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Didn't you ask this question a few years ago?
    With new people around here, the topic was worth raising again.
    The main intent of my journal is to help me remember what happened on the trip because some of the details can get rather blurry as the years pass.
    That's part of the reason I put a lot of detail into my journals. I can then use them to bring back the entire experience. If several months afterward I'm reading about a cold day and I want to grab a sweater or a blanket, then the journal has done its job. And if my legs feel tired when I'm reading about a long ride up a hill and in a headwind, I'm satisfied that the journal is working well.
    After the trip is over, I compile what I've written, trim and edit it, and post it on my website (www.machka.net), sometimes along with some post tour comments. If someone reads it there and enjoys it, or finds some of my comments helpful, that's great ... but if not, that's OK too because, as mentioned above, my main intent is to keep a record of the trip for my own benefit.
    I'm considering the same thing, but I haven't gone that far yet.

    I try to include the everyday events as well as the unusual. I may talk about cycling 25 kilometres before stopping for breakfast, then going into a grocery store to buy fruit, cottage cheese and a bran muffin, then cycling up a hill as the sun became hotter and resting a shady tree in the heat of the day. Those details tell me about the rhythm of the day and they tell others what they can expect to experience along the way.

    I also write a lot about how towns and campsites affect me. In one case, I wrote a few pages on my thoughts after reading the letters to the editor in one town's two weekly newspapers. Another time, I had several pages about one mural I saw on a brick wall. Once, in the evening after a rain, I sat on a park bench in a small village and wrote about the ambiance of the place, the peaceful feeling I had there. If I start talking with people along the way, I'll write about those encounters too, because they are also part of the experience of travel by bicycle.
    Life is good.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Geo Cruise's Avatar
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    If I knew I would have wifi and power on a regular basis I would keep a detailed record as I went on a website, I have used voice recorders before though becuse I can record hours of voice and take up very little memory and then transcribe them when I am done. I usualy talk about the ride and the KM's through the day and the altitude, barometric pressure and GPS co-ordinates on a regular basis and I can sync my GPS when I get home and then note along the path where I made the recordings. but these have been for day tours I haven't tried it on a real tour yet. I am an engineer so I tend to overkill on info taking bearings and what ever I can measure and the changes that are taking place.
    Geo

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" - Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geo Cruise View Post
    I am an engineer so I tend to overkill on info taking bearings and what ever I can measure and the changes that are taking place.
    I think we all tell the story of our tours through the terms and images we understand best. An artist might look at colours, shadows and textures. A chef might describe tastes, smells and meals. A musician or a mechanic might focus on sounds. An engineer or an accountant might tell the story with numbers. The journal doesn't just tell the story of the trip; it also tells the story of the person chronicling the account.
    Life is good.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Geo Cruise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    I think we all tell the story of our tours through the terms and images we understand best. An artist might look at colours, shadows and textures. A chef might describe tastes, smells and meals. A musician or a mechanic might focus on sounds. An engineer or an accountant might tell the story with numbers. The journal doesn't just tell the story of the trip; it also tells the story of the person chronicling the account.

    Quite true, to me it reads as a story I take wind readings and speed, cloud type and bearings and changes in barometric pressure, I will even take bearing to different landmarks of any kind so I can calculate global co-ordinates even without my GPS, it is mostly habit from working in the field, but I find it fun, most people would find it very boring though LOL usually when I transcribe and write my journal I leave almost all of that out though.
    Geo

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" - Albert Einstein

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  13. #13
    Senior Member Geo Cruise's Avatar
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    If you want something that will basically reacord all that useless data and have money to spare the Suunto X10 (2010 Model) is an awesome wrist watch GPS, as long as you are not looking for a GPS that will be giving you turn for turn directions you can view all the data and at the enfd of the day you can actually download it and overlay it on google maps and see every hill you went up and how much, every turn you made you current speed at any point along the route etc. they run about $450 though. I wish I coudl afford one but I have other more pressing priorities. If you know you cloud types and and use the barometric bressure you can amaze the other riders you are with with you seemingly magical way of pitching a tent always just before it starts to rain even if you can't tell a storm is coming.
    Geo

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" - Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    I use a GPS and I have some unusual things marked as waypoints. On a couple of gravel roads, I have every cattleguard marked so I know to slow down for them. Near the summit of one mountain pass, I have a water tap marked because it's the first place in 40 kilometres of tough uphill where I can replenish water. I've got country stores, rest stops and secluded campsites all marked in case I need them in the future.
    Life is good.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Geo Cruise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    I use a GPS and I have some unusual things marked as waypoints. On a couple of gravel roads, I have every cattleguard marked so I know to slow down for them. Near the summit of one mountain pass, I have a water tap marked because it's the first place in 40 kilometres of tough uphill where I can replenish water. I've got country stores, rest stops and secluded campsites all marked in case I need them in the future.
    I have a GPS that I can do the same with but I haven't been using it for that purpose anymore, I am so used to hand written notes that I find them easier to put in with a map case and find everything I need, granted I am a Survey Engineer so mapping is my specialty but I just set my gps to record and it will record a 3D path of my route and I do audio notes as I am riding and note them to a way point and I can wash them through a voice recognition software and it transcribes them for me though I have to go and proof read and make a lot of corrections due to faulty transcriptions. I am low tech on some things and high tech on others LOL it is all just what I am most comfortable with. I also have access to survey data bases though through the entire province of Ontario and can look up wells and all types of topographical information so that is a bit of an edge I have over others because I can just use my former employers account to do it. I used to use it a lot to find off road trails that were pretty much unknown when I was mountian biking. plus it would give me access to the engineer who surveyed the land in the first place and sometimes find notes that did not make the plans.
    Geo

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" - Albert Einstein

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  16. #16
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    I'm interested in what people record in their journals and why, and whether the journals are meant for an audience to read.
    I forgot to answer this in my first reply. My primary intended audience is my family and friends - my dad in particular. He's 98 now and his bicycling days are in the past, but he was an avid cyclist into his 80s. He always dreamed of taking some sort of extended bike trip and never did. I think he experiences what it might be like by reading my journals. My kids and my wife also like to read my posts - especially when I add photographs.

    I also keep in mind another audience - people who may wish to ride the same route. I know when I'm planning a tour I like to look at other people's journals from the same locations. I get route information, an idea of what camping is available, etc. I also know others are always contemplating what equipment to buy and bring, so I include reviews of things that I've bought, my bicycle setup, etc.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Geo Cruise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    I forgot to answer this in my first reply. My primary intended audience is my family and friends - my dad in particular. He's 98 now and his bicycling days are in the past, but he was an avid cyclist into his 80s. He always dreamed of taking some sort of extended bike trip and never did. I think he experiences what it might be like by reading my journals. My kids and my wife also like to read my posts - especially when I add photographs.

    I also keep in mind another audience - people who may wish to ride the same route. I know when I'm planning a tour I like to look at other people's journals from the same locations. I get route information, an idea of what camping is available, etc. I also know others are always contemplating what equipment to buy and bring, so I include reviews of things that I've bought, my bicycle setup, etc.
    98 years, that is awesome, the things he has seen over his life must be amazing!
    Geo

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" - Albert Einstein

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  18. #18
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    I also keep in mind another audience - people who may wish to ride the same route. I know when I'm planning a tour I like to look at other people's journals from the same locations. I get route information, an idea of what camping is available, etc. I also know others are always contemplating what equipment to buy and bring, so I include reviews of things that I've bought, my bicycle setup, etc.
    A friend was inspired to ride across Canada when he read a newspaper account of someone else making the trip. I wonder if anyone has decided to start touring because of reading a trip journal instead of a newspaper story. I also wonder if anyone has taken up cycling in general because of our tales of road trips.
    Life is good.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Geo Cruise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    A friend was inspired to ride across Canada when he read a newspaper account of someone else making the trip. I wonder if anyone has decided to start touring because of reading a trip journal instead of a newspaper story. I also wonder if anyone has taken up cycling in general because of our tales of road trips.
    I did my first tour as a teenager just when I was getting into cycling and heard about it through the church it was a fund raiser and sounded fun so I went for it, Quebec City to Toronto
    Geo

    "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" - Albert Einstein

    www.CruiserSports.com

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