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Old 04-23-11, 04:42 PM   #1
rasoward
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How to not be bored on long bike rides?

Hi-
I recently went on a short tour, just for three days, but I was biking all day for each day. I was just wondering how to avoid getting bored when biking for 6+ hours a day. It was fun overall, but I constantly found myself feeling bored. I do plan on biking XC in a bit over a year, and need to solve this problem if I'm going to make it. Also perhaps biking XC will be more interesting because its extremely adventurous?
All input is appreciated! thanks
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Old 04-23-11, 05:24 PM   #2
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rasoward, Allow yourself to be more easily amused by being more attentive to the world around you. Normally on a ride my only cycling related thoughts are about road hazards, which are scanned for way ahead of where I am and perhaps a more flexable schedule can help.

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Old 04-23-11, 05:24 PM   #3
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Also perhaps biking XC will be more interesting because its extremely adventurous?
Maybe, maybe not, only you can say for you. I know that I personally tend to need a longish goal to enjoy a tour. Ten days is about my minimum and a month is better. The TA was 73 days for us and that was a nice length.

If all you are doing is riding maybe you need to talk to the locals, do side hikes, check out attractions and so on. Maybe that will happen more naturally for you when on a longer tour, it does for me. The fact that you are riding coast to coast will start a lot of conversations and probably get you lots of invites for hospitality. Also if in doubt that might be easier on a route like the Trans America.
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Old 04-23-11, 05:44 PM   #4
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Hey,
I download audio books to my ipod and put one earphone in my left ear and keep the right ear free for traffic noise, this may sound a bit boring but It has often had me listening waiting for the next chapter while another few hours just slipped by. Works for me.
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Old 04-23-11, 06:48 PM   #5
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I almost never get real bored on calm sunny days, but now and then I just want time to pass quick as possible during foul weather or in the face of a headwind. Here is what I sometimes do to keep myself interested.

- News radio if I can get a signal. Instead of headphones, I use this type of speaker secured with a rubber and velcro mount. It's pretty darn loud.
- Music if I'm not sick of everything on my mp3 player yet.
- Scan the road for windfall of any sort. Normally the best I can expect are a few un-broken bungee cords, but I've found some serviceable water bottles. Discarded t-shirts(Who the heck keeps throwing these out their windows?) and handkerchiefs get recycled as grease rags. In farmland, you might spot some fresh produce fallen off the backs of trucks at the right time of the year.
- Here's an odd one: scan the roadside for flowers. On really dull days, I try to keep my spirits up by decorating my bike a bit. Whatever the common ditchweeds of the area are, I'll use them to brighten up my gear. If nothing else it gives me an excuse to stop for a minute or two. Fragrant plants like wormwood, woodruff, or tansy I stuff in my clothing panniers to keep things smelling better than awful.
- Look for stealth camping spots, if you're into that sort of thing. Knowing for sure where I can stop if I use the same route again gives me more confidence for next time. I also make note of good rest stops, which towns have reasonably prices groceries, where to stop for water. Organizing and putting them on a map has become somewhat of a hobby in and of itself for me.
- Eat. I'm something of a boredom eater, and it's no different on a bike, so I'm fairly often eating trailmix out of my handlebar bag or tearing up a hard roll.

There's a woman with a crazyguy journal who'd occasionally read books while pedaling her recumbent trike all over North America. One of the best selling points for the things I've heard yet.
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Old 04-23-11, 06:49 PM   #6
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Take up birdwatching, it's helped me immensely on my dull as dishwater morning commute. Then, start talking to the birds, realize you can identify certain individual birds, give them proper names, and start having lengthy conversations with them.
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Old 04-23-11, 07:22 PM   #7
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Boredom en route

Have you unconsciously designed boredom into your tour? Take care not to plan all the adventure out of your trip beforehand. Leave room for surprises--good and bad. You will feel more alive and less bored in proportion to how much you don't know about what's ahead.

Travel is not meant wholly to go about verifying what you've heard. Neither is it made up of only great events and high points. Don't try to take meaning from everything. Enjoy things as they happen; meaning, if there, will come later and better, once you've metabolized things. Often it is just the appetite for each new day, the curiosity over what may happen next, that keeps it interesting.

It takes time to morph out of our armchair, entertain-me selves and into the more healthy mindset in which we recognize ourselves as the protagonist of the story unfolding before our eyes with each spin of the crank. Give it time; out of the voyeur will emerge the voyageur.
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Old 04-23-11, 07:25 PM   #8
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Music and interesting terrain do it for me. I couldn't stand the plains, and hitch-hiked a few hundred miles to get away from the flat terrain. I rarely get bored in the mountains or on the coast.
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Old 04-23-11, 08:40 PM   #9
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only boring people get bored.




edit: except in the plains, as valygrl alluded to above...
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Old 04-23-11, 09:08 PM   #10
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If you get bored on tour then you are touring in the wrong areas.

I almost never get bored because when I pick an area to tour there is always plenty to see, sometimes too much and it makes it hard to keep moving.

There are rare occasions when I just need to get somewhere so I have an interesting ride. A friend of mine calls these maintenance rides. But even on these rides you pass through interesting towns or if on a busy road, keeping from being hit will keep you from getting bored.

I have not toured a whole lot but have done it a number of times. I cannot think of one day when I was bored the whole day. There may have been a few hours here and there but certainly not a whole day.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:12 PM   #11
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Wow - I don't even know how to begin to answer this one. Honestly, I don't think I've ever gotten BORED while touring - and I've spent a heckuva lot of hours in the saddle.

I really have no idea - the idea of being bored while biking is an unknown concept here! I guess I just let my mind wander while my legs go on autopilot - and I enjoy letting my mind wander.

I should add that we spent many, many hours (weeks? months?) going through endless barren grasslands in various places and I didn't get bored there either. Maybe we have different definitions of the word bored?
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Old 04-23-11, 10:41 PM   #12
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If you can't change the scenery, change your riding style. Maybe carry less so you can ride faster and more aggressively? Mix it up with the occasional all out sprint? Granted it's probably not the best for energy conservation, but when I'm tired of the bike I just sprint hard for a while and it gets me right back to where I need to be mentally.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:42 PM   #13
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Get out of your home country and away from the franchise stores,
they make every town In the USA the same, .. at least.

Stop and Drink With the locals, It has worked for me
even if I didn't speak the language..

Pivo ! Prost !

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Old 04-23-11, 10:45 PM   #14
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Wow - I don't even know how to begin to answer this one. Honestly, I don't think I've ever gotten BORED while touring - and I've spent a heckuva lot of hours in the saddle.

I really have no idea - the idea of being bored while biking is an unknown concept here! I guess I just let my mind wander while my legs go on autopilot - and I enjoy letting my mind wander.

I should add that we spent many, many hours (weeks? months?) going through endless barren grasslands in various places and I didn't get bored there either. Maybe we have different definitions of the word bored?
Likely so, in regards to varying definitions of boredom. I don't so much get truly bored so run into bad patches of time where I am not enjoying myself. It's cold or wet with a grueling headwind, or some yahoo driving like a bloody yahoo shakes me up and I can't stop looking over my shoulder. At those times, I'd not rather be home, but I do want to get through the hours or day as soon as possible so I can get back to enjoying myself.

I'm sure everyone has those bad moments, so I think that a broader question that would get more answers would be "How do you cheer yourself up on tour". Most answers would apply to the relief of boredom, as well, I suspect.

Having read, and been shocked by, journals wherein the author seemed to genuinely not be enjoying himself, or seems far too jaded at "just another mountain", I feel I needed to clarify my position a bit. Hell, maybe I'm still just an idealistic, green cyclotourist still, but endless plains sound pretty good to me at the moment. Long as it's not blowing and raining.
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Old 04-23-11, 11:14 PM   #15
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There's too much going on to get bored on the bike. I LOVE riding, so like nancy sv I have no idea what being bored is. I get in a zone, and the mind slips away, but I don't think that's being bored.
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Old 04-24-11, 01:16 AM   #16
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I've rode on tours to the beach on MD/DE Eastern Shore, the roads are flat & mostly straight with wide shoulders so that one can even read a magazine/Iphone etc. OTOH I find that cycling thru long & quiet rural sections is both boring yet relaxing. I think the endorphins from the physical effort make the boredom not only tolerable but enjoyable. Well to break up your cycling days maybe you could stop for a little sightseeing, food-shopping, posting to friends etc. I have an MP3 player with a movie that I was planning to watch on my latest mountain trip...I was waay too tired to even consider watching it heh. One could listen to audio-books while rolling.
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Old 04-24-11, 03:20 AM   #17
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I really have no idea - the idea of being bored while biking is an unknown concept here! I guess I just let my mind wander while my legs go on autopilot - and I enjoy letting my mind wander.
Same here. A combination of letting my mind wander and also paying close attention to subtle changes and differences in what I see along the way.

I've traveled some areas with a lot of homogeneity in landscapes over long distances. Examples would be parts of North Western Australia or the West Siberian Plain. Even there, there are subtle changes and differences to notice and see. In North America, I really enjoy the vast expanses that slowly unfold in the western deserts where geology is frequently all put on display or the Great Plains with wide open spaces but also a surprising amount of variety.

I'll let me mind wander, but I'll also play and replay and think through some of the small towns and places I come through as well.
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Old 04-24-11, 06:24 AM   #18
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There is a tendency for riders to look down at the road they are riding and watch the bitumen or gravel pass under their tyres. Having the bike set up so they can sit up and look around helps a lot.

My first long tour was across the Nullarbor Plain. People used to say to me they couldn't possibly do that -- they had driven across and almost died from the boredom.

But I am much like mev, and the subtle changes, and the wildlife at various magnifications, plus the ebb and flow of traffic, and the achievement of reaching the roadhouses all helped ensure there was no real boredom.

I'm also quite happy in my own company. And that is something I gather a lot of touring cyclists have trouble coming to terms with. I can solve the problems of the world and BFs as I ride along, and then there is planning for that night's accommodation and preparing food and stuff. I can seethe in private about the jerk that has just gone by, or have private moments with swarms of butterflies winging their way through my frame. Eye-to-eye contact with a wedge-tail eagle on that Nullarbor ride made me appreciate just what I was doing.

I must say that I can get bored on a bike -- when I am on a seemingly endless flat, straight leg of a randonnee in the middle of the night. I've used a radio to get through those nights -- the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has an extensive network of stations throughout the country.

I'm also fortunate these days to have Machka along on rides as she chatters away about stuff and provides a different perspective on things -- especially with her developing interest in photography.

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Old 04-24-11, 08:09 AM   #19
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I'm 8 months into a perimeter tour. In camp I read... I'm on my 31st book of this trip. On the bike, I listen to music.
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Old 04-24-11, 08:36 AM   #20
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Boredom is a kind of anxiety we often try to sooth with distraction. Unfortunately, distraction is not very affective. The anxiety always creeps back.

I think of boredom as a wake-up call from my subconscious, telling me it's time to take a look at how I'm living my life and how I might do a better job of it. In a sense, the cure for boredom is to think about and uncover the source of your anxiety (and boredom) and come up with a better way of living - one that doesn't cause the anxiety you experience as boredom. For some people, it's as simple as keeping busy; for others, it's developing a complex system of purpose. Whatever it is for you, riding across the countryside on a bike is a perfect place to think about it.

Question: what do I do about boredom?
Silly Philosopher's Answer: think about how not to be bored.

Last edited by seenloitering; 04-24-11 at 08:41 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-24-11, 09:22 AM   #21
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Take a notebook with you and each evening, write down everything that happened during the day. Don't just write about getting up at one campground and riding for several hours until you stopped for the day. Write about what you noticed along the way. Write about where you stopped for lunch and what you ate. If you stopped at a small country store to get food or water, write about what it was like in that place. If you had to slog your way up a tough mountain pass, write about how you felt when you got to the summit. And when you meet people along the way, write a bit about those encounters. If you commit to writing these things down, you'll soon notice all sorts of details you might otherwise miss.
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Old 04-24-11, 01:12 PM   #22
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I'm a bit with Newspaperguy, except that I'll be typing instead of writing! When I know that I plan to tell other people about it later, I notice more stuff. And then by the time I'm done riding I have whole paragraphs already composed in my head.

I tend to daydream about food a lot, even when I'm not actually hungry. Putting something tasty in your handlebar bag (or pockets if you're a jersey-wearer) and nibbling a bit here and there is nice. It's entertaining to notice how my daydreams about food change the hungrier I get...they go from nutritious and/or complex meals, to deep-fried bisquick pancakes. With powdered sugar. (I think it's very handy that touring makes everything taste good, as you're often limited in your food choices!)

I haven't done the iPod thing while riding on tour yet, mostly because I'm always on tour with my boyfriend, and I want to be able to hear him if he says something. On that note, obviously, touring with someone can alleviate a lot of the boredom....although on long days you can have a lot of time go by in companionable silence. But I plan to buy some cheapo speakers that I can put in my handlebar bag or something so I can listen to music, because I frequently find, around town anyway, that boring/hard rides are just easier and more fun with a soundtrack. My boyfriend and I are leaving in about a month for a cross-continent tour, and I've been adding music to the iPod as often as humanly possible in preparation!

The audiobook idea is a good one, though. I'll have to think about it.
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Old 04-24-11, 01:23 PM   #23
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listen, stretch, breathe, hum, sing
change tempo
snack
talk to the road
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Old 04-24-11, 01:58 PM   #24
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I'm with several others. I've used a lot of adjectives to describe days on my bike, but boring has never been one of them. We've ridden through seveal places that folks who had only driven through in there cars called "boring". After a presentation my wife and I made about a long trip we had recently completed, a guy in the audiance asked, "how did you get through those long tedious miles?" My first thought was; he just doesn't get it. It was all about those miles. If we just wantd to get from point A to B we would have driven, taken a train or plane.

I also think it a personal thing. Background and experience also filter our perception of the world. Motivation may also influence how we perceive our surronndings. Why am I touring in the first place? Do I really like bike touring, or am I just bagging another peak for bragging rights?

If all else fails practice your hawk call imitation on the prairie dogs.


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Old 04-24-11, 04:36 PM   #25
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I'm with several others. I've used a lot of adjectives to describe days on my bike, but boring has never been one of them. We've ridden through seveal places that folks who had only driven through in there cars called "boring". After a presentation my wife and I made about a long trip we had recently completed, a guy in the audiance asked, "how did you get through those long tedious miles?" My first thought was; he just doesn't get it. It was all about those miles. If we just wantd to get from point A to B we would have driven, taken a train or plane.

I also think it a personal thing. Background and experience also filter our perception of the world. Motivation may also influence how we perceive our surronndings. Why am I touring in the first place? Do I really like bike touring, or am I just bagging another peak for bragging rights?

If all else fails practice your hawk call imitation on the prairie dogs.
This point is an excellent one. I think that people who grow up in a big city feel secure in their surrounds. They are certain of where everything is and how long it takes to get there, even if they are free of car-ownership.

Riding tours takes them out of that comfort level, and when confronted with wide open spaces and the "need" to get to Point B, the additional (or unknown) time it takes starts to gnaw to the point where boredom sets in.

Routines also dictate our lives, and can become boring. Sometimes, riders trade one set of boring routines for another set of boring bicycle touring routines.
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