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Old 05-10-12, 11:29 AM   #1
chiroptile
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The day before the tour..

Hey, guys.. So.. this time tomorrow I will be landing in Portland, OR. I will meet my partner in crime, we will assemble our bikes and strike out East. The plan is to reach NYC sometime by mid July.. I have toured in the past, and this "Day Before" thing always trips me out. Dinner feels like the last supper. Saying bye to family strikes especially deep chords.. Driving around the neighborhood conjures up childhood memories.. As much as I try not think about it, the possibility of crossing paths with a drunk driver or a hungry mountain lion always linger on the back burner.. It really forces you to re-evaluate everything, it seems.. This time it's compounded because less than a month after I return, I will be packing and moving to Missouri for school.. Uprooted! Really crazy, existential type of stuff.. Once the ride begins there is usually enough to occupy the mind and it quickly switches to adventure mode. I don't really know what I am trying to say here.. Guess just wanted to share the sentiment. Anybody else experience this? I can only imagine what it's like for those of you who tour exotic locales such as Southeast Asia and South America.. Mexico.. Africa.. Guess it's a comfort zone thing. Funny thing, this comfort zone. You stay in it, and you're just peachy.. You get out of it and the world opens up to you. What's the opposite of double-edged sword?
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Old 05-10-12, 11:42 AM   #2
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I can relate to most of that. The "possibility of crossing paths with a drunk driver or a hungry mountain lion" part not so much though. I never figured that being on tour was more dangerous than being at home. The rest I can relate to.
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Old 05-10-12, 04:06 PM   #3
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You've toured before and now you're heading out for the big one. Sounds like you're hooked. So are a lot of us. Hooked on the adventure, the challenge, on reincarnating memories, on meeting new people, new campgrounds, and on the basic satisfaction of pedaling toward a goal. On the freedom of the road and from a humdrum existance. Been that way ever since man existed.

Have fun. When you finish and recover, you'll likely start planning for the next tour. Might end up in some those exotic places you named. The possibilities, at your age, are endless.

You got a journal link?
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Old 05-10-12, 04:29 PM   #4
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My Dad,R.I.P, used to say, "When you're ready, there's nothing left to do but Jump Right in the Middle of it".
So, I learned to just "Jump"!
Enjoy.
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Old 05-10-12, 04:33 PM   #5
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Have fun!

I can certainly relate to the mixed excitement, apprehension, enthusiasm before setting off on a trip like this. It was 20 years ago this month that I flew to Portland (from CO) for my first cross-USA trip and it was a lot of different things to work through before finally getting off on the trip. Once underway, it all settled out though it took a few days before I reached "flow" as was living and problem solving more in the present underway.

I've done some trips since and I'm not sure the exoticness of the locale depends as much it is different from what you've already done. By now a week-long trip is fairly routine but if I get multiple months again then it becomes a bigger deal.
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Old 05-10-12, 10:20 PM   #6
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Thanks, all.. Butterflies subsided a bit.. Take care of yourselves, be safe, enjoy your tours, and keep doling out the good advice..
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Old 05-11-12, 03:39 AM   #7
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In 2004, I tossed/gave away/packed all my stuff, quit my job, moved everything two provinces over into storage, then about 3 days later, I flew to Australia to tour for the next 3 months. When I returned, I went to Uni to get another degree.

The week before I caught the flight to Australia wasn't terribly sentimental ... it was a mad panic as I finished up at work, finished packing, loaded a moving van, discovered my moving van was too small, organised an additional method of moving, had a charitable organisation come and pick up a bunch of stuff, drove the moving van almost 2000 km, unloaded the moving van, double-checked all my touring gear, and dashed off to the airport.

Then in 2009, I repeated the tossing/giving away/packing and putting everything into storage process in order to move to Australia.

I've moved and travelled a lot ... I've never really put roots down anywhere, at least not very deep. "Home" is wherever I happen to be.

And as for the comfort zone, I've spent much of my life living outside my comfort zone. It's nice to live within my comfort zone for a little bit of a rest now and then, but I get too restless if I stay there too long.
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Old 05-11-12, 06:23 AM   #8
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With each tour the unsetttling feeling diminishes. It's almost gone now, but I remember the start of my first big tour down the Pacific coast. I hitched a ride with some friends from home in San Luis Obispo up to Seattle. I remember the feeling when I watched them drive away and I realized the only way home was my bicycle. Holy cow! I also remember the first couple of nights. I was by myself, it was cold and rainy northwest weather, and I kept thinking over and over, What have I gotten myself into?

That trip turned out to be the best thing I had ever done. I remembered that on the next tour, which helped to assuage the apprehension. As each tour has turned out to be fun, and the mechanical issues have become pretty nonexistant, my nervous feelings have gone away.
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Old 05-12-12, 01:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
I can only imagine what it's like for those of you who tour exotic locales such as Southeast Asia and South America.. Mexico.. Africa.. Guess it's a comfort zone thing.
In 2009 I was flying off to Cancun at the start of 1800 miles through eight different countries in Central America, six of which I'd never set foot in before. While preparing for the trip people warned me to not end up decapitated or kidnapped by drug cartels, and even though I knew the likelihood of something like that happening was remote at best, there were moments when I asked myself if this was really a good thing to be doing. But in reality, the apprehension wasn't really all that much different from any domestic tour I've done either. It really is about leaving one's comfort zone, which is almost always a good thing. When those feelings that you so aptly described descend on you, that's when you know you're really living. I feel sorry for people who have never experienced that. What usually follows is a life-changing experience, one that makes life truly worth living.

Have a great time.
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Old 07-11-12, 02:44 PM   #10
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Well, that was probably about the neatest thing I'd ever done..
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Old 07-11-12, 03:07 PM   #11
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Well, that was probably about the neatest thing I'd ever done..
Glad it worked out. Can you give some details?
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Old 07-11-12, 03:12 PM   #12
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Chiroptile,

Best wishes on your adventure, and welcome to Oregon

P.S. All that goes away after a couple thousand crank revolutions.

Last edited by Doug64; 07-11-12 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 07-11-12, 03:15 PM   #13
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Well, that was probably about the neatest thing I'd ever done..
Sums up touring in one simple sentence. Well done.
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Old 07-11-12, 11:04 PM   #14
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Thanks, guys.. Details, hmm.. Where to start? Firstly, Doug.. Thank you for the routing suggestions before. I actually just returned from the ride two evenings ago, so.. Heh.. Don't want to be turning any cranks for a while now.. My body is still not quite sure what to do with all the free time it now has on its hands. I want to say that I absolutely loved Oregon. What a beautiful state.. We took the 26 out of Portland, through Rhododendron and down into Redmond. There we decided to continue onto Prineville and just take the 26 into Vale instead of down to Bend and the 20 out east. Went through some of the most amazing scenery that I really never expected.. Stuff you would only see in movies. Painted Hills, Picture Gorge.. Wow.

Out of Vale we struck out East on the 20.. Boise to Mountain Home, then up onto the Plateu, through Fairfield.. Arco. In Idaho Falls a man pulled up to us in a jeep and handed us a GPS that was preset to his home address.. Told us we had a warm shower and a home cooked meal for the night, and that there were only two ways out of town, and he knew them both well.. Said he would be a very cranky old man if he didn't get his GPS back and drove off..

Out of Idaho Falls we kept on the 26 through Swan Valley, then up to Jackson. Rode alongside a wall of rock, the Teton Range, then went over the continental divide at Togwotee Pass.. This was almost 10000 feet in elevation. The elevation definitely played with the brain a little. On the other side of the pass was a 25+ mile downhill.. We continued on the 26 until Shoshoni, where we met the 20.. Took that all the way through into eastern Nebraska.. I must say, Nebraska was absolutely amazing in terms of the people.. Hospitality. Shoulders were ample. Great state. The one stick was the fact that we had 20+ mph headwinds for the 8 days we rode through it. Really made it a tough ride and slowed us down considerably.

We cut it in a Southeast direction coming out of Norfolk, NE and entered Iowa just north of Omaha/Council Bluffs and took the Wabash Trace rail trail South, then cut East. Southwest Iowa was some of the hilliest terrain we had encountered on the whole trip. Felt more climby than all the mountain passes we went through back west. We crossed into Missouri and continued through Kirksville into Illinois and Terre Haute, IN. Had a ten day lay over in TH, then onward through Southern Ohio and into West Virginia.

In WV we ran into a series of setbacks. My companion crashed and had to be taken to a hospital to rule out a possible fracture. The following day the road we were on, US 50, turned from a four lane into a two lane and ran out of shoulder just east of Clarksburg. It became extremely narrow, hilly, and winding. There was also a great deal of traffic, including semis and gravel trucks. We decided not to risk it and rented a car to drive ourselves into Pennsylvania. There we picked up and continued onto NYC.. And here I am today.

Overall, amazing experience.. Deserts, mountains.. Eagles, foxes, Moose.. On one occasion my friend was charged by a moose cow on the side of the road. On another we woke up on a freezing Teton morning to find a couple of moose grazing through the campground where we set up for the night. Thunder and hailstorms.. Great people.. I will post up some photos of the tours, even though they don't do any justice to what was actually witnessed..

Thank you all, once more.
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