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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Long Tour Fatigue

    For those of you who have done tours of, let's say, 3 months or more, and especially if your tour spanned several countries ...

    Did you experience long tour fatigue? How would you describe it? And if you have experienced it, what did you do about it?


    Long tour fatigue is not just tiredness from being more physically active than you might normally be, although that may be part of it. It's being tired of packing up and going somewhere new every day or every few days, of having to find accommodation and food, and the basic necessities in life. It's the strain of finding your way in a new culture or with different languages. It's the loneliness of always seeing new faces (as wonderful as those people may be), and never or rarely seeing old familiar friends or family who you can really relax with. It usually includes a desire to just stop in one place for a while ... somewhere where you feel comfortable, safe, happy, relaxed.




    I did a quick Google search, and there's an interesting article about this subject here:
    http://www.worldbiking.info/resource...Resources.html

  2. #2
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I don't think the fatigue you described is limited to those who tour for weeks or months at a time.

    My longest tour was about a week long and only took me two states away. The anticipation and excitement before the trip took a lot out of me before I even pushed the first pedal. Then, the reality of many hours of boring riding - coupled with the fact that none of the people I met along the way were as impressed by my undertaking as I was - kind of added more weight. I have great memories of that trip now, but right after I returned from it, I remember feeling like that would be my last "tour." In fact, I don't think I even got on the bike for several weeks afterward.

    So, as you said, I think the "fatigue" part is largely psychological. I have always had - and still have - virtually limitless energy for any ride. It's only my head that gets tired looking at the pavement passing by for so many miles at a time.
    Papa Tom

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  3. #3
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Can't speak specifically to long distance bike touring, but I traveled extensively for months at a time when I was younger. Family and friends were not as important to me then as they are now. Now, I miss those I'm closest to almost immediately, and within a few days, really need to reconnect. Don't know if this will change when I am older, but right now, long distance touring is not for me. The packing and unpacking is tedious, but not really a problem.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I stop in and Drink with the Locals ,
    even if I'm not speaking the language.

    but since my longest tours were solo, I have to strike up friendships as I go.

    brought a pocket Mandolin, so I got to occasionally do some sitting in
    at Pub sessions, along the way ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-22-12 at 02:33 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    For those of you who have done tours of, let's say, 3 months or more, and especially if your tour spanned several countries ...

    Did you experience long tour fatigue? How would you describe it? And if you have experienced it, what did you do about it?

    [/url]
    We did 4 months in 2008 in Europe and in the last week, had thoughts of simply catching a ferry back to Britain earlier than planned. We carried on another week in order to visit a town we wanted to see and were glad we did persevere in the end. We started to get tired of packing up each day and waking up in the dark (it was getting into autumn). We took it as an indicator that we had had enough touring for the trip. Cold mornings as we set out each day did not help either.

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I actually get this with my current job...

    Sometimes you just need to stop and stay for a bit. My old position I would go to a location and work for 3-6 months at a time. Now I travel constantly. On more than one occasion I call the boss and tell him I am taking a few days off, sometimes I go home, other times I just stay where I am at and my bride flies in and we spend a few days enjoying ourselves in a nice place. FWIW she travels for her job too, as a Sr Flight Attendant.

    And yes I did get this on my long tours, I would just settle into a place for a week or so until the itch to move got stronger.

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  7. #7
    mev
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    Not exactly long tour fatigue, but I've approached my longer trips (10 months, 12 months) with two things in mind:
    - I know I can't do the same intensity for a three-week in a row trip continuously for a three-month trip
    - I know I start to anticipate and plan the "next" thing even while doing the current one

    With those in mind, I planned my 12-month trip actually as a sequence of several shorter trips all together:
    - two months across USA (warm up)
    - eight months around Australia (main event)
    - one month across New Zealand
    - six weeks in India (closer)
    I purposely put the India trip at the end since I knew India has enough senses (sights/sounds/smells/noises/etc) and variety that I'd keep pretty engaged even though it was at the end and I'd want to anticipate what comes next. That worked pretty well for me. If there was a bit of "fatigue", it was more in New Zealand. I hadn't quite planned it that way, but a combination of it being the holidays, differences from Australia and not quite being home - had me have more of my lull there. New Zealand was an interesting place, thought probably not as enjoyable as it would have be in a trip just by itself.

    On the 10 month trip, I again structured it as a sequence of smaller trips put together
    - one month in US (warmup)
    - six months across Eurasia (main event)
    - two months across China
    - one month in Thailand
    This time the two months through China was with a group and different enough that I kept engaged. Trip through Thailand was a bit more of a wind down and anticipate the next things, which was ok and good place to do things.

    So overall, I'll plan in some breaks, since I know I won't have same intensity for months on end that I do for weeks on end; I structured even long trips as sequences of short trips with the largest part being fairly goal driven (circumnavigate Australia or cross EurAsia) with natural end - and sandwiched with other parts of the trip that had enough variety and difference. If I were doing it again, I'd probably try to do similar structure.

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    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    "It usually includes a desire to just stop in one place for a while ... somewhere where you feel comfortable, safe, happy, relaxed." There you have it, answered your own question. Find a comfortable, inexpensive place to take a vacation from your vacation. Do next to nothing, eat, read, eat, walk, enjoy a chilled adult beverage or 6, eat some more and round it out with a nap. Leave all guilt at the last town. Milkshakes are like aspirin.

  9. #9
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    For those of you who have done tours of, let's say, 3 months or more, and especially if your tour spanned several countries ...

    Did you experience long tour fatigue? How would you describe it? And if you have experienced it, what did you do about it?

    I did experience something that I might call long tour fatigue, but it was a lot different for me than it sounds like it was for you. The packing up and moving part never bothered me much even when I took no rest days. I like the routine of that and it doesn't bother me. The new languages thing did not apply where I was so I can't comment on that, but even in the US the culture does vary pretty widely with the different regions especially when we are talking rur.
    Long tour fatigue is not just tiredness from being more physically active than you might normally be, although that may be part of it. It's being tired of packing up and going somewhere new every day or every few days, of having to find accommodation and food, and the basic necessities in life. It's the strain of finding your way in a new culture or with different languages. It's the loneliness of always seeing new faces (as wonderful as those people may be), and never or rarely seeing old familiar friends or family who you can really relax with. It usually includes a desire to just stop in one place for a while ... somewhere where you feel comfortable, safe, happy, relaxed.




    I did a quick Google search, and there's an interesting article about this subject here:
    http://www.worldbiking.info/resource...Resources.html
    My experience does not quite meet the criteria you list. My longest tour was 73 days and was all in the US. So factor that in when reading this.

    The new languages thing did not apply too much in my case since I was in the US, although I have toured in places where Spanish was the primary language and I speak only a few words of it. The cultures vary wider than you might think across rural America, but maybe not enough for those to apply either. Then again someone from New York city would find Ordway Colorado or Walnut Kansas to be pretty foreign.

    The desire to stop in one place never hit me either.

    The things that did hit me were twofold. The first was basically just homesickness, missing home, family, and my dog, and the second was a physical weariness.

    I always wondered what it would be like to go much longer, but to be honest I think I have decided that three months may be as long as I ever want to go on tour for.

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    On my longest tour I was really glad when it came to an end, I had run out of summer and it was cold and wet, my feet were constantly damp and were hurting, there was nowhere nice and cheap to chill out and I was getting a bit bored with my own cooking. It was still a great tour from beginning to end but it was nice to have an end.
    On most tours I run into fatigue and spend a day doing nothing at all.

  11. #11
    No longer just a beginner diverguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    And yes I did get this on my long tours, I would just settle into a place for a week or so until the itch to move got stronger.
    That's pretty much the size of it, right there. Travel when you're itchy, settle for a while when you're not. There's probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere.

  12. #12
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    Machka, I just refer to the feeling as home sickness and my personal threshold is about three weeks.

    Brad

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I dont get nostalgic over my storage unit i had to rent , vacating apartment.
    in order to slash costs enough to make the trips affordable.


    when I returned, I moved to a different town, soon after..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-23-12 at 11:25 AM.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've never felt travel fatigue/long tour fatigue on tours/travels of about 2 months or less. At the end of anything up to 6 weeks, and I'm still ready to go for a little while.


    On my 3-month tour of Australia in 2004, I did start to feel it a bit of fatigue toward the end, and ended up taking an unplanned break of several days then. I had crashed and hurt my left knee, so I took a bus to a scenic location while my cycling partner cycled the distance, and then I took a bus to another location further down the road, while my cycling partner cycled.

    But that tour was broken up with little breaks. We cycled for about 3 weeks to where my cycling partner had family and we stayed with them for a while (and did the Great Southern Randonnee in the middle of that). Then we cycled around Tasmania, and ended up spending some time with Rowan in Hobart ... more time than originally planned because of a freehub failure. Then we flew to Queensland and cycled there for about a month, during which time, I took my unplanned break. And then the tour was over.


    Homesickness for me is kind of a funny thing. I did start feeling oddly "homesick" on this tour a couple weeks ago when we started having bad experiences in campgrounds. But the big question is ... what do I feel homesick for? My family is scattered around North America. My home for the last 3 years was in Australia. And I don't have a "home" as many people would describe it. There's no specific place on earth that I could call "home". My family moved a lot when I was growing up, and I continued to move as an adult.

    I guess for me, I would describe the "homesickness" in "travel/tour fatigue" as a desire to be in a familiar place where I know the language and culture, where I know what to expect in various situations, and if there are friends or family around, that would be even better.

    For example, we're having a bit of trouble finding decent campground accommodations along the way here in Europe (although the place we are right now was all right last night). In Canada or Australia, I would know where to look and what to expect, and would be able to communicate what I want/need. I'd know exactly where to go to find a good place to stay for a while (Port Fairy in Australia springs to mind ). Here it's a gamble ... we might find a good place, or not.


    We're a little over 2 months into this tour, we've already covered 8 countries, and we've got quite a bit of the tour left to go. I think we're at the point where we could use a week or 10 days in one place to recharge. Now we just need to find that place.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    For those of you who have done tours of, let's say, 3 months or more, and especially if your tour spanned several countries ...

    Did you experience long tour fatigue? How would you describe it? And if you have experienced it, what did you do about it?

    Long tour fatigue is not just tiredness from being more physically active than you might normally be, although that may be part of it. It's being tired of packing up and going somewhere new every day or every few days, of having to find accommodation and food, and the basic necessities in life. It's the strain of finding your way in a new culture or with different languages. It's the loneliness of always seeing new faces (as wonderful as those people may be), and never or rarely seeing old familiar friends or family who you can really relax with. It usually includes a desire to just stop in one place for a while ... somewhere where you feel comfortable, safe, happy, relaxed...
    Our longest tour was a honeymoon cross-country tour of the USA of eight weeks from Los Angeles to Washington DC in 1977. I can't imagine a more congenial companion / soul-mate than a newly-wed bride for such an adventure. In addition we were pulling up stakes to move from our lifelong homes in Michigan, to Boston. So there was also that sense of anticipation that the adventure was just beginning with the tour. The last few days were actually wistful that the ride was over, but we had a deadline to meet.

    Nonetheless, tour fatigue did set in, especially after leaving the dramatic scenery out west after Colorado. Usually a day off in a motel relieved the fatigue. There were two particularly notable instances of tour fatigue, by me in eastern Colorado, and by her in Ohio, but the other spouse was fresh enough able to talk us out of it.

    We did a few short tours over the next few years, none since about 1988 after children. Our lives in Boston are now well-settled and comfortable, along with the usual (and unique) family and career responsibilities. I recently read a touring thread about a circumnavigation of Lake Ontario, and the above described bold-faced “hassles” of touring, along with just finding the routes, seem so daunting now.

  16. #16
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Touring is one of the most elective activities that I know. The only reason to do a bicycle tour is personal enjoyment and satisfaction. When a tour becomes a daily grind that you dread it's time to make changes. Of course I would apply criteria like they do for clinical depression, in that the feeling is persistent, and not just a mood swing. I'd try and stay put for a while and work hard at learning new things about the new world you are inhabiting. I think it's hard to let go of your previous experiences that have been glorified and edited in your mind. Try to avoid comparing the past and focus on the now.

    From Thich Nhat Hanh:
    Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.

  17. #17
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    Yes, I get that feeling. It can be boring. You spend an inordinate amount of time procuring the basics - food, lodging, showers, laundry, routing. I find that stuff dull. On my earlier tours, I found some feelings of satisfaction in learning how to get that stuff. Now I know how, it's just time consuming and has little reward apart from satisfying those basic needs, which are so easy and quick to fulfill at home.

    I'm finding 3-5 weeks is the sweet spot for touring for me now. Enough to settle into the routine physically, and by the time you are just freaking sick of setting up your tent every day, looking at the map, cooking things that you can buy in a convenience store, it's almost over.

    Mind you, I haven't been anywhere particularly exotic yet - I bet there will be a certain amount of resetting of the boredom clock if I go somewhere I don't speak the language and/or with a very different culture from my own.

    Ideally, I would just do tours where someone else has taken care of that crap for me, already picked the great roads, selected the nice lodging, prepared good food. They can even do my laundry and arrange the massage. The only down-side (apart from price) is the need to be on someone else's schedule, and not let the weather dictate it, as I usually do.

    Anyway, Machka, I don't know what to tell you about how to fix it. But if you're already sick of your world tour, you don't have to keep doing it.
    ...

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I'm definitely not sick of our world tour. And 5 days in a little campground in Luxembourg, doing next to nothing, went a long way to recharging the enthusiasm. It was nice to be in a campground where I felt reasonably comfortable (unlike a lot of the ones prior to that), and it was nice to know exactly where I was going to spend the night, and where to find food, etc. etc., and it was nice to just sit around and not do much.

    Sometimes on these tours I feel like I should be doing something and seeing something every single day. I feel like I should be visiting tourist attractions, taking photos, cycling here and there, always on the go. But in "real life" I take weekends off of work where I do next to nothing ... so why not on an extended cycling tour as well.

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