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  1. #1
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    Vague round-the-world plans

    Hello. Iím considering a solo round-the-world bicycle tour. Just like everyone else.

    It's an idea that's been with me for a long time but months, then years, pass and things don't happen.

    Iíd like to use this thread to discuss my initial thoughts on the idea and get feedback and ideas from everyone. If I were to go through with it Iíd be looking at a departure date maybe in February next year.

    Me
    Iíd be 26 (and a half) years old at the prospective time of departure. I realise this could mean not returning until Iím in my 30ís, which is somewhat concerning. Iíll have lost a lot of hair, grandparents will probably have died, parents retiredÖ a lot changes in that time.

    I finished university in 2008 and havenít really managed to integrate myself into society in a normal way. A year ago I started my current job, and if I wanted to I could probably stay here for several more years. But thereís no progression available and itís unlikely to lead to a ďbetterĒ job elsewhere later on. I earn £15,000 (before tax) so itís nothing great.

    I have one or two (literally) friends whom I see often and whom I might ďmissĒ while on the road. I wouldnít mind being away from my family. I expect theyíd want to fly out for a holiday with me somewhere along my route, anyway.

    As it may affect how Iím regarded by strangers in different places: Iím white (and pale skinned), 6ft tall and of a medium build. Iím fairly quiet and retiring, unsociable in fact. But polite and confident, though not particularly persuasive or forceful.

    If I donít do something unusual like cycling around the world then Iíll probably buy a house around here and continue in my current job and just see what happens. Iím actually quite an easily settled person and if I had enough money Iíd honestly just get a house in the countryside somewhere and live out the rest of my days in peaceÖ

    Cycling experience
    Iíve never done any long multi-week tours before. My longest one-day ride was well over 200km, self-supported on a loaded touring bike with zero training in mid-winter and while slightly ill. That was five years ago, though. Since then Iíve worked as a cycle courier and these days I just commute a few miles my bike and have occasional 10-20mile rides as transport when I need to go somewhere. At the kind of pace I would be keeping, I feel completely confident that I could physically manage the cycling of a very long tour.

    If things move forward and I get a bike and equipment then I'll probably do a short tour like LEJOG/JOGLE to try things out.

    ĒTravellingĒ experience
    Not much. I have minimal foreign-language abilities, just a little bit of French and very basic Mandarin. I spent a month in China when I was 19, moving around by public transport and hitch-hiking. That was fine, I managed alright Ė just improvising the whole way. At that age you just do things and donít think about potential problems, itís good.

    Money
    I have about £13,000 in savings. This figure could increase or decrease by several thousand pounds before I depart, depending on whether I end up saving hard or spending a lot on other pursuits before I leave. I do have a few other rather expensive hobbies that I was preparing to spend about £3000 on recently, but I might put that off now. Most could be resumed when I get back, but they are things that benefit greatly from youthfulness and already Iím above an ideal age to perform well in them. So I might try to do a lot now, before I set off.

    Route

    Iíd be leaving from Greenwich, London. Obviously the details have yet to be worked out but my main options are something like:

    1) Go a lot of the way East into Asia, then down to Australia and NZ, over to the USA and back.
    2) Go all of the way East, across to Alaska, down to Argentina, across to South Africa and back up to Europe.

    The latter is the really big respectable route. Itís ďaround the worldĒ vs. just ďround the worldĒ, if you see what I mean. But the extra commitment of time is concerning. I have some reservations about what life would be like for me when I returned after 4 years. Iíd be starting from scratch in my early 30ís, ten years later than everyone else, and would probably move back in with my parents and take some minimum-wage job for a few months before giving up and stepping in front of a train.

    Equipment
    Bike
    I would need to purchase a bike to use. I used to ride a lovely old Dawes Galaxy for touring and day trips but that is unserviceable now and wouldnít be suitable anyway. From my initial research Iím leaning towards a Thorn Sherpa, which seems to be a consistently popular choice. A lot would depend on how much of my route is spent in what sort of areas. But I suppose one can change components around quite easily at the start of each leg Ė for example in Europe and North America I could make things as roady and fast as possible, and toughen up for the Chinese countryside.

    I mostly ride old racing bikes, usually 23mm tyres and obviously 700c or 27", and all very lightweight. Iím concerned that after that a Sherpa with 2Ē tyres will feel like a bit of a tank and seem like slow going. Can anyone comment on how speedy a bike like that can be made, when necessary? For example if I want to zip along good roads in the USA, what are the narrowest tyres I could install?

    I should also note that a winter commuting bike would be very useful this season and in years to come. My current skinny old '80s racer is going to get absolutely wrecked in a few month's time from all the rain and salt on the road. So if something I chose

    I would be funding the bike purchase from the sum I mentioned above.

    Other stuff
    At this stage I canít really see why people need 120 litres of panniers, plus a bar bag, tent on the rack and water on the frame. Thatís a lot of stuff. It would be great if I could avoid front panniers, but we shall see. Iíll get some good water-proof panniers, I donít know much about whatís available today so Iíll look into it.
    Iíd be taking a tent and sleeping bag, as well as basic cooking equipment. Probably. Thatís something I need to think about. Iím quite happy eating dry/raw/cold stuff for the majority of the time, and just a few cooked meals per week (in a restaurant) would be alright. Again it depends where I end up going and how cheaply I want to do it. Cooking equipment adds a great deal of weight that perhaps I will choose to do without.





    That's all for now. I'll post more in due course (or maybe never!). Please reply with anything you'd like to say.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    My thoughts: I'm at sort of a similar situation to yours job-wise, and man, if I could take off on a bike trip right now, I would. I just don't have the kind of savings you do. That alone will take you a long way, if you're travelling mostly in countries where things are cheap, and especially if you're mostly camping and cooking for yourself, which I assume you will.

    Gear - if you don't have gear already, be very conservative with what you buy. Starting in advance of the trip helps. I've done a two-month backpacking trip and had to buy some things for it, and they weren't the choices I would have made if I were choosing now, either in terms of what to buy or in terms of finding deals. So do lots of reading and more importantly, trying out with what you have, to get a sense of what you need. There are 9 million variables in terms of gear setups - tent vs. tarp vs. hammock, synthetic vs. down, waterproof vs. breathable, type of bike, panniers vs. trailer vs. rackless vs. some combination of the two, 32 spoke vs 36 spoke wheels, and on and on and on.

    Be as informed as possible and be constantly on the lookout for deals online - lots of forums have sections where people put up their used gear for sale; ebay is your friend as is Google Shopping, and steepandcheap.com comes up with good stuff sometimes. But just bide your time, go for good deals when they come up and not before, and you'll get exactly the gear you need and save money, without buying a bunch of extraneous crap you later realize you don't need. This is what I'm doing and it's working well for me - whenever I'm able to go on camping/backpacking/bike trips, I get to try out my latest gear purchases, and I can always resell something if it's lightly used and doesn't suit me. So by the time I can afford to go on a long bike journey I'll have more or less my ideal setup.

    With a bike though, I'd say it's worth it to go to a shop and get it new, once you've done research into what your needs are, and then test ride bikes first as much as you can. You're in Britain so you have easier access to Thorn bikes, which have a great reputation. My bike is a Surly Troll, which is getting more and more of a name for itself as a versatile 26"-wheeled mountain bike, touring bike, and do-it-all machine. I highly recommend it. While I was looking into it, I found www.whileoutriding.com, the blog of a guy bike-traveling through the Americas, who used a Troll for a time, and his endorsement confirmed that it was a good choice for me - if it can handle thousands of miles through the remote, rocky Andes, it can do whatever I ask of it. I don't find its weight (which is hefty, though not at all bad by touring bike standards) nor its fat tires (2.3" wide currently) to be a major hindrance, either.

    Cass Gilbert, the guy from whileoutriding.com, also has a lot to say about gear setups. His latest is a rather inspiring mostly-rackless configuration using bikepacking-style bags, which can be gotten currently from Revelate Designs, Porcelain Rocket, and two guys on the bikepacking.net forums with the screen names 12wheels and jeremy11. I assume his pack list is pretty minimalist, but he demonstrates that a very light, long-distance setup can be done. Then again, there's nothing wrong with 4 panniers, or 2 panniers and an extrawheel, or just a trailer, or whatever. Just learn your pack list and keep it as light and minimal as you're comfortable with - on trips, the philosophy is mo' stuff, mo' problems, as far as my experience goes.

    I strongly strongly recommend taking cooking gear. It need not add much weight. A pot that's large enough for you and a spare person can weight around 6 oz (mine does) or probably less, a spork and knife will be 1oz at the absolute maximum, and a stove can be extremely light as well - but I'd recommend the heavier MSR Whisperlite Internationale. I ran mine on gasoline (or petrol you'd call it) which filled my 20z bottle for under a US dollar even at Israeli prices, and lasted for a week or so of cooking. You can also use the more expensive and cleaner-burning white gas, but the point of this stove is it can burn anything, works forever and is easy to maintain, and will be a reliable source of hot food no matter where in the world you are and what kind of fuel is available. It weighs a pound, but it's worth it. It'll last you forever, too.

    Your route is really determined by you. A sturdy 26" wheeled bike set up for expedition can go anywhere, on and off road, so it's up to you. My travel experience mostly has centered around the Middle East, which I'd recommend going through. Greece is beautiful, Turkey is supposed to have great cycling, and maybe you'll want to take a boat or plane from there to Israel if things haven't cooled down in Syria yet, but Israel and Palestine are also gorgeous and full of dirt roads to explore and fantastic people (that's where I've spent the most time aside from home). Heading out through Jordan leads you into the more iffy areas of Iraq and Iran, but everything I've heard about Northern Iraq/Kurdistan makes it sound like a great place to travel through, and a fair number of people cycle through Iran as well and it doesn't seem too troublesome.

    The US has some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen, especially out west (you can hardly go wrong with any route through our western states) and even in the east, we've got the Appalachian Mountains, which will destroy your legs and steal your heart. Riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway would be a fun section on a trip like yours - about 500 very hilly and insanely scenic miles through the eastern mountains.

    So that's my take...keep reading people's travel blogs, reading about gear, and looking for deals, and you can do this trip.

    Edit: And I forgot the most important thing - how experienced are you in bike touring, or self-supported travel (i.e. backpacking), and how are your navigation and camping skills and your physical condition? If you already go on bike trips and know you like it, that's great, but if you haven't, you should start doing it to get a feel for it and see if it's something you want to do for years.
    Last edited by Jude; 09-12-12 at 07:21 PM.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33112 View Post
    If I don’t do something unusual like cycling around the world then I’ll probably buy a house around here and continue in my current job and just see what happens. I’m actually quite an easily settled person and if I had enough money I’d honestly just get a house in the countryside somewhere and live out the rest of my days in peace…

    Cycling experience
    I’ve never done any long multi-week tours before. My longest one-day ride was well over 200km, self-supported on a loaded touring bike with zero training in mid-winter and while slightly ill. That was five years ago, though. Since then I’ve worked as a cycle courier and these days I just commute a few miles my bike and have occasional 10-20mile rides as transport when I need to go somewhere. At the kind of pace I would be keeping, I feel completely confident that I could physically manage the cycling of a very long tour.

    If things move forward and I get a bike and equipment then I'll probably do a short tour like LEJOG/JOGLE to try things out.

    ”Travelling” experience
    Not much. I have minimal foreign-language abilities, just a little bit of French and very basic Mandarin. I spent a month in China when I was 19, moving around by public transport and hitch-hiking. That was fine, I managed alright – just improvising the whole way. At that age you just do things and don’t think about potential problems, it’s good.

    You're at a good age for a long tour because you should be able to pick up work along the way. Those of us who are older can't do that as easily.

    But the fact that you haven't done much in the way of extended travelling prompts me to offer this piece of advice ... some people take to travelling and it comes naturally to them, others don't. It is not an easy life. You spend your days looking for life's basic necessities ... food, shelter. Sometimes that's OK, sometimes it becomes a pain and tiresome. Especially for someone who could settle quite easily. Have a look at my Travel Fatigue thread.

    Rowan (my husband) and I are in the midst of a fast, 7.5 month Round the World tour ... using all sorts of methods of transportation, and briefly checking out this place and that place as we go around. Lots of days are really good ... some aren't. And sometimes we just get tired of it all ... tired of trying to communicate in a language we're not very familiar with to accomplish what comes very naturally back in our own countries (Australia and Canada).


    My suggestion would be to get a bicycle, get riding it, go on several shorter tours, do a Lands End to John O'Groats tour at your own pace, spend 2-3 weeks touring The Netherlands and Germany ... over the next 6 months or so become familiar with touring, and try out touring in a place where you aren't familiar with the language. See how you feel. If you still love it ... go for the big one. At least you'll be somewhat prepared.

  4. #4
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    It's obvious to me that you're a) yearning to get away from society and do something different and challenging, and b) worried as to how you will then integrate yourself back into society.

    It's good that you're worried about that, because it's something you can't get away from; several years is a long time to be away. You can do it comfortably in under a year, so the fact that you're talking about 4 years must mean you're considering working on the way.

    My advice to you is this: cycling around the world is an arbitrary feat. If you don't want to be away for so long, then pick the regions you really want to cycle through, and do that for 3-6 months. That is still an achievement and will be very enjoyable, without the concerns of returning home. And then if you return home and everything's great, you can always do another!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33112 View Post
    Hello. I’m considering a solo round-the-world bicycle tour. Just like everyone else.

    It's an idea that's been with me for a long time but months, then years, pass and things don't happen.

    I’d like to use this thread to discuss my initial thoughts on the idea and get feedback and ideas from everyone. If I were to go through with it I’d be looking at a departure date maybe in February next year.

    Me
    I’d be 26 (and a half) years old at the prospective time of departure. I realise this could mean not returning until I’m in my 30’s, which is somewhat concerning. I’ll have lost a lot of hair, grandparents will probably have died, parents retired… a lot changes in that time.

    I finished university in 2008 and haven’t really managed to integrate myself into society in a normal way. A year ago I started my current job, and if I wanted to I could probably stay here for several more years. But there’s no progression available and it’s unlikely to lead to a “better” job elsewhere later on. I earn £15,000 (before tax) so it’s nothing great.

    I have one or two (literally) friends whom I see often and whom I might “miss” while on the road. I wouldn’t mind being away from my family. I expect they’d want to fly out for a holiday with me somewhere along my route, anyway.

    As it may affect how I’m regarded by strangers in different places: I’m white (and pale skinned), 6ft tall and of a medium build. I’m fairly quiet and retiring, unsociable in fact. But polite and confident, though not particularly persuasive or forceful.

    If I don’t do something unusual like cycling around the world then I’ll probably buy a house around here and continue in my current job and just see what happens. I’m actually quite an easily settled person and if I had enough money I’d honestly just get a house in the countryside somewhere and live out the rest of my days in peace…

    Cycling experience
    I’ve never done any long multi-week tours before. My longest one-day ride was well over 200km, self-supported on a loaded touring bike with zero training in mid-winter and while slightly ill. That was five years ago, though. Since then I’ve worked as a cycle courier and these days I just commute a few miles my bike and have occasional 10-20mile rides as transport when I need to go somewhere. At the kind of pace I would be keeping, I feel completely confident that I could physically manage the cycling of a very long tour.

    If things move forward and I get a bike and equipment then I'll probably do a short tour like LEJOG/JOGLE to try things out.

    ”Travelling” experience
    Not much. I have minimal foreign-language abilities, just a little bit of French and very basic Mandarin. I spent a month in China when I was 19, moving around by public transport and hitch-hiking. That was fine, I managed alright – just improvising the whole way. At that age you just do things and don’t think about potential problems, it’s good.

    Money
    I have about £13,000 in savings. This figure could increase or decrease by several thousand pounds before I depart, depending on whether I end up saving hard or spending a lot on other pursuits before I leave. I do have a few other rather expensive hobbies that I was preparing to spend about £3000 on recently, but I might put that off now. Most could be resumed when I get back, but they are things that benefit greatly from youthfulness and already I’m above an ideal age to perform well in them. So I might try to do a lot now, before I set off.

    Route

    I’d be leaving from Greenwich, London. Obviously the details have yet to be worked out but my main options are something like:

    1) Go a lot of the way East into Asia, then down to Australia and NZ, over to the USA and back.
    2) Go all of the way East, across to Alaska, down to Argentina, across to South Africa and back up to Europe.

    The latter is the really big respectable route. It’s “around the world” vs. just “round the world”, if you see what I mean. But the extra commitment of time is concerning. I have some reservations about what life would be like for me when I returned after 4 years. I’d be starting from scratch in my early 30’s, ten years later than everyone else, and would probably move back in with my parents and take some minimum-wage job for a few months before giving up and stepping in front of a train.

    Equipment
    Bike
    I would need to purchase a bike to use. I used to ride a lovely old Dawes Galaxy for touring and day trips but that is unserviceable now and wouldn’t be suitable anyway. From my initial research I’m leaning towards a Thorn Sherpa, which seems to be a consistently popular choice. A lot would depend on how much of my route is spent in what sort of areas. But I suppose one can change components around quite easily at the start of each leg – for example in Europe and North America I could make things as roady and fast as possible, and toughen up for the Chinese countryside.

    I mostly ride old racing bikes, usually 23mm tyres and obviously 700c or 27", and all very lightweight. I’m concerned that after that a Sherpa with 2” tyres will feel like a bit of a tank and seem like slow going. Can anyone comment on how speedy a bike like that can be made, when necessary? For example if I want to zip along good roads in the USA, what are the narrowest tyres I could install?

    I should also note that a winter commuting bike would be very useful this season and in years to come. My current skinny old '80s racer is going to get absolutely wrecked in a few month's time from all the rain and salt on the road. So if something I chose

    I would be funding the bike purchase from the sum I mentioned above.

    Other stuff
    At this stage I can’t really see why people need 120 litres of panniers, plus a bar bag, tent on the rack and water on the frame. That’s a lot of stuff. It would be great if I could avoid front panniers, but we shall see. I’ll get some good water-proof panniers, I don’t know much about what’s available today so I’ll look into it.
    I’d be taking a tent and sleeping bag, as well as basic cooking equipment. Probably. That’s something I need to think about. I’m quite happy eating dry/raw/cold stuff for the majority of the time, and just a few cooked meals per week (in a restaurant) would be alright. Again it depends where I end up going and how cheaply I want to do it. Cooking equipment adds a great deal of weight that perhaps I will choose to do without.





    That's all for now. I'll post more in due course (or maybe never!). Please reply with anything you'd like to say.

    Thanks
    I quoted the whole post, because I can't think of what I would cut, I like it so much.

    I don't have any advice for you. I'm someone who really cannot stand to travel, and cannot stop doing it. At the end of the day, there is something terribly addictive about the loneliness and alienation you get by being alone in a thoroughly foreign place, a sort of vitality that cannot be reproduced by any other experience. All I can say for sure is that you have no idea what you will be like when you get back, if you decide to come back at all, so what's the point of worrying about that?
    My speculation was that it applies to some degree in cycling, and I used the previous proof as my reasoning, but I can't prove how exactly it applies to it and to what degree. That, I have admitted, is speculation based on reasoning, but not at this point provable.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    I strongly strongly recommend taking cooking gear. It need not add much weight. A pot that's large enough for you and a spare person can weight around 6 oz (mine does) or probably less, a spork and knife will be 1oz at the absolute maximum, and a stove can be extremely light as well - but I'd recommend the heavier MSR Whisperlite Internationale. I ran mine on gasoline (or petrol you'd call it) which filled my 20z bottle for under a US dollar even at Israeli prices, and lasted for a week or so of cooking. You can also use the more expensive and cleaner-burning white gas, but the point of this stove is it can burn anything, works forever and is easy to maintain, and will be a reliable source of hot food no matter where in the world you are and what kind of fuel is available. It weighs a pound, but it's worth it. It'll last you forever, too.
    This is extremely good advice, in particular with regard to the MSR. A seriously reliable piece of gear.
    Last edited by corvuscorvax; 09-12-12 at 07:39 PM.
    My speculation was that it applies to some degree in cycling, and I used the previous proof as my reasoning, but I can't prove how exactly it applies to it and to what degree. That, I have admitted, is speculation based on reasoning, but not at this point provable.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33112 View Post
    Iíd be taking a tent and sleeping bag, as well as basic cooking equipment. Probably. Thatís something I need to think about. Iím quite happy eating dry/raw/cold stuff for the majority of the time, and just a few cooked meals per week (in a restaurant) would be alright. Again it depends where I end up going and how cheaply I want to do it. Cooking equipment adds a great deal of weight that perhaps I will choose to do without.
    I used to carry cooking equipment and gradually concluded that I hate cooking with camping gear (but I love to cook in a real kitchen). I gave my stove away to a friend and don't regret it. In many developing countries (e.g. anywhere in southeast Asia), you can buy prepared food cheaper than you would be able to cook it yourself, and it's delicious. (In SE Asia you don't need to bother with camping gear, either, as lodging is so cheap.) A lot of developed countries have youth hostels or backpackers with kitchens that you can use.

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    We had this guy here who pretty much said everything right, and asked all the questions one should and prepared the right way, though he borrowed money I think. Then he got like one day on the road for his round the world trip, having started from across the ocean, and discovered that he hated it, and had to abandon his dream. Pretty much anyone could cycle around the world, but there is a reason why people don't do it that says more about cycling around the world than it does about any deficiency in the people who do not set out to do so.

    There is this thing where one can actually see oneself say, climbing El Cap, but the random 5.8 lead from around the corner gives one night sweats. It is easier to see oneself doing something impossible, than doing the stuff that currently stops one cold. Of course, in the case of El Cap, and the around the world trip, they are doable, and one might make it, which would be transformational to some extent. But a multiple year trip to get an effect like a weekend with Tony Robbins and a firewalk, is possibly overkill.

    In Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, he has this bit about how he has to stay on vacation until he has the perfect moment, then there is no point in staying and he comes home. I know that feeling, but technically you can get there through meditation, you don't have to go to Cambodia. There is this consumerist thing we do where we can only get to a certain feeling by spending a lot of money on something extreme, whether an ocean cruise, or an extreme sport.

    There are a lot of relatively silly things things that people do that do not really measure up, but they can't help themselves that is what they want to do. The main reason to cycle around the world is that you can't help yourself. It really doesn't make much sense, but if you can't not do it, then you have no choice. To do it because your life is better than average, but not maybe as exceptional as you feel you deserve, seems like a kind of sucking into the void, rather than a strong sense of need or purpose. Would your job be better if you put the effort into that that will be required to make a go of a round the world trip, etc...

    For me 2 weeks is about the minimum to really get into a nice flow and have a memorable trip, but 4 years... Not for me, but maybe for you if you have a positive enough reason.

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    Stove wise. I own 2 MSRs, but they are pretty hefty, and I have migrated to alcohol stoves. MSR also nearly blew on me once, and I have the full factory maintenance kit, and know how to use it.

    https://www.minibulldesign.com/produ...p?idCategory=2

  10. #10
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post

    In Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, he has this bit about how he has to stay on vacation until he has the perfect moment, then there is no point in staying and he comes home.
    MD, I thought of that film recently, havent seen it since , geez, I dunno, maybe 15 years or maybe 20, not long after it came out. I was wondering how it would hold up seeing it again, and thought I'd like to watch it with my now teenage son--it had a lot of interesting things to it, and I recall liking his second film as well. Poor fellow though with his depression and suicide, but Swimming to Cambodia really did stand out to me as a really neat film, that touched on so many ideas.

    yup, gotta find it and see it again with the family.

    tks for the reminder.

    I too could not see going off for such a long time, even when I was single and all I wouldnt have I dont think (who knows, didnt have the money, but I would have missed my family too much)
    The points to try a trip of numerous weeks or whatever to see if it appeals certainly makes sense, and it doable in terms of vacation time etc. from an existing job, and/or doesnt have all the implications of getting rid of your appartment etc and all your stuff.

  11. #11
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    There are a lot of relatively silly things things that people do that do not really measure up, but they can't help themselves that is what they want to do. The main reason to cycle around the world is that you can't help yourself. It really doesn't make much sense, but if you can't not do it, then you have no choice. To do it because your life is better than average, but not maybe as exceptional as you feel you deserve, seems like a kind of sucking into the void, rather than a strong sense of need or purpose. Would your job be better if you put the effort into that that will be required to make a go of a round the world trip, etc...

    For me 2 weeks is about the minimum to really get into a nice flow and have a memorable trip, but 4 years... Not for me, but maybe for you if you have a positive enough reason
    What a thought-provoking post; thanks, MD. I, too, am reaching a life crossroads (change/lapse in self-employment, only child is graduating high school in the spring, etc.) and have the same human desire for solitude and adventure that many of us share, but can never satisfy. Simply the process of thinking of and "pre-planning" a long-term international bike trip can be therapeutic...

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaudo View Post
    My advice to you is this: cycling around the world is an arbitrary feat. If you don't want to be away for so long, then pick the regions you really want to cycle through, and do that for 3-6 months. That is still an achievement and will be very enjoyable, without the concerns of returning home. And then if you return home and everything's great, you can always do another!
    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    For me 2 weeks is about the minimum to really get into a nice flow and have a memorable trip, but 4 years... Not for me, but maybe for you if you have a positive enough reason.
    For me ... 2 weeks is really way too short for any sort of travels, other than quick hub-and-spoke style tours. I'm only just starting to settle into the flow by the end of 2 weeks.


    I've done a 3-month tour in the past, and wanted to try something longer. So Rowan and I are coming toward the end of our 3rd month on the road now, and we're discovering something ...

    1 month in a specific location, like say, Hokkaido, Japan, or Scotland (both of which we want to visit again) would be just about right. Fly to a spot, tour the area for a month, fly home.

    3 months would be about the longest tour we'd probably want to do again if we were travelling between several countries, like throughout Europe, or maybe a combo South Korea, Taiwan, Japan tour. By the end of 3 months, the process of hunting for accommodation and food on a daily or almost daily basis wears a little thin.

    But if we were to do something like follow the Harvest Trail in Australia (which is a possibility for the OP, and which is something we are considering doing when we return to Australia), that could probably go on longer than 3 months. And the reason is that we would sort of settle in an area for a month or two to work, and then move on to the next area. But during that month or two we would have the opportunity to make connections with people. And we may cross paths with those people again on another job.

    That connection to people is something we are discovering we miss. We've got each other to talk to, and we stay in touch with friends and family over the internet, but there is just something about being making that connection with other people. Just being able to chat with someone you know at least a little bit about what you did the previous day, or the weather, or hobbies or whatever.

    So my suggestion to the OP would be that if you are planning to take 4 years to tour ... seriously consider spending a month in a place helping to build a school, spending 6 months working the harvest trail in Australia, spending several months teaching English in South Korea or China, or whatever catches your fancy. Plan to stop along the way so you can build connections and so that you don't isolate yourself from the rest of the world.

    Volunteering and working along the way will also help you acquire employment when you return because you'll have new skills and experiences.

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    Senior Member patrickgm60's Avatar
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    Good point for OP to consider: does he plan to tour the world with some bicycling included at each destination (as with Machka and Rowan's trip), or to ride around the world? If the 4-year schedule is set, that leaves room for extended stays, relationship-building, and LOTS of cycling.

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    Thanks for the replies, everyone - I'll eventually get around to replying to some.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaudo View Post
    It's obvious to me that you're a) yearning to get away from society and do something different and challenging, and b) worried as to how you will then integrate yourself back into society.

    It's good that you're worried about that, because it's something you can't get away from; several years is a long time to be away. You can do it comfortably in under a year, so the fact that you're talking about 4 years must mean you're considering working on the way.

    My advice to you is this: cycling around the world is an arbitrary feat. If you don't want to be away for so long, then pick the regions you really want to cycle through, and do that for 3-6 months. That is still an achievement and will be very enjoyable, without the concerns of returning home. And then if you return home and everything's great, you can always do another!
    I suppose ultimately, like everyone else, I'm just looking for something calm to do while I wait for the reaper to come with some answers. That might take another 60 years so I might as well do something in the mean time.

    If I don't do this sort of thing then my other option is buy a house and get on with all that stuff. I'm not doing very well with that so far since I lack the speed and energy required to successfully bid on a house - plus I'm quite picky about the sort of place I'd want to live in. I just don't see it happening, not really. I keep missing out on the few houses I rather like and I lose motivation quickly in each occasional drive towards job/house stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by corvuscorvax View Post
    All I can say for sure is that you have no idea what you will be like when you get back, if you decide to come back at all, so what's the point of worrying about that?
    Quite.

    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    In Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, he has this bit about how he has to stay on vacation until he has the perfect moment, then there is no point in staying and he comes home. I know that feeling, but technically you can get there through meditation, you don't have to go to Cambodia. There is this consumerist thing we do where we can only get to a certain feeling by spending a lot of money on something extreme, whether an ocean cruise, or an extreme sport.
    Aye, I've quite conscious of this view on things but find myself doing neither one nor the other. As in, neither joining in with normal Western ways nor fully removing myself from them. *shrug*, maybe I've already landed in the right spot as it is.

    There are a lot of relatively silly things things that people do that do not really measure up, but they can't help themselves that is what they want to do. The main reason to cycle around the world is that you can't help yourself. It really doesn't make much sense, but if you can't not do it, then you have no choice. To do it because your life is better than average, but not maybe as exceptional as you feel you deserve, seems like a kind of sucking into the void, rather than a strong sense of need or purpose. Would your job be better if you put the effort into that that will be required to make a go of a round the world trip, etc...
    No, it's not that sort of job. Above a certain minimum level of performance it doesn't matter how much work I do or how well I do it. Also I don't particularly "believe" in it, as in I don't find myself thinking that I am benefiting the world by what I do. Rather the opposite.

    For me 2 weeks is about the minimum to really get into a nice flow and have a memorable trip, but 4 years... Not for me, but maybe for you if you have a positive enough reason.
    I have no reason at all, that's why I might do it.






    Really this sort of thing is a sort of mild suicide. For people who want to disappear but haven't the courage to do it properly...

    anyway, I bought a "cheap" junky road touring bike and will try to do some short trips at weekends and such to see how I get on. Now if only I could decide on a sleeping bag.

  16. #16
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33112 View Post
    Really this sort of thing is a sort of mild suicide. For people who want to disappear but haven't the courage to do it properly...
    eww, or rather ???

    all the best with deciding what you would like to do, and as you say, to see some trips and see how you take to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 33112 View Post
    No, it's not that sort of job. Above a certain minimum level of performance it doesn't matter how much work I do or how well I do it. Also I don't particularly "believe" in it, as in I don't find myself thinking that I am benefiting the world by what I do. Rather the opposite.
    You aren't a grave digger, are you?
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Definitely get out there and try the whole riding thing on various short trips. I like Machka's idea of finding somewhere to teach English for a while (I have a number of friends who did that) or volunteering in another way to drop off the grid for a while/reboot. I spent a long time considering joining the Peace Corps (a formalized US organization to sort of do that) when I was getting near the end of each of my degrees, but they require applications a year in advance to do checks and the like and my plans for finishing were never firm enough that far in advance to make that work (something I regret now that I'm sort of settled with family and a kid and that). If you can work that into a tour great, if not, that could be the point of dropping off for a while if you find the right sort of place to go do that. The nice thing about coming back from something like that is it goes on your resume or cv and future employers look at it as altruistic more than dropping out of the world for a while so not only do you get some good stories for the interview, it doesn't count against you when you're asked why you haven't had a job in your field in the last __ years.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  19. #19
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    33112, sounds like you are searching for answers in life.... I say go for the bike trip, maybe you'll be able to come up with some of those answers for yourself during the bike.

  20. #20
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    I've landed at AMS Shiphol in the afternoon, rode to the coast at Zandvoort,
    camped there overnight for my jet-lag cure,
    then, next morning flipped a coin , north , or south?
    Amsterdam or Rotterdam ..

    the National rail station is in the lower level directly under the airport terminal.
    so even that is an easy choice. get on the train and start the trip some where else.

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Poster on a hostel wall in Cesky Krumlov, CR:

    poster.jpg

    Good advice. This is what I did and at 67 I can't say I'd do anything differently.

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