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  1. #1
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    Oh...I dunno.....Um...tour prep?

    First, let me apologize in advance for a very long post. I can be a little verbose at times. I'm trying to wrap my mind around some stuff and it is weighing pretty heavily on my mind. I am hoping to get some advice/words of wisdom from some guys that have had to deal with exactly what I'm dealing with – or something similar. Since part of my plans include a bicycle tour, I figure this is a pretty good place to post.

    It has been a while since I posted in the bike forums. I had been commuting forty miles per day, but I got my car fixed and got lazy. I haven't ridden my bike a half a dozen times in the last couple of months.

    I went to the doctor's office a couple of weeks ago. She scheduled me for a colonoscopy (Thursday next week) because of symptoms I have. I'm worried that I might have colon cancer. My mom passed at 54 because of cancer, my uncle at 45. I am 48.

    You can see why I am nervous. I am hoping and planning for the best, because the worst is unthinkable – at least for now.

    I have been reflecting the last couple of weeks. I guess that's pretty common for a man in my position. I have some regrets. I suppose we all do. There are things I wish I had done, and some things I wish I hadn't. Through it all I tried to be a good husband, father and friend. I failed at times, but it wasn't because of maliciousness. I have done better than some and worse than some others. I guess that makes me an average Joe – which is OK by me.

    However, I do have one really big regret.

    I have always been an adventurous sort. There were times when it caused me big trouble. As a boy I loved to camp and explore. I read books about high adventure (“Captains Courageous” by Rudyard Kipling & The Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs stand out in my memory). I longed to see what was over the next hill, what was beyond the horizon. I wanted to see other parts of the world, meet people from other cultures, experience sights and sounds atop mountains on the other side of the planet.

    I did some of that in the service, but not nearly enough.

    Sadly, the time came for me to put away childish things and assume a mantle of responsibility – which has weighed heavy at times. I never became a captain of industry or a man whose decisions affected the lives of more than a few people (my immediate family), but at times even that so-common a responsibility seemed a harsh master.

    Since my mid-twenties I have led a conventional life. I did my best to fulfill my responsibilities to my children, my ex-wife and my now-wife, and to my employers. I've worked hard and not really achieved much aside from keeping me and mine fed, clothed and housed. My kids are off in college or married and working. I just recently finished paying my child support. The house my wife and I live in is paid for. I am relatively free.

    I still love the idea of adventure. I still read books about brave men accomplishing mighty deeds in the face of astonishing adversity. If you have read about Ernest Shackleton you know what I'm talking about. The common thread among those that I find interesting is the fact that they stick to their beliefs, regardless of what they face. Jeff Lebowski (main character in the film “The Big Lebowski”) and Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey's character in “American Beauty”) are just as heroic to me as Ernest Shackleton because they refused to live any way other than the way they felt they were meant to live – convention be damned.

    That is certainly not the way I have lived my life.

    So, now I am at a crossroads. If I have what I fear then I will have to seek treatment. Luckily, provided it is caught early enough, colon cancer is one of the more “treatable” kinds. If I do have it I face two possibilities. One is that I get put underground at far too young an age. The other is that I recover, maybe missing a few bits.

    The possibility I hope for is that I do not have it and the symptoms I am experiencing are related to some other, easily treated malady.

    Either way, if it turns out that I have a few more years left in me, I am on the verge of saying “f___ it” and living my life exactly as I want to. Convention was not my brother, so maybe living unconventionally might be the tonic for the longings I have felt for most of my life.

    If I am clear of cancer, or if I can be treated and have an expectation of a few more years, I want to do a bike tour. I want to ride from East Texas (Houston area) to Taos, NM and see the area where some people are developing these things called “Earthships”. From there I'd like to see the Grand Canyon, then ride through Arizona to California, north through Oregon to Washington state. I want to see the Northern Cascades. I'd like to see Puget Sound. Heck, I might even keep going until I get to Haida Gwaii.

    This is the sort of thing that will take a few months. I've got most of the gear I would need, and am researching that which I don't have.

    I would like to hear from anyone else here who has felt similar feelings, or has faced similar circumstance and done what I aim to do.

    If nothing else it will keep me entertained and hopeful until the doctor rams a camera up my butt and tells me if my immediate future is going to be problematic.

    If you've read this far, thanks for listening. If you have something to share, jump in. If you are young and have not had an adventure, I advise you to pursue one before it is too late to do so.

    Selah.
    Quote Originally Posted by Epicus07 View Post
    That being said..Chamois butter is mandatory for me and this saddle. It makes the difference between painful chaffing and god cupping my balls.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Rowan and I are currently on an 8-month round-the-world tour ... cycling and driving and flying and taking trains and doing ferry crossings, etc. We ended our employment, gave up our rental place, put everything into storage, and hit the road ... starting late last June.

    We chose to do this because we don't want to wait until we are at retirement age. Too many people can't do an 8 month tour around the world when they are older for various health reasons (as you've discovered), or just don't have the energy to do that sort of thing any more. So we decided to do this while we are still able.

    And it's actually the second time both of us have taken an extended period of time off to do something like this. Back in 2004, I did a 3-month cycling tour of Australia, and Rowan did something similar in 2005.

    I doubt we'll take 8 months off for travel again, but I definitely see us going for anywhere from 1-3 months every year or two.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Rowan and I are currently on an 8-month round-the-world tour ... cycling and driving and flying and taking trains and doing ferry crossings, etc. We ended our employment, gave up our rental place, put everything into storage, and hit the road ... starting late last June.

    We chose to do this because we don't want to wait until we are at retirement age. Too many people can't do an 8 month tour around the world when they are older for various health reasons (as you've discovered), or just don't have the energy to do that sort of thing any more. So we decided to do this while we are still able.

    And it's actually the second time both of us have taken an extended period of time off to do something like this. Back in 2004, I did a 3-month cycling tour of Australia, and Rowan did something similar in 2005.

    I doubt we'll take 8 months off for travel again, but I definitely see us going for anywhere from 1-3 months every year or two.
    I know about your tour. I have been following it off & on. I have been both entertained by your accounts and (I admit) a wee bit envious. The idea of the trip I would like to take seems daunting, but you guys are one of the reasons I think it can be done.

    Thanks for chiming in!
    Quote Originally Posted by Epicus07 View Post
    That being said..Chamois butter is mandatory for me and this saddle. It makes the difference between painful chaffing and god cupping my balls.

  4. #4
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    .........If you've read this far, thanks for listening. If you have something to share, jump in. If you are young and have not had an adventure, I advise you to pursue one before it is too late to do so.
    Selah.
    Hope you're ok after your exam. I'm middle aged(42) and have traveled a bit. From the usual touristy places; Paris,
    San Francisco, Rome, Amsterdam, etc. To more exotic locations; in the middle of the African Serengeti, Purple Mountain
    in China, Meteora - Greece, etc. But what I'm hoping people will remember when I'm gone is the simple life that I lead;
    no car, modest home, no jewelry/fancy clothes and that I tried to help other folks when I can. I donate blood to strangers
    that need it every few months, been doing that for a few years. I helped out other riders on cycling events as a volunteer
    safety marshal. I try to help out friends and family; baby sitting, airport pickups(w/ their car), moving, and other tasks that
    only uses up time and not really too much effort. I've even helped senior citizens cross the street

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtOrwAE0BrQ

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    I have been reflecting the last couple of weeks. I guess that's pretty common for a man in my position. I have some regrets. I suppose we all do.
    When I was in my early 30s I had already, at that early age, racked up a whole pile of regrets.

    And then one day, I woke up and decided to do something about them ... and now, 15 years later, really my only regret is that I didn't start living the way I've been living over the past 15 years sooner. I essentially lost most of my 20s trying to live "conventionally". But thank goodness it was only my 20s.

    Nevertheless, I think there are often things you can do to erase the regrets ... travel, go back to school and get that degree you've wanted, try new things.





    This was a short "article" I wrote a few years ago ... hopefully the links still work ...

    In July 1996, Wendy Swallow Williams published an article entitled "50 Things to Do Before I Die" in the Washington Post. I read that article some months later in the Readers Digest and it has stuck with me all this time.

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-800089.html
    50 Things to Do Before I Die by Wendy Swallow Williams

    And here's the whole article, although it looks like it has been retyped from the original, and has a lot of typos ... but you get the idea:
    http://newsindonesia-fahruddin.blogs.../know-how.html

    The idea behind the article was to create a list of the 50 things we want to do during our lifetimes. Some things might be more urgent than others ... things we might want to complete in the next few years, or things that might wait till retirement. Some things might be more important than others. Some things might be to advance a career, others might be for fun.

    But whenever we are bored, or think our lives are going nowhere, or want a change, or feel at loose ends ...... we dig out that list, pick something interesting, and start working on it.

    I was fascinated, and so I created my list. I did it a bit differently than the author did ... she just started writing, whereas I, as is my nature, created categories. So I had a category for Educational Pursuits, another for Cycling, another for Other Sports, Travel, Creative Activities, etc. Within each category, I had a short list of things I wanted to do or accomplish.

    I made this list back in 1996/1997 or so, and have managed to accomplish a large portion of the list in the past 13-ish years.

    I'm in a position now where I am at loose ends again, and so I am revisiting that list I created many years ago ... and since I've checked off many things on my previous list, and since I'm in a whole different place than I was when I created that first list, I am planning to recreate it.

    We're coming to the end of the first decade of 21st century. It's been 10 years since Year 2000!! Can you believe it!?

    But what better time than to create or recreate a list of 50 things we might want to accomplish. Not resolutions for the coming year, but rather things we would really like to do in the coming years.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Enjoyed reading your introspective post. Well done. Do hope the exam will allay your concerns.

    I'm 71, married, kids, grandkids. All the ups and downs that go with it. Successful sometimes, not so much others, failure in others. Just life. And for how much longer? Like you, no way to know. Really true for all. Nothing new about that.

    Solo touring is a selfish hobby. The only benefit to anyone, other than yourself, is found in that exciting literary masterpiece...your ride journal. If you can deal with that thought, and living on the road for a few months, then by all means go for it. Hopefully with the blessings and understanding of your loved ones. Are you really the sort who would do it otherwise? Circumstances might demand it. Only you can know that.

    If you can't get the whole shebang in one fell swoop, consider breaking the adventure up into manageable segments. That's what I do. Anticipating and planning for each is itself fun and therapeutic. Your stated touring goals are not unreasonable.

    Good luck in sorting it all out.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  7. #7
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    Skipx, hope the doctors visit is uneventful and decisive. Nothing to add other than Cyclebums input. Take it in chunks.

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