Thread: Aborting a tour
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Old 07-28-08, 07:34 PM
bicycle tourist
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Posts: 1,604

Bikes: Trek 520, Lightfoot Ranger, Trek 4500

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Cycle touring can be a mental exercise. So for me the "when to abort" question is really checking against my mental expectations in advance and hence will vary.

To give a concrete example, last year I took 10 months off for cycle touring. In effect it was a combination trip with four different expectations:
a. One month touring in Texas, with goal of shaking out equipment issues and doing training.
b. Six months with goal to cross Europe and Asia under my own power.
c. Two months with goal of cycling with an organized ride through China.
d. One month of rest/recuperate in Thailand/Malaysia with loose goal of riding Bangkok to Singapore.

I was quite determined at "b" and my threshold was very high against anything to stop that trip. For example, I had pre-positioned a bike in Russia so if the bike was stolen/damaged I could go by rail in country to pick that as a replacement. There were some times that were probably more fun/challenging in retrospect than when I was there but that was just part of the trip. It would probably take some event that left me physically unable to bike for me to stop.

On the other hand, while cycling "d" through Thailand, my rear hub broke after two weeks. Rather than figure out the logistics of replacing the (48-spoke) hub, I found a nice spot in southern Thailand and holed up for a week. I next took the train to Kuala Lumpur and stayed there for another week. I came home a few days earlier than expected but not much. That was all consistent with my mental model of what I was doing for that segment of the trip, which was relaxing and preparing for "re-entry".

I've had other trips where I cycled ~100 miles with a spark plug after my pedal snapped off to ride the Natchez Trace and one where I flew back from Australia to pick up a replacement bike after my frame cracked and a good share of other mechanical, health and weather fun.

I also had one trip where I'd had a rough idea of flying to Hawaii over Thanksgiving Weekend and cycling to top of Mauna Kea. Life had been extremely hectic in the weeks preceding the trip and the first time I really got to unwind was the first day cycling out of Kona. As I thought through things, I realized that while I could make it to top of the volcano, that wasn't really what I needed right then. So after cycling 30 miles, I turned around, cycled back to town, checked into a hotel and hung out on the beach reading several books that weekend. In hindsight, that was the right choice.
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