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Bad Trip

Old 07-21-15, 07:25 PM
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teacherlady
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Bad Trip

Have you ever had a bad trip, bad enough to make you regret taking the tour in the first place? If so, what made the tour go bad, what did you do to try to rescue your tour, and how did you deal with the aftermath, both short-term and long-term?

Although there have been days of grace, my current tour has been a bad trip overall. While I deal with the feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, and humiliation (and while I wait for my return flight), I'm reflecting on how/why/what to do differently next time. How can I rebuild my confidence to try again next summer?

Warning: My tale of woe is long. It's not necessary to read it to answer my question. However, I have found it useful to write this, so I'm not going to delete it.

Background: We're in our mid 50s, not old, but almost. Even at the best of times, I'm slow, and I had had a rough year, so hadn't trained enough. We've done two two-month tours the last two summers, but hadn't camped in more than 20 years. Our bikes have couplers, but didn't have Schwalbes (Big mistake number 1). We're in Argentina, which doesn't have First-World infrastructure, but is certainly not Third-World. We didn't have a fixed route planned, and distances are long, so we were prepared for camping, but I prefer to sleep inside.

On our first day, before we'd even put our bikes together, 5000 miles and best-case 26 hours (and it wasn't best case) from home, my father was hospitalized. Two days later, when it was clear he wasn't about to die, my companion's uncle died. We set off anyway. Perhaps that was another mistake.

The first two days went well, and then we had a very long two days with a choice between the roadway on a 4 lane divided autopista and the shoulder, which consisted of soft sand interspersed with a very close relative to goatheads: push the bike through sand, or shake in terror. We made slow time, so I got the opportunity to find out that I didn't mind camping. We fought our way to a beautiful, newly paved shoulder with a 1% downgrade, followed by a hotspring resort with an excellent restaurant. We spent a rest day patching flats.

We woke up the next morning, ready to set off, and found that there had been a slow leak in the night. While we were finding and fixing the flat, dysentery struck my companion hard. Another guest at the resort, also a cyclist, gave us a ride to the next big town, and told us we should get Slime. It took 4 days before my companion could ride, and I was not immune. We spent part of the 4 days looking for better tires for the local conditions, and couldn't find them. Everybody, EVERYBODY we'd talked to had said, "You have to use Slime here." Every bike store had big, prominent displays of Slime. We didn't like the idea of gunk, so settled on tire liners.

Finally, we were ready to set off, even if we were a little shaky. This time, we foolishly left our water bottles outside the tent, and they froze. (It's winter here.) We got them defrosted, and fought a brutal headwind all day. We were two miles from town and lodging, when a tire liner sliced a tube. We changed the tube and got to town. Yay.

The next day I woke up with a bad, bad cold. I thought I could still ride, until I saw the clouds of dust blowing from the plowed fields. We took a bus to the next big town, a resort on the outwash plain at the edge of some dramatic mountains. We found a comfortable B&B, and I spent two days recovering while my companion found and fixed flats. Then we had two days of lovely dayrides.

Reinvigorated, we set off. We had two great days riding along the edge of the mountains before my companion caught the cold. We took the bus again, to the big city, and spent 4 days while my companion recovered. Along the way, we got another sliced tube, and gave in and got Slime. (We haven't had a flat since.)

We set off AGAIN. The first day was perfect, cold and clear, along a lightly travelled road paralleling the new autopiste, far enough away that we couldn't hear the highway, close enough that there were occasional services. The next day was a different story. Tandem trucks flew by us on the shoulderless two-lane road. Even though most drivers were remarkably accommodating, timing it so they could pull way over to pass us, not all were. And even when they pulled all the way over, we still shook with every truck, about one per minute. After 50 miles, about 5 miles from the next town, I couldn't take it any more. This wasn't fun, it hadn't been fun, it wasn't going to be fun, I wasn't doing this any more. I wanted to go home. I walked the bike a few miles, until there was a parallel road.

We made it to town, found a comfortable motel, and I hid from the world for a day. The next day, the winds were scary, blowing huge palm fronds down the street and almost blowing me over. I was scared. The next day, Monday, we connected with a local bike shop and some Warmshowers hosts. They reassured me, telling me that the wind was unusual, and helped us find a new route.

We set off, AGAIN. We had a wonderful day. The next day, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something, but it got worse, and worse, and 50 miles later, my nose was a faucet. A friendly cyclist passed us and pulled a U-turn to guide us into town. "Tomorrow's a holiday, and my cycling club (80 people strong, in a town of only 12,000) is having a fundraising ride in the plaza. You should join us." It sounded wonderful! We made plans to stick around, which we would have had to do anyway, since the next morning, my temperature was over 100. It turns out that my northern-hemisphere flu shot was no protection against a southern-hemisphere flu. My companion rode circles around the plaza, and I sat in the sun and waved and napped. The next day we found a bus to the next big city, and found a good hotel. After two days, I was ready to go on, but (you guessed it) by now, my companion was showing symptoms. We waited it out.

We were more than a little apprehensive by now, but we set off, AGAIN. There was a 60 kilometer bridge/causeway that didn't allow bikes, so we had to take a bus. Organizing that took all day, so it was the next morning before we really started. We'd just started out of town on a road that everybody said would be quiet, when one too many too big trucks passed too close. As I shook in its wake, I snapped. This time, I really couldn't go on. We went back to town, slept on it to be sure, and took the bus to Buenos Aires to wait for our flight home.

So now I'm licking my wounds in a city I've loved. I hadn't planned to spend two weeks here, but I think I can enjoy them.

Lessons:
I don't like biking day in day out in cold weather.
We're really lucky that we didn't have fixed plans with prepaid reservations, and that we weren't with a group.
We had wonderful times in places where we would never have stopped if we weren't bicycling.
We should have had Schwalbes and we should have had tires that were wide enough for dirt roads.
The couplers gave us the flexibility to hop on a bus whenever we wanted, even though the busses didn't take bikes.
No one between Mendoza and Buenos Aires had ever seen a touring (dropped bar, low gear) bike.
Slime isn't as bad as I thought it would be.
Bring the water bottles into the tent at night.
Don't drink the water in a town called Desaguadero.
I can't count on getting in better shape while I'm riding.
Warmshowers is a good way to meet local cyclists, even if you don't ask them to host you.

And I had to get this far to figure this out, but I'm really not sorry I came, but I wish I had done it differently. I'm just not sure how.
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Old 07-21-15, 08:48 PM
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Well when touring there are good days and bad days. If you're lucky you should have more good days than bad days. What I do change the definition of what makes a bad day, and all of a sudden all my days are good days,
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Old 07-21-15, 08:49 PM
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Every tour has predictable and unpredictable events. Weather research for the continent, region and season can prevent some surprises but not all. Similar research concerning road surfaces allow you to plan for the worst. The same for equipment and clothing choices. A mirror will be your friend in traffic.(If you do not currently use one.)

Unfortunately there is no predicting a health emergency or illness back home for family and friends or yourself and the difficult decisions required quickly. All you can do is remain adaptable and flexible as you did in the face of disruptive demands and changes. And do not berate yourself for things out of your control. You will use these lessons on your next tour or trip to great advantage. Enjoy your basecamp cycling adventure in Buenos Aires until departure.
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Old 07-21-15, 09:12 PM
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Sorry to hear about your trip.

My advice, which I try to follow myself with some degree of success, is ...

-- do multiple practice tours ... long weekends etc. Use the equipment you're planning to use in conditions as close to what you figure you'll encounter.

-- train in preparation for a tour. I know that's not the common thinking here ... the assumption is that you'll ride into shape ... but if you've only got 2 or 3 weeks, you don't have enough time to ride into shape. You've got to be in shape the day you start so that you have a chance of enjoying the whole tour. I don't mean that you've got to follow a training program that will whip you into shape for racing, but that it is a good idea to ride pretty much every day as your commute and/or after work and on the weekends.

-- workout in other ways as well, not just cycling. I have found it very helpful to be in shape to walk fairly long distances, and also to lift and carry some fairly heavy weights.

-- I'm with you when it comes to planning. I don't do much route plan much. But if I do sketch out a route, I estimate that we will cover 50 km/day 5 days/week. There's a decent chance we'll cover more than that, but estimating low gives me flexibility to recover from illness etc.

-- I also seem to come down with a flu or something quite often in my first week of travel, so again, not planning to travel far or planning hub-and-spoke tours helps. Also ... extra attention to things like vitamins, hydration, rest, etc. seems to help a bit. And I carry allergy pills because I know I will be allergic to something just about everywhere I go.

I make those suggestions as things you might do differently and to encourage you to try again next summer. Chalk this tour up as experience to build on.

[HR][/HR]

And in answer to your question ... no, I've never had a really bad tour. But our tours are flexible enough that if things aren't going as well as we might imagine, we just change our plans.

There have been several times where we've opted to rent a car or hop on a bus or train to bypass a certain section or go somewhere else entirely. There have been several times where we've opted to stay in one place for a while for one reason or another (illness, weather, fatigue) ... and hub-and-spoke style tours are great! And we usually end up doing a mix of hotel, hostel, and camping.

Like the first day of cycling in Scotland in 2012 ... we set out from Edinburgh aiming for somewhere (can't remember now), and not long after we started it began raining. It was cold and windy and wet. We arrived in a town (not the one we were aiming for) about 4 pm absolutely drenched and tired and frustrated ... and began looking for a campground, but it was another 10 km or so up a hill in a direction we weren't planning to go, plus no one seemed sure if it was still there or was open or anything. But there was a pub right there, and it had warm dry rooms ... so that's where we stopped!

We set off again the next day, but before we even left the town, we were absolutely soaked again ... so we caught a train, and ended up in a beautiful little town. The next day we cycled all along the lake and back ... just lovely.
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Old 07-22-15, 06:16 AM
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Wish you had mentioned the planned route and where you abandoned it.
I really appreciate your honesty in describing the events that lead to the perceived "failure" of this trip.
You did get a few days of good riding. Even normal vacations sometimes end up in events like this.
I once went to India with my family, got waylaid by Aeroflot in Moscow, reached my hometown 2 days later than scheduled, minus a checked suitcase with all of my clothing.
Went to a tour of Goa and returned after 1 night due to unclean hotel and no other affordable ones available. Then had food poisoning and 104 F body temp.
The suitcase was recovered in the sixth and last week after many visits to the local Customs office. Got waylaid by Aeroflot on the return trip, too. I heard they had so many missed connections in Moscow that they housed stranded passengers on a ship on the river Moskva.

Of the 5-6 weeks, there were hardly a few days of real fun. There is a saying about India Tourism - "India is ready for you, but are you ready for India?". I guess that applies to all the places once you leave your own!

Actually, there is a book by a Canadian couple who attempted a world tour, abandoned and wrote about it.
Vagamonde by Benoit Charra and Michele Titcombe
subtitled Chasing Euphoria and Getting Hit by Reality
The blog is at https://vagamonde.blogspot.com/
A review is posted at CGOAB

Questions to all.
Are Schwalbe tires really that flat proof?
Does Slime really work?

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Old 07-22-15, 09:54 AM
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Second year of college and second attempt at anything resembling a tour. I had big plans to bike from my home in north east Ohio down to south west Ohio, into Indiana for a spell, and then back to central Ohio in time for school to begin.

There was no internet, and I didn't know anyone else that ever did a bike tour, and my small town had no place to buy quality camping gear (and I probably couldn't have afforded it anyway), but I cobbled together what gear I had and made a go of it. I had a leaky dome tent and an inflatable pad. My grandfather's wool, army-issue sleeping bag was the only sleeping bag that wasn't a giant, cotton monstrosity, so that came along. It was not remotely warm enough for Ohio nights, but somehow the fact that it was the only bag I could reasonably carry was going to magically make it work. Some clothes, maps, my Walkman, and a small Igloo cooler were jammed into or strapped on to the Wald, wire-frame baskets on my bike, and I was off with my overloaded bike. Slowly.

My inflatable pad sprung a leak that I couldn't find to patch. I was basically sleeping on the ground which I already knew from my last trip was not only uncomfortable, but also wet as my tent's floor seemed to be the only waterproof part. That's okay because I had a backup plan. I had brought a hammock. I guess I was a hammock-camping pioneer, or would have been if I had had a clue. Now I sleep in hammock tent at every opportunity, but now I know a little about under insulation and about putting a tarp over you, and about what qualities make for a hammock you can sleep in. Back then I just took the open weave hammock, strung it up, got in, and tried to get into my sleeping bag. I fell out of the hammock a few times, but eventually I got settled. I couldn't really move because the sleeping bag was small and because too much wiggling would flip me back to the ground. When it started to rain in the middle of the night, I woke up to drops of water in my face. Really I should have been able to figure out the tarp thing, but maybe the tarp that come with my tent would not have been big enough anyway.

So after a few nights of failing to sleep comfortably in my tent or my hammock, I realized that I was a day's ride from my final destination even though I wasn't supposed to get to my final destination until I had traveled another two weeks. I found a payphone, called my dorm, and found that I could move in two weeks early. So two weeks of soggy, cold camping punctuated by bike riding quickly became two weeks of settling into the dorm before most of my dorm mates returned.

Not as traumatic as the OP's tale, and I also don't regret the trip, but I also don't regret cutting it short. If I could send my current set up back in time, though, I think younger me could have finished that ride and had a great time doing it.

That was actually my last attempt at anything resembling bike touring until more than 10 years later when, on this forum, someone mentioned hammock camping, and I did some research and learned that someone much more clever than I had solved all the issues I had run into. Then I realized I didn't need a car full of crap just to sleep comfortably, and I've gotten back into bike camping.

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Old 07-22-15, 10:12 AM
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I have only fond memories of my 1983 tour from Portland OR to Omaha NE, but the facts tell a somewhat different story. My original plan was to ride all the way across the country, and I bailed. Time, money, patience, and fun, had all run out. The root cause, in retrospect, was that I wasn't getting enough sleep.

But as I say, I have only fond memories now. When I talk about it now, somehow I make the awful nights (sleepless nights of rolling around on the ground alternately freezing, sweating, and trying to ignore the mosquitoes) sound like fun. Can't wait to do it again. With a hammock, this time.
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Old 07-22-15, 07:15 PM
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I am way more of a backpacker and organize trips for a backpacking group. I lead several backpacking trips a year. Bad trips just happen every now and then. You can't control everything and sometimes you don't anticipate everything and other times you just plain screw up. You have to take the bad with the good. But I tell people that's part of the backpacker mentality: to be a able to deal with things as they happen.
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Old 07-22-15, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by robmcl View Post
I am way more of a backpacker and organize trips for a backpacking group. I lead several backpacking trips a year. Bad trips just happen every now and then. You can't control everything and sometimes you don't anticipate everything and other times you just plain screw up. You have to take the bad with the good. But I tell people that's part of the backpacker mentality: to be a able to deal with things as they happen.
+1

I got into Randonneuring before I got into touring ... and it was the same thing there. One ride might go really well ... the next might be a series of small disasters.
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Old 07-22-15, 09:02 PM
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I had some bad trips in my youth, but that is a different topic...
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Old 07-23-15, 12:21 AM
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Good thread, thanks for the idea, OP.

I don't think I've ever had a bad tour. But I have had a couple where I changed plans drastically due to changed weather, or because I wasn't making the mileage I thought I would. No regrets.
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Old 07-23-15, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by OldZephyr View Post
Good thread, thanks for the idea, OP.

I don't think I've ever had a bad tour. But I have had a couple where I changed plans drastically due to changed weather, or because I wasn't making the mileage I thought I would. No regrets.
+1


One example might be our 2007 Europe trip.

We started well ... landed in London for a few days, then spent some time in Belgium which was quite enjoyable and interesting, and then made our way to Paris for a short time, then just outside Paris where we were to start the Paris-Brest-Paris randonnee.

And then it started to rain. Fortunately we had been able to camp near the start/finish area (we only just got into that campground, it was almost full) and fortunately we had selected a very small knoll on which to camp. We were soon surrounded by a muddy moat. In the days preceding the PBP, everything was wet and muddy. Most of the pre-ride events, which had been there in 2003, had been cancelled and the whole atmosphere was ... dark and damp.

We started riding, but after 400 km of rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain .................. we pulled the plug and returned to the soggy campground by train. We kind of sloshed around the area until the event finished, saw some friends come in, and then at a rather damp and dismal post-ride dinner of some sort, various ones of us where debating what to do next and someone suggest heading east to ride a bit of the Rhine Route.

We looked at each other and decided then and there that we would seek out the Rhine Route. Maybe we could salvage the trip! And hopefully it would be less rainy over there.

The trip across to Strasbourg was actually quite enjoyable. I got sick in Nancy and spent a day curled up in the tent, but we met some nice people in the campground there. We found the Marne Route and cycled it. We saw parts of France we'd never seen before. We found the Rhine Route. And the rain let up.

We hadn't been planning to do that at all ... and actually ... now, many years later, I can't remember what we had been planning to do! I just have this vague impression that wherever we had been thinking of going was right in the middle of all that rain.
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Old 07-23-15, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Kindaslow View Post
I had some bad trips in my youth, but that is a different topic...
lol, I can relate!
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Old 07-23-15, 02:31 PM
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My longest tour was only a week long and it didn't have quite as many glitches as yours seems to have had. However, there were several moments (usually as I was huffing and puffing up a huge hill on a near-100 degree day) when I asked myself "What the hell am I doing?" and swore I would never do this again.

Within the first year, though, just about all the negative memories turned to dust and the good stories were so abundant that I could not wait to get out there again. Unfortunately, I have not been able to put together a week-long bike trip since then, but I have taken at least one or two overnighters each year. All I ever think about while I'm on those trips is "I wish I could do this for a week or two."

My advice: Before you get too analytical, let some time pass. The ride you just took will get better and better with age and distance.
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Old 07-23-15, 03:12 PM
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I think perceptions are based a great deal on expectations. If you are expecting a smooth trip with minor hiccups and beautiful scenery, and the reality is that the trip was much more difficult than anticipated, you may have a "bad trip." Perhaps a combination of bad luck (weather/illness), bad planning and conditioning and high expectations all came together at the same time. If you were to choose the best season, the easiest route, and take more than enough time to prepare yourself and your gear, even then, touring can be very difficult. Look back and see what you learned, what you could have done better, and where you may have overextended yourself. Next time you'll have a better trip!
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Old 07-25-15, 07:02 AM
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OP here. Thank you for the replies. They are food for thought.

I even left some of the disasters out of my tale. For example, we had planned to start out on Sunday, but my companion's glasses broke Friday afternoon, and we had to wait till Monday to get them repaired. (Yes, we had spares, but do you want to start a 2 month trip without spare glasses?) An old injury flared up, and, though biking was fine, walking hurt so much that I couldn't walk more than a block or so until I found a cortisone shot. Even the hotel computer hung as I was somewhere in page 3 of my original post starting this thread, and I had to type it over.

We really had done research, as much as we could from 5000 miles away. That's why we had camping equipment with us. We thought there were enough paved secondary or lightly trafficked roads, and we thought we had tires that were appropriate for the road conditions, and enough warm clothes. However until we were there, on the ground, we couldn't really match what we had heard with reality. Until I was biking in the cold every day, I couldn't know how to dress comfortably out of cycling panniers for everyday cold weather cycling. (I'm from California, and we don't get weather as cold as a central Argentine cold-snap.) I'm a confident urban biker, but until I was buffeted by a solid stream of tandem trucks, I couldn't know that I would snap.

(Can you tell I'm feeling defensive?)

We really were quite flexible. We hopped on a bus when it was the right thing to do, and scaled back our plans as necessary. The original plan was to head north from Mendoza to Salta, then head to the Esteros del Ibera, then south to Buenos Aires. We quickly adjusted that to riding to, then through the Sierra de Cordoba because we couldn't carry enough water to go north. Then, as one delay after another struck, we cut back our plans. Our final route was Mendoza-San Luis-La Toma-bus-Merlo-Mina Clavero-bus-Cordoba-Villa Maria-Las Rosas-bus-Rosario-bus-Victoria-bus-Buenos Aires, for a total of only a little over 1000 km in 6 weeks. The Sierra de Cordoba was really lovely cycling, with paved secondary roads without too many trucks.

I think maybe the big mistake for me was not having trained enough. I was commuting by bike, but only a few miles a day, and was only doing one long (40-60 mile) ride on the weekends. I've got to find a way to cram one mid-week climbing ride into my schedule. We should have been better prepared for dirt roads, (I think that dry dirt roads would have been fine with wider tires with a little more tread; we were on 26 x 1.5s with only a bit of tread.) and maybe, not have done this particular trip in midwinter. Mostly, I think we had a lot of bad luck, and I don't think you can prepare for that.

We're thinking of something easier for next summer, maybe Quebec and the Maritimes, maybe the Danube from source to sea. . .

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Old 07-26-15, 06:59 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by teacherlady View Post
(Can you tell I'm feeling defensive?)

We really were quite flexible...
Nothing to be defensive about. It does sound like you were flexible to adjust the trip. It also sounds like you had a combination of circumstances that taken together added up to be pretty frustrating. I can also relate to cycling and camping in the cold/wet can be obnoxious on more continuous basis - particularly if that isn't what you anticipated.

I had a trip last year where original plan was to bicycle from Manali to Leh, India: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leh%E2...Manali_Highway. Fairly ambitious as it crossed multiple high passes, but was otherwise in OK shape and we allocated more than enough time to make the distance.

However, at start of the trip I was somewhat sick and combination of bike/gear was also a little heavier than I expected. Only made it 12km (and ~600m climb) on first day before decided to call it early. Second day was better, ~24km and 800m climbing. However, third day started with cold rain. We waited some of it out and it cleared but as we started next climb, I also realized that even crossing this next pass (@4000m elevation) I was probably in over my head for the overall trip. So we turned back and descended back to our starting point. We instead took the bus from Manali to Leh.

We had one day looking around Leh and I was feeling a bit more recovered. After that we re-adjusted and instead cycled from Leh to Srinagar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation...(old_numbering) There were still some tough days, but extra time getting a bit less sick and also a somewhat less ambitious route helped a bunch.

I wouldn't necessarily put it out as a "bad trip" as we were able to adjust early and in general had enough positive things on that trip, but can also relate that sometimes seems like circumstances can get more frustrating on one of these trips.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:54 AM
  #18  
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Maybe some more trip prep would have helped? Training, as mentioned. I only tour from my house as base point, but stuff happens. I do try to research road conditions and use google maps. Great for looking at road conditions. Get any first hand reports of other riders? Cycle blogs? I try to be as flexible as possible. Try some warm areas? For winter riding, think wool base layers, mid layer warmth and wind layer for outside layer. Thin wool hats/ balcavas and helmet covers. I use low, waterproof, insulated hiking boots and wool socks. The US has plenty of warm area riding. Chin up, keep pedaling.
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Old 07-27-15, 10:01 AM
  #19  
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There's trip prep and then there's over prep. And then there's rolling with the punches. When I look at the OP's report, I see series of unfortunate incidents. One or two, you recover from and move on, but when they pile up, sometimes you cut your losses.

I'm one for planning for and obsessing over the minutia of my trips, and my trips are quite short, so I can usually get away with it, but I still get thrown through a loop at times. When Google routes me down a road that's actually private property-- I could have "street viewed" my entire route and figured that out in advance, but that's overkill even for me. When I do street view a road, determine that while it's busy, fast, and relatively narrow, it has a wide enough shoulder, but then when I get on that road, I find out that the shoulder is all rumble strip-- You can only suffer through or re-route. When the part of your bike that breaks is something that you can't carry a spare for-- you have to limp to a shop, wait for parts, or chuck it all. When you get sick-- you have to heal. There's no planning for that. There's just dealing with it when it happens.

As much as I love to plan, I have to admit that it's only worked for me as well as it has (and it hasn't always worked) because my trips are short enough that I can schedule every night's stop and every day's route along with contingencies, make reservations with confidence, and often plan a bail out option as well. If my trips were of any real length, then I think my over-planning would fail pretty quickly.

Training is tricky to me. I ride every day, rain or shine, because that's how I get around, but that doesn't mean my body is ever quite ready for 60 miles on a loaded bike until I actually do it for a few days. If I had a two month tour planned, I think I'd focus on getting a manageable gear set up, and plan in that the first week or so I'd be moving a little slower and traveling a little less.

When I look at the OP's story, I don't see a lack of planning, just bad luck. Maybe some things could have been predicted with more obsessive planning, but maybe not. And really, if you could figure out exactly what was going to happen on your trip ahead of time, you wouldn't even need to go. Finding out is the adventure.
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Old 07-27-15, 11:40 AM
  #20  
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Sorry it didn't work out. Life is like that sometimes.

However, I can honestly say that I've never had a bad bike tour. It's hard for me to recall even a bad day on a bike tour. My tours are generally about a week long, so less chance for things to go wrong. I also do a lot of training before every tour because I bike commute year round, so I'm always in shape for it. I also have been extremely fortunate with the weather on all of my bike tours, and I've never been rained out, although I've ridden in more than my share of hot, humid days.
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Old 10-06-15, 07:31 AM
  #21  
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I'm a little late with my comments, and OP it does sound like you had a string of bad luck on your trip. But the "adventure" part of trips is usually what happens when your trip doesn't go as planned. In all of that trouble, you did get to see a lot and spend a good deal of time traveling. And that's still neat.
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Old 10-06-15, 10:08 AM
  #22  
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some people deal with adversity better than others. in some extreme cases, it may be sought to further enhance the journey.
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Old 10-06-15, 11:33 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
-- train in preparation for a tour. I know that's not the common thinking here ... the assumption is that you'll ride into shape ... but if you've only got 2 or 3 weeks, you don't have enough time to ride into shape. You've got to be in shape the day you start so that you have a chance of enjoying the whole tour. I don't mean that you've got to follow a training program that will whip you into shape for racing, but that it is a good idea to ride pretty much every day as your commute and/or after work and on the weekends.
I am one of the more strident advocates of the no training thing. BUT

1) I was born with muscular legs, and while I am not overly athletic, I can adapt to cycling. If cycling is not your particular thing, you may not only have fitness to achieve , but certain base levels of strength and skill. For instance I know my position is correct. I am comfortable in traps, etc...

2) I always say it works if your trip allows you several days to run in, if your trip starts in mountains or something this isn't going to work. On the other hand if one is a cycling jello, why is one starting in the mountains somewhere.

3) It doesn't work if you are cycling with partners or anything else that is competitive. You could be 100% capable of doing the route, but if your partner wants to drag you 10% faster than your pace, you are not going to hold up.

4) If you are old there are definite risks. I (56 yrs) did all kinds of heavy exercise this summer, then about 4 weeks ago, had a heart attack eating a bowl of cereal, and am now recovering from 3 x by-pass. I don't want that happening in Argentina. I have family risk factors for heart disease, and knew this was probably coming some day... 56 is not the new 36, or whatever BS.
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Old 10-06-15, 06:39 PM
  #24  
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Five-month trip in Europe in '74, part of it solo and part with a buddy. A week of miserable headwinds at the start and a week of strep throat at the end, but the middle was filled with hassles, mechanicals, rain, disagreements, crossing the Alps and the Apennines, and a lot of good memories. You take the bad with the good. The next trip will be better and it won't be as good.

I'm no fan of Tolkein, but there's some line in his stuff about pleasant trips being soon forgotten but those fraught with troubles are remembered and make for better telling anyway.

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Old 10-06-15, 07:47 PM
  #25  
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I remember reading this article, in a climbing Magazine in the 70s, back when the top climbing magazines, were mimeographed on brown paper. The author had just succeeded in climbing El Cap for the third time, and he said he had enjoyed it. This was not the case on the other two occasions when he had made ascents that were obviously in some sense more meaningful to him, like his first big wall climb on El Cap. But they had not been enjoyable experiences. I think there was some real truth in that. When you are working your way into something adventurous it is easy to get overwhelm, it is part of the process if you want to bite off an increment far larger than any you have tried before.

I'm not a big believer in the idea (we have all been there), that a truly miserable experience is great because at some future point you can remember it fondly through carefully cultivated lies. A survival strategy if someone forced you into the trenches in the first word war. If these experiences are your own doing, at some point you ought to be able to enjoy the actual experience, even when it is tough, and not just reconfigure it in your memory.

While touring consists of things a 3 year old can do, ride a bike, and camp. Tours can be pretty broad brush adventures, and it may take time to really settle into a stage where you feel you can actually enjoy every aspect of it. I try, but if the wet windy weather lasts too long it can get me down, and I grew up spending a lot of time in Ireland, where we rock climbed in the rain (which on the whole is probably more comfortable than cycling in the rain). I don't expect tours to be all fun, but they should be rewarding, one way or another, as you live them.

In the lessons learned section of the OP, the comment that it was cold, snagged me. I am not going touring anywhere where the default condition is cold. It's cold up here in Canada at least 6 months of the year, I want at least the promise of great weather if I am showing up.
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