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Solo tourist that just wants to be left alone? If you are touring Kansas now....

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Solo tourist that just wants to be left alone? If you are touring Kansas now....

Old 08-02-15, 04:20 PM
  #1  
m_yates
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Solo tourist that just wants to be left alone? If you are touring Kansas now....

I haven't been on my bike as much as I'd like this year, so it has been a while since I posted here. I just completed a 5000 mile tour of the United States in a mini-van with my family. We were driving east in Kansas and stopped at a park outside Larned to eat lunch. A fully loaded bicycle tourist pulled into the park right behind us to use the bathroom and get water. My 12 year old who loves cycling told me she really wanted to ask him how far he had travelled, but was afraid to. I said it was fine to politely ask, but she wouldn't. Anyhow, I walked over and said "How far have you gone?". He responded by laughing and shaking his head. When I asked what was funny, he said "Everyone asks that." I said "I've always dreamed of riding across the country", and he hopped on his bike and rode away. I don't get it. I wasn't being rude and was planning to invite him to have some of our food and drinks. If you know Larned, it is kind of in the middle of nowhere with long stretches between places to find food and water.

Anyhow, if you are the guy riding solo across Kansas right now and read this, sorry for whatever offence I made. You missed out on some delicious free PB&J sandwiches.
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Old 08-02-15, 08:34 PM
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G'day M_yates, I wouldn't take it personally.
Sounds like he's in his own zone.
I get pretty insular on tour sometimes and questions that ordinarily wouldn't bother me, can wind me up somewhat. I can get a little anti four wheel traffic in general and easily get sick of the same questions from people due to forgetting that whilst the answers are obvious to me, some folk just don't get it.
The "why" question in particular is probably the one that catches me off guard, sometimes eliciting a spiky response.
He's likely beating himself up internally now wondering why he was so grumpy.
Perhaps consider a different approach?
Maybe a "Hi, I'm M_yates, I cycle tour too. Any tips for a newbie? "
Many of us love the opportunity to help and respond positively to such a request.
Maybe more rapport inducing than a question he'd been hearing a lot of on a grumpy morning.
Who knows what kind of lousy day he was having.
Sorry to hear you so undeservidly wore "it".
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Old 08-02-15, 08:36 PM
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Not the standard of touring riders by a long shot. Guess he was having a bad day, but what better way to turn the day around than to converse with others and share what has been good and bad about the trip (not to mention sharing some food which I personally always appreciate). Bet the next long distance touring rider you talk to will be a very good experience!
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Old 08-02-15, 09:24 PM
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A pro bike racer once noted that many of the pros were a "little bit crazy". Some folks don't like bike touring alone but I kinda like not having everyday hassles incl people bugging me about nonsense. OTOH I'd welcome friendly questions on tour; lots better than drunks tossing beer cans at ya! & it's neat how kids are fascinated by biking, many of 'em like going to see races.

Once was riding home after a 40-km ride & massive rain storm went on for an hour, path was deserted except for a 12-yr old girl riding her bike (pretty fast too). Perhaps she was a gymnast doing her cardio.
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Old 08-02-15, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by m_yates View Post
We were driving east in Kansas and stopped at a park outside Larned to eat lunch. A fully loaded bicycle tourist pulled into the park right behind us to use the bathroom and get water ... Anyhow, I walked over and said "How far have you gone?". He responded by laughing and shaking his head. When I asked what was funny, he said "Everyone asks that."
Perhaps he lived in Larned, and was on a shakedown ride.
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Old 08-02-15, 11:43 PM
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I think the guy was just in a mood and tired of repeating himself at that particular moment. I've been there, tired and asked the same questions the fourth time while just trying to get out of a parking lot. I've never been rude, but I've mastered the art of the condensed version of where I've been and where I'm going
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Old 08-03-15, 01:47 AM
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I've been totally wasted at times, but would ALWAYS summon up the energy to be polite, even if it meant after a minute or so saying, 'please excuse me, I'm really tired and have to rest' or whatever...
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Old 08-03-15, 05:06 AM
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Who knows what could have been going on in the guy's head. Maybe he took a wrong turn and Larned was 200 miles out of his way. Or maybe he knew he was never going to find a place to sleep before dark. I've met a lot of cyclists with personality disorders, but I guess it's not fair to brand this dude as one of them.

When I'm out on "tour," (if you can call what I do "touring") I only WISH someone would stop me to talk. Getting from one place to another on your own pedal power would be a lot more fun if there was a parade waiting for you on arrival.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:40 AM
  #9  
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Your "Oh well. Your loss" sentiment make you sounds like you are a bit mad that you didn't get the info. your daughter was looking for.

While I try to be polite, I don't think people on tour should be held to some special standard. Reminds of people who think not waving at other cyclists is rude. You take people as you find them, whether they are bike touring or riding a motorcycle like the guy I encountered out a c-store in Custer, SD in June. As he was walking in he said "Have a good ride." I responded "Thank you." I guess he (incorrectly) perceived something negative in my voice and replied "You're welcome--smart ass." I was dumfounded and was actually going to wait for him to come out of the store to discuss the matter but decided that it simply wasn't worth it.

BWT...Not everyone on tour needs or even wants free stuff, especially PB&J,. I ate so much of that stuff during a 4 month trip that iI had a hard time eating it for a few years. So you don't know that he missed out on anything.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by m_yates View Post
… A fully loaded bicycle tourist pulled into the park right behind us to use the bathroom and get water….I walked over and said "How far have you gone?". He responded by laughing and shaking his head. When I asked what was funny, he said "Everyone asks that." I said "I've always dreamed of riding across the country", and he hopped on his bike and rode away. I don't get it. I wasn't being rude and was planning to invite him to have some of our food and drinks. If you know Larned, it is kind of in the middle of nowhere with long stretches between places to find food and water.

Anyhow, if you are the guy riding solo across Kansas right now and read this, sorry for whatever offence I made. You missed out on some delicious free PB&J sandwiches.

Originally Posted by timdow View Post
Not the standard of touring riders by a long shot. Guess he was having a bad day, but what better way to turn the day around than to converse with others and share what has been good and bad about the trip…Bet the next long distance touring rider you talk to will be a very good experience!
When my wife and I did our cross-country honeymoon in 1977, we began by wondering when people would be more surprised by how far we had come rather than how far to go. We certainly enjoyed chatting with people, and even gave a couple of local newspaper interviews.

BTW regarding traveling with companions, I can’t think of a better one than a new bride.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
… It was a great way to start married life, since every day we would have to find and set up a homestead for the night in a new environment where we only knew, and could depend on each other. I can remember two distinct times on that trip when either one of us hit low a point, and were bouyed up by the other; me in Kansas and she in Ohio.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
BWT...Not everyone on tour needs or even wants free stuff, especially PB&J,. I ate so much of that stuff during a 4 month trip that iI had a hard time eating it for a few years. So you don't know that he missed out on anything.
And if it were me, I would have had to turn it down anyway ... peanuts and their related products (e.g. peanut butter) cause me a lot of discomfort, which I would not want to deal with while cycling.
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Old 08-03-15, 08:34 AM
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He could have replied in song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsgCzszkLS8

Hard to say what was on his mind or to know how the interaction actually went.

I've probably talked to at least 20-30 bike travelers in the past year or two and usually just start off with a hello, or say "nice bike", or ask how they like their Long Haul Trucker (or other brand/model if I recognize it). But I also realize that they don't know me, don't know if I'm setting them up for something, I don't know if they been hassled in the past by strangers, nor if they are just tired and don't feel like talking. I don't know if they are on a good trip or a bad trip, if they are traveling on vacation or if they are undergoing an un-wanted relocation, could easily be almost anything. So if they want to talk then good, and if not then I'll respect that, nothing personal.

Back to the music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo1qgrCMcw0
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Old 08-03-15, 08:49 AM
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We ride (and occasionally tour on) a triplet (three-seater-tandem). We get the same questions all the time (Is it hard to ride? Who works harder? How do you transport it? How much does it cost? Where did you get it?). At every stop where there are people, from people driving by in cars, and by bikers riding by us. It gets tiresome, but we do realize that people are asking us these questions because they are honestly interested in the bike, so we always try to answer nicely and engage them in conversation. We've met some very nice people this way. Also, we feel that to some degree we are ambassadors for riding tandems, so try to represent in a good way.

Coincidentally, we recently finished a 8,600 mile cross-country van trip, and also ate lunch at the picnic area at Fort Larned National Park. Later that day as we were driving to Colorado we stopped at a roadside rest area to use the bathroom. I saw a touring cyclist under one of the picnic shelters and walked over to say hi. Since the rest area had a sign that said "no potable water" and we were in the middle of nowhere, my opening line was to ask him if he needed any water. His eyes lit up and it was like we threw a lifeline to a drowning man since he was totally out of water. We filled all his bottles from our 7-gallon water jug we had in the van, and also made him a peanut butter sandwich, which he was ecstatic about. We chatted for a while and then headed on our way. A good interaction on both sides.

Rather than walking up and asking the "usual questions," on the occasions where I try to chat up a touring cyclist I usually start with some sort of appreciative comment about his/her bike, gear, or whatever. This shows that you are part of the same cycle-touring "tribe" and it's easy to segue into some variant of the usual questions without annoying the person.
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Old 08-03-15, 08:57 AM
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One hot afternoon in August, 1983, I got off my bike in front of the general store in a small town in south eastern South Dakota and as I was heading into the store a pretty girl came out, saw me, and started a conversation. She appeared to be my age, for what that's worth. I don't remember much of what she said, but "my mom's always inviting bike tourists to our house!" and "how far have you gone" and "how long have you been on the road" were definitely part of it. I detected a hint of opportunity. I also don't remember much of what I said, but whatever it was, I'm pretty sure it took less than a minute to persuade her that I was not very smart and not very friendly, which was not my intention. In fact I hadn't spoken to a pretty girl in three weeks by that time, and probably hadn't spoken to anyone at all in a couple days, and was woefully out of practice. Furthermore, my mind was going. I honestly couldn't remember how long I'd been on the road at that point (I now estimate it was sixteen days). A sprained ankle had forced my riding partner to quit several days earlier, and... well anyway, she got in her pickup truck and drove off, leaving me standing there wishing I could have handled it better.
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Old 08-03-15, 09:01 AM
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Fielding questions on the bike can be irksome. Accepting proffered goodies can create an obligation to endure endless proselytizing or Ayn Rand inspired rants of the makers (them) versus the takers (you). Conversations with unaccompanied children are downright dangerous.

"Where ya riding from?" is a quick answer, but not the required "aw shucks, ma'am" feigned embarrassment from their response. They don't believe the "where ya riding to?" answer. And there are no comfortable answers to the follow ups "I wish I could do that" (you could, but you won't), "I'm going to do that someday" (of course you won't), "you're crazy" (f off), "why does your wife let you do this?" (she's hoping to collect on the life insurance - ha, ha), "how do you support yourself" (I have a trust fund, loser") etc.

So you start learning to resist these interactions.

Last edited by Cyclesafe; 08-03-15 at 09:19 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-03-15, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
"how far have you gone"....well anyway, she got in her pickup truck and drove off, leaving me standing there wishing I could have handled it better.
"All the way. How far have you gone?" in response to her question would have been one clever approach.
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Old 08-03-15, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
"All the way. How far have you gone?" in response to her question would have been one clever approach.
Ah, L'esprit de l'escalier...
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Old 08-03-15, 01:00 PM
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I've been on both ends of this...I live on the Northern Tier near the Erie Canal. I have some very difficult health problems including neurological issues that are sometimes made worse by exercise. My social skills take a hit when these symptoms are triggered and while I don't think my deficits during these times are that noticeable to others it's very uncomfortable on my end and sometimes a bit awkward. On the Erie Canal I get the sense that it's not a huge faux paus if you don't stop to talk to every tourer because there are a lot of them as well as day riders. I always wave and smile and if I am going in the same direction I'll try to make a friendly comment but I usually don't stop because I often don't feel all that well and as I said socializing is sometimes difficult.

Anyway, one day I felt a bit better and stopped to chat with a guy who was doing the Northern Tier with his wife. I was holding up my end of the conversation, got a few laughs here and there but I have to admit the conversation was not sizzling. I was in fact asking many of the standard questions that I understand get old. About 10 minutes into this he says "Well, that's enough of this bull$*&% I've got to get to...." And he did not have a joking tone nor did he know me well enough pass a comment like that off in a light way. I was stunned that he would say that. It was kind of ironic that after feeling a bit guilty about not being more friendly that when when I do finally make an effort that this is the response I get. In the end I just concluded that he was worn down from the demands of the trip and the day and that it was a faus paus. Oh, well.

I can understand how the OP may have felt they way they did about the KS guy. The cyclist should have been more tactful and polite but you never know what someones' story is and what sort of private struggles they may have. If 90% of touring cyclists are friendly then you are doing pretty well.

Last edited by mm718; 08-03-15 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 08-03-15, 01:39 PM
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Not all people have good/appropriate social skills 24/7. I understand your disappointment, in that many cycling tourists enjoy sharing their adventure. As far as your daughter is concerned I guess its a good lesson in diversity. As far the cyclist is concerned, he still gets to keep his touring license, IMO.
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Old 08-03-15, 01:53 PM
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the one question i was asked most often during my 2010 cross-country tour was " are you doing this for a cause ?" my typical response, with a smile, was "yes, 'cause i want to".

seriously, i was always up for sharing my experiences with whomever was interested enough to ask, even if it was often a repeat of a prior dialogue.
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Old 08-03-15, 01:56 PM
  #21  
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when i first got my pugsley i got a ton of questions whenever i went out.
at first it was cool. but got tiresome.
same goes for bikepacking... stopping in stores and grabbing food and you get stopped a bunch 'wow, those tires are huge (on my krampus), or 'how do you carry all your stuff in those little bags', etc. etc.
it gets old. and i try to be friendly.
we don't stop every motorist we see gassing up and talk to each other about their tires and what groceries they picked up and where they are headed...

i took my girls camping this weekend on the yuba mundo. we got alot of attention. which was fine, all of it well meaning.
but after awhile, it does get tiring. i just wanted to spend time with the girls instead of answering how much the bike weighed, how far we were going, etc. etc.



so, i get where the cyclist in the OP was coming from. some people just want to be left alone.
and not have extra attention.

OP, not everyone likes PB&J, and not everyone can be chatty 24/7.
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Old 08-03-15, 03:31 PM
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We'll I'm touring solo ( not in KS and welcome conversation when it arises. I just hope your kid didn't have to witness his rudeness
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Old 08-03-15, 07:11 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
... As far as your daughter is concerned I guess its a good lesson in diversity...
// snip

Disagree.
No lesson was taught, an opportunity to do so was entirely missed. By the OP.
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Old 08-03-15, 08:14 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
Fielding questions on the bike can be irksome. Accepting proffered goodies can create an obligation to endure endless proselytizing or Ayn Rand inspired rants of the makers (them) versus the takers (you). Conversations with unaccompanied children are downright dangerous.

"Where ya riding from?" is a quick answer, but not the required "aw shucks, ma'am" feigned embarrassment from their response. They don't believe the "where ya riding to?" answer. And there are no comfortable answers to the follow ups "I wish I could do that" (you could, but you won't), "I'm going to do that someday" (of course you won't), "you're crazy" (f off), "why does your wife let you do this?" (she's hoping to collect on the life insurance - ha, ha), "how do you support yourself" (I have a trust fund, loser") etc.

So you start learning to resist these interactions.
I found this ^^ during the 3 months I spent cycling Australia.

"Where ya riding from?" (What do you want to hear? What's the 'right' answer in this situation? Do you want to hear that I'm riding from that town back there which I just left an hour ago ... or do you want me to give you my entire itinerary? I meander, I don't do cross-country tours ... I started in Sydney, but I've been over there and up here and down there, and all over the place)

"Where ya riding to?' (Same thing. Today, I'm riding to the next town along ... or maybe I don't know yet, I'll end up where I end up. And overall ... who knows. But that sort of answer often disappoints because people like to hear about cross country tours, or circumnavigating countries, or something specific.)


I have to say the funniest question I was ever asked was: "What do you do when you run out of clothes?"
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Old 08-03-15, 08:47 PM
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When I'm tired I don't always want to talk to someone. I can't be the only one.
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