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conflict resolution on tour

Old 12-04-06, 11:33 AM
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conflict resolution on tour

question:

I'm going on tour in Jan. for almost 4 months with a friend. The most time this friend and I have solidly spent together before was a 10 day backpacking trip. We've known each other for years and never argue, but I assume over the course of a 4 month bike trip things will come up. Does anybody have any advice for how you and your riding partner overcame the types of disagreements that may come up on a bike tour?
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Old 12-04-06, 01:29 PM
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Step 1. You scream at each other by the side of the road for a while, during which time cars slow down and you begin to draw a crowd

Step 2. You ride about 300 metres apart for the rest of the day, and stick to polite and necessary conversation during any rest stops

Step 3. You speak in sarcastic and degrogatory tones while setting up the tent that evening, then one of you goes to the bar and the other one of you hides out in an internet cafe to type long letters home while consuming massive quantities of chocolate

Step 4. When you wake up in the morning (provided "morning" isn't too early), you treat the new day like a new start and pretend that the previous day's incident never happened


At least .... that seems to be the sort of pattern I end up in!

But some things that help:

- flexible plans - don't get your heart set on doing a particular thing, go ahead and suggest something, but if the other person seems adament about doing something else, it might just be better to go along with it.

- the recognition that you'll need time apart - sometimes it is good for one of you to take the bus to the next town while the other person cycles the distance and thus spend the day away from each other ... or to ride 300 metres apart ... or even to go completely separate ways for a week or so.

- take frequent breaks from cycling to do something else - I found that when my cycling partners and I were getting into a pattern of fighting, if we did something completely different together, that seemed to calm things right down. For example, in Australia, my cycling partner and I were having yet another battle ... then we took a cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef for the day ... and we had a great time!

- recognize danger signs: 1) Hunger - cycling long distance every day can use up a lot of calories and we tend to get hungry sooner and more often. When we are hungry, we get very irritable. If you notice that you are feeling irritable and the other person seems to be "snappy", EAT! Even just stopping to have a little picnic can calm everything down. 2) Tiredness - cycling day after day after day after day after day ... can make the weaker cyclist very tired and sore. When a person is constantly tired and sore, that person can become very irritable. Take breaks! Be aware that perhaps the other person is not enjoying it all as much as you are. 3) Hormones - if either one of you is a woman, be prepared for some irritability once a month. First of all there is the whole hormone thing that goes on with that time of the month, but secondly, that time of the month can be EXTREMELY PAINFUL! Believe me that doing any physical activity at that time is incredibly uncomfortable. Make sure that both of you know what is going on ... if you are the woman, don't be shy about telling him every little detail. If you are the guy, have some patience and consideration ... try to imagine how you would feel in the same situation. 4) Homesickness - even if you've lived on your own for a long time, and even if you've travelled and been away from home before, there are times on an extended tour where you'll suddenly and inexplicably feel homesick. I found that this usually happened when I went any length of time without talking to anyone I knew besides the person I was travelling with. If the person you are travelling with starts to act somewhat down/sad/irritable, you might suggest calling home or emailing or something.

Those are just a few suggestions/comments to get you started.


BTW - when I did my three month tour of Australia, I had known the guy I travelled with for a couple years, but had spent about six weeks with him over that time (a few days here, a week there, etc.). ... so I've got an idea where you're coming from.
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Old 12-04-06, 01:56 PM
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My best friend and I travel together all the time, although I cant get him on a bike, but when we start out on a trip, we both say: We are going to get tired and cranky and if I snap at you, im sorry, I dont mean too. We say that often during the trip, and if we start to have a disagreement, one of us will say, OK, lets stop arguing, and enjoy our trip, and we didnt come all the way out to -wherever-to spend it arguing. Then we apologize and drop whatever we were arguing about completely.

If its a long trip, we spend at least one night a week, in seperate hotel rooms, instead of splitting one room, and that helps a lot too. My friend will not camp either.
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Old 12-04-06, 02:17 PM
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This is a tough one. At least you have traveled with this person before. Some don't get that opportunity.

I'd say be open and honest and polite when being honest.

And, eat a snack and have a big drink of water before you decide to snap at your travel mate. Unless of course, they did something incredibly stupid that sacrificed your safety, then, go ahead and snap at him/her.
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Old 12-04-06, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
1) Hunger - cycling long distance every day can use up a lot of calories and we tend to get hungry sooner and more often. When we are hungry, we get very irritable. If you notice that you are feeling irritable and the other person seems to be "snappy", EAT! Even just stopping to have a little picnic can calm everything down.
Great post Machka! Also mudskipper99, great idea. Mood is dependent on situation. Sometimes I'm cranky and I have no reason to be cranky. Then I realize I'm hungry or tired and everythign starts to make sense. This is particularly bad for me if I am with a group of people and we can't decide where to eat. It happens to me fairly often too. I'm skinny so I can get low blood sugar all of a sudden if I don't eat and I get in an awful mood.

I went with some friends to montreal a few years ago and one of them said he knew the city really well and suggested we go to Old Montreal for dinner. We started looking for a restaurant when it was light out and must have passed every restaurant in the area, every time my friend saying 'too expensive!'. We had had a great day at the jazz festival and I had every reason to be in a good mood, but after hours of wandering for a restaurant it got dark and I hadn't eaten all day so I started snapping at my friends. Especially the one that suggested we go to Old Montreal, but didn't realize Old Montreal is more expensive than the rest of the city. I eventually forced everyone to settle for the restaurant we happened to be standing next to, which was terrible, and expensive, and my friend who said he knew Old Montreal well only ended up ordering fries anyways. I went totally ballistic at this point, because if he was only ordering fries we could have went ANYWHERE! I apologized later on in the evening once I had some food inside me, and he apologized as well for starving me.

In fact its one of the only reasons I ever get mad at people is because I'm hungry; Girlfriends beware, make sure I've eaten before I see you or I'm poor company! Sometimes I will get back from an awesome ride, walk in the front door and just start getting mad about where people put their shoes or for leaving a light on. Once I get some calories in me they don't seem to bother me as much anymore (I will just put the shoes back in place and turn off the light myself)
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Old 12-04-06, 02:50 PM
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This is an excellent question, and I think the answer is going to depend on the people involved. Taking it seriously is a great first step. You may also want to carry your own gear, so you can split up for a little while and then get back together.

I think a lot of it is the same as in non-touring situations, but just amplified by the prolonged time together and physical intensity. That will bring out the worst and the best in your friendship.

I'll share one thing I learned for me on tour.
On my first tour, I was the slower rider, by a lot, even though my boyfriend was carrying most of the camping gear. I put internal pressure on myself to not stop until I caught up with my b/f, because I felt bad about him having to wait for me so much. Of couse I only ever caught up when he waited. So I would ride starving, or cold, or overheated, or having to pee... just because I didn't want to make him wait for me to fix my clothes, eat, etc. And then, of course he had to wait when I 'caught up' and by then I was grumpy because I had made myself be uncomfortable for so long, and not much fun to be around. So one lesson, I guess, is take care of yourself to make sure you are as happy as you can be, and then you can be a positive companion for your friend instead of being snarly.
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Old 12-04-06, 03:11 PM
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Tour alone, lol , just kidding.
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Old 12-04-06, 03:44 PM
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ditto what shiznaz said about hunger. Sometimes I don't realize when I'm hungry and can only tell that it's time to eat by the expression on my wife's face when I say something mean to her unintentionally. I've really got to learn that I can't go a very long time without eating, and she still has to learn that I'm not like her and need to eat often.
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Old 12-04-06, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by super-douper
ditto what shiznaz said about hunger. Sometimes I don't realize when I'm hungry and can only tell that it's time to eat by the expression on my wife's face when I say something mean to her unintentionally. I've really got to learn that I can't go a very long time without eating, and she still has to learn that I'm not like her and need to eat often.
X3
My wife and I snaped at each other a few times during our tours, and it was mainly because we had not eaten for a while.
But making up later on was also very nice
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Old 12-04-06, 05:20 PM
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Touring with others is just like any relationship except you don't have make up sex(usually). Since you don't get the best part, the best thing to do is to try and avoid conflicts in the first place .
Just like in a relationship you have to communicate and be in tune to each other moods. most tours I have ridden with others I have been the stronger and often more experienced rider so I often go out of my way to make sure that our itineraries are manageable for the weakest member. and that they have an equal say in decisions.
Riding side by side with the same person every day for a month isn't much different than if you were both together in a car for a month, eventually something is gonna give and you are going to have a argument. My best experiences touring with others have been when we ride out together in the morning and then drift apart during the day, maybe meet for lunch, and get back together at the end of the day.
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Old 12-04-06, 07:18 PM
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I teach an Alternate Dispute Resolution programme. This is what I teach:
  • Listen carefully to what the other party is saying.
  • Ask open-ended questions, so you really know what their issue is
  • Be prepared to look for common ground
  • Know what your 'bottom line' is and be prepared to walk away if necessary
That said; If all else fails, go for a beer, chill and when you wake up the next day, be able to forgive and forget.
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Old 12-04-06, 07:27 PM
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Assume that 80% of the problem is your own tired viewpoint and keep your mouth shut.

AFTER the tour, looking back you'll be sure to see the wisdom of that strategy.
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Old 12-04-06, 10:17 PM
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Over the years I have had 26 different touring companions. I now only correspond with two of them...
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Old 12-04-06, 10:52 PM
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Lots of good stuff here.... I'm amazed at how many great responses to a question you can get on this board!

My answer is..... beer! I've gotten pissed at tour buddies, rode 100 yards away from them, called them all kinds of foul names, tossed a cone wrench at one....but at the end of the day and after a few beers, it turns into a slightly drunken reunion....

I love you, man! We need to ride together more often! You're the best cycling buddy ever!

It's my medication on tour I guess.

Remember, cycling is both heaven and hell.
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Old 12-05-06, 12:17 AM
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Sounds like you are pretty well matched. I used to run an ADR program for the brokerage industry (US folks don't hate me, this one didn't limit any other rights a client might have had unlike the US one). Big problem there was there was always a problem in the first place. That's what I would try to avoid.

Friendship is more loyalty based in my case, than based on rights. I hope for compatability, try to behave with respect and good maners. I think I am getting worse at this kind of thing, not better as times goes by. Though I have been married for nearly 20 years if that still counts. I probably wouldn't sign up for 4 month trip with someone else.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by eos30d
Tour alone, lol , just kidding.
I do tour alone and I still end up having arguments. With myself...
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Old 12-05-06, 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by WestOz
I do tour alone and I still end up having arguments. With myself...
You do that too?


As I said in another similar thread last week, the most important thing here is getting these things out in the open before setting off. Talk to the other person before you set out on the trip, and find out what it is they're looking for from the tour. What type of things do they want to see? What type of areas do they want to pass through? Are they as keen on hills as you are? More so? What do they want to do off the bike? Come to some sort of arrangement, one that allows some flexibility to do other things or go your separate ways for periods of time when you feel it's necessary.

Getting potential areas of conflict out in the open before setting off is a lot easier than trying to suddenly resolve them by the side of the road.
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Old 12-05-06, 04:02 AM
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wmcmiii

Where you are going will have such an effect on you, Patagonia is one amazing, awesome, place. I was there for 5 months.
Conflict will come if you do not communicate, and that is a two way process, talking and listening.
Do not let little niggles have the breeding time to become larger more worrying concerns.
Get them out in the open an discuss things before they become out of hand.

Be prepared to compromise and take on board tour partner's suggestions, and debate, don't argue a case. Route choice will not be one of your problems, there are not many alternatives down there.

Take time out and appreciate what is around you , both the place and the people. Ride as if you are alone sometimes, but share the experiences, over Pisco sours. (Recommeded cure all in Patagonia.)

And watch out for the wind!!!!

george
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Old 12-06-06, 10:46 AM
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The most important thing is communication. On a five person 8 day tour last May, we would all sit down for breakfast together and thoroughly discuss the plan for the day; the route, distance, climbing, rest stops. People get really cranky when they don't know what's going on. Sing along's and telling jokes along the route helps as well. I think we sang every Dylan tune anyone could remember and it always got everyone smiling. Stop and appreciate the scenery. Take it as easy as you can. Don't set outrageous and unatainable goals for daily mileage. If you know you take longer than most people to get ready, start to prepare earlier. Finally, if you plan on camping, by all means bring a sleeping pad. You'll sleep better and well rested people are much more easy to get along.

It's not supposed to be work, it's supposed to be the time of your life. Enjoy it.
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Old 12-06-06, 11:53 AM
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I think it is less comon these days since Alan Alda has had his way, but when I grew up with uncomunicative english climber types(better story telers, not big on discusing feelings). Getting in touch with one's feelings and having a good blab/blub about it was not the best way to ensure harmonous relations. 4 months stuck with some chatty mouthpiece, prabably explains a lot of the shallow graves out there.
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Old 12-06-06, 01:36 PM
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I toured with my younger brother who is also my best friend ... and for awhile we almost ceased to be either.

I toured with a girlfriend and learned enough about her to make her my ex-girlfriend.

What did I learn?

I'm insufferable and should never tour with others.
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