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Old 04-27-08, 02:22 AM   #1
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open agenda vs. fixed goal

A few years ago I did my first tour. My goal was to reach Stockholm within a certain timeframe (within the constraints of my vacation). Each day I found myself calculating the remaining distance and dividing it by the remaining days to get an estimate of how far I needed to cycle each day. This drove me nuts after a while, and my mind started to focus too much on the end goal rather than on the moment. My enjoyment began to suffer: I would skip something scenic or interesting along the way in fear of taking too much time and cutting into my daily kilometers. I'd call it a "bad day" if I didn't cycle enough that day. I'd push myself when I clearly needed a break.

On reflection of this tour I felt that I had missed something. I recall meeting another cyclist at a campsite near Strasbourg who was touring with no fixed agenda. He was simply heading south and seeing where the wind takes him: "Perhaps I'll meet someone and go in this direction for a few days. Maybe I'll go over here." I admired his loose approach, which I'm now trying to adopt for my upcoming tour in June. It's not easy getting out of the goal-oriented mindset that occupies my professional life, but I feel it's necessary if I want to relax and make this a real vacation.

I'm curious how you plan and execute your tours. Do you fix yourself on an end goal, or do you tour with an open agenda with a vague idea of where you'll be in the following days?

Last edited by chrisch; 04-27-08 at 02:27 AM.
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Old 04-27-08, 03:04 AM   #2
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How about both?

What I do is plan carefully - especially to see that my tour is doable - then be willing to toss it all aside. I've toured for 25 years and find that the fewer constraints - the better. I usually regret it when I make "plans" to meet up with friends or family in Bubbaville because then I have to "get there" by a certain date. What's more - these folks who are on workaday-world time - usually want to do auto and consumer stuff. It usually is a rapid mental decompression for me.

I find that if I give myself a week to get from here to there and know of nice places to camp in between, it doesn't matter how I do it. I usually allow for one full day off per week and two half-days. That way if I see some place I want to visit or some detour I want to take, I can do it. Keeping mileage down to a reasonable amount is also a good way to avoid having to crunch the miles to get somewhere. I've done centuries and more fully loaded, but I've also been perfectly content to call it quits after 25 miles.

I learned something on my winter tour in the South (first winter tour) - the days are a lot shorter and mileage must be shortened accordingly. I was often getting somewhere by twilight. That's fine now and then, but on a regular basis it gets old.

Happy trails - J
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Old 04-27-08, 04:43 AM   #3
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Eat the wind, as Malaysians say.

I just go in a general direction, no set speed, no set goal/destination, but the I have the luxury of having no time frame. maybe the guy is Strasbourg was the same.

Every day on the road is a mystery, and a simple act as turning left or right can lead to amazing scenery, adventures, encounters etc.

A vague idea????

I have no idea.

Works for me

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Old 04-27-08, 08:30 AM   #4
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IMHO, and this isn't specific to bike touring, the best trips are those with a fixed goal with a very generous time frame. For bike touring, that might be getting somewhere 200ks away in a week. If you went in a straight line, that would only be 30ks a day - tiny. So you have lots of flexibility to do detours, sidetrips, rest days etc. The extreme version is a round trip: "I have to be back here a week from now" - you only get in trouble if you take a big risk one day and have to pay it off the next.

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