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Pre-trip nerves... I'm scared!! any advice?

Old 06-12-09, 04:04 PM
  #1  
nicole999
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Pre-trip nerves... I'm scared!! any advice?

So I had this posted in a different section before, but was advised that I would probably receive better advice over here!

I'm 20 years old female, just finished up my semester at NYU, and have been planning a charity bike tour for the past 8 months. Me and 2 others are riding this summer up the east coast (NC to New York) I've biked for a few years, but never done a tour longer than a couple days. I've trained well in advance, so I am physically ready to go (not too vigorous of a ride either, about 50 miles or so a day... if that) Anyways... as the departure date is approaching, I'm finding myself getting more and more nervous, which I don't understand! I've never been nervous about biking before, and I've found myself in some pretty strange locations on my bike and just continued on without a second thought. Maybe its the change of location, or... I don't know? But I find myself so worried that I can't concentrate on anything and I don't leave for another month!! I'm using routes from Adventure Cycling Association (has anyone done the atlantic coast, are they good?)
Am I being completely irrational? Can anyone calm my fears?
thanks
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Old 06-12-09, 04:14 PM
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Nicole,
You'll do fine. The toughest part is just going. A few days in and you'll wonder what you had to worry about. I'd suggest not worrying too much about climbing and elevation profiles since they tend to psyche a lot of people out. Just go and have fun. Remember one thing:

You will never be here again.

No matter how hard it is, it's only temporary. No matter how beautiful it is, it won't last. Enjoy it all. Don't forget your sense of humor. Traveling with others is usually tougher with group dynamics.

Also, listen to your body more than your planned mileage. Sometimes you just have to stop and that's ok. I've had some miserable trips where we pushed ourselves to make pre-planned points and hated it. Try to be more serendipitous.

Russ
www.epicureancyclist.com
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Old 06-12-09, 04:47 PM
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I've felt the same thing leaving for two months backpacking in Sumatra. Or heading down to Chiapas on a bus for three weeks.

And, of course, when headed out on a 4000-mile tour.

Two things to say about this:
1) I think it's the facing of the unknown (in my case, anyway), leaving familiar routines and surroundings. Wondering if I thought of everything (turn off the stove? close the door? feed the cat?).
2) The more you do this, the more the apprehension feels "normal" (it never seems to go away). I just accept it as one of the phases of the trip. And, really, just like fear in any situation, if you approach it rationally it's nature's way of telling you to be careful and think things through.

But, yes, you'll do fine. For me, the feeling dissipates after four days or so, and from then on it's living in the moment. Go through this a couple of times, and you realize you can handle anything.

Have a great trip!

-- Mark
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Old 06-12-09, 05:07 PM
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Excellent words from the above posters. You are scared you'll 'fail' somehow - but there is no failing in bike touring. Just go and enjoy - and you'll soon look back on these days of fear and wonder why!
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Old 06-12-09, 05:13 PM
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Pre tour jitters are normal, especially for your first big tour. After all, it is a big departure from our comfort zone. The first 100 yards are the worse. After that, it'll quickly get better, and by the end of the first or second day, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. If not, then maybe you should consider another form of recreation.

In the extreme, ask your doctor for a tranquilizer to get you over the hump.
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Old 06-12-09, 05:23 PM
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I've never toured on the East Coast, but I've used the Adventure Cycling maps for other routes and I've found them to be very good. I was pleased with the roads they selected and the list of services available to bikers was helpful.
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Old 06-12-09, 06:03 PM
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Hi, Nicole.

Somewhere along the line you may have picked up some suggestions or imaginary self-images that say you're fragile, or that something will go wrong, or that the unknown contains something fear-worthy -- or some other negative suggestion or suggestions. It might be interesting to watch your mind and catch some of these suggestions, just to be aware of them. Awareness itself can dispell the fears that these sorts of things can generate.

Thought has a tendency to project or speculate into the unknown.

If you just meet the moment with minimal projecting, it will probably be a lot simpler.

"What's going to happen?" or "What if such-and-such happens?" can be replaced by just doing your best and having faith in life, and trust that things will work out.
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Old 06-12-09, 06:14 PM
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The cool part about a bike tour is that there is a lot of unknown stuff. Not really all that threatening, more like lots of little details, like where you will get to each day. Compared to our regimented lives it is pretty uncertain. I think what you are going through is pretty normal. Get on your bike and go, and keep on going as long as it feels good. It will all sort itself out.

We go out there because we think it will be exciting, but as the departure date approaches exciting starts to sound like frightening. The very fact you are approaching something you will ultimately enjoy works against you during the transition between planing and execution. From thrilling to contemplate, to chilling now that you are in the plane approaching the drop zone. Just one step at a time, try to keep your goals short term and easy during this stage, don't think of the big picture.
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Old 06-12-09, 06:39 PM
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The only thing I can add to whats already been said is[cue music from the Rocky movie] you can't win or lose a fight untill it actually occurs. Please don't burn up a lot of useful energy for your event a month before it happens.
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Old 06-12-09, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
Can anyone calm my fears?
A 6 pack is your friend.
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Old 06-12-09, 07:21 PM
  #11  
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I've been lurking this thread, and I can't add more in the way of encouragement than you've already gotten from others, but I can add a warning...

We will all be very upset and disappointed if you don't put together a tour journal, 'cause you're gonna have a great time!

Speedo
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Old 06-12-09, 08:08 PM
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Being nervous about the unknown is a sign of maturity. Seeking the knowledge to deal with it is a sign of wisdom.

You're growing up Nicole... Welcome to the rest of your life.
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Old 06-12-09, 09:31 PM
  #13  
nicole999
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Originally Posted by mijome07 View Post
A 6 pack is your friend.
haha I like the way you think
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Old 06-12-09, 09:37 PM
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Nicole, the funny part is that the fear will be gone once you're riding. Have you discussed any specifics of your fears with trip buddies?
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Old 06-12-09, 10:49 PM
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No I haven't I don't really want to freak them out either, Its all our first time. I am more excited than nervous, the girls are really fun and this will be a great adventure. I've sort of expressed the lack of support from our highschool friends (to which they all agree.... and we sort of expected that) but I feel like talking about my fear of injury and other unlikely scenarios is just going to worry them as well. I think I'll just buy us all a lot of reflective stuff to stick all over ourselves and our bikes haha, that should ease my nerves a bit
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Old 06-13-09, 06:47 AM
  #16  
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You'll be fine. Before my first solo tour I couldn't eat for a week, I was so nervous, but once I started riding all the fear went away and it was fantastic.
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Old 06-13-09, 07:10 AM
  #17  
imi
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Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
... I am more excited than nervous...
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Old 06-13-09, 08:51 AM
  #18  
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I usually feel something similar to what you describe. My first big tour was down the west coast from Seattle, Washington to Santa Cruz, California. I finagled a ride to Seattle to start the tour. I remember when my ride pulled out and left me, and the realization hit me hard that I was going to be relying on myself and my bicycle to get back home. The first day I only had to ride 15 miles or so to a friend's apartment. I was a nervous wreck that whole day. The first "real" day on the tour - about 25 miles - was also one filled with self-doubt and trepidation. However, as I gradually made progress day after day, the realization came that I could really do it and I was probably going to make it home just fine - which I eventually did. I also made some friends along the way who became my riding partners, and that helped a lot too.

Since then each tour has included some trepidation. But each tour completed successfully means more confidence the next time. I've learned that whatever problems might come up along the road are usually not that hard to overcome.

Do as much preparation as you can to alleviate your fears. If you feel like you've dotted all your i's and crossed all your t's you'll feel less nervous. Refine your packing list, know how to use all your equipment, learn how to do basic mechanical work on your bike, plan your route, etc. You'll do fine, even if you have a few bumps in the road along the way. It will all work out fine.

If you're like me, be prepared to get tired the first two or three days. I've never been able to shake this, now matter how much pre-tour training I was able to do. 50 miles a days is a good, easily do-able average after I've gotten used to the routine, but I usually have trouble with those distances the first three days. I now figure 25-30 for the first two days at least.

Last: if you overcome your fears and go for it you'll probably have the time of your life. In fact, perhaps the more nervous you are at the start, the bigger the sense of accomplishment you will feel at the end.

Just be careful on the road. Accidents can happen if your mind wanders too much. If something doesn't feel right, pull over and assess. Use a rearview mirror. You don't need to constantly monitor it, but it's nice to have when you need to check something out behind you.
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Old 06-13-09, 10:35 AM
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Nicole,
I am predicting you will have the greatest time of your life.

Reading between the lines, since I don't think you say, are you going fully loaded and camping? If so, one of the anxieties I usually have is over whether I will forget something important. This is crazy for a trip in the USA, of course, but it is just my own pre-trip thing. So, I would advise you to take a short one-night trip out and back somewhere as a dry run. It will also give a chance to see that everything is working well. You then will be able to make a checklist of what you need...and also a list of what you don't need based on this experience. Since this is your first tour (I think) then the latter list may be much longer. You might also think about shipping things you need only when you get to NY (like "civilian" clothes) or needed only in NC.

I wish you the very best on this trip and just know it will be as memorable and positive as those I have undertaken.
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Old 06-13-09, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
I feel like talking about my fear of injury and other unlikely scenarios is just going to worry them as well. I think I'll just buy us all a lot of reflective stuff to stick all over ourselves and our bikes haha, that should ease my nerves a bit

it makes sense to talk about things that worry you. Rational or not it doesn't do anygood to not say anything. Last year my 20 yr old daughter and a friend went on a tour, I helped fix up their bikes with front racks and panniers. Neither one had bright clothing, yellow vest or bright blinky light. I didn't say anything but it worried the crap out of me after we went on a day ride together and I could NOT see them when they were 1000 ft up the road (my long range vision is getting iffy) and they blended in with the road and surrounding forest. We were passed by a cyclist wearing a flourescent yellow/green vest and I could see that person 1/2mile down the road better than my daughter who was inbetween. In my mind I'm thinking about the guy with my vision driving 50mph after a few beers.

I bought my daughter a bright yellow mesh riding vest and said "you don't have to wear it,,just tie it to the top of your gear on the back and it'll provide some visibility, I honestly couldn't see you against the trees" A couple days later she called and thanked me for the vest and light because they were riding in the rain one day and wanted all the visibility they could get.

Reflective stuff only works when someone has their lights on. Are you planning on riding at night? If you're concerned about visibility consider a vest and a Planet Bike Super Flash. Both are great for day and night.
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Old 06-14-09, 07:09 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
it makes sense to talk about things that worry you. Rational or not it doesn't do anygood to not say anything....

its a balancing act though. Think about the bad things that worry you TOO much, and I believe you raise the probability of them actually happening - thats how powerfully we humans manifest our own reality.

and one can get tied up worrying about things that have a miniscule chance of happening (getting caught in a meteor shower and lamenting that all you have is a windbreaker to put on)

and of course, ignoring EVERYTHING that worries you might mean you enter a situation unprepared.
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Old 06-14-09, 10:42 AM
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Bigbluetoe - thanks for all the good advice, it makes me feel better! We are starting off slow in the beginning actually, forseeing ourselves getting tired quickly.

LeeG - ahh, yes, I have loaded up on bright neon clothing haha. We were sponsored by a local bike shop who gave us some obnxiously neon green shorts, and I have an equally loud yellow jacket. We won't be riding at night at all, we are going to try and finish our ride by 1 or 2 every day so we have the afternoon to explore and set up where we'll be sleeping.

Jbpence - I know, I'm trying to not worry too much because I have the same mindset; positive thoughts yeild positive results. I'm trying to calm myself down right now thinking, I'm going to have an amazing time, why am I stressing out?? I shouldn't worry until something goes bad, but prepare for a unexpected situation. Sometimes it is just hard to control those knots forming in the stomach.
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Old 06-14-09, 06:05 PM
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You and the girls (women) will do well. Then when you come back, you can tell us all how you worried for nothing, the great time you had and when you'll do it again. Cheers.

I'm talking like I've toured before. In fact, I can't wait 'til my first tour. By the way, anyone ever ride to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California? It's about 70-80 miles from where I reside.
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Old 06-14-09, 07:23 PM
  #24  
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I read a journal about a guy who was starting a tour and had prepared, trained, packed and got a big send off. He was completely exhausted in 9 miles. Stopped at a hotel for the night and the next day was perfect. His tour from then on was wonderful...we all are nervous about something sometime, each of us handles it differently. You'll do just fine what ever you do. Best of luck and good wishes!
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Old 06-14-09, 08:11 PM
  #25  
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I think like mentioned above it's all about the fear of not being able to do it. I learned a long time ago that I have the most fun when I have an idea. The idea is that I'm going to have fun and enjoy each day on it's own merits.

Things happen and sometimes do that can change your plans. Be flexible and realize that it's just one day at a time. Don't look at the whole picture. Enjoy the state your in and all that you see. Repeat. Before long you will realize that your are making progress.
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