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If you started out as a group (2 or more) and ended up solo...

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If you started out as a group (2 or more) and ended up solo...

Old 04-08-11, 08:43 AM
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If you started out as a group (2 or more) and ended up solo...

I've been reading/posting/lurking for several months now, trying to absorb as much info as I could in preparation for my August cross country tour. I found it really interesting that a common theme seems to be that it's sometimes difficult to travel with others, whether in an organized group, or just a friend or two (or someone from the AC website).

Would you mind sharing your story? Why do you think it happened and is there anything you would recommend that might help prevent this? What do you think the biggest misunderstanding is between travelers that should be ironed out before they start? Any and all stories/advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-08-11, 10:06 AM
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I think you just gotta wing it.

Also, be clear with your cohort in advance that you might need a little "me" time en route. Thanks to all this new fangled technology, it isn't that hard to split off for a period of time and arrange to meet up later on. If the other people expect that at some point you want to go solo, they are less likely to take it personally when the day comes.
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Old 04-08-11, 10:56 AM
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I toured form Seattle - San Francisco last summer and started off solo. I was solo most of the way until Northern California where I hooked up with 3 other cyclists. We were roughly all the same in terms of riding strength, but we still ended up splitting apart almost everyday. There would be times where they wanted to stop for coffee and I wanted to continue, or I wanted to stop for photo o, etc. In the morning, we would all make the same goal for the night and just meet up in the evening. If we rode together, great. If we didn't, great.
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Old 04-08-11, 10:56 AM
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I am not sure how relevant my personal experiences are here. Three of my tours were with others at least to start.

Two trips (full TA with my daughter and a friend, and a 30 day tour in the Sierras with my daughter) we stayed together the whole time with a little time where we rode alone for part of a day every now and then. The other trip, my online friend who I met in person only for this tour, fell and fractured his pelvis maybe 500 yards into the tour. The third guy on the trip immediately bailed when his friend was injured.

That said I met a lot of folks on the Trans America who were fragments of a split up tour. Most of them had little to say about why they split up. Mostly it was just day to day friction between them as far as I could tell. The exceptions were where someone was injured, these were significantly less common though.
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Old 04-08-11, 11:02 AM
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I think that the amount that you vary your average speed is directly proportional to how much you enjoy somebody's company. If you drop or add 5mph to ride with someone else you must really like them. If you drop or add 5mph to avoid riding at the same speed as someone else you must really hate them.
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Old 04-08-11, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan The Man
I think that the amount that you vary your average speed is directly proportional to how much you enjoy somebody's company. If you drop or add 5mph to ride with someone else you must really like them. If you drop or add 5mph to avoid riding at the same speed as someone else you must really hate them.
That is hilarious and true at the same time
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Old 04-08-11, 11:35 AM
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Since I had never done any loaded touring or camping before, I signed on for AC's Northern Tier self-contained group tour. Ninety-three days with 12 complete strangers (including the tour leader) of varying ages and abilities. I could fill a small book with stories of the personality conflicts between people and the tension that they sometimes caused. Our original boob of a leader was responsible for some of them. To its credit, AC replaced him with someone fabulous. The original guy only got the job because the scheduled leader pulled out late.

While a group tour is different from finding one or two companions in that you don't have an opporunity to screen people, I highly doubt that during the screening process someone is going to admit to something like being a biggoted alcoholic. So what happens when, on the third night of the trip, you and your companion see two black children playing nicely in the campground and your companion turns to you and says "Guess we're going to have to lock up our bikes tonight"? (True story.)

If the perceived safety in travelling in numbers is your concern, you and your companions should be suited pace-wise. How much do you gain safety-wise on the road if you are all spread five miles apart? Day structuring is also important. If you like to hit the road early and your companion likes to sleep late, you will have to compromise or face the possibility of only seeing him or her only in camp.

When I finished my cross country trip, I spent a few more weeks riding home solo. The follwing year I did two multi-month trips on my own. I much prefer solo. You can determine each day without engaging in discussion, negotiation or compromise with a relative stranger. While I now tour with my partner, we have been together for nearly three years and live together. And because we both work, there is no opportunity to do extended tours that allow a lot of flexibility. We are heading to Montana in June for eight days of riding starting and ending in Missoula. While there are a couple of opportunities to lengthen and shorten the route, we have to finish on a date certain and there are not a multitude of route options, so there are not that many decisions we will be able to make on the fly.
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Old 04-08-11, 12:50 PM
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I think the issues that can arise between close friends or significant others are different from those that arise between casual aquaintances or strangers. Presumably bigotry isn't something you have to worry about with your wife. On the other hand, little annoyances that might not even be noticed by a stranger could drive your wife crazy.

If you are planning a long trip with a spouse or close friends, I recommend doing a short trip first of perhaps a few days.

Paul
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Old 04-08-11, 01:01 PM
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My first tour was with my (then) gf and we got along great, so no problem. Also it was a very short tour (5 days).

Second tour was the Pacific Coast which I started on solo. In Oregon I met three other cyclists and we ended up riding more or less together. Two of them were a couple on honeymoon, the third was a solo woman. We ended up camping together each night, but were rather loose about how or when we got to the next camp location. Everyone was more or less on their own as to pace, breaks, etc., which worked out great.

Third tour was 9 weeks, me and the solo woman I'd met on the Pacific Coast. After riding with her for 3 weeks on the coast I thought I knew how it would go - she had been very easy going and rather quiet on that trip. But three days into the tour I got my first taste of what she was really like: Angry. Intolerant. Extremely critical. Control freak. Humorless. Condescending (not just of me, but of others as well). We were both thousands of miles from our homes (different countries), and had planned the trip in such a way as to minimize gear, so there was one stove, one set of maps, etc. It was the longest 9 weeks of my life.

Lesson learned: no more tours with strangers unless each person is willing and able to go their own way mid-tour. No more sharing gear. Independence is key.
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Old 04-08-11, 01:51 PM
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I started my xcountry tour with 3 others i met through a local paper. We mostly rode together and always camped or stayed together. Climbing ability varied but we always regrouped. In the Rockies we met a guy from California and he joined us. Then in Wyoming, the group planned on heading south to the flat terrain of the midwest. He guy from California was going to Yellowstone where I had never been so I decided to split from our original group of four. I also wanted to eventually go through Vermont to visit a relative and stay in cooler weather. On top of that, they were leaning towards motels and I was a poor student. I later found out they mailed all of their camping gear home. After S Dakota I was on my own because the other guy was headed down to Arkansas. I camped a couple of nights with a guy in Maine near the end of my trip. So for me it was mostly destinations and economics that played the biggest roles in the ebb and flow of my tour.
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Old 04-08-11, 04:26 PM
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was leading an aYH trip group , and was replaced , in Berne Switzerland. , so I took my own itinerary
day ride to Basel then down stream following the Rhine, to meet the group again for the flight back.

Hated having to go thru Newark as the airport design sucks, 2 terminals , physically separated
and the luggage trolleys are only for inside the arrival building, so Sky Cap Corp
has their palm extended to move your stuff to a shuttle bus to connect to domestic building.
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Old 04-08-11, 05:14 PM
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Generally, I've enjoyed short tours with others, but usually they have been people I've got to know through cycling groups or clubs. I've had very few unpleasant experiences, although the ones I have had, do stick in my memory (but not worth going into here).

Touring with Machka has its ebbs and flows, too. But we have been touring with bikes, trains, planes or cars for quite a long time now, and we have more or less sorted out what happens.

However, I think one of the most important elements, as we have found in our conflicts, is remaining well fed and hydrated. We identified quite early on that if we are tired and lacking in energy because our intake has dwindled, we start bickering. We've become quite good at identifying it in each other and suggesting right there and then to stop and eat and drink.

I've also not been that patient in stopping for "no reason", but Machka has a developing interest in photography, and that has been important to me in helping put different perspectives on why we tour. I've regreted riding past some features in the past, and now we are more likely to stop and explore. I'm enjoying it even more because I can give her some advice based on my old days as a photo-journalist.

I've also trained as a tour guide (as in formal course and practical application), and conducted guided historic tours of my home city. The psychology of group dynamics is interesting, although no different from, say, the dynamics of the workplace.

A significant issue on a tour of any length, it is likely that at some point, individuals will become stressed to what is, for them, a high level -- it may be that their personal expectations are beyond their capabilities, or they have a predisposition to worrying and need nurse-maiding, or there is some major "force majeur" issue that seems to have no solution. This even more so when people with limited riding and perhaps camping experience join a group (hence the relatively high number of splits on cross-country rides because these seem to attract these sorts of riders).

And, of course, there are different ways of doing things, and if you have settled on one way and are comfortable with it, and someone comes in and says you are doing it all wrong, the chances are the relationship won't last very long.

I learned a lot in the early days from my touring friends, and am still and open book on how to make my touring and camping experiences even more enjoyable.
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Old 04-08-11, 06:40 PM
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I can't stand it when the people I'm riding with get up before dawn, make lots of noise getting ready, and then set off when it's too cold to ride. Then there are the others who like to daddle around and never seem to want to get going. Then on the ride some want to stop all the time, but not when I want to, but then insist on riding for hours when we should have been looking for a campsite before it gets too dark. Then of course, there are those who want to quit riding while there's still plenty of daylight left. Some riders never stop whining and complaining while others never venture an opinion about anything. Touring brings out the worst in people. Not me, of course.
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Old 04-08-11, 09:56 PM
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Rowan, what bodies did you use, that will date it, Im curious. (Im a freelancer, been in photo for about 30 years, working for 20-odd)

back to stories. I met a German fellow onmy first france trip, both of us on our own, spent a number of days together at the end of my trip, kept in touch and ended up following summer doing another France trip together. All in all went well, we did have all our own stuff, which was a help "iin case", but really, the only thing is that he didnt mind going day after day, with no break days. I prefered a bit more rest days, but all in all it went well. To be fair, I drove him nuts at first being a slowpoke getting up and all my poop together to leave, but I improved.
On my west coast trip, I was alone, and met another German who was alone also, we ended up doing the rest of the trip together, very nice fellow, we got along well. He had a crapload of stuff on his bike, and had hiking shoes on, so even if he was stronger than myself, our speed was pretty much the same.

One thing Ive learned as I got older is to not try to speed up a lot or push myself more than is comfortable just to stay or keep up with people. Not good for the body, or the interpersonal stuff if you end up feeling like you are not enjoying thngs cuz you feel rushed all the time.

I dunno, Id say that common sense still rules for interaction between folks. if someone is being a jerk, or whatever, either speak your mind if you must stay with them, or dont stay with them, We only have one life, why endure an unsuitable companion for a trip.
My wife did a few supported trips before I met her with an small west coast company, kayaking a few times, cycling once. Thats tough when you are in an organized group, kinda stuck there. Once she said there were a number of older , divorced guys who were kinda weird, so it wasnt so much fun that trip. others she did had wonderful people, so I guess its like life, hit and miss sometimes.

If you can, I do think its very much worth it to talk in advance about stuff like, what time do you want to get up, leave tostart the day, how many kilometres per day, stop to look at stuff sometimes or not, rest days per week etc. (day after day after day bugged me, I found it nice to take a break once a week or so-but that depends on how you feel physically, and the terrain. Even a short day instead of a break is nice, get to camp early and have time to take a relaxed shower, sit out in the sun, no rush for eating or cleaning up supper dishes etc etc)

**Rowan--totally agree on the hydrated and not hungry point. This is abig point in fact. I have been with people biking and x-c skiing, who will wait or want to wait for waaaay too long to eat or drink, and I personally HAVE to eat when Im hungry. or drink. "Just another 10km before lunch" if I am already hungry is a real recipe for disaster for me feeling damn grumpy, so learning to stop BEFORE you are famished is the key, and this can be an issue with two diff metabolisms of 2 diff people. For me, this is one aspect of travelling together that everyone should be accomodating to others. Same for stopping to reapply sunscreen -"just another 30 mins before a stop can mean a sunburn, and feeling really strung out and tired cuz you got too much sun. (spoken as a Canadian who is genetically a Brit, so I have to be careful)

I guess you could still talk in advance, but if someone is a jerk or a tad odd, I just hope you dont HAVE to be with them too much.
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Old 04-09-11, 04:36 AM
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Mamiya twin lens 2-1/4 square, four or five lenses, and almost exclusively black and white. Then Nikon SLR. I really liked the big format -- easy to develop and print from, although the size of the camera was a bit of bear sometimes. Certainly not something you would entertain taking on tour!! Mainly 400 ASA because I was never sure what sort of subject action there was going to be. Generally the standard for press photography at the time.

But as anyone knows, so long as the technical side is sound, it's the composition that counts most, and that experience is what I am enjoying passing on to Machka. So when we do stop on our rides, it's not as though one of us is left twiddling thumbs and getting bored.
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Old 04-09-11, 12:21 PM
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ya the Mamiya were tanks werent they? I never used one for shooting but did play around with them over the years. In the 50s guys like Eugene Smith used Rolleis and they werent too big, but had fixed lens, so the Mamiyas were such a change with the diff lenses. I shot with Hasseblads a lot so am used to the backwards thing (did 4x5 too so was used to the upside down thing too) REmember the Pentax 6x7s, like a 35mm slr on Chernobyl steroids. Were your Nikons in the "F" era, or F2 or more recent?
B+W, yup all my personal work was b+w and I worked as a printer and developer for other photogs also, so spend half my life in a darkroom. Have developed gazillions of 120 stuff for work, but I shot in 35, plus we used to do press stuff in 35 b+w a lot (grin and grab, etc) but then it changed to mostly colour neg.(which I was happy with, less boring developing and printing of "bread and butter" jobs, but boring shots)
I did all the processing in steel containers with steel film rollers, but for most of my darkroom work "era" I used a b+w print processor for rc paper, such a nice change from basins, faster and ultimately better prints cuz you could bang out another print with a bit more dodging or burning if needed, where as in basins and all teh pita washing etc, one tends to say, "its ok, next"

funny to think that Tri-X, D-76, Diafine, fixer and stop baths are a thing of the past (mostly).....

as for composition, spot on, that is why i dont get why taking slr on tour, lenses etc . A crappy 24 mp shot is the same as a crappy 3mp shot, more pixels doesnt make a shot interesting, just a hell of a lot more boring pixels, hence my love of pt and shoots, especially with so many with manual capability etc.

cheers
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Old 04-13-11, 06:47 PM
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Not completely what you are asking for, but I'll mention my approach on splitting and staying. Most of my trips were either solo or only a week or so with close friends or family.

I took a long trip across Russia where my approach to group riding was driven by two goals (a) half a year can be a long time "alone" in a country if Russian is your third language and you aren't yet very fluent and (b) I was very driven to complete my trip all the way across Asia.

So I posted to Adventure Cycling under Companions Wanted. I got about fifteen replies and corresponded with all of them including pointing at a web site I'd set up that included my rough thoughts and also links of trips others had done. After that initial engagement for a variety of reasons there were ~5 folks that ended up interested. We had varying discussions/emails and in one case we both went to the same week cycling even (Texas Hell Week). For a variety of reasons it ended up being one other person interested. The understanding we had going in was that both of us have an ability to cycle independently (e.g. not a shared tent) and that we'd set off and figure it out as we went along. While I typically like to do a shakedown ride with cycling companions, this wasn't possible in this case.

As we set off, we did discover differences in our styles and figured ways to adapt. I cycled slower than she did - so it ended up me leaving earlier in the morning and then leap frogging some during the day to end up at the same place each night. We adjusted our styles of what places to camp, how much to cook vs. eat on the road, even preferences towards busy/direct vs. scenic/indirect routes. A lot of these things perhaps one could have figured out some with a shakedown tour, but a certain amount you just need to do on the road. Since the understanding up front was that we have ability to travel independently any of the differences could have been reasons to split. We did test that early in the trip with a particularly stressful/busy road and different reactions to whether we simply tough it out or get off the road as soon as possible (in hindsight, she was right ).

We also accidentally got separated for ten days. It was one of those cases of one party cycling past the other and not noticing and then compounded by a remote area, poor language skills and not a lot of internet/phone services to get resynchronized (journal pages here: https://www.bikerussia.com/2007/05/31...ey-is-missing/ until we rejoined: https://www.bikerussia.com/2007/06/10...ckey-is-found/). However, after ten days of traveling almost parallel paths we crossed again. That gave me renewed appreciation of value of traveling together and we both made better efforts to keep from getting separated.

To get to your original questions:

> Why do you think it happened and is there anything you would recommend that might help prevent this?

Differences in styles and approaches, combined with situations where people are tired, hungry or under stress can easily lead to decisions to separate. If you know each other well or have family bonds then it can be easier to get through them than with relative strangers. Taking a shakedown or earlier ride to discover these differences can help. Though perhaps similar to my trip, one can also go into the ride with an assumption that you have an ability to travel independently.

> What do you think the biggest misunderstanding is between travelers that should be ironed out before they start?

I'm not sure there is a single one. People are people and will be different. Even the question you ask I could see being approached differently. More of a planner/analytic type would want to anticipate and solve all those sorts of issues where you could, create risk and contingency plans in advance, etc. However, just the act of doing that might set off alarm bells for others that aren't as sure but want to avoid getting boxed into too rigid of plans and assumptions.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:47 PM
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The solution to the problem is to put yourself in the other person's situation: If they slow you down, think of how you are pulling them along, blocking their view, already rested when they make the rest stop, etc...

The other part is to make the relationship the priority. People either exist in your sphere or are a means to an end. So what is most important, the trip, or the relationship, etc...

There isn't a right answer, just what you decide.
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Old 04-14-11, 06:05 AM
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When I cycled across Canada, I cycled for a couple of weeks with someone who had split from their traveling companion. There were many reasons why they split, but the biggest one was money.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:27 AM
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Thanks to all for the replies! I'm going to be touring w/someone that I met through AC and I really want to be as good a touring companion as I can be. We've been e-mailing each other back and forth and seem to be on the same page as far as what we're hoping to gain, but I know that writing and doing are two different things. I guess it's like anything else, you just have to do it and see what happens. Either way, I'm soooooo excited!
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Old 04-15-11, 07:40 AM
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Cool denigdog. Be prepared gear wise to split up, even if the partnership looks really promising. Solo is fine, so if it does go that way, don't let it stop you from completing your tour.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:50 AM
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Thanks, valygrl. When I was answering replies to my ad on AC, that was one of my biggest points. I really hope that things go relatively smoothly and I make a new forever friend, but if we split, regardless of the reason, I didn't want to have to scramble to find things. I have to say that a lot of the postings on this website helped me realize that really fast.
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Old 04-15-11, 08:00 AM
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A tip to add to all this ... make sure both of you have an "out" along the way. Make sure there's an alternate form of transportation available like a rental car, train, bus, etc. that will take the bicycles.

I rode for 3 months with someone (pre-Rowan) who was much stronger than me. Everything sounded good when we emailed our plans back and forth, and I thought I could handle the pace he suggested, but when it came down to it ... I couldn't. I was exhausted in no time. I survived those 3 months because I really wanted to do that tour and because I found alternative transportation now and then.

During the first month I rented a car for three days. I drove while my cycling partner rode very long distances and got nicely worn out so he rode my pace for the next couple days. During the second month, I stayed an extra day in one place and went on a really nice day-cruise, and then caught the bus the next day and met up with my partner later that day. During the third month, I had an accident and caught the bus to a town where I stayed for a few days and then caught a bus to another town up the road. My cycling partner rode the whole way while I rested and recovered. Even if I had not had the accident, I think I would have had to do something like that anyway.

It is good to have options so that one of you can continue riding and the other can do something else, if desired ... and you can meet up down the road.


It can also be good to plan a relatively loose schedule ... don't plan on cycling every day. You might want to plan an approximate "3-4 day on, 1 day off" cycling schedule to allow you the freedom and flexibility to take a day off if it is pouring rain, or if one of you isn't feeling well, or if you just want to stay put for a day to rest or sightsee. Being able to take a day off can help keep both of you from feeling worn out and disillusioned. And it can offer an opportunity for the two of you to take a day apart from each other fairly regularly and do your own thing.

Last edited by Machka; 04-15-11 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 04-15-11, 09:50 AM
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If you start as a group but want to go solo, remember to carry the toolkit.
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Old 04-15-11, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
It can also be good to plan a relatively loose schedule ... don't plan on cycling every day. You might want to plan an approximate "3-4 day on, 1 day off" cycling schedule to allow you the freedom and flexibility to take a day off if it is pouring rain, or if one of you isn't feeling well, or if you just want to stay put for a day to rest or sightsee. Being able to take a day off can help keep both of you from feeling worn out and disillusioned. And it can offer an opportunity for the two of you to take a day apart from each other fairly regularly and do your own thing.
much wisdom she speaks (sorry, but yes for some dumb reason I had a Yoda voice moment ;-)

as I said, my first dear German friend (France trips) great guy that he is, had no problem going day after day after day. As I mentioned before, some of our short days were good just because I was able to have some more time on my own. I recall having to take a day off due to not feeling well, and it was a nice break too.

Having time to oneself is important even with a wife/husband/partner, so I'd even say moreso with someone we dont know that well. As we tend to be "well behaved" or put more effort in being, I dunno, positive, (know what I mean?) its good to just be on your own for bits, its healthy.

Like Macha, I did some "optional" transportation also. On my West Coast trip with the other German fellow I met on route, I had a bit of a pulled achilles tendon from being too cold I think, so as I knew where my friend was going to be camping the next night or two, I actually hitch-hiked the following day with two rides that caught me up close to where he was and found him again. Worked well as it was nice to finish the trip together and it didnt hold him back. Being a fellow, I was less worried about asking for a lift like that, but Machka's point is a very good one and good to keep in mind. I certainly needed the day off to rest my foot and it was surely better for me not to have pushed things and perhaps worsened it.

having two sets of maps is a must, and good communication beforehand for where one will be the next day etc always helps. I'm still a bit of a luddite for not having a smartphone or whatever, so emailing and such might help a lot with this sort of thing, being able to communicate, but internet access might not be there, so good old map, paper and pencil works too for advance planning for "what if" situations.

ps, how is your bike schedule going?
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