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Help! Date gets closer, chickening out becomes an option...

Old 04-18-11, 09:16 AM
  #1  
naisme
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Help! Date gets closer, chickening out becomes an option...

I am crazy... I am going to check into a psyche ward...
Okay, I'm a bright intelligent guy. I enjoy cycling, I enjoy travel, I enjoy bike touring. I have several "tours" under my belt, but as the specter of my upcoming tour looms in front of me, I am pooping my pants scared.
I have rearranged my life to take this on, I have talked to the landlord, family, friends, and LBS. I have the bike, the legs, the tent, the panniers, cook gear, bottles, bags, footprints, maps, camera, toothbrush, tools. I've packed and repacked. I've scoured and read the forums, and CGOB, and know it can be done, but, there is this great sense of doubt about my sanity.
Is this normal? What sort of person gives up the comfort of home, to slog across the United States on a bicycle, and for no other reason than this inner gnawing that can't be sated? I have lived with this for 6 or more years, I get close to doing it and back off, but I'm two weeks away from my jump off point, and I have nothing to keep me from doing this, except I doubt my sanity, and wonder if I'd be better served checking in a crisis center...
"Can I help you sir?"
"Why yes M'am, I've been contemplating riding my bicycle across the US with no particular destination."
"Oh sir you have come to the right place. We have an "I love myself" jacket just your size, and there's this nice room where you can't hurt yourself. We'll sign you up for electroshock therapy and this idea of riding a bicycle will be forgotten"
"Do I get a drool cup?"
There's a Zen koan that comes to mind, about stepping off a hundred foot pole. In that moment, there is this exhilaration that one can not describe. It is truly being in the moment...
I am both excited by this and scared. I can't wait to get out and do this but I also look at the warm shower, the friends, family and creature comforts I'm letting go of to do this, and its scary.

I'm crazy...
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Old 04-18-11, 09:27 AM
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What's the question again?
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Old 04-18-11, 09:35 AM
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You're overthinking. Stop that.
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Old 04-18-11, 09:40 AM
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There are plenty of us cube-slaves who wish we were that kind of crazy. :-)
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Old 04-18-11, 09:40 AM
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I just searched the DB and found an old post about the same time 6 years ago, 04-16-05 to be exact... Same thoughts, same feelings, same churning of the gut.
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Old 04-18-11, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by naisme View Post
... I have the bike, the legs, the tent, the panniers, cook gear, bottles, bags, footprints, maps, camera, toothbrush, tools. I've packed and repacked. ...
I looks like you've forgotten to pack a spare tube and a patch kit. That's been subconsciously gnawing at you. Pack it now and you will be good to go.

Seriously, you are living my dream. I am where you were about two years ago. You are on the verge and I'm still two years from jumping off. I am totally jealous.

The nerves are normal. It's a big commitment and there are a lot of unknowns. On the other hand if there weren't unknowns it wouldn't be an adventure.

Are you going to maintain an on-line tour journal?

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Old 04-18-11, 09:48 AM
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I felt the same way when I biked across Canada 20 or so years ago. After a few days on the road, I never looked back. Your feelings are normal and you would regret it for the rest of your life if you backed out. Try and talk to more adventurous people until you leave and avoid folks whose idea of roughing it is "ice down the hall" because they will be the ones who will try and talk you out of it.

+1 for being jealous.
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Old 04-18-11, 09:59 AM
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Pre-tour nerves are normal. Before my first solo tour I was so freaked out I could barely eat or sleep for a week! Accept that the nerves are just part of what happens, just follow through with your plans, you've had plenty of time to plan & think about this, so trust the decisions you already made.

Everything will be fine after you are on the road for a couple of days. The first days may be awkward or scary, or you may make some mistakes because you are freaking out, not sleeping, not eating. That's ok. Do short, easy days the first few days, be prepared that you'll have to stop & screw around with your gear a few times, that's OK. Take it slow - everything slow - the riding, the packing, the putting your bike together... and it's ok if you spend a little more money than you were planning at the beginning, to get a room or nicer camping, food, whatever - that will settle down as soon as you get into the groove, too.

If you are still freaking out, that's OK, don't bail, wait it out. Get a room, chill out, call your supportive friends, log on here.... Don't bail. Try not to panic, but if you panic, just live through it, nothing bad will happen.

If you don't like it after a few weeks, fine, stop, touring isn't for everyone. But don't quit in advance from fear of something that might happen or that you might not like.
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Old 04-18-11, 10:11 AM
  #9  
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I really have been at this hard for some time now. I look back at my post in 05, and the advice and support are phenomenal, those posts got me here to be able to say I am nervous as hell. I have no reason not to go, except as has been said the overthinking the unknowns.
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Old 04-18-11, 10:21 AM
  #10  
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Your fear seems to be that after all this, you won't have a good time. This creates tension in the part of your brain that resolves conflict. Right now, you haven't committed to the ride - you're conditional. "I'll go - if I believe it'll be fun - if not, I'll stay here and be safe."

Say this:

"I MUST go. I don't HAVE to have a good time, but I WILL have one wherever it's humanly possible. The only difference between and ordeal and an epic adventure is 2 weeks of retelling the story, so I'm going on this trip, one way or the other."
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Old 04-18-11, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by naisme View Post
I just searched the DB and found an old post about the same time 6 years ago, 04-16-05 to be exact... Same thoughts, same feelings, same churning of the gut.
so you're the same person. You'll be the same person on the ride and the anxiety can be shifted to what you'll do when the trip is over. No reason to get excited, everything normal.
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Old 04-18-11, 10:33 AM
  #12  
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You just feel that way because you have to come back.....Have Fun!
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Old 04-18-11, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by naisme View Post
I really have been at this hard for some time now. I look back at my post in 05, and the advice and support are phenomenal, those posts got me here to be able to say I am nervous as hell. I have no reason not to go, except as has been said the overthinking the unknowns.
Go or don't go, but don't waste your time worrying about it.
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Old 04-18-11, 11:37 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by vik View Post
Go or don't go, but don't waste your time worrying about it.
Well put. You might get trampled by a semi 5 miles into the trip. You might fall off the side of a mountain never to be seen again. Then again, if you don;t go, a drink driver might slam into you and kill you. You could fall down your steps and end up in a coma for the rest of your life. Worrying about ay of this isn't going to help you or change anything. In fact, if you have been preparing for this for a long time, I think the odds are better of you coming out on top for precisely that reason.
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Old 04-18-11, 12:07 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by naisme View Post
I am both excited by this and scared. I can't wait to get out and do this but I also look at the warm shower, the friends, family and creature comforts I'm letting go of to do this, and its scary.
Isn't it great? I get that feeling before each tour and it makes me feel alive. That's when you know this is a real adventure, when you're actually nervous about it. There are precious few things in my life that make me feel that way anymore. When I was a kid, it was so common, I guess because there were so many new experiences to be had.

Suck it up and hit the road. How long is your tour? Two months, three? Imagine you're at the other end of that time frame with all those amazing experiences and all of that accomplishment behind you. Doesn't that feel great?

Now imagine that you didn't go. ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Life is for living. Buckle down and go. One day at a time. Before you know it, you'll be like the other tourers I heard about who continued sleeping on their Thermarests for two months after they returned home, because they had gotten so used to it.

"After the laughter, the wave of dread, it hits us like a ton of lead." - James Taylor

That's the feeling I get on the way home.

Last edited by simplygib; 04-18-11 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 04-18-11, 12:32 PM
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What works for me may not work for you, but...

I'm planning on a bike tour of indeterminate length. I don't plan on leaving until late July, but I'm already having moments of doubt. Every time it's cold out, I think "If I where on my tour, I'd be stuck out in this", every time I have a bad day, I wonder how much worse it would be if I where alone and vulnerable with no home to go to or friends/family close by. I imagine being lost far away from my familiar home state, or having my bike and belongings stolen.

There are two things I do to get over these worries.

First, I'm leaving myself room to change my mind once I start. I'm planning on living a nomadic lifestyle for several years, but what I tell my friends and family is more along the lines of "Well I'm going to do RAGBRAI this year then tour around for a while". I've not made any commitment to anyone but myself. I can turn around and move back in with my parents and find a job and get an apartment and forget the whole idea. I don't believe that is how it will happen, but having a way out makes me feel a lot better when I doubt myself. I imagine once I leave, it'll change to "Well, this was a bad day, but home is just an amtrak ride away so I'll give it another few days and see how I feel". Things always get better in a few days

Secondly, I spend a lot of time focused on what drew me to my decision. What do you like best about touring? If it's the riding itself, look up crazyguyonabike journals from people who rode bits of the route you're planning. Peek around with google street view. Get excited about actually riding these routes and seeing the sights in person. For me, I enjoy the staying as much as the going - I get enthused about the towns and parks and places to camp. I like setting up my temporary little home and cooking over a fire. I've spent all winter mining RV camping forums, bike tour journals, and all other odd mentions across the internet to assemble a long list of free/affordable campsites, which are laid out on a map on my blog. I planned my route around the most interesting of these. Every time I find another site, I'm excited again for my travels to begin.

You can't really keep yourself from worrying, but find ways to distract yourself and go! You know it'll be awesome
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Old 04-18-11, 01:19 PM
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anxiety is temporary. regret is forever.

i guarentee you, once you settle into it, you'll find yourself asking why you waited so long. there is nothing more liberating than touring, everything you have and need in life is attached to you or your bike. wake, ride, sleep, a very simple existence. just do it.
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Old 04-18-11, 01:37 PM
  #18  
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I had butterflies in my stomach at the start of my first tour. It was only the C&O Canal towpath....I was alone as I couldn't convince any of my too-set-in-their-ways cycling partners to come also. I got on the bike in Cumberland & set out with trepidation, and pulled to a stop about a half mile in when realized that I was smiling so broadly that anyone who saw me would think I was drunk or something.

Once you are on the road you will forget your doubts pretty quickly, I'll wager.
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Old 04-18-11, 02:34 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Pre-tour nerves are normal. Before my first solo tour I was so freaked out I could barely eat or sleep for a week! Accept that the nerves are just part of what happens, just follow through with your plans, you've had plenty of time to plan & think about this, so trust the decisions you already made.

Everything will be fine after you are on the road for a couple of days. The first days may be awkward or scary, or you may make some mistakes because you are freaking out, not sleeping, not eating. That's ok. Do short, easy days the first few days, be prepared that you'll have to stop & screw around with your gear a few times, that's OK. Take it slow - everything slow - the riding, the packing, the putting your bike together... and it's ok if you spend a little more money than you were planning at the beginning, to get a room or nicer camping, food, whatever - that will settle down as soon as you get into the groove, too.

If you are still freaking out, that's OK, don't bail, wait it out. Get a room, chill out, call your supportive friends, log on here.... Don't bail. Try not to panic, but if you panic, just live through it, nothing bad will happen.

If you don't like it after a few weeks, fine, stop, touring isn't for everyone. But don't quit in advance from fear of something that might happen or that you might not like.

This sounds like good advice to me personally. Just walk through it, step by step. Abstract ideas like touring across country on a bicycle must seem overwhelming when put into reality if you view them in the entirety of their scope. I would try to break down this idea into workable pieces, and perhaps limit my expectations, or rather try to not expect to much from the beginning.

My guess is that you probably do want to do a tour, I mean, it seems as though you've put a great deal of effort into this over time. It seems that you have invested in this idea not only conceptually, but you've probably had to make financial arrangements, like flights and buying the proper gear, and maybe some financial compromises, like loss of potential income for the period of your trip, rent and bills, and so on), and this stuff would normally create a great deal of anxiety for anyone, regardless of taking a tour. Also likely is that you have developed a great deal of preconceived notions about what the tour may be like--it's only natural, but reality often clashes with our expectations. I would try to minimize these expectations as best as you can as you take this day by day should you decide to go.

Remember, above all, that you don't have to do anything that you don't really feel comfortable doing, even if you've told the whole world, and you think that you would let others down. Again, I believe that the best way to gauge your comfort level, IMO, is to take it one step at a time. Perhaps you can start your journey with smaller goals, and meet them everyday.

Good luck to you!
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Old 04-18-11, 02:56 PM
  #20  
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Dear Naiseme:

You just have a case of "cold feet". Go on the trip and you will have a great time. By your second day you will be laughing at yourself that you considered backing out. If the worst case scenario does materialize (rain every day, crabby locals, mechanical problems and headwinds every day) you can always just go back home.

Last summer I planned a cycling vacation in Romania that was to be totally self supported. When I talked with my bike club actquantces they got me nervious about "what might happen". I decided to ignore the nay sayers and had a wonderful vacation. Please go on your planned trip. I am sure that you will have a great time.

John
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Old 04-18-11, 04:01 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by naisme View Post
I really have been at this hard for some time now. I look back at my post in 05, and the advice and support are phenomenal, those posts got me here to be able to say I am nervous as hell. I have no reason not to go, except as has been said the overthinking the unknowns.
Yes ... you keep talking about going. Some of us are begining to wonder if you're just talk. Go already and erase those doubts from our minds.
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Old 04-18-11, 08:19 PM
  #22  
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You just have a case of "cold feet". Go on the trip and you will have a great time. By your second day you will be laughing at yourself that you considered backing out.
John 426 is right--- but just start pedalling, and I'll bet the "jitters" are are manageable by the second mile. Enjoy your ride!
.
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Old 04-19-11, 11:59 AM
  #23  
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George Gray


I have studied many times

The marble which was chiseled for me—

A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.

In truth it pictures not my destination

But my life.

For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;

Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;

Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.

Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.

And now I know that we must lift the sail

And catch the winds of destiny

Wherever they drive the boat.

To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,

But life without meaning is the torture

Of restlessness and vague desire—

It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.



Edgar Lee Masters
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Old 04-19-11, 01:15 PM
  #24  
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Some people don't actually like bike touring - especially long solo tours. They are tough on the mind as you spend so much time alone working hard on hills and out in the elements. It's quite possible the OP doesn't want to go because he is realizing he won't enjoy it. There is no shame in that. If you have the time off and some money saved you can always get a flight to Thailand and spend some time on a beach sipping a fruity drink while you ponder what you want to do.

Personally I really enjoy bike touring with a companion. I don't mind a 3-5 day tour on my own, but beyond that I'd rather do something else.
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Old 04-19-11, 02:40 PM
  #25  
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doing it solo takes balls i mean that in a nice way.personally i would much rather have company but the right company ,someone who respects your way of thinking .but seen as your going solo then bite the bullet and give it your best shot.i reckon after a week you will know if its for you or not.like how far are you going to travel in a week on a loaded touring bike, not to far that you can turn around and head for home.
ah give it a go buddy and i hope you have a ball,just keep warm dry and dont go hungry you be fine.
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