Author Topic: Doin' it well  (Read 3905 times)

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Offline whit517

Doin' it well
« on: May 24, 2013, 09:22:36 pm »
Hey seasoned bike tourists-

I am 26 and today returned from my first trip (solo).  I live in St. Paul, MN and my route was planned to go from St. Cloud > Brainerd > Itasca > Bemidji > Chippewa Forest > Iron Range > Ely, and was just about 400 miles.  I've been a road cyclist for a long time and am in reasonably good early-season shape.  Unfortunately, my trip ended at 250 miles in Bemidji.  I had some pretty good rain the first 3 days (actually heard on the radio that the radio that the year-long Northern Minnesota drought is officially over - you're welcome!), as well as some strong headwinds.  I was rolling at about 10 mph most of the time, which was frustrating.  I got some seriously sore knees and major muscle fatigue on day 4.  I did have a rest day scheduled on day 3 but had to ride through it because weather shortened the day before.  By day 5, I had gotten a cold from somewhere.  The weather was scheduled to turn bad again and when I talked to Boyfriend on the phone, he said he could come get me today but otherwise he'd be out of town.  So, I jumped on the opportunity and quit.  I've never been a quitter before and I am agonizing over whether or not this was a smart move or the lazy girl's way out.  So I guess my real question is how to approach my next tour so it goes better.  I thought I had planned the crap out of this trip and thought I was in the shape to handle it, mentally and physically, but apparently not.  Is this normal?  Should I have pushed through it?  Should I tell all my friends it was supposed to be a 250 mile trip so they don't judge me?  Should I bring a nurse and a cheerleader along next time?

Thanks for the input, everyone


Offline ronnie421

Re: Doin' it well
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2013, 08:00:02 am »
Dear Whit... I am a "born-again" cyclist. I had not done any real cycling since my younger years. Now, at 46, I am starting all over and planning a cross country ride for 2014. But even in my day, I always belived in "stopping before you hate it". There is a difference between a challenge and being miserable. Its no fun if its no fun. If you really are miserable, then stop. That doesnt mean QUIT. That just means do some re-planning, figure out what went wrong and give it another shot. You did good by stopping before it got to the point where you start thinking "Ahhh, to HELL with this!" The weather can be a brutal thing and can make you sick. Its better you got a cold and ended the trip rather than pressed on and got neumonia. 250 miles is alot of miles and the fact that you started the trip alone is impressive.  You have not quit until you quit. I think however, you will be returning to the road before too long and more determined than ever!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Doin' it well
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2013, 08:35:56 am »
Don't make too much of it.

One answer is to just keep the plans flexible right from the get go.  A flexible timetable and/or a flexible end point take a lot of the pressure off and may allow for you to enjoy the trip more.  Forget the timetable and ride what you feel like each day.  A rigid timetable can really suck the joy out of a trip.

For my trips I prefer to make camp when and where the urge strikes me.  That sometimes means I ride less mileage than I would have planned and sometimes more.  I never plan all the stops out in advance and sometimes don't know where I will stop until I am there.  I do check the maps to know a day ahead what my options are likely to be, but that is about as far as the scheduling goes.  I much prefer that and would probably not tour if I had to follow a rigid schedule.

That said it depends on what your goals are.  If it is really that important to you to finish x miles in x days then suffer through it and finish next time.  If not then ride as far as you feel like each day and go home when it stops being fun for a few days in a row with no relief in sight.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Doin' it well
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2013, 09:54:01 am »
Planning for my first tour, I was arrogant and figured I'd easily ride 15 mph and 75 miles a day.  This despite a number of experienced bike tourists writing that they averaged 10 mph and 50 miles per day.

I exceeded 50 miles per day average (by 3 mpd!), but the 10 mph on-bike speed was spot on.

Now I just plan on those figures, maybe add 10 miles a day if somebody else is carrying my gear..  If there's not hills to slow me down, it's flat and the wind comes up.  I only remember two significant tailwinds, the longest 10 miles -- the rest of the time the wind was in my face, or it's a crosswind with a hefty headwind component.

Take what the road gives you.  Enjoy it.  Push a bit, but not so much that you'll hurt tomorrow's ride.

Offline freightbike

Re: Doin' it well
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2013, 12:54:01 pm »
It has been a pretty crummy spring here in the northstar state hasn't it. I've been planning a rather long tour this june that I thought for sure I was going to have all this time to get ready for. I was supposed to have a thousand miles of training by now and I'll be lucky if I get to 500. I'll turn 58 halfway through my trip and have to consider a plan B, C, or D. The wind can be cruel, it blows against your body and gets inside your head. I would feel lucky to have had a friend to come pick me up if things went sour. It's about having fun, give yourself a break.
May the wind at your back always smell like home.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Doin' it well
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2013, 04:28:27 pm »
You had 400 miles planned over 6 days of riding.  About 70 miles per day average.  Reasonable mileage per day.  Under normal riding conditions its a very good average mileage to maintain.  Assuming you start at 8 AM and finish at 4 PM, that gives you 8 hours to ride, eat, rest, see.  Works out to 9 mph average including nonriding time.  Reasonable to me.  But you had bad weather take all the fun out of the ride.  Can't blame you for ending the ride early.  I don't like to be oustside in bad weather.  Sounds like your sore knees and muscle fatigue is due to not enough training miles.  You need to ride more, get stronger and in condition.  Do lots of short fast rides to get in shape.  Do some weekend tours.  Take off Friday evening and ride 30 miles.  Then ride 40-50 miles on Saturday and Sunday back to home.  And ride 30 miles in the evening during the week.

Offline whit517

Re: Doin' it well
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2013, 05:08:47 pm »
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the input.  My training was lacking this spring due to snow on the ground until May 5 (what the heck, Minnesota?) and trainer rides just aren't the same.  And man, riding with a load is so totally different!  I'm already scoping out options for a trip maybe later on this summer or fall.  Thanks for the encouragement... I'm gonna get my butt in better shape, beat this cold, and go climb some mountains!  I'll still be in MN until July, at which point I'm moving to North Carolina, so if anyone has route suggestions for either area, I'd love to hear them.