Author Topic: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip  (Read 3748 times)

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Offline Shugart23

Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« on: July 04, 2019, 05:56:13 pm »
Wife and I are training for our first long-distance trip...maybe a 2-3 weeks in duration...We figure we are easily capable of doing 40-50 miles per day...We are kind of concerned with, once you have ridden 4 or 5 hours on the road, what do you do for the remaining 20 hours that are left in the day ?  I am interested in how people have dealt with boredom on their trips....I am picturing on Day 1, we ride 42 miles to a cool small town and yeah, we can walk around for an hour or two....grab some food.....watch some boats in the harbor....hmmmm….".is it time for bed  yet ?"....but seriously, most of the stuff I do at home to entertain myself is not stuff that I can do on the road.(e.g. play guitar, hop on the boat, etc)

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2019, 06:44:38 pm »
I think many folks ride for more than 4-5 hours.  For myself, I stopped constantly taking photos, talking to folks, lunch, tea time, brunch, ice cream, and by the time I have my tent set up I feel my day has been full and usually exhausted and ready to  relax at camp, or if in a town go to a pizza parlor and watch a ball game and relax there. Then I sleep longer while on tour, than I do at home.  Anyway it never occured to me to be bored.  Also, I always kept my ipod loaded with an audio book so that helped if I wasn't with others. 


House keeping such as washing laundry in the motel shower and hanging out to dry, or finding a shower in the park or campground and washing self and clothes takes time.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2019, 07:22:36 pm »
It has never occurred to me to be bored. I have so much to do when I finish that there’s barely time to get it done. I’ve even quit taking reading material because I don’t have time for it. If you do find that you have time to kill, stop and enjoy more places and people along the way.

Offline Shugart23

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2019, 07:38:12 pm »
Maybe that's the problem...we are in 'training' mode and waking up, having breakfast and then biking 20-25 miles and then back in the house by 9:30 AM, before it gets too hot and really not taking breaks, along the way......It seems to me  my body doesn't like stop and go and stop and go and stop and go.....I might need an attitude adjustment

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2019, 08:28:37 pm »
On the TA I had a week or so in E. Colorado into Kansas where it was between 100 and 110 everyday.  That was my most difficult week going across country.  On that fateful week I was waking early at 4 and breaking camp and eating breakfast and was riding from 5 until 12.  Then when it was too hot to ride I was sitting around hot and sticky and bored and looking for a Dairy Queen.  But, that was the only week like that for the whole of the cross country trip.  The rest of the weeks, even during rain, I seemed to be relaxed and enjoyed the ride.  Keith




Offline staehpj1

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2019, 06:20:06 am »
Wife and I are training for our first long-distance trip...maybe a 2-3 weeks in duration...We figure we are easily capable of doing 40-50 miles per day...We are kind of concerned with, once you have ridden 4 or 5 hours on the road, what do you do for the remaining 20 hours that are left in the day ?  I am interested in how people have dealt with boredom on their trips....I am picturing on Day 1, we ride 42 miles to a cool small town and yeah, we can walk around for an hour or two....grab some food.....watch some boats in the harbor....hmmmm….".is it time for bed  yet ?"....but seriously, most of the stuff I do at home to entertain myself is not stuff that I can do on the road.(e.g. play guitar, hop on the boat, etc)
Where are you touring?  What kind of tour?  Camping?  Motel?

Most people either:
1. Ride much more of the day, if not most of the day especially if you include breaks to talk to the locals or other touring riders and seeing the local sights.
2. Pick a locale where they want to spend a lot of time seeing the sights.
3. Pick a locale where they want to do other activities (hiking, rafting, museums, wildlife watching, photography, other tourist stuff)
4. Pick a route where there are hiker/biker sites and hang out with other cyclists
5. Just enjoy the downtime.

I think most long distance bike tourists do some mix of all or most of these.  I suspect that either you will find that you will too or you will find that you are not cut out for touring.

Offline Shugart23

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2019, 07:20:36 am »
Thanks.....Between 1973 and 1975 (when I was 18-21) I used to go on 4-6 week cross country hitchhiking trips during summers and really never had a problem with boredom; it was always an adventure and never knew what was around the corner. (Back then I was young, single,  and invincible ) 

Now I am older, married, and wiser.  We are going to start off slow. This question I have posted was really in reaction to concerns my wife has expressed....We do plan to motel it for the most part, at least for the first few trips....we are going to build up to the long tour to go from northern Michigan to one of the coasts (south, east, or west). I plan to do a simple trip going from Traverse City to Taquamononom Falls (spelling?) with her to see how it goes and how well we/she is suited for touring.


I do recall on my hitchhiking trips, constantly running into other hitchhikers, run-aways , bums, and hobos and doing a lot of hanging out with fellow travellers. It was as if I was in a different world...Anyway, I digress....

.So on a typical day, after waking up and having your coffee and getting packed up and getting ready to get back on the bicycle, how many hours and miles is typical ?  You are second person to suggest 4-5 hours biking is a pretty low estimate. I realize this is such a broad question with no real great answer.....But when you wake up, do you typically have a goal of " Let's try and get to Point X' today  ? and then how far away is point 'X'
 



Offline staehpj1

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2019, 07:52:10 am »
I do recall on my hitchhiking trips, constantly running into other hitchhikers, run-aways , bums, and hobos and doing a lot of hanging out with fellow travellers. It was as if I was in a different world...Anyway, I digress....
Yeah, I did some of that way back in the day.  For me some tours I still enjoy meeting the misfits of the world, but it seems to depend on the locale.  The Southern Tier seemed to be full of interesting people displaced from somewhere else that they didn't fit in.  Other tours that may be more or less true.

.So on a typical day, after waking up and having your coffee and getting packed up and getting ready to get back on the bicycle, how many hours and miles is typical ?  You are second person to suggest 4-5 hours biking is a pretty low estimate. I realize this is such a broad question with no real great answer.....But when you wake up, do you typically have a goal of " Let's try and get to Point X' today  ? and then how far away is point 'X'
The hours vary a lot day to day, but for me riding often winds up spanning most of my waking hours with some time off here and there throughout the day to rest or do other stuff.  Usually rather than take rest days I take some short days here and there.  I think of them as half days and tend to pick places where there is interesting stuff to do.  I also might (rarely) spend a week somewhere like Yosemite hiking and doing the tourist thing.

On the ST I took more than usual 100+ mile days (averaged ~80 overall).  I did some hanging out with folks I met and traveled with a friend a lot of the way.  Generally by the time I hit camp I was tired and turned in pretty early so there was really not a huge amount of time to kill at the end of the day.  I was usually either riding, eating, resting, sleeping, or chatting up locals or other travelers.  On that trip there wasn't much time for anything else which was good because the route didn't offer a lot of attractions other than the food and the people.

As far as the "point x" goals...  A lot depends on where I am.  I like to be very flexible when I can and decide where to stop when i am there, but that is often impossible.  Many places I have toured there are very definite choices of stops with nothing in between and they are often at awkward distances with one much closer than I think I want and one much farther than I want.  To complicate things further the upcoming days stops may dictate which choice today will set you up for tomorrow or the day after.  So at a minimum I set out knowing what my choices are and what their impacts will be.  Where possible I make the final decision on the road at the last minute.

Edited to note that the 80 mile average for the ST was on the high end for my tours.  The ST is suited to long miles and I was traveling light.  I have averaged 55 miles when traveling with a heavier load.  Depending on the locale and the goals of the trip I could see going a little longer or shorter than those two extremes.  As I get older my ability to do long miles may be reduced as well (I just turned 68 and am starting to feel my age).
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 08:34:09 am by staehpj1 »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2019, 08:00:12 am »
4-5 hrs. for 40-50 miles? Must be flat with nothing to photograph or stop and enjoy. Throw a tough, scenic mountain pass into your day and that may eat up 4 hrs. right there.

This was most of the second day of my recent tour (I started the day about 7 miles east of St. Regis):

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30006761?beta=false

Between the 15 miles of unpaved, tough climbing and the gorgeous decent this segment took a while. Left St. Regis at 8:30 and didn't get to camp until late afternoon. Had to pull over twice due to heavy showers, including one with a brief period of hail.

Always have a good book to read on my Kindle.

Rough estimate is that on days with hills thrown in I was making about 7-8 m.p.h. including breaks for snacks/lunch, taking off/putting on clothing, nature breaks and taking photos. Weather also affects the average. Coming down the Blackfoot River heading to Missoula there was (as usual) an incredibly strong headwind. Earlier in the trip I spent at least an hour at Kootenai Falls.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2019, 08:43:06 am »
4-5 hrs. for 40-50 miles? Must be flat with nothing to photograph or stop and enjoy. Throw a tough, scenic mountain pass into your day and that may eat up 4 hrs. right there.
Good point, a multi thousand foot climb always takes me a while and really good scenery is a nice distraction that can also be a nice delay.  If there is a side hike to a waterfalls or other scenic feature that can obviously be an hour, a few hours, or a half day right there.

When there are multiple mountain passes in a day it really eats up the time.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2019, 09:43:02 am »
A few suggestions:

First, try to leave time to go walk around the town square or city park around supper time every evening.  Read the historical markers, say hello to anyone you come upon,  When the TV isn't blaring, there's more time available to talk to the locals.

Second, if you call it a day early, swing by the library.  You can likely arrange to use wifi there, and really small town librarians are fountains of information, and often lonely to boot.

Third, think about keeping a journal.  If it's on line, you'll chew up an hour every night, and friends and family can keep up with your travels.  If it's on paper, it'll still be a record of your trip you can re-read 5-10 years from now to help you recall the highs, lows, and details that time blurs.

But I doubt you'll have much problem with boredom.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2019, 12:31:35 pm »
when you wake up, do you typically have a goal of " Let's try and get to Point X' today  ? and then how far away is point 'X'

I typically have a most-probable goal, and usually a closer one and a farther one picked out as a backup. But in some places, there’s only one logical choice.

I sometimes get to my selected goal and I don’t like it, so I ride on. Or I’m tired (usually more mentally than physically) and I cut it short.

Online HobbesOnTour

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2019, 04:55:42 am »
Maybe that's the problem...we are in 'training' mode and waking up, having breakfast and then biking 20-25 miles and then back in the house by 9:30 AM, before it gets too hot and really not taking breaks, along the way......It seems to me  my body doesn't like stop and go and stop and go and stop and go.....I might need an attitude adjustment

I think this is significant.

I always cringe a little when people talk of training for a bike tour, because it normally means following a training regime that is all about mileage.
I prefer to think in terms of practising. Doing the things I will be doing on tour, only some of which is cycling.
 
To me cycle touring is not about the distances - it's about what happens in between.
In my experience the part of the body that needs to be most prepared is not the butt or the leg muscles (although it obviously helps if they're road ready), but the brain.

I think on some level you're recognising this. Yes, you probably do need an attitude adjustment simply because for the few weeks of your tour, your normal life, and it constraints are very different. That deserves a different attitude to make the most of it.

Instead of getting up early and clocking up 25 miles, take breakfast with you and cycle somewhere specifically to have a nice picnic breakfast. Or in the evening. Or overnight to an inn or a friend. It might mean less "cycle" training, but more "tour" practising.

I refer to it as my "touring head". When my "touring head" is on, everything is different. The differences is particularly noticeable in the decisions made with my "Touring head" on as opposed to off.

As to your original question, I've never been bored when away on the bike. There is always something to do, even if that is nothing except taking a moment to appreciate where I am. Some people find that very hard to do.

Travelling with a Significant Other can be great when you are both on the same wavelength. I've had wonderful days cycling with someone - sometimes long, hard days, other very short where the afternoon was spent having a few drinks and playing cards.

Time on the bike varies. I stop every hour, hour and a half. That might be 5 minutes, it might be an hour or longer. It all depends on what I want to do at that time. I reckon my average "riding time" in a day is probably 5-6 hours, but I'm en route for maybe 8-10 hours. That works for me. The trick is to find what works for you.

Good luck!

 








Offline Shugart23

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2019, 06:49:21 am »
Thank you all for the comments.  We are lucky enough to live in one of the great scenic areas of the U.S and I think a 'short' initial 190 mile road trip from Traverse City to Tahquamenom Falls will be instructive and telling, once we feel we have the body strength. Meanwhile it is a great place to bike while  getting in shape physically and mentally; it is really hard to get bored of northern Michigan Great and small lakes.



Offline jrswenberger

Re: Dealing with boredom on long bicycle trip
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2019, 03:08:46 pm »
Maybe that's the problem...we are in 'training' mode and waking up, having breakfast and then biking 20-25 miles and then back in the house by 9:30 AM, before it gets too hot and really not taking breaks, along the way......It seems to me  my body doesn't like stop and go and stop and go and stop and go.....I might need an attitude adjustment

I think this is significant.

I always cringe a little when people talk of training for a bike tour, because it normally means following a training regime that is all about mileage.
I prefer to think in terms of practising. Doing the things I will be doing on tour, only some of which is cycling.
 
To me cycle touring is not about the distances - it's about what happens in between.
In my experience the part of the body that needs to be most prepared is not the butt or the leg muscles (although it obviously helps if they're road ready), but the brain.

I think on some level you're recognising this. Yes, you probably do need an attitude adjustment simply because for the few weeks of your tour, your normal life, and it constraints are very different. That deserves a different attitude to make the most of it.

Instead of getting up early and clocking up 25 miles, take breakfast with you and cycle somewhere specifically to have a nice picnic breakfast. Or in the evening. Or overnight to an inn or a friend. It might mean less "cycle" training, but more "tour" practising.

I refer to it as my "touring head". When my "touring head" is on, everything is different. The differences is particularly noticeable in the decisions made with my "Touring head" on as opposed to off.

As to your original question, I've never been bored when away on the bike. There is always something to do, even if that is nothing except taking a moment to appreciate where I am. Some people find that very hard to do.

Travelling with a Significant Other can be great when you are both on the same wavelength. I've had wonderful days cycling with someone - sometimes long, hard days, other very short where the afternoon was spent having a few drinks and playing cards.

Time on the bike varies. I stop every hour, hour and a half. That might be 5 minutes, it might be an hour or longer. It all depends on what I want to do at that time. I reckon my average "riding time" in a day is probably 5-6 hours, but I'm en route for maybe 8-10 hours. That works for me. The trick is to find what works for you.

Good luck!

Exactly!!!  For me, being in 'touring mode' changes the bike from the object of the activity, i.e. training, to the locomotive means of experiencing life outside of my daily routines. Many people focus on their daily distances, the number of hours they typically ride, or how much they've climbed. I stopped using a cycling computer decades ago and it changed my focus to everything else that was happening, the sights, sounds and people I met along the way.

This has worked for me but it won't for everyone. There is no 'right' way to go on a tour, only 'your' way. As Hobbs so eloquently stated, spend your training time focusing on all of the other activities of a tour as much as the bike riding. I'd bet you'll end up enjoying your trips more and boredom won't even creep into your thoughts.

That said, it's also important to choose your routes in such a way that you won't likely to be bored at all. I've spent a week or two following large rivers along beautifully maintained bike routes and couldn't wait to get back into the mountains. Those that have ridden for hours or days into a headwind across endless flat terrain can imagine the same.  Each of us has our own likes and dislikes and I'd recommend planning your first tours to maximize the types of terrain and off-bike activities you'll most likely not be bored with.

Enjoy whatever riding you do but don't forget about taking in all that your tour can offer you.

Jay
ACA Life Member 368