Admittedly I am not very motivated to be bike touring right now. Before I go into detail let me first disclose that while this is a first time for me to be looking forward to ending my bike ride, I also realize that every cycle tourer goes through this. For me it only took 23 months for it to hit me. Until now ending my bike ride was never a consideration. That being said, I am sure the fact that I might actually have to end my bike ride in Belize is a strong physiological motivator in my lost motivation. Imagine being home after almost 11 years away (except for short 2 week vacations?).
[In 2010 I was home in Belize for 11 months. Since than it has only been 6 – 2 week trips and no visits in the last 3 years]
I also realize that what I feel today maybe different tomorrow or in 2 weeks or 2 months. Also, whether I like it or not I have at least 2,500 km’s of pedalling to get home or at least 3+ more months on the road at the speed I am going. The purpose of this post is to help process my feelings and thoughts in an effort to expose them. Without exposing my mental challenges on a computer screen, I will be forced to rotate them through my monkey mind over and over all day long as I pedal down the highway.
In no particular order of significance, I will attempt to address many of the current causes of my day-to-day fatigue on a bike.
Food – I am a very fussy eater and I hate that about me. Most people love food. For the most part I hate food and find eating a huge inconvenience. I mean don’t get me wrong, there are foods I like. I love fish and chips and steak etc. Someone once asked me why I wasn’t biking around the world given how many kilometers I was planning to bike. Mainly because I would starve to death if I tried to bike around the world.
Anyways, here in Mexico I basically rotate between 3 foods – roast chicken, pizza and tacos. Except there pizza usually tastes funny and I never know what kind of tacos I am ordering and usually they don’t taste very good. And Mexico has no idea how to make a hamburger. So, the first meal I look for and usually eat twice a day is chicken. Of the 14 meals I eat in a week at least 10 of them are chicken. And it’s only chicken (with a coke) – nothing else. Pollo Feliz is my favourite restaurant. Only the other day I started my day by biking 38 km’s on an empty stomach to get to the closest Pollo Feliz.
Most all other food here in Mexico does not look for appealing (to me) and because I don’t know Spanish it is virtually impossible for me to “order food or inquire about certain foods.” So, if I can’t find chicken or pizza, I order tacos because at least those I can wash that down with a coke if I don’t like what I ordered. In cities I look for McDonald’s. So, the worst parts of my day are lunch and super time. I don’t eat breakfast anymore as I can’t find chicken that early in the morning. (In Canada and the US, I use to eat breakfast and super).
I am also drinking way way too much Coke. It’s mainly all that’s available here in Mexico. I can’t drink water with a meal. Water doesn’t “wash” food down very well. I am pretty sure that I am losing weight and I also realize that my poor diet is probably affecting my mood, mind frame and lack of energy. But I do feel if I was “home” I could dramatically improve my diet. But if I continue my bike ride south of Belize, I feel certain that I would starve to death – literally from lack of appetite and eating.
I don’t know Spanish – In one sense I have had no problem getting this far south not knowing Spanish but I feel that it his having a negative affect on my experiences. While I can usually communicate with people that want to engage me about my bike ride it is virtually impossible to communicate with people at restaurants. Which as I just pointed out, food is a huge issue for me.
Now, one way I could deal with this is, is that likely I could get Spanish lessons in Mexico City. This would probably be a good idea regardless of any future plans. The question is how long do I plan to stay in Mexico City? And in one place? I can’t learn Spanish in a week. Where would I stay for that long? While I do expect to stay in Mexico City for close to a month (given how big the city is). My plan was stay with different hosts in many different parts of the city over that month. At this stage I don’t know if I have it in me to invest this kind of time at this time. But my need for Spanish is only going to grown for every mile I travel south. I can’t learn Spanish when I stop in a city as I have never gone to bed before 1 am anytime I have been at a host or hostel. I refuse to start learning Spanish after 1 am.
Peace and quiet – I actually have had very little peace and quiet since leaving the Mexican Baja. I might argue that with biking on one highway or another since I started I have had almost no peace and quiet. But speaking about Mexico specifically I am generally forced to main busy roads and highways for access to restaurants. In Canada and the USA believe it or not but cities were actually fairly well spread out. In Mexico I go from one busy city to the next.
People are everywhere. I could almost make this a separate category. People are everywhere. I can’t escape them if I wanted to. When I pedal down the road I often daydream about my happy place in Belize. Sitting on my deck listening to the birds and monkeys, not seeing anyone for as long as I want.
My happy place
Equipment – Often I stress out about how some of my equipment is falling apart from wear and tear. My tent floor leaks, I recently busted a fairly new external drive (4 months old), my computer of only 20 months old is acting funny and you never know what might break on my bike next. Yesterday I discovered one of my front panniers has a tear in it.
Now I realize and have always maintained the attitude that you don’t have a problem until you have a problem and then you deal with it. But I can’t help but wonder how I will replace certain items as they break in countries like Guatemala or Nicaragua?
Covid fatigue – It goes without saying that I have been as lucky as one can get when it comes to Covid. I have been able to travel unrestricted following my dreams while everyone else has been stuck at home. But like everyone I have still had to live in the world during all this and been exposed to all the social media and misinformation nonsense every day. I don’t know how wise it is to simply dismiss the every day long term exposure effects that Covid has had on even me?
Social Media fatigue – I probably post 35+ posts a week on Facebook times 2 after everything is shared between my personal profile and Safari Arie fan page. That can be almost 140+ posts per month times 2! Keeping in mind I have been biking (posting) for almost 23 months now. I also probably post 60-70 posts a month to various Facebook bike groups. Currently at least 32,000 photos edited and uploaded and over 250,000 words written/typed into blog posts. Plus, over 80 videos on YouTube and 800 Instagram posts.
Productive use of my time – While I maybe very productive on social media I often wonder if continued pedalling down the road is the most productive use of my time/life, even from a personal growth perspective. Specifically, when I reach Belize. What can I hope to further accomplish biking past Belize that I can’t accomplish in Belize? This argument has many angles and considerations. I talk candidly about this topic in much more detail in a Safari Arie Road Show Experience that you can watch HERE.
A home – The last time I was home (in Belize) in a sense of actually living in my home was in 2010 for 11 months from January to November. So, in many ways I have not lived in a “home” for 10 years. The last 6½ leading up to the bike ride I was a long haul truck driver (1.2 million km’s driven). Every day was a new state, province or city. The last 2 years in a truck I was actually living in my truck without even an apartment. And now I am almost 23 months on a bike.
Is this still my dream? – In a sense, a weird question, but I think at a time like this is a valid question. This dream was birthed 10 years ago. That was a long time ago.
So, there you have it 9 reasons that are currently zapping my motivation right now. Are there short term solutions or directional solutions that can address some of these reasons? Absolutely, and I can’t wait for all the solutions to be offered as if I haven’t already thought or considered them. Anyways, mostly the purpose of this post is to simply empty the monkey mind. Tomorrows a new day and no one will pedal tomorrows miles for me, so I will.