This is my “what you don’t see” blog post. You get to see all the beautiful photos and videos I post. But there are also the physical and mental challenges that come with living on a bike that for the most part you don’t see. Fellow cycle tourist can appreciate a lot of what I am about to write. And we all have our ways of dealing with these challenges. I have the additional privilege to be able to have experienced some of the winter challenges that many cycle tourist don’t get to enjoy. (a bit of tongue and cheek there).
- I remember being so tired at 4 pm for example and it being pointless to set up my tent to take a nap because it was the middle of winter
- And the reason I would be so tired at 4pm was that I would toss and turn all night in my sleeping bag until 4am because I slept horribly in the cold. Even though I would be exhausted and actually enjoyed winter camping in the tent
- My bike bags (panniers) being caked in snow and ice and having to put them in my tent knowing they would melt inside my tent
- Putting cold cycling clothes on in the morning. I would change out of my daily biking clothes every night into sleeping clothes to let my biking clothes air out
- I ate in restaurants every meal because I discovered I hated cooking in the cold and was too difficult to do in the cold
- Did you know sweat soaked clothes don’t dry over night? And they are cold and sticky to put back on in the morning (when the mornings are cooler)
- Sweat soaked clothes get heavier each day
- Your hair being drenched in sweat at the end of the day when you get in your tent
- Needing a bathroom in the morning when you are stealth camping
- And being anxious if you are going to need a bathroom first thing in the morning when you are stealth camping
- Having difficulty finding a place to camp sometimes (such as in a city) and then it gets dark
- Your battery packs starting to drain
- 6+ days without a shower
- Running out of clean clothes
- Being soaked from pouring rain
- Setting up you tent in the rain
- Making supper/breakfast in the rain
- Biking 8+ hours a day in hot, cold or rainy conditions
- When you can smell your clothes in your tent
- Facing (and actually) climbing steep mountains
- All your gear and bags being wet from the rain and having to put them in your dry tent
- Setting up a wet tent
- Setting up camp and making meals with 1,000+ mosquitos buzzing around your head
- All the different noises that forests make (was that bear or your imagination?)
- Sleepless nights because of hearing car traffic from the highways all night
- On cool/cold days and being drenched in sweat when you climb hills (also a factor in the winter)
Most people have experienced many of these experiences (soaked from rain or sweat) but then they go home and have a nice warm shower and feel great.
Potentially another challenge for many cyclists is loneliness. Fortunately I can not really speak to this as I don’t have or feel loneliness whether I don’t see anyone all day or all week.
Being away from home. This would also be another challenge that I don’t really have to deal with. I was a long haul truck driver for 6½ years leading up to my bike ride. Finding a new place to sleep every night. Actually I was homeless for the last 2 years leading up to my bike ride living in my truck.
In conclusion – I love living on my bike and finding a new place to sleep virtually every night. At the time of writing this I have been on the road for over 275 days. And for all the challenges – I just deal with them. What problems that can be helped and solved through other people usually are solved through other people. The challenges that I am required to face by myself I simply face.