Why I Quit My Bike Tour

By Darren Alff on - Download my FREE bike tour starter guide!

After completing my recent 2016 bike tour across Portugal, Spain, France, Andorra, Norway and Sweden, I flew back to the United States and some have you have been asking, “Darren, why did you quit your bike after only three months?”

After all, many of my previous bicycle touring expeditions have been much longer. Seven months, nine months, fourteen months… and sometimes even longer! This year, however, my bike tour in Europe was only three months long. Why was that? And did something go wrong?

No, nothing went wrong. The plan from the beginning was to travel for only three months. If you re-read my 2016 bike tour travel plans post… or watch the video I published back at the beginning of May, you will see that I planned on traveling for only three months this year before returning home to the United States.

The reason my trip was so short this year is because in late 2015, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. One week after receiving this news, I went in for an emergency surgery and it took me several months after that to recover – not just physically, but mentally as well.

One of the main things that got me through this terrible experience was planning and preparing for my next big bike tour (the bike tour that I just completed). In fact, I always find the planning and preparation process of a bike tour to be extremely motivating. It gives you something to look forward to… and it’s fun to dream about the adventures you might have along the way.

So, I spent the first several months of 2015 recovering from my surgery and preparing my body and my mind for another big bike tour in Europe.

But unlike my bike tours in the past, I knew that this bike tour was going to be different. Not only had a just recently undergone a pretty major surgery, but my doctors were telling me that I would need to receive regular 3-month checkups in order to make sure the cancer was truly gone… and that it had not spread to other parts of my body. Every three months I would need to return to Southern California (where I had my surgery and where all of my doctors were located) and get new blood tests, a new CT scan, and visit with each of my various doctors.

So, when I was planning my bike tour in Europe this year, I knew that I was on a tight three-month timeline. I had 90 days to fly to Europe, do as much cycling as I possibly could do, and then I would need to fly back to the United States for a new round of tests and follow-up doctor visits.

That’s why my bike tour was only three months long this year… and that’s why I’m back in Southern California at the moment.

I plan to stay here in SoCal for another 2-3 months, but after that I’m hoping to go off on another 3-month-long bicycle touring adventure. Watch the video above and you’ll learn that I have not yet decided where I want to go on my next cycling adventure, but I am debating between three very different places: Cyprus, Ecuador and Iran.

Which of these three destinations would you be most interested in cycling through? Leave a comment below and let me where you think I should go.

PS – Thank you to everyone who has messaged me privately or left comments on my YouTube videos and/or Facebook posts. Your kind and encouraging words really mean a lot to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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15 Comments

  1. Mark

    August 21, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Darren,

    I am just returning from a week touring on Hokkaido with my grandson. On the ferry up here from Ibaragi we met an Iranian grad student studying at Tokyo University. She invited me and any other cycle tourists to your in Iran. I will try to get her in touch with you…

    I appreciate what you are doing over the years do cycle tourists and cancer survivors most recently….

    Years ago when you first started I advocated combination locks vs keys and still geel the ssme.

    Mark

  2. Gary

    August 23, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Darren;

    Good luck with the testing and fighting cancer. Hope all goes well. Will this be a permanent regemine (the 3 month check ups) or is there an end time where it will be once every 6 to 12 months?

    Ecquador would be interesting.

    Cheers, Gary

    • Darren Alff

      August 24, 2016 at 12:04 am

      It’s just going to be every three months for the first year or so. Then every 6 months, every 12 months, etc… but that happens slowly. Ugh.

  3. Ben

    August 25, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Good Luck Darren, let us know how you’re doing.

    Quick question: I see you tour on a derailleured bike. I’m considering getting a Rohloff for our new coupled travel tandem. Is it worth it the extra $?

    Ben in northern California

    • Darren Alff

      August 28, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      I’m considering getting a bike with Rohloff or Pinion gearing soon. The old chain has done well for me, but maybe it’s time for something new?

  4. Warwic

    August 26, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Hi Darren

    Been following you. For years

    Just watched this and was. Surprised

    Hope you have recovered by. Now

    May. The. Wind. Be. At your. Back

    Wp

  5. David

    August 28, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Love your videos Darren. Thanks.

    Hope you continue to get a clear diagnosis and can carry on your touring and reporting as per normal.

    I’ll be cycling across Romania in a couple of weeks (via the Transfaragasan) so your Romanian videos were very helpful. I can’t believe the flies and hope they have all died by the time we get there!

  6. Debbie

    September 22, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Darren,
    I just read about your cancer and as a 3 time cancer survivor myself, I wanted to wish you the best in your recovery. I could not bike much until this year, so planning my first tour with your help has been great motivation. I wish you many more great tours!
    Debbie

    • Darren Alff

      September 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Thanks so much Debbie. I really appreciate it… and I wish you good health in the future as well.

  7. Paul

    September 27, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Hi Darren: I hope you are doing well, or much better now. I just was watching a few of your videos. In one of the videos from Spain, if you remember, you came back to your hotel room with Kevin and had $20 worth of dried fruit, fresh cherries, bananas, etc. Did your oncologist ever mention that cancer loves sugar? I would do some research if I was you, and cut down on your sugar intake. Cancer cells have a much harder time reproducing if there is no sugar to feed off of. Stay well, and I enjoy all of your tours and videos.

  8. Clive Shackleton

    November 24, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Wow I hadn’t realised you had a medical issue – but glad it’s all doing well.
    I’ve been really enjoying your videos and am inspired to start some cycle touring.
    I’m 57 and have been road cycling 3000m+ each year since I was 50y.
    I’ve done the London to Paris run twice & completed the lands End to John O’Groats trip (one that you should do!)
    Have you been cycle touring in England? Are you coming back? Be terrific to meet up for a few days (I promise I wouldn’t talk as much as Marko!!!)
    Last year & got myself a GENESIS CROIX DE FER bike & currently equipping myself with racks & panniers etc – next summer will go off for a few days at a time to start with (once I go part time). I’m keen to cycle along more of the lovely English Canal Towpaths!
    Enjoy your stay in S America!! Take Care – Be safe Darren!
    Clive

  9. Zahid

    December 1, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Darren,

    I wish you the best. I hope that terrible disease will not prevent you living your absolute passion.

    Good luck!

    Zahid

  10. Victor Correa

    December 6, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Hey Dear friend,

    I am sad to hear about your cancer, but I am happy to know you are a warrior and have no doubts that this will only slow you down for a moment. In January 2016 my wife, two children, our dog and myself moved to Buenos Aires Argentina, from Utah. In fact we used to live in Park City. I also went to New York and get my first touring bike, it is a Novara Safari from REI, my last trip rode it 80 miles and love it. I want you to know that you are welcome in our home if you ever decide to come to this latitude. Fast recovery, I’ll keep you in my prayers. Keep rolling…

  11. Ted Prangnell

    January 2, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I am sure that cycling is a great healer. I was very nearly killed by a car in 1993, It took a long time,but I managed to got back onto my bike before I could walk again. Have completed several cycle tours since, camping and B & B.Mostly in Europe.

    I wish you a complete recovery and many more cycle tours.

  12. Bob Pazden

    January 3, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Wow Darren. I’m glad to hear that you continue to tour, despite the cancer. You’re a trouper and I hope you continue to be cancer free. I have two close friends who have had testicular cancer. One was diagnosed around 2000 and the other in 2009 – both are healthy and cancer free today. Keep on keepin’ on. Perhaps we’ll meet up on the road to happy destiny. Be well.

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