Fear, Being Alone, Gifts From Strangers, Education & An Exciting Lifestyle – Webcast

Are you planning, preparing for or executing a bicycle tour of any length in the near future? If so, you’re in luck!

On the evening of September 17th, 2013, Darren Alff from www.bicycletouringpro.com conducted a live cycle touring webcast where he spent 30 minutes talking about five important lessons he learned from his latest bicycle tour in Europe and Africa than any bicycle traveler can benefit from if simply put into use.

After talking about these 5 main lessons, Darren then spent an additional 40 minutes answering reader-submitted questions about bicycle touring, world travel, cycling adventures and more!

Watch the video above to view a recording of this live webcast and view the notes below for additional information and links to noted bicycle touring resources.

Webcast Notes:

1. There is very little to be afraid of.

  • People planning bicycle tours are afraid of a lot of different things: Leaving Home (what you know, what’s comfortable, friends, family, food, etc.), Traffic – Getting In An Accident, Not Being Able To Physically Handle It, Animals (wild animals, dogs, etc.), Insects (mosquitoes, ants, spiders, etc.), Being Alone, Time – Not Having Enough, Money – Not Having Enough, Other/Scary People, The Unknown.
  • Once you force yourself to do the things you are afraid of, you won’t be afraid of them anymore and you’ll realize you can do things you never before thought possible.
  • Examples: I used to be afraid of camping in the dark, talking to strangers, and contacting seemingly inapproachable people. Now I do all these things on a regular basis and am no longer afraid.
  • For me, waking up and getting out of bed is the hardest part of any day of bicycle touring (because you have to make the mental decision to keep going). Everything after that is a cinch.

2. Being alone is a skill that you can possess.

  • “If I’m not with somebody who really excites or inspires me, then I’d rather be by myself.”
  • If you fail to find a travel partner, you may need to go alone or the trip may never happen. Which is worse: Traveling by yourself? Or not traveling at all?
  • Bicycle touring forces you to meet people, ask for directions, make new friends. You aren’t ever totally alone on a bicycle tour.
  • If you combine your bicycle tours with other activities you enjoy, then you won’t always be alone. Look for opportunities to do things with other people on your travels. (Take a class, join a campfire, ask questions of people, etc.)
  • Technology allows us to stay connected even when we are far away from people we know.
  • Solo travel is all about mindset. If you can get yourself into the right mindset, solo travel isn’t scary.

3. Be open to gifts from strangers. 

  • You stand out as a bicycle traveler… and some people will want to give you gifts because of this. Know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to gifts that you are offered. This can sometimes be difficult.
  • In most cases (but definitely not all), if someone wants to give you something, take it – even if you don’t want or need it. People can find it insulting when you don’t accept their gifts.
  • I think a gift should be a genuine practice. Not forced, but something you WANT to give.
  • Don’t feel that just because someone gives you a gift, that you need to give something in return. You don’t! Often times, the gift you are giving someone is your time, your story, the excitement you bring into that stranger’s life, etc.
  • Look for opportunities to help other people on your travels, give needed gifts, and share experiences with other people.

4. Use your bicycle tours as an opportunity to continue your education. 

  • There are millions of people around the world that can’t read, write or know basic geography.
  • You shouldn’t stop educating yourself just because you are no longer in school. You should continue learning all the time. Once you get out of school, you get to decide what you want to learn about. This makes learning a million times more fun.
  • Stop watching TV and playing video games. Learn something new. Talk to interesting, educated, opinionated people. Have meaningful conversations.
  • If you are traveling in a foreign country, one of the easiest things you can do is to try and learn a small amount of the local language.
  • It’s okay to admit that you don’t know something.
  • Don’t let a lack of education hold you back from going to new places, learning new things and asking questions about things you don’t know. Bicycle touring can be a great way to learn about yourself, other people, and the world in which we live.

5. Live an interesting, exciting and inspirational life and you will attract positive people.

  • Find something you are passionate about and do it as frequently as you can.
  • Make friends with people of different ages – young and older than you. The more varied the experiences of these people, the better! Challenge yourself.
  • You don’t have to try and make friends when you are living an inspired life. They come to you.
  • Ask interesting, intelligent, different questions and you will stand out… in a good way.
  • Find ways to make your ordinary life extraordinary.

Additional Resources:

In the question and answer session of this webcast, several people asked about touring bicycles or modifying their existing bicycle for use as a touring bike.

If you have a question about touring bicycles and/or what type of bicycle you should use to conduct a short or long-distance bicycle tour, please read The Essential Guide To Touring Bicycles. This short book explains in great detail what a touring bicycle is and how it differs from the road and mountain bike models you are likely familiar with. The book also details when you can and can not simply modify a non touring-specific bicycle for cycle touring use.

For more information, please see: www.touringbicyclebook.com.

Additional details on how to plan, prepare for and execute your own bicycle touring adventures can be found at: www.bicycletouringbook.com.

5 thoughts on “Fear, Being Alone, Gifts From Strangers, Education & An Exciting Lifestyle – Webcast

  1. Mike Seats says:

    All spot on great advice, Darren. I leave on my tour of the Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN, late next week. Have you ever ridden that parkway? I will get you some pictures from that and my tour earlier this month of the Mesabi Trail when I get back to Minneapolis later this month. One thing I can tell you is that I saw a large timber wolf on the Mesabi Trail and heard many more of them howling at night as I slept in my tent. As you may recall, I saw a bear earlier this month on a day ride in northern Michigan. A wolf and a bear in the same month — pretty cool!

    Keep on pedaling!

    Mike Seats
    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Hi Mike. Yes, I have cycled the Natchez Trace. I did it in 2004 as part of my bicycle tour from Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA. I enjoyed the Natchez Trace… and I bet you will too. It gets a little boring after a couple days (because there is nothing to look at but the trees on the side of the road most of the time), but it is definitely a nice, quiet stretch of road that is great for bicycle touring.

      And yes, please send me some pictures from your tour. I’d love to see them. If you can get a picture of a bear and a wolf riding your touring bicycle, that would be even better!

  2. Brian Gease says:

    I’ve been wanting to ride my bike from Columbus, Ohio to San Diego, California and camp along the way. Do you know of any trails that go that way?

  3. Bicycle Touring Pro says:

    Hey! That’s great Justin. Be sure to let me know how the bike tour goes for you. Send me a couple of your best pics from the road and I’ll share them on Bicycle Touring Pro.

    What part of the TransAm are you looking forward to the most?

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