A while back I mentioned, in passing, that I want to tour Route 66 in the US next year on a bicycle. I’ve never done a long bike tour, but ever since mentioning it I’ve had it in the back of my mind.
The first thing I know is that it’s going to be difficult. :)
But I was more worried about the bike. Due to my traveling I want to get a bike when I get back to the States in October which I can then take with me wherever I decide to go next. (Not so secret where that is, but I’m still not 100% decided, so I’ll just leave it at that!) That means I’d have to spend a lot of money to take the bike on a plane. And it would also be an incredible hassle.
It’s a good idea to train on the actual bike I’d be using for that epic journey across one of the USA’s first highways so that’s why I want to get the bike when I’m back in the US to take it with me to my next destination.
Last week, while talking to Tammy, she said I should consider a folding bike such as BikeFriday, which would make taking it on planes/trains/anywhere easy. While I’m quite familiar with folding bikes (lots of people in Wroc?aw ride them around) I didn’t think they’d be good for long distances. But Tammy sent me an article, which linked to an article, which linked to an article that proved me wrong. (Here’s the final article, ha!)
Apparently, it’s not a completely crazy idea to take a custom-built (and sort of expensive) folding bike on a long bike tour. The more I think about it, the more I want to do just that.
I’m not fully sold on a folding bike yet, but it is a very intriguing option.
While I may not be fully decided, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with reading about bikes and bike touring. Especially all the great articles at http://www.bicycletouringpro.com.
After spending hours upon hours reading a few days ago, I realized something. It’s something I talk about regularly, but I wasn’t taking my own advice.
I could read about bike touring until the end of time, but without taking action on it I won’t learn very much.
We don’t learn very much by reading, listening, or watching. We learn by doing.
Before I started traveling I thought I had it all figured out. And while all the research I did before embarking on my adventures did help a little, actually getting out there and traveling helped a lot more.
I’ve learned a lot of little things. Like, who knew washing my clothes in a bag would work out so well? I’m still using the same aLoksak I’ve been using since Day 1 in Australia almost 11 months ago! It can’t be used as an actual waterproof bag anymore (I ripped the top), but it still works for washing. :)
I’ve also become more experienced in eating a vegan diet while traveling. This is something that had me a little worried, but it has worked out great. And while I’m sure there are parts of the world I might still have a difficult time, I’m better equipped to handle those situations should they arise. That is not something you can learn from reading, watching, or listening. It’s only something that you can truly learn by doing.
How To Learn (By Doing)
I know it’s obvious, right? But it’s still a sticking point for many of us.
“But what do I do?!”
And round and round it goes. I have to say I’ve been perpetuating that cycle myself here because I regularly state to take action, without always explaining what kind of action to take.
Here’s how to break that cycle:
1) Decide on a big goal.
This is a goal you don’t have a really good idea how you’ll accomplish. It doesn’t matter much what this goal is. It does not absolutely have to be a “big” goal. It could be as simple as “learn how to dance” or it could be as big as “sell all my stuff and live anywhere.”
2) Decide on a smaller goal.
Chunk that big goal down into just one little nugget. It could be just one aspect of the big goal or it could be a scaled down version of the big goal.
Before I had the idea for selling all of my stuff and traveling wherever I wanted in a backpack, I took 2 shorter trips. In other words, I took the big goal and scaled it down considerably. One of these trips was 15 days (Canada and Germany) and it helped me work out all the kinks of my much longer never-ending trip. I didn’t work out all the kinks, but I did learn a lot about how this vagabond nomadic lifestyle works.
3) Do the smaller goal.
You can probably do the smaller goal right now without delay. If it’s something you have to delay then revamp the small goal until you can take some kind of action towards it right now.
3b) Do more smaller goals.
If your smaller goal was just a specific chunk of the big goal, then do some of the other chunks now. If the small goal was a scaled down version of the bigger goal then move along to …
4) Do the bigger goal.
Now that you’ve learned a bit and worked out some kinks by accomplishing the smaller goal it’s time to go full out and tackle the big goal.
As you know, I’m not a fan of fluff or over-complicating things. These 4 steps may seem incredibly obvious, or horribly silly, but if you sit down and think about it, these are the exact steps you’ve probably taken before to learn something new.
As for me? My first small goal is to call Bike Friday and get some questions answered. If it sounds good, I’ll make an appointment to visit them in Eugene, Oregon in October. :)
Another good small goal would be to actually go on a short bike tour. The reason I’m not doing that is because I’m not going to buy all the necessary gear (bike helmet, bike rack, tent, sleeping bag, etc) while here in Poland and I’m not sure I can rent/borrow it anywhere.
Oh, and I’m still gonna keep reading about bicycle touring with the understanding that it’s purely enjoyment and I’m not actually learning much. :).