FAQ: Don't you get tired?

Tagged:  •    •  
Resting under what seemed the only tree in the canyon - Huancayo-Ayacucho road
Resting under what seemed the only tree in the canyon - Huancayo-Ayacucho road (View on flickr)

This is an attempt to answer a Frequently-Asked-Question, both at home and on the road: Don't you get tired?

I think there are two different questions being asked. The first is, "Don't you get physically tired riding all that way?". The short answer to that one is: Yes, we get physically tired, and we rest and that solves it.

But the other question people are asking us is, "Don't you get tired of it? or bored?". And that one has a more complicated answer.

Yes, we sometimes do get tired of it. Sometimes the road is the same for a few days. Or the scenery and challenges seem to remain the same. Or the challenge seems a bit too much for a while.

Our standard prescription for a bike tourist that gets discouraged is easy: Rest for some time, and it won't seem so overwhelming. We know of one cyclist who, after riding all the way across Europe in record time, suddenly started feeling like all the people in the country where he was riding were looking at him wrong, like they were out to get him. We think he was tired, and should have slowed the pace, or stopped to rest a few days. But he was on a flight home within a couple of days, having aborted his trip. Cyclists often don't know how tired they really are.

Another thing that's important is to avoid dwelling on the ultimate destination. Our ultimate destination is Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, at the bottom of South America. That's still a long way away. We have to keep focused on our short term goals, because looking that far down the line will make it all seem impossible. (We're having a bit of trouble with this right now, after all this time on the road. We're thinking about the destination.)

And it's terribly important to seek out good routes to ride. The fast ones are often killers. We could go down to the coast of Peru and Chile and ride as much as 60 miles (100 kilometers) per day, I think. But when you just ride on a fast highway and the scenery doesn't change, you end up riding like a zombie, and the enthusiasm leaves. Too much flat road, with unchanging scenery, or difficult traffic, will wear you out for sure.

We do take vitamins in an effort to keep up our attitude, and we do listen to books from audible.com on our MP3 player along the way, if traffic permits. This makes the hours go faster.

But right now, despite all this, we're struggling with where we're at and how far we have to go. And we've had a terribly interesting and rewarding time in Peru. It's perhaps the most stimulating and interesting and friendly place we've been. But some of the roads have been the hardest too, with more dirt in this part than we had experienced in any other country. I'm thinking about how far it is to Ushuaia (the bottom point in South America). And I'm thinking about the fact that we probably can't make it there before their winter sets in in April of next year unless we start taking more buses than we have.

Tomorrow we're going to take a bus that will get us over one of the most difficult dirt-road sections of the entire trip. It's 15 hours (and about 150 miles!) from Ayacucho to the pavement that will lead us to Cuzco. I'm always reluctant to get on a bus, being a bit of a purist, but we decided to do it. (We took a bus from south of Huanuco to Huancayo also... Nancy wasn't feeling well and it was just good to get that stretch over with.)

So we have lots of advice for other people, but we're hoping that we can manage this tiredness or anxiousness and keep the trip on track.