“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
-Henry David Thoreau
The hardest part of doing a bike tour is getting out the front door.
We’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told us about their dreams to ride across their state, their country or the world. And then that word appears.
But I’m not fit. But I don’t have enough money. But I’m scared to quit my job.
We’re here to tell you that there’s always a but. And it’s never the ‘right time’ to just get up and go. At some point, you just have to commit and make that leap into the unknown.
Yes, it’s daunting. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, you might feel sick to your stomach the first time you make that commitment but if you don’t, chances are that in 10 years, you’ll still be there saying “I want to take a bike tour, but…”
The good news? There are things you can do to help push your limits and make your dreams a reality.
1. Tell people what you’re going to do
This is perhaps the single biggest step you can make towards actually taking that tour. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Believe in your cause and make them believe in you.
2. Set a firm date
Don’t just tell people what you’re going to do. Tell them when you’re going to do it. Try to make the date in the relatively near future. Make it “this summer”, not “sometime this decade”. Far away dates are easy to ignore.
3. Start saving
Open a bank account dedicated to your dreams. Put some money in it every week. Slowly but surely, you can build a pool of money that will let you hit the road.
4. Pretend you’re already bike touring
What is there in your life that you don’t really need or won’t have access to on a tour? Cancel that cable TV subscription. Clear out and sell your household clutter. Put the savings in that bank account you just opened.
5. Don’t listen to the naysayers
Many people will be only too happy to tell you how crazy, dangerous or poorly thought out your idea is. Ignore them. Read The Great Fear instead and remind yourself that it is by pushing ourselves to tackle daunting situations that we discover some of the world’s greatest pleasures.
6. List the dealbreakers
Write down the 3 biggest things stopping you from going on tour. Find ways to solve these problems and start working on the solutions.
7. Find inspiration
Take a S24O to get a taste of bike touring and make you want to do even more of it. Find further motivation in people who are already doing what you want to do. Follow their blogs. Read their books. Remind yourself that this is not an unattainable dream.
18th March 2010 at 5:57 am #
Another great article – your work is so valuable to the promotion of bike touring.
The things that worked for me were to dedicate 100%% of my free time to planning and preparation, to set an exact date (17th June 2007), and to sell/give away everything unnecessary. I found it really helped to have a clean mental break – it helped to get things going and create the necessary focus.
Only by doing that did I learn how easy it really is to get on your bike and travel, and that the above steps are more about making the first leap than actually conducting a tour.
22nd March 2010 at 7:20 am #
It’s all definitely about the ‘first leap’. I just interviewed Rick Gunn (http://www.rickgunnphotography.com/) who also said the ‘first 25 yards’ were the hardest of his trip. Seems like a theme! If you can just get over that first hurdle, you’re on your way.
18th March 2010 at 9:13 pm #
I’m pleased to say that I’m just over 3 months away. Great advice – especially preteding you’re already touring. I need to cancel the cable now and get used to living without things like that.
19th March 2010 at 2:16 pm #
Just think of the treat you can indulge in on the road, because you canceled the cable now 🙂
19th March 2010 at 2:03 pm #
The 1st point especially was important for me. As long as the plan is yours and yours alone, it’s easy to change your mind. The moment you tell everybody you know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it a change occurs, you’re committed and commitment opens doors, it makes the impossible seem possible. Always remember: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
26th March 2010 at 3:41 pm #
I agree with Paul about point number one being the key. There´s no turning back once the bike touring secret is out of the box. And living simply–not getting caught up in consuming as much as those around you so you can start filling up that bank account. We defintely don´t regret taking that first leap.
18th April 2010 at 7:14 am #
Great article and so true. We have set our date (well month) as May 2011, built the website and slowly populating it, we’ve told everyone and are now focusing on getting rid of stuff and saving like mad.
We truly appreciate your website and the resources it offers for those of us wanting to emulate your travels and tour for ourselves.
21st February 2012 at 4:08 pm #
This article is very fitting for me as I plan my small solo tour around Rhode Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It also is a “keeper” for my future dreams/goals to ride across the country or at least some of it. I consider myself a very “moody” person, who can let the smallet of things ~ like the weather ~ make a good time bad. (please no comments) I am also a person who is “visual” and I love to enjoy the world around me. I often thank god for my ability to “see” ~ I think it is one of the better parts of ME. Cycling allows me to relax and often calms my MOODS. They just seem to magically go away when I’m on my bike. I’m making many moves to reach out for my goals for riding and enjoying the world around me. I’m not sure why this is, but it is in the forefront of my life. Thank you for the great words in this article and on this website.
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