How Would You End A Bicycle Tour?

I am tired now, I think I will go home Forest Gump’s brilliant words come to mind as I push the pedals on first gear up the Cordillera Blancha road in N. Peru’s national park. My legs towing the weight of my bicycle bags, they are strapped behind me on the rack. The pedals spin round as they have for 5 continuous years of touring, a 40 country, 5 continent effort that will soon complete my first bicycle tour.

It's about the journey not the destination I remind myself while percolating with gratitude at all the places I have seen in the past years. Peru’s high altitude glaciated gorgeous mountains vistas north of Huaraz strain my eyes, my cold hands clasps the handlebars. I lean forward and continue up the mountain to 15,000ft.


The goal of cycling a line around the world was accomplished, 2 weeks ago, when I reached the coast at the Pacific Ocean south of Lima. I am cooked, done, chewed, crispy, burnt, finished; it is time to move on to the next life chapter. The lessons learned from bicycle touring I will always cherish. The basic kindness of humanity all over the world will stay with me, the beauty of living simply I will take with me to my next home.
However, the exit plan has gotten as logistically complicated as the cycling around the world goal. 

Solo Female Cyclist Dream Road

A paper work problem on moving to a farm, 6 miles from the ocean on the east coast of the USA, (I am Canadian) prevented me from flying out of Lima and then an expired bank card furthered the delay. Allowing me to gratefully be able to pedal N. Peru and speak to the Huaraz, Peru newspaper about women's bicycle touring.


Once you rush through something you have already decided it isn’t important…I cheer myself up from another delay and remind myself of what I love best of about slow bicycle travel and this weeks facebook and twitter post:
Photo bomb a mountain? Took a wrong turn at 15,000+ feet, went down a trail into a valley N. Peru, (a jokester of a woman in the village insisted I was going the right way). Then I proceeded to push my bike + 55pds of gear back up the steep loose rocky path for 6hrs. Eventually, I decided it was time to start having some fun. What a perfect opportunity for my new “photo bomb’ hobby. Moral of the story, when lost and getting your ass kicked by altitude and confusion a photo bomb can greatly improve the situation.

The only thing that remains now is how to end this world tour. Forest Gump it? I am tired now, I think I will go home...just stop. Interestingly, carrying on is not an option, not unless I rename Pandemic The Magic Bicycle ‘Wilson’ from Cast Away. Socially speaking, I am long over due for a stable social life.


I read somewhere that to go around the world, one must cycle in a continuous direction a minimal of 18,000 miles (29,000 km) and cross the equator at least 3 times.  I have never been interested in mathematics, my actual mileage is unknown  but since I cycle everywhere except when removed from my bicycle because of security that I have doubled or more likely tripled that distance. Ending on the equator, on the Pacific skinny dipping with a beer in my hand, that sounds good? How would you complete a bicycle tour?

18 comments:

Andrew Jennings said...

Best to be symmetrical. End it as casually as it began. Keep looking forward, and keep writing - you are good at it. All of us who read your stuff are struggling with the reality that there won't be another hysterically funny bike touring chapter coming up.

All the best. I recommend http://www.amazon.com/Cave-Snow-Tenzin-Palmos-Enlightenment/dp/1582340455


"Crunchy" Steve said...

I know that while touring I'm homesick for home, when I'm home, and a lovely home it is, I'm sometimes homesick for the road. I can only imagine that effect would be highly magnified after 5 years on the road.

The Adventurer said...

life is a journey

www.crazyguyonabike.com/amandacycle said...

Loretta

I know the feeling of wanting a stable social life and be 'normal' living the lifestyle you have become accustom to travelling by cycling, then going back to 'normal' will be a one of your biggest adjustments challenges.. Once you back with the comforts of life your head will be spinning with thoughts, were will I cycle to again? Or perhaps come up with some other kind of adventure. Hay the next cycle adventure, contact me, I would like to cycle a country with you.

Tara said...

Oh I don't know... but if you could just find your cigarets I bet you'd feel normal ;)
I feel for you Retta. This is huge. I feel a pang of sadness for you... for this ending. But also an excitement for you for what you have taken in. More than most of us will ever understand in this lifetime. A beer and a skinny dip and maybe a sunset sound perfect. Blissful. Maybe some strangers to chat with and move on. Good luck my friend.

AmiiAmor said...

May I suggest... locate the nearest luxury hotel, check-in, order a massage, have a long, hot and bubbly soak in the tub, eat everything you like from the menu, lay back on the crisp clean comfy bed and click the remote control for the tv until you find the comedy channel?

Sinead said...

I'm going to start with a selfish though - what? no!?! I just subscribed. This is the first blog post I've received.

Now, that that's out of the way. Wow - what a journey behind you. What a journey ahead of you. How to slide back into "normal"? It's a big question. Slowly, gently, be kind to yourself. The reverse culture shock might be huge. Factor in a lot of leeway for this. Let the dust settle. Then wash it off! Allow the next dreamcome to you organically. Take others advice but still listen to your gut. Please keep posting on this blog too. I'd love to keep up with you. Good luck!

Jaybird said...

An incredible woman completes an incredible trip. Can't wait to see ya! Take good care of that kind, brave soul. Praise EBE.

Jeff said...

Hey Loretta. I finished my own 4+ year bike trip to South America in 2010 with several months of biking from Texas to BC. That gave me a transition period of being back in the wealthy part of the world, before I was actually back behind a desk full-time. I think it would have been some crazy culture shock if I'd been dropped into BC directly from Peru. So, prepare yourself for that.

I still have had a hard time readjusting to life here. I haven't gotten to a point where I feel like I really fit in here (but maybe I never did before either). Anytime I hear someone complaining about anything, my first thought is "yeah, first world problems, eh". So I don't know that my expanded perspective on the world has even been a positive thing to bring back with me here. Hopefully you can turn it into something more useful.

I guess you and I are different, in that my trip was the result of years of dreaming and engineering my whole life around it, and I was sad to end it when the money had been used up. If you really are feeling finished with biking now, then you will probably have an easier time than I did of adjusting to living in one place again and establishing a stable life. As for me, I'm hitting the road for several years again, starting a few weeks from now. :)

Thanks for your years of blogging and sharing that unique perspective and style of yours. Best of luck transitioning to your new life.

Grace said...

Wishing you the best with your next adventure / life!

Cherry Fitzsimmons said...

glad you made it to the Cordillera Blanca Loretta. Suete for the next stage, I am in the end life is all the same thing, it aint what you do it´s what it does to you.

Rebecca Jones said...

Hey Loretta! I tweeted you a while ago, and though you've been a great inspiration to me I've never left a comment. I can see how you'd get tired after 5 years, and though I plan for my own trip to take around 10, I've also left it an option in my mind to take a break in the middle to recharge. I figure the road will always be waiting for me, and it will be waiting for you too if you ever decide to return.

I'll second the request that you keep writing, as I'd love to keep up with you, but whether you do or not good luck with wherever the future takes you!

Robert Morrison said...

Never end it, just take a break. We use our total visa allowance, half the time cycling and half the time living somewhere in that country. Right now in Tolu Colombia.

Stephen Fabes said...

Thank you for all the photos, stories and laughs Loretta. If there's a book, lemme know.

Good luck with the transition to a more normal existence. I recommend pitching a tent somewhere in Canada and regaling others with rambling stories of your ride. Ease yourself back in.

All the best mate

Egmond Petzoldt said...

Djeeez, you are inspiring...

People I meet along the way ask me why I do these things like crossing the Alps in winter and camping on the snow..
I always refer them back to Forest Gump ((-:[=

I doubt if I can ever live a so called 'normal life' again.. I am curious if you can...

Enjoy your not bicycling days!

Tee said...

I just want to say... You're freakin' bad ass!!! :)

Kelly said...

Awesome story! I'm just about to start my 5 year cycle trip, so I can't even image finishing it at the moment, but I can completely understand the feeling of wanting some stability for a while. I've been travelling and living overseas for a while, and I always feel a bit lost when I come home and see that everyone's got kids and new houses and are at a completely different stage in their lives. Still it's worth it in the end. You've experienced so much and have so many stories to tell :)

Good luck on the next chapter!

Pavel said...

Loretta ... it's been so long ... can you please get that ass back on a bike. How am I supposed to have a vicarious adventure ... without my favorite star??

Skalatitude..."When humans and nature are living in harmony there is magic and beauty everywhere"

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