Five nights in the San Diego area so far, and one more to come. I’m hitting the road again tomorrow morning (Monday). But there’s been a bit of reflection, thinking, reality-checking and re-planning going on. If you’ve read the ‘About’ page, you know I never made any promises about sticking to the original plan.
There’s also been a bit of ‘rest and relaxation’ at a busy travellers’ hostel, which has led to me needing some rest and relaxation. It’s hard work keeping up with the youngsters nowadays. Especially when you discover that you genuinely are older than some of their parents. Ouch!
I’ve learned a few things along the way on this trip. Not entirely surprising, as this is my first long bike ride. I knew I could manage my target mileage, at least in the short term. I knew that I’d be happy travelling by myself most of the time. And I knew that other tourers can complete long-term, intercontinental touring on miniscule budgets. It only made sense that I could do the same, so I planned accordingly.
But here are a few of the more relevant pieces of knowledge I’ve attained over the last few months:
1. While I can maintain a 50-mile-a-day average, it’s a little too athletic for my liking (this might be a roundabout way of saying that I’m a bit lazy).
2. If I’ve spent a day straining and sweating on a bike, I really need a shower if there’s one available. And I’m willing to spend money to have one. I tried the wild camping thing, and after due consideration, have decided that it’s generally best left for dire emergencies, or places where there is nowhere at all to stay (this might be a roundabout way of saying that I’m getting too old to be filthy for days on end).
3. If you add together the first two points, you still get a cheap (in terms of daily cost) trip. But you don’t get one that’s going to cover all six rideable continents and three years. Or at least, not without a much, much bigger budget.
So… Reality bites.
I really wanted to ride central and south America. I also really wanted to ride around the world, from London to London. But it’s very clear that I can’t (realistically) do both in one go. I’ve had to work out what the priority is, and focus.
Going around the world generally involves moving in one direction. Going to south America in the way I intended would take around a year, and cost a year’s worth of money. And it would take me backwards in terms of moving around the world. Heading directly around the world by heading to New Zealand would take 13 hours, and cost £600. And it would take me a long way (a very long way) forward in terms of moving around the world.
There’s only one answer here. South America will have to wait. I’m flying to Auckland from LA on Saturday evening. This is a bit gutting. I was really looking forward to south America, as I’ve never been. But it’ll probably still be there for a while.
On the other hand, there are some pluses. I can keep a realistic daily budget for the trip. I won’t have to live in hedges and eat earth all the way home. And it’s probably only about 18 months from New Zealand, so people at home can buy me congratulatory pints sooner. And I will circumnavigate the world on a bike, which is important.
So, it’s hobbits instead of tequila (a choice I never thought I’d have to make).
I tipped my hat to latin America yesterday, with an evening in Tijuana, Mexico. It was very chilled out, clean and safe feeling despite the dire predictions of various people I’ve spoken to (and chunks of the international media). And at least I can say that I’ve been to Mexico. For a couple of hours.
The frustration of knowing that ‘TJ’ would be as far as I got in latin America was offset a bit by some delicious beer, and a pile of tasty quesadillas with slightly alarming chilli sauce. I think I could have got used to that sort of diet…
San Diego seems like a really nice town too. No obvious ‘no-go’ areas, and easy access to the ocean, the mountains, and Mexico. And some interesting buildings as well. But I’ve been still and procrastinating for too long. It’s time to head on.
I never intended to go anywhere near LA, but it’s where the flight is. I’ll be meandering up the southern Californian coast over the next few days, and then repeating the ‘find a box, pack the bike, cross your fingers that the baggage handlers are real human beings’ process that I perfected in Lisbon. It should be early summer in NZ, and I can take it fairly easy through there before hitting Australia to start the long ride home.
Still sounds like quite a good trip, actually…
Not that you need the slightest of validation from me – and it’s clearly way too late anyway because I’ve only just caught up with the past few weeks of your adventure – but I think you made a great decision here. I felt before you left that one of the (only?) things you were anxious about was when/why to stick to your plan and when not to. I’ve since read the (totally awesome) Adventure Cycling Handbook that you said was your bible before the trip, and I’m sure it says on something like Page 2 in emphasised text that one of the greatest lessons to learn about long-distance cycle touring is to recognise that adapting your plans – even to the extent of skipping a continent – for the right reason is all part of the adventure, and that a rigid persistence to “stick to the plan no matter what” inevitably leads to either misery or failure (and usually both). Obviously we all know the decision was based more on the lure of pies and fish and chips rather than this budget/mileage stuff you claim is the rationale, but regardless I think it’s really impressive to have made such a significant plan change and I am sure you’ll look back on it and think it was a great decision.
Everything sounds amazing btw. I am still utterly jealous. I also still expect to come and join you for a week at some point (maybe late 2015?) but there’s plenty of time to plan that. And probably good that I don’t book any tickets just yet if you keep skipping entire continents. 😀
Thanks. Right about the pies, though – secret’s out! Just had to prioritise; if I’d done S Anerica, I think I’d have been flying straight home from there. Maybe in a couple of years… Be great if you could get out for a bit; should be a bit closer to home by late next year. Probably dithering about how to get through the middle east in one piece 😉
Oh, and speaking of Plan B, apparently one of his songs was written with you in mind…