Deep Thoughts from the road

By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
Mayst hear the merry din.’

Evening everyone, a few things to say.

First and foremost I want to give you all a few words on what this sort of travel does to you. In short, without proper expectations and preparation it drives you crazy.

I am an extremely active person both physically and mentally. This adventure certainly takes care of the physical bit yet it aside from conversation with random people hardly does anything for the mind. To qualify that statement, I mean to say that the long spans of riding in between point A and point B are the twilight zones for the mind.

Sure at the beginning and end of the day there is pleanty of human interaction, packing, planning and things to be done to properly occupy the mind. However once you get on the saddle and start riding, unless the conditions require constant attention your mind just starts to drift and you get bored and start to think about all the things you dont like about riding. How the saddle feels, what hurts in your legs, the wind, the rain anything. I am even fortunate to have a travel companion to talk to periodically but during riding Sarah can get so far away from me that I could easily consider myself alone.

Perhaps thats just me, perhaps I am slightly crazy but friends of mine have remarked of a similar occurance so I am here to try to lend aid to other travelers.

First and foremost you need a game plan. Something to do, something to mentally occupy yourself with for several hours a day.

Tips:

1: Get an mp3 player, I suggest the Sansa clip it costs about $60, the new one that is. Its a brilliant little mp3 player weighs a few ounces at most; its very bare bones, no flashy visual display or anything just nice and simple . The best part about the device is that its a standard 8 gigs of memory but has a Micro SD card slot meaning that it is expandable. I have a 16 Gig card in there at the moment. It cost me about $20. So for about $80 you have a 24 gig device with an excellent battery life. Ok that’s my endorsement for the evening. Regardless of what mp3 player you get. Get one! Use it to learn a language, listen to audio books, poetry whatever you please. Music works too, however you don’t really have to think or pay attention to listen to music so your brain can start wandering to strange places so something that requires thinking is best. Again I say audio books, language programs or something of the like are wonderful. I am currently working on learning Italian and memorizing various bits of classical poetry. It works wonders.

Ok so in the event that the battery dies on the mp3 player (which will happen, especially when you don’t want it to) or you just don’t have one, you need to use your own mental facilities to keep yourself occupied.

2. Try to memorize things. Stories, languages, Poetry, Pi, Strings of prime numbers. Anything really. Trying to memorize something makes you think just hard enough that you can still function and navigate, yet occupies enough of your brain so that your still busy and active in there. Its also pretty easy to get distracted by a car that passes far to close for comfort, or a beautiful landscape or bad directions. Just for long enough that you lose your place or forget just what you were doing and so you have to start over or somewhere you do remember. Hours of instant occupation, and honestly once you’ve memorized something you can put it to good use. Especially if its a language. But if its random facts or poetry you can impress random people, or come up with witty quotes that very few people will get. You can spout off the billionth digit of Pi; which is 9 by the way. Anything just memorize anything, once your done move on to the next thing. Supposedly its healthy for the brain too.

3. Play mental games. Doesn’t matter what it is, make something up if you have to. Few tips, look for funny or interesting road signs. Take pictures of them or just memorize them. Play license plate bingo with states or numbers.  Number games or taking formula to extremes are certainly time consuming. 1+1=2, 2+2=4 4+4=8 so on and so forth. Divide your mileage by different numbers.

Things that can certainly be tough and monotonous are hills. Pushing through them, particularly on certain hills can be tough. Besides a dedication to not stopping which can be much worse than going forward each pedal stroke can hurt. So I tend to count them. It helps keep ones mind busy on something else. Makes it a bit easier to get up hills.

Im sure there are other things to do to keep your mind busy but I strongly suggest keeping yourself busy or you may get homesick or lonely with what your doing so the best thing to do is to stay mentally occupied.

 

Good luck and happy cycling,

Phil

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Posted on 29 October 2011, in Bicycle Touring, Providence to New Orleans. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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