I hate the feeling of giving up. You probably do, too.
Yet we all have those throw-in-the-towel days.
During our two and a half months biking around Borneo I’ve had plenty of them.
But I stuck it out. And I’m glad I did. I think a quick look at the images below will best explain why.
I didn’t always enjoy bike touring on Borneo. It was a struggle. The heat, the hills, the palm oil plantations and the deforestation were tough to cope with.
If you’re a cycle tourist, then your perseverance has surely been tested. Here are some of my strategies for sticking it out:
I give myself permission to be miserable.
I allow myself to whine, to cry, and to curse the engineers who dreamed up a road with an 18% grade. I’ve even been known to throw a toddler-like temper tantrum. Sometimes you just have to let off steam.
I let it pass.
Wallowing in self-pity is not a long-term solution. But if you’re hot, hungry and physically drained it’s hard to see past that. When I want to give up I stop. I eat. And sometimes I even hop on a truck.
I consider the conditions under which I will quit.
Bicycle touring isn’t always sunshine and tailwinds, but it shouldn’t be a constant struggle either.
If you find yourself dreading another day on the bike over a long period of time something is wrong.
Most of us enjoy the challenge of a steep mountain pass and there’s something to be said for sticking it out across the Sahara, the Nullarbor or the Gobi. Usually I hunker down and plow ahead. But sometimes the pain and suffering just isn’t worth it
I hit my limit pedaling up a 16% grade climb during a tropical rainstorm on the narrow and busy road between Bontang and Samarinda in East Kalimantan. We were more than a month into the never-ending hills of Borneo and I’d had enough.
Hitchhiking to the next town saved my sanity. “Temporarily” quitting meant I was able to stick it out in the long run.
I let serendipity work its magic.
Just when I’m at the end of my rope, I’m often gifted some form of encouragement or respite.
Maybe it’s as simple as a big wave from some cheering kids or an offer of a cool drink or hospitality from a stranger.
On the Borneo ride it came in the form of a guy called Hippo.
After a serious breakdown (bicycles, not mental) he tracked us down, crammed our bikes and gear into his vehicle and ferried us off to his little expat oasis. Think air-con, hot shower, flush toilet and a swimming pool. After a couple of days of good conversation and comfortable living we were ready to face the world again. That’s magical.
I focus on the ultimate goal.
Thinking about the end goal helps me stay focused and gain perspective.
What keeps us pedaling across the torturous Ozarks? We want to cross America.
What makes us push on through the mud and muck of Central Africa? We want to reach Cape Town.
What keeps cyclists going as they battle headwinds in Patagonia? They want to reach Ushuaia.
What helps me face another day of hills on Borneo? I want to cycle every country on the planet.
And the tiny country of Brunei just happens to be situated on the island of Borneo.
I remind myself how lucky I am and focus on the joys.
At the end of the day, I keep on pedaling because I love bike touring. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I’m curious about why lies ahead and I’m passionate about exploring the planet.
If not bike touring, then what?