Default Mode: don’t let it stand in the way of a big bike tour

I’m guessing many of you would like to set off on a long-distance cycle tour.  Someday.  You’re just not quite sure when.

At the moment, your focus is elsewhere.  Perhaps your career is taking off.  Maybe you’ve just begun a promising new relationship.  You might even be toying with the idea of taking on a mortgage and snatching up your dream house.

The world, as we all know, is full of choices and opportunities.

The thing is, I regularly hear from people all around the world who grumble about the direction their life is taking.  Recent graduates write to say they feel pressure to settle down and get a ‘real job’ but something inside of them aches for adventure.  Career climbers email us admitting they feel trapped in a job they’re less than passionate about.  People nearing retirement get in touch to lament spending decades acquiring all the outward trappings of a successful life, only to be left feeling empty and dissatisfied.

These people all have something in common: they say cycle touring makes them feel alive in a way ‘regular life’ just doesn’t.  Often, they share plans for an ambitious cross continental tour.

Some of the individuals I hear from eventually take the plunge.   They set off on the big bike tour they’ve always dreamed of.   Good for them!

By all accounts, most of these folks are thrilled with their new two-wheeled lifestyle.  They post photos of themselves proudly posing at the top of a big climb, or of last night’s stunning campsite next to a raging river.

They blog about the amazing hospitality they encounter, the massive quantities of food they’re ingesting, and of course the beautiful landscapes they roll past.

What’s stopping you?

In fact, I’ve yet to hear from a single individual who’s regretted the decision to go cycle touring (although I’m sure there’s one or two out there).

The thing is, of all the people who want to cycle around the world, relatively few actually do it.

So what’s holding everybody back?

In a few cases, an almost insurmountable obstacle stands in the way.

Let’s face it– if your partner is dead set against a cycle tour, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Children also make the situation a little trickier.  It’s possible to educate kids on the road, but this may not be the best learning environment for your kids.

And then there’s money.   If you’re buried beneath a mountain of debt, you can probably drop the idea of a long distance bicycle tour (at least for the moment).

The rest of us

Then there’s the rest of us.

People who are single or partnered with someone who appreciates the idea of a cycle tour.

People who are childless or have kids who thrive on adventure and adapt easily to new environments.

People who can come up with the cash (and it certainly doesn’t have t o be much; many cyclists—ourselves included– do it on around $10/day).

So here’s what really baffles me:

Why do so many people who…

  • dream of a big bike tour
  • have absolutely no commitments holding them back
  • have the financial means to make a bike tour happen

choose NOT to set off on their ‘dream tour’.

It just doesn’t make sense

Not fulfilling your dreams when you have the chance to do so seems absurd.

Don’t we all want the best for ourselves?  Isn’t finding happiness and fulfillment our ultimate goal in life?

Recent research proves that humankind is a lot less rational than we’d all like to believe.

Much of what we do is not by active choice; rather it’s a question of living in default mode.

A dangerous existence

I see a lot of default mode in my own life. One example comes from my college career.   My choice to major in business administration had little to do with a keen desire to one day manage a big company and a lot to do with the fact that my father and elder sister both studied business.  I chose default mode.

In lieu of finding out what subject suited me best, I simply followed in the footsteps of family members.

The danger in this type of living is that it tends to repeat itself.  We continue to live just like everybody else because it’s easier that way.  We passively allow ’society’ to dictate the course of our lives.

We graduate from college, begin building a career, settle down with a partner, buy a house, raise a family, and retire at 65.   That’s standard living procedure.

A big bicycle adventure is not, sadly, part of life’s Default Mode.  It should be.

Is it worth it?

Choosing a big bicycle tour means digging your way out of Default Mode.  It means giving up safety and security for the unknown.  It requires going against the flow and shaking up the status quo.

Is it worth it?  Anecdotal evidence seems to say YES!

Every year more and more people (just like YOU) are departing from Default  Mode and experiencing the adventure of life on a bike.  Most are delighted with their decision.

I sincerely hope 2014 will be the year you join the growing ranks of cycle nomads spinning their wheels around the world!

 

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16 Responses to Default Mode: don’t let it stand in the way of a big bike tour

  1. Antonio Cala
    Antonio Cala January 17, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    Brilliant article Amaya.

    The first time I found your website and read about your adventures was 3 years ago. You inspired me like nobody else. I had a good job and a safety net to protect me. But life wasn´t as exciting and adventurous as I wanted. I decided to make a change.

    It took me 1 year to convince myself and to convince my partner to fight for our dreams. And another year to save as much money as we could possibly do and to gear up for the trip.

    In a couple of weeks we are going to celebrate our first anniversary on the road as cycling nomads. Thank you so much for inspiring us to make this decision. It has changed our lives completely. And to all who read this, go ahead and make the change. You won´t regret it.

    Antonio

    http://www.CyclingelMundo.com

    • World Biking
      World Biking January 17, 2014 at 12:44 am #

      That’s fantastic, Antonio! I am so thrilled that you’ve shared your journey to adventure with us. I hope many MANY others will follow in your tire tracks.

  2. Mirjam
    Mirjam January 17, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    huh? I thought bicycle-touring was default mode.

    • World Biking
      World Biking January 17, 2014 at 6:34 am #

      Only for people like you lucky enough to be born with a free-spirited, non-conformist, adventure-craving disposition!

  3. Martin
    Martin January 17, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Very nice write up, sitting here 16days to departure. It is a challenging experience, looking forward to be on the bicycles and enjoy our choice. Thanks for the inspiration and information.
    All the best
    Martin from http://www.twistingspokes.com

    • World Biking
      World Biking January 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      I applaud your decision to plunge into the world of long-distance cycle touring. 2014 will surely be one of your best years yet.

  4. Doug W
    Doug W January 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    Like Martin and Antonio, we owe you and Eric a great deal of thanks for the inspiration you’ve provided over the years. It’s amazing how saving for a open-ended bicycle trip can cause you to gradually adjust your entire outlook on life, work, and what it means to be happy and financially secure. We’ve come to realize that by simply “requiring” less, you reduce your stress levels and free up a lot of time for doing what you really want to do.

    Our house goes on the market in 2 weeks and we’ll be taking off in 2 months for our own trip. I can’t say we’ll be going for 6+ years like you too (or is it 7 now?) but we know we’ll be going as long as want.

    Thanks for the inspiration (and proof that it can be done!)
    Doug & Kristin
    http://www.twofargone.com

    • World Biking
      World Biking January 19, 2014 at 1:02 am #

      Wow–just two months till the big adventure is underway. Congratulations and making it happen.

      Excellent point about “requiring” less.

      Simplifying has left me time to travel (obviously) but also time to develop my passion for photography and discover that creating stuff is incredibly fun and rewarding.

      It’s also freed up time to listen to podcasts (love to learn and be entertained while riding) and read (can’t survive without my Kindle).

      Sure, those are just basic things, but they bring me an enormous pleasure.

      Best of luck on your big tour and keep us posted on your progress!

  5. Lewis
    Lewis January 20, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    We’re four months away from our escape from the office. Just like Doug said, we don’t know how long we’ll be riding, but it will be as long as we want.
    We’re looking forward to the freedom to follow whatever catches our interest, and the weather and hill struggles will make the sunsets and open road even sweeter.

  6. Pier
    Pier January 22, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Wow. true hurts but this is the point..
    Up from childhood they have taught us that there is the right thing and the wrong one, that there is a Default mode that we have to follow and we have believed instead of just doing what your heart tells us!
    I decided to leave three months ago and the adventure begins in April.
    It’s thanks to people like you that I realized how easy it’s to decide to go.
    Thank you

  7. Rozzie
    Rozzie January 31, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    Great read. My husband and I tick all the boxes, got the bikes were training to build endurance, have nothing to hold us back. Been talking about this for years, but have spent the last 4 years sailing on a boat. So were going to go, my only concern is can we physically do it. I read so much about younger folks doing this. Hubby is 63 and Im 47. I don’t see why not. I mean we can always walk or just stop if we get tired. I don’t believe we have to have super huge days and we can pick our routes, we have no time constraints. So why not! I think if we didn’t go we would regret it on our death bed. I never want to say… “I wish I would have had the courage to go bike touring”
    cheers!

    • World Biking
      World Biking January 31, 2014 at 7:14 am #

      You definitely don’t have to be a super athlete to go bicycle touring. As you said, you can always walk or hitch a ride if necessary. Unless you’re morbidly obese or missing a limb, you can do it!

  8. Brad
    Brad February 4, 2014 at 2:40 am #

    Well written and an inspiration for people to just pack it in and head off on an adventure, sums up my thoughts exactly. For me 2014 is the year of cycle touring, today is Day 1.

    • World Biking
      World Biking February 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Fabulous! All the best on your big adventure–wishing you many starry nights in front of a roaring campfire.

  9. Adrian
    Adrian February 13, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Another great article. Thank you.
    After months of procrastination I finally handed my notice in this morning, whatever money I have saved will be enough. It will have to be. Sweaty palms, my stomach in knots. I havent felt so alive for far, far too long.
    Thank you.

    • World Biking
      World Biking February 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      You will never regret the decision to live life on your terms. I’m certain you’ll find that travel gets cheaper and cheaper the longer you’re on the road and spending less often results in BETTER experiences because you open yourself up to random encounters.

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