Cycle Touring is Mental
Could cycling around the world be considered a more mental or physical challenge?
Sure, its going to be physically demanding, punishing even, but nothing can compare to what is going on in our heads. l believe that the mental side of things is going to be far harder than the physical.
These days, prior to the adventure, I will set my alarm to go to the gym to do an hour of strength training, and later in the day I will cycle for a couple of hours on paths and roads. There are times when training, that I feel I have done enough, I’m bored or tired, and I might leave out a set of an exercise, or even a whole exercise, but most of the time I will push myself mentally to complete my workout.
While carrying out my workout, my mind can be on all sorts of things, life, work, bills, relationships. And the moment, my mind is on all of those things, as well as sadness about leaving for so long and missing people, things, and a quite comfortable way of life.
Working out is pretty much a case of just leaving my body to it while I cabbage my head with all kinds of thinking, unrelated to the exercise I’m doing. I know that the mind should be working with the body when training, but all our minds wander, don't they.
Cycling day after day will be physically demanding of course, but pushing yourself to cycle day after day will take far more effort. Rain, wind, sleeping arrangements. Strange places and maybe strange people and animals. Nothing familiar or comforting that will remind you of home will make you homesick. Wondering what is happen back home and what you might be missing out on, and just hoping that everyone back home are OK and in good health.
Every minute of every day, your mind will be challenged, while only a few hours a day will be physically challenging, if that. Having read about and spoken with others on long trips, especially solo trips, there are so many stories about people crying themselves to sleep at night, of being scared and nervous at times, feeling so lonely and alone that they end up giving up, despite being more than physically capable of carrying on, and yes, there are others that were of course mentally fine but unable to continue physically.
Even all the wonderful things and experiences you will have can be exhausting to the mind, and body. Think of the times you may have driven your car for hours in a day on a day out or to get somewhere, then been so mentally exhausted that you are desperate to stop, and when you do, you fall into a deep sleep.
Your mind has been focused on the road, other traffic, dangers and hazards, as well as whatever else is going on in your life, while your body has not really done very much at all other than change a few gears and press a couple of pedals. Hardly physically demanding, but definitely mentally demanding. And that’s just driving for a few hours.
For sure, to push yourself day after day, month after month, and year after year to complete a cycle tour, is going to be far more mental than physical.