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How Far Would You Go to Fulfull Your Touring Dream?

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How Far Would You Go to Fulfull Your Touring Dream?

Old 01-26-05, 05:02 PM
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David in PA
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How Far Would You Go to Fulfull Your Touring Dream?

Hello Everyone,

My goal/dream is to ride Adventure Cycling's TransAmerica trail, which goes from VA to the Colorado Rockies, then N to the top of the US, and finally W to Washington state.

I tried this two years ago. Unfortunately, I was attacked by a dog several weeks into the trip, lost control of my bike, and landed HARD against the blacktop, causing a severe hematoma in my upper left thigh. I visited a doctor who made things much worse. (I should have sued him.) I then had to give up my dream, and head home. It was disappointing and depressing. But such is life, and I got over it.

My leg is pretty much healed now but with some residual effects, and so now I want to try the trip again. If all goes as I hope, I may quit my job at the end of April, put my belongings in storage, and begin the TransAmerica Trek in early May. Of course, I worry about not having a job upon my return, and spending some of my savings. So I'm still considering it, to say the least.

I am 53 years old, and do not want to wait until retirement to do it. By then who knows what could happen that would prevent me from doing it?

Has anyone out there quit a job and thrown caution to the wind, in order to fulfill a dream like this? If you did, how did you fare upon your return? Was it all worth it? Any advice, suggestions, philosophies, or encouragement would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

David in PA
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Old 01-26-05, 05:57 PM
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David....I have a most similiar dilemma....I am bit older 58...just about a year since quadruple bypass...i am doing great, but long for some serious cycling...I want to tour France and Italy so much that I can almost taste it. To do it, I will almost undoubtedly have to give up my current job, and I am a bit gun shy about finding another at my age. Especially one with medical benefits etc. If I can figure a way to get around the financial issue I am planning on going.

By the way, I am down in Annapolis, Maryland, what part of PA are you in.

Stever
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Old 01-26-05, 07:21 PM
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Hi Dave, I know what you are going through. I left a very good job last May to do exactly what you are planning. www.loa2004.crazyguyonabike.com I called it my "Leave of Absence Tour" But I had no idea if I could get my job back upon my return, but had to do it anyway. It was well worth it!! I did in fact get my old job back, but I did not know till the very end of my trip. I was completely prepared for the job hunt if necessary.
I don't know your situation, but I would venture to say that the odds of getting your job back are pretty good, regardless of what your employer says. If you ask for the time off, they pretty much have to tell you the worst, but three to four months goes by so fast that it's not worth trying to train someone new.
That trip is so great, you should not let the opportunity and excitement pass.
Now I'm putting all my energies toward early retirement so I can do some more long distance trips.
Health insurance becomes a big issue for a trip like this, but there is a good solution. I switched from my company plan to an individual, high deductable plan. You have to save up quite a bit just to do a trip like this and that becomes your safety factor for your policy. Mine is a $5000 deductable which cost about $70 a month.
I very much encourage you to do it, mental energy and drive are the most important requirement for a trip like that and it sounds like you have those now. Go, go go!
Greg
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Old 01-26-05, 07:28 PM
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Check out the travelogues by Catfish in the touring forum. He did just what you're talking about.

Koffee
 
Old 01-26-05, 07:37 PM
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I had a similar dream - and mine was helped along by my working for a company that went under in the spring of 2002. I was actually laid off two weeks before the end... Instead of looking for another job I decided to celebrate my 50th birthday by riding my bike across America. I was one of the lucky ones - my boss was laid off too, and he had a job waiting for me when I returned home. I was prepared to spend a few months looking for a new job though...

I'd say that you should go for it!
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Old 01-26-05, 07:50 PM
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Yes. 20 years ago, I quit my job and toured across Europe. All I really knew at the beginning was I had a ticket to Athens, Greece on March 15 and a ticket out of Shannon Ireland on September 1. It was the best decision I ever made.
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Old 01-26-05, 07:57 PM
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David - I'll leave the financial and job aspects for you to figure out, but as for riding across at your age, I can add my vote that it's a wonderful time of life to do that. When I was 53 I took a company buyout and retired. The next spring I set out on my road bike, laden with way too much stuff, and made the trip with only a few (11) nights' previous experience at bike touring/camping. Rather than using a route mapped by others, I traced out a path during many winter nights poring over maps, one that spoke to my particular dreams of terra incognita. I would urge you to avoid roads you've traveled in the past and to try not to learn too much about what you'll find on the ones you choose. In other words, don't plan all the adventure out of your trip beforehand.

I found that gray-haired cycle-touring is pretty darned good. There must be an unwritten policy giving the benefit of doubt to cyclists "of a certain age", because I was pleased no end by the reception I got throughout the trip. Maybe people looked at my silver crown and "official" cycling garb and felt either respect ("he must know what he's doing") or pity ("at his age? We'd better be kind to him--we may be calling 911 soon.) At any rate, I've never wished I did that trip at an earlier age. It was a perfect time. I've tried to cross 3 times since but have been thwarted along the way by one thing or another, so for me, first time's a charm. Do it while you can.

FYI, my mostly-backroads route across the northern border states went from Woodstock NY to Ilwaco WA at the mouth of the Columbia River. 48 days; 3400+ miles. That's 100 miles shy of an ocean-to-ocean crossing, but I did dip my wheel in the stream behind my house

Best of luck if you go,

Lew
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Old 01-26-05, 08:50 PM
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David, you didn't say what your profession is or what your job prospects are likely to be when you return home. I think that's an important consideration. You know the extent of your savings, and I think that's an important part of your decision, as well. You should be able to continue your health insurance through COBRA, and while it isn't cheap, it's likely to be cheaper and better than what you could get on your own. (non-Americans reading this, please excuse the jargon and the necessary obsession we have with health insurance due to our dysfunctional health care system in the US).

Having said that, I quit my job when I was 25 to go on an open-ended bike trip, a far less risky move than at 53. I ended up being gone for 14 months, biked on 3 continents, and had an unforgettable experience. Later, I often took advantage of job changes to go on long bike trips, and also asked for (and was granted) permission to take some leave without pay in order to go biking for 4-6 weeks on several occasions. If leave-without-pay is at all a possibility, you might want to try that option first. That would give you the best of both worlds.

I've been laid off twice in the past 6 years. When I was laid off about 6 years ago, the job outlook wasn't too bad. I decided to take advantage of the situation and do something I had wanted to do for a while. I enrolled in a Spanish-language school in Central America for several weeks. I brought my bike with me and rode it when I wasn't studying, and went touring for a few more weeks after I finished my studies. My only regret is that I didn't study Spanish for about 4 more weeks. I've taken advantage of my improved Spanish-speaking ability on bike trips I've gone on since that time.

One thing you might want to do now is put your resume out there to find out what your job prospects appear to be like. That will give you some idea of the risk you'd be taking.
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Old 01-26-05, 11:03 PM
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How Far Would You Go to Fulfull Your Touring Dream?
divorce?!
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Old 01-28-05, 10:05 PM
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Has anyone out there quit a job and thrown caution to the wind, in order to fulfill a dream like this?

Yes. Quit my job October 2004, and toured Australia for three months. See my website - see signature line.


If you did, how did you fare upon your return?

Still working on that - I've just been back a month and am still unemployed.


Was it all worth it?

YES! YES!! YES!!!
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Old 01-29-05, 12:41 PM
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I have changed career fields 4 times in my lifetime, each time went into a diff job situation and did well. I don't believe it was luck that got me the jobs but rather the initiative that employers recognized. Each time with weeks of a new start I was promoted and given good raises because I could and did recognized problems and solved them without running to a supervisior

Travel experiences,I firmly believe are what helped me. When you break down or are stranded in a strange place, barely speak the language or are low on cash, its raining, sleeting, terrible head winds, one solves one's own problems.

Added to this is the belief that had been expressed to me many times...........namely this guy CAN DO.

I say go and don't look back

Leaving for Spain in May, and to Africa in September to climb Kilimanjaro
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Old 02-14-05, 10:55 AM
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David in PA
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Thanks to everyone for responding to my original post, "How Far Would You Go to Fulfull Your Touring Dream?" Your suggestions and words of encouragement are truly inspiring. And I wish all of you the great adventures in your upcoming tours.

As for me, I am very close to making a decision about doing the TransAmerica this year.

David in PA
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Old 02-14-05, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by David in PA
Thanks to everyone for responding to my original post, "How Far Would You Go to Fulfull Your Touring Dream?" Your suggestions and words of encouragement are truly inspiring. And I wish all of you the great adventures in your upcoming tours.

As for me, I am very close to making a decision about doing the TransAmerica this year.

David in PA
Have you considered this event:

http://www.transamracing.org/


And PS ... I'm hoping "the rest of the story" will unfold for me this week. I'll keep you posted.
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Old 02-14-05, 02:33 PM
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If I didn't have debt (Credit cards, student loans...blah bla), and didn't have family obligations (children, or non-cycling spouse)...I'd be cycling in another country. I have the former, not the later.

I can think of quite a few places I'd like to see, or see again, where daily expenses are less than here in the states. Primarily food, beer, accomidation (sometimes crazy cheap!). The downside (expense wise) is finding cheap airfare.

I could see a sign on my door that reads "gone cycling" for a good year or more, once my debts gone. If I get hitched before then, well, priorities change-unless of course she's a cyclist too. It would be awesome to have the means (& mutual desire) to tour the world with a girlfriend/wife!

Kudos to anyone who can leave the daily grind to go travel! Me, I just got called in after 2 hours sleep, 9 hours early. Patients (and patience), and the formula (overtime=more $=less debt) keep me from telling work to stuff it. I don't have windows in the lab, booo.
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Old 02-15-05, 06:18 AM
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David in PA
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Originally Posted by gregw
Health insurance becomes a big issue for a trip like this, but there is a good solution. I switched from my company plan to an individual, high deductable plan. You have to save up quite a bit just to do a trip like this and that becomes your safety factor for your policy. Mine is a $5000 deductable which cost about $70 a month. Greg
Greg,

Yes, also for me, insurance is definitely a factor in my decision whether or not to quit my job and do the TransAmerica. I was wondering if you could suggest companies that provide this type of insurance.

Thanks,
David
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Old 02-15-05, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by David in PA
Greg,

Yes, also for me, insurance is definitely a factor in my decision whether or not to quit my job and do the TransAmerica. I was wondering if you could suggest companies that provide this type of insurance.

Thanks,
David
Hi David, when I was shopping for insurance the best plan I could find was with Anthem insurance Co. this was also my companies insurance co. I could not switch to this policy while my company offered another plan with them, dumb rule. Anyway, they were the best and Humana was second, and that is who I still have.
I think this type of policy is a viable option for an individual policy for a non-smoker, in good health and no family history of chronic illness. I have already saved more that the 5k I needed to save-up to begin this plan. Hope this helps.
Greg
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Old 02-19-05, 05:37 PM
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Hi David,

At age 32 my wife and I quit our jobs and drove our 1978 VW camper van through Mexico, Central America, South America and Africa. The trip took a little more than three years and was utterly life changing.

Upon return to the US our families expected us to grow up and get real lives but...I am now prowling these pages in preparation for a cycling journey through India...

Your concern about taking the plunge, quitting the real world, and heading out into the wild blue yonder is the reaction of a reasonable, sane person. Once you jump in over your head and cut the teathers of life where everything is guaranteed, insured and sealed for your protection, you just might find that you are actually living rather than just being alive.

Happy travels
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Old 02-19-05, 05:39 PM
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