Several months ago Bicycle Touring 101 interviewed Darlitia Carlo about her plans to bicycle around the world. On May 1, 2005 she set out on a voyage of discovery.
Like most bicycle tourists she was hoping for adventure, to meet friendly people, to improve her fitness level, and to have a good time. Her trip started off rough as she leaped right into the reality of finding herself places to stay in cities where she didn't speak the language.
For the first little while she experienced challenges getting her bike set up so that she could safely pedal to her destinations. She worried about someone trying to break into her hotel room. Train stations presented her with quickly closing doors and endless stairs to be navigated with a fully loaded bicycle.
When she tried camping for the first time she realized that it was cold and lonely to sit in that tent all alone. It really didn't come close to matching her experience in the hostels and hotels that she had used on other days so she decided to stop using the tent.
Eventually she lost her passport and a significant amount of money. Another week went by while she worked on getting a new one. Around this time she discovered that her spending had been far above her planned rate forcing her to make some new decisions about her tour's future direction.
She ultimately made some hard decisions that included packing up the bike and taking a bus tour through eastern Europe.
At this point you may think that this bicycle tour was a failure especially if your concept of bicycle touring involves doing lots of miles.
I have to disagree because I believe that her tour was in actual fact a GREAT SUCCESS! Here's why.
Bicycle touring can be about the miles that you cover but it can also be about the adventure including the things that you learn about yourself and your environment along the way. While reading Darlitia's journal you will see many instances of raw emotion where she had to overcome various obstacles including her own mental and physical blocks to ultimately achieve her goal. Each day you can see her becoming stronger in many ways and as a result a happier person. You also get to see pictures of the beautiful places that she did visit along with her joy at being in those places.
In her case the desire to bicycle tour led her down internal roads that she hadn't yet had an opportunity to travel fully. She discovered the practical areas of touring that she despised (like camping), that she could improve upon (like maintenance/reassembly) and identified the style of touring that appeals to her (hostels, group touring etc). She also did some inner thinking about the person she is today, who she was in the past and who she wants to be in the future.
After reading her journal I have no idea how far she traveled on her bike. I do know that there were many days when she longed for the bike and at the end of her journal not only was she happier but she was also looking forward to getting back out there on the bike again and living another bicycle touring dream. The experience of this adventure has given her a new idea of where she wants to go in life. In addition to incurring a debt she also discovered a real enjoyment of photography, web and graphical design. Hopefully those things will eventually provide her with the freedom to get out there again sometime.
In my opinion anytime that you can go on an adventure and come back from the experience with a positive attitude and a new direction in life then I fail to see how that could be considered a failure.
You can read her journal for yourself at the following link:
Eastern Europe 2005 Journal
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