Have I failed?

Before this whole cycling adventure started and we were still in the planning stages Herb and I used to ask each other what our biggest fear about the trip was. Herb’s was to look after me, it sounds mighty chivalrous but according to Herbie his main fear about taking 18 month off to go cycling was that he had to make sure I got home in one piece. Mine on the other hand was fear of failing. Failing in my eyes was not being able to handle it, having to take a bus, hitch a ride or come home early. In my mind I would only succeed in this trip if I cycled every single pedal stoke.

Now when we did our little jaunt around Europe and I found it very very very hard, my attitude started to change. I had hated so many aspects of our European cycling trip that there was no way I could handle over a year of it across the pond. Again, Herb and I had our discussions about what we wanted the trip to be about, only this time we both agreed that the most important thing was to enjoy it. If a particular part of it was awful we shouldn’t be martyrs and suck it up having a terrible time. This theory was backed up by every single person we spoke to who had ever done any sort of travelling before. Don’t endure the terrible bits just because you think you have to. This is our trip, we have no sponsors to please, no records to break or rules to follow. We have managed to tear ourselves away from the ‘normal’ for a little while and should be enjoying every single second  of it.

Only, there’s a problem.

We started this cycle just over three months ago in Canada. We purposefully did shorter days, took time out and ditched any sort of schedule we might have set for ourselves. Since then I have been enjoying 99% of it. Yes there are times when it is raining, I fall off my bike or a truck drives just a little too close but these experiences only make up 1% of the last three months. Because everything has been going so well my old fears had started to creep in again. ‘I love bike touring, this really is fun, I am going to pedal the ENTIRE way!’

Now anybody that knows me knows that I am a stubborn old mule at the best of times. So when about five days ago I started feeling a little under the weather, I didn’t do anything about it. We’d spoken about pushing to get to a nice beach so we could take a few days off, so in my head that’s what we were doing. The fact that we were still nearly 200 miles away didn’t really resonate, all I thought was ‘just keep pushing and you can rest when we get there’. So, when I started to feel really awful all I did was cycle harder, pushing ahead of Herbie so he couldn’t see me cry, my pea size brain reasoning the sooner we got there the better. When Herb asked if I needed to rest I said no, even though I really just wanted to crawl into a hole and close my eyes.

After 12 days and 690 miles of solid cycling we made it to the beach and I was in tears. Everybody was in bikinis and smiling but all I could do was put on my down jacket and lie on the sand. We’d made it and now I could relax. Only two days of beach later and I was in an even worse state than when we arrived. We decided to leave and push the 70 miles to Loreto so we could get a hotel room and another proper days rest, only I barely made it 10 miles. We stopped at the next hotel and checked in for the night, it was only 10am so I figured a day in bed and I could definitely make the remaining distance tomorrow. That didn’t happen.

What did happen is that I had now had three sleepless nights and I was undoubtedly ill. I reluctantly agreed I desperately needed to see a doctor and the only way to do that was to get a ride into Loreto. I sat there in the front of a truck, barely being able to hold my head up thinking about how I had failed. I will not be cycling every single pedal stroke all the way to Ushuaia.

If we do make it the rest of the way there will always be a 60mile stretch where I wasn’t able to pedal. But who have I failed? I haven’t failed Herbie, I’m still in one piece and his priority is to keep me together and I am sure no family, friends or strangers will give a damn about having to hitch a ride to a doctor. I have failed myself, not by sitting in that truck but by not listening to my body and looking after it in the first place. My stubborn ass has learnt that lesson the hard way, to succeed I need to take off the blinkers, stop thinking about the end goal and focus on what is happening right now.

So, here I am. Stuck in a hotel room, with a lot of antibiotics, feeling awful and not knowing when I can get back on the bike.

8 thoughts on “Have I failed?

  1. Hannah says:

    Definitely not a failure! Sometimes your body knows best and you need to listen, learn and act. Recouperate and then rather than pedalling on in misery you can go forward and enjoy it all xxx


  2. Laura Gush says:

    Laura, what you’ve accomplished so far is fantastic. All those experiences you’ve collected won’t be marred by that “missing” 60 miles when you look back on this in the future. Concentrate on getting better then enjoying every minute you can.


  3. Rich says:

    No way a failure! You’re an inspiration to everyone back home with your blogs and stories of an amazing adventure. Get well soon and then get back out there to enjoy every special moment.


  4. Bruce Lellman says:

    This frees you to have other gaps in your trip where it just isn’t worth cycling through. There will for sure be a hundred mile section you will not be cycling – The Darien Gap.

    You should always be proud of what you are accomplishing. I had dreams of riding from Hanoi to Saigon but we have already taken a bus 250 miles. No big deal because now we have more time to spend in a more interesting part of the country. Visa time frame limitations often redirect one’s dreams and one’s route also.

    I’m very proud of both of you.


  5. mossandbush says:

    Only just came across your page today. We are in Carlsbad and in a few days time we will be crossing into Mexico so we’ll be following your footsteps!
    Read this blog and just want to say that you may not think it, but even just planning to go from Canada to Patagonia is inspirational! To get a bus for a day/to bypass a country/ however long it is, even if it’s a flight, that doesn’t matter!
    No one knows how it feels to be cycle touring with all the elements and obstacles (physically and mentally) apart from other cycle tourers and so just want to say you are brave and courageous to even pedal that little bit from where you even started originally!!!!

    Hope you feel better soon 🙂


  6. Yvonne says:

    Yes you got a reminder ‘the hard way’ but now your body has given you a boot to remember your priorities, you can and will recover. Then you’ll be back in the saddle, more careful to take care of yourself, and enjoying the journey again. 🙂

    Safe travels x


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