This past summer I was on the road for 70 days. Starting on June 26 I was riding six days on, one day off. The 60 days of cycling gradually created a rhythm of it’s own.
The organized part
Initially the challenge of meeting the tour schedule, packing camp in the morning, getting breakfast, making lunch and gathering snacks for on the road was too challenging. It was the first time in over two years that I was on a rigorous schedule. Not only was I on a tight schedule but each step was critical for me to be prepared and equipped to ride for the day.
Eventually I more or less mastered daily hurdle of the rigorous morning routine. I was glad that getting accustomed to new routines was not impossible despite having difficulty with adjusting to new situations.
After the organized tour
Once I had completed the nine weeks with the organized tour I continued to cycle through one more province with two other cyclists. I wanted to include all ten provinces in my summer of 2017 ride. (I’ll have to do something about the missing three territories. But that’s for another day.)
Completing the supported tour and cycling with only two other riders made things much easier for me. I hadn’t realized how much my sensory loading was impacted each day simply by having 80 or so other people around me in camp and on the road.
The extra week of cycling Newfoundland had a negligible affect on my sensory loading. Riding with two other cyclists and having two support people meant there were fewer surprises and disruptions to my day. A more predictable day meant I needed minimal time to recover. This gave me more energy during the last part of each day.
The exception to experiencing reduced sensory loading was when we spent a day being shown around St. John’s. By mid afternoon I realized I needed to temper my activity level. By late afternoon I knew I needed to bow out. Pushing myself to a point were I would need a day or more to recover was not a good way to begin my trip back home.
Amazingly, my 16 hour ferry crossing of the Gulf of St. Lawrence went very well. That was despite having the ferry being battered by waves up to 10 meters high during most of the crossing. I experienced no noticeable sensory loading from that trip. In fact I slept quite soundly for most of the crossing.
I had managed a summer long routine of being on a schedule and I had gradually fared better as the summer progressed. I was looking forward to a more relaxed schedule that comes with being at home.
With a more relaxed schedule of being at home I would be better able to manage my sensory loading. I didn’t need to push forward each morning to get cycling.
Unfortunately, a relaxed schedule after getting home didn’t happen. Very soon I was having to monitor myself more closely than I expected. I had hoped that my tolerance for sensory loading would improved over the summer.
Once I got home, I had left behind the simple life of cycling. I had left behind the simple life of doing one focused activity each day. All the routines that made up each day had one single purpose, support the bike riding.
Once I got home life became much more complex. I’m back home. That means there are bills to look after, there’s the yard work, there’s family to visit and more. Some things had been put off for the summer. Being home brought with it the full range of responsibilities.
One noticeable challenge I was once again reminded of is driving and riding in a car. A whole summer in which I probably covered less than 100 km in a car, while cycling over 7000 km. Once again I need to be mindful of the fatigue and nausea that come with riding in a car.
While my physical endurance has improved over the summer, I will continue to monitor the various activities that add significantly to my sensory loading. What I am grateful for is realizing that I can take somewhat of a holiday from having to manage my sensory loading. It’s not a holiday from work, but nevertheless, a necessary holiday that I need from time to time.
With the family gone to a music festival in town, I will head over there shortly on my own. I will cycle down there. I will likely need to leave after about a half hour. I will enjoy the bit of time my brain can endure. I will value the memory of being there albeit only for a short time. When I’ve reached my limit I’ll cycle the 25 km back home.