Italia 2014 #7: Touring Diva-style

Ok first up, this is kinda a confession blog. Or maybe not, cos I’m not covering up in any way that I didn’t complete 300km that I planned to ride. In fact, I only rode 1/3 of what I have planned. Lol…

Well, guess the solo was a great gauge of my personal strengths & limitations, which I will attempt to list & then elaborate on a few as I feel inspired. Heee….

Strengths:

1. Friendly on road: knowing when to ask for help & directions, not shy. I found talking abou my itinerary with people whom my gut trusted was helpful, especially those who have good local knowledge, based on their profession / experiences. Was probably saved from real danger by heeding an advice not to go into a certain town known to locals for targeting & robbing travellers. Adjusted some itinerary, still went pretty well, devoid of any harm at all.

2. Alert: not blur on road especially, totally aware of my surroundings & gut feel of situations usually very accurate, for me to decide my next course of action.

3. Resourceful: knowing where to get necessary information / tools, humility to seek help. Kinda knowing where help is available / not realistically.

4. Recover Quickly: Had a few discouraging situations on Day 1 ride, which happened early in the ride, which made me quite frustrated. But realise I was very able to recover very quickly & regulate on my own, cf when in a group in the past. Perhaps the fact that I was more dependent & let my guard down when I’m in a group. But within minutes, I psyched myself up & was back to my objective self again. Key is solving the issue at hand, eval later when am at destination & rested. Wouldn’t entertain negative talk either.

5. Knowing Limits: I knew very well when my body is whining over initial pain of intertia, or when it’s screaming over critical failures. Was glad I made a decision to call for a ride at 55km mark on first day ride around 4.30pm. I was at my physical limits, as I realised I hadn’t had a proper meal & carbo load since the afternoon before at lunch. Yes, missing 3 meals before a long ride is not funny. I finally had a tad of experiencing the brink of starvation per se. Not fun, when I had another 15km to go & my legs would no longer move. Was probably going at a max speed of 10kmh instead of spinning at 16-18kmh. Very strenuous & too taxing. That was Day 1 of ride. Lol… Not a great start. Later on, I realised as well, that I had climbed about 500m total elevation that day, much of it steep inclines where I had to push my bike up, cos of the rear 18kg load (yes much too heavy!!).

6. Focused: Knew very well my key objectives for the trip. Wanting to ensure I was rested emotionally, mentally. Also to give my soul a rest & detox before heading back with clarity. Decided after the first 80kms that I knew my enjoyable limits on a full 20kg load was 30km per day, with not more than 200m total elevation. Think it’s really helpful to recognise this as I would like to enjoy my future tours & not freak out after this first solo. I also had the resources somewhat to cut myself some slack, rather than torture myself per se. Also, think 2 nights for each stopover is good rest for me to go for the next leg. Good rest, not too rushed, sufficient time to hit the key spots in the town / city. Felt that time was well-spent for 2 nights, rather than touch & go.

7. Intuition Sharpened: Learnt to trust my gut over the trip, especially when judgement-call was required for that moment. Think my past adherence to a certain school of thought called this hedonistic. But i reckon it’s totally wrong to not even trust your own instincts. Not to use it as the sole guide of course. Where luxury allows, multiple channels of wisdom & counsel will be great, but personal intuition became ultra important really, in that split second of decision. Gut feel in many occasions over the trip has proven itself, I’m learning to hone my heed to the gut more now.

8. Open to Experiences: I was completely open to meeting new people, adjusting my itinerary to hang out & learn & engage with other travelers or locals. Guess this is the flexibility of solo-travel. Think those times that I spent with new friends I met along the way were massive highlights for me during the trip! Exchange of ideas, perspectives, ways of life & concepts. Totally energising for me!

9. Able to Laugh @ Myself: Had some situations & being able to laugh at myself, and able to make a joke out of it was utterly helpful. Making light of situation helped eased tension, and eventually helped me evaluate the situation more objectively, without anger at myself.

10. Home Support: Think wisest thing I did for the trip – asked specific persons to be my support & watchers. Had a couple of friends who kept tabs on me nearly daily, chatting with me & letting me soundboard my daily experiences. That helped me a lot in processing stuff & having another set of eyes over situations. Kudos friends!

11. Self-aware: Keem self-awareness helps a lot, in seeing myself objectively through different experiences. Strengths, limitations, workables, non-workables, loves, hates.

** Upcoming blog will include areas to improve, still mulling over it.

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