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I went on a long cycle tour before and I found myself getting bored whilst I was riding at some points. E.g. on monotonous main roads, and areas with not much scenery or people to stop and talk to, or when I got bored of music I was listening to. Does anyone have any advice about how to cope with boredom and in general improve the experience whilst touring.. I like to meet as many people as possible, because I found before that it was the people that made my journey interesting.

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Listening to music? With headphones? –  Oli Jan 25 '13 at 1:50
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Spend time contemplating the trip versus the destination. Are you biking to get somewhere? Or are you getting somewhere whilst biking? –  WTHarper Jan 25 '13 at 3:18
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To me the boredom is one of the best aspects of cycling. It wipes your mind clean. For the first 15 minutes maybe your mind races with all sorts of day-to-day concerns, and then it just gets to be making it to the next ridge, where's that turn, how long to lunch, and your experiencing living on a more physical, less structured level. –  Daniel R Hicks Jan 25 '13 at 3:31
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@Oli sure, I cycle with an earpiece. So do most professionals ... and most drivers drive with their windows up and the radio on. The presence of an earpiece is not, of itself, intrinsically dangerous. Beware, though, that this is like helmets, there are entrenched positions on both sides - bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/623/… - but then, you knew that when you left a comment like that, right? –  Unsliced Jan 25 '13 at 14:22
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@Unsliced Yes, it was a pointed safety comment but one that doubles to find out what sort of isolation the OP is putting themselves in. If you're going to ride to music, you might as well be on a trainer. I ride because I want to be experiencing the outdoors. Perhaps neither you or the OP are as fickle as me but I really find SQUIRREL! –  Oli Jan 25 '13 at 23:44
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closed as too broad by jimirings, freiheit Jan 31 at 19:20

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As I may have given away in the comments, I'm not a fan of sensory deprivation when you're as vulnerable as you are when you're on a bike. I don't think there are many scenarios where not being able to hear as good as you possibly can is safe on a bike — but you may not agree and safety really isn't the point of this answer.

My belief is that when you listen to music, you are isolating yourself. Same applies to an audiobook or a podcast. You may as well go the whole hog and watch a movie while cycling on a turbo trainer. The moment you ride with music, the music has become your concentration. You're only going to enjoy the ride as much as you enjoy the music.

Throw the music away and engage with your scenery. Listen to birds, weave potholes, count squirrels... Whatever you do, just enjoy the majesty, the unimaginable effort that went into creating what you're cycling past.

If you can't do that (and can't swap squirrels for the homeless, potholes for bullets — I have no idea what your area is like!) change your route so you're going somewhere that does interest you. Otherwise, as I said before, you might as well be on a trainer doing something that does entertain you.

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Be more conscious of your direct reality. –  Andrew Welch Jan 25 '13 at 23:54
    
This is getting to be a really heady thread. –  WTHarper Jan 26 '13 at 0:49
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Try doing some intervals. Example: try doing 3 x 5 min efforts each hour. (Or 4 x 5 min, 3 x 10 min etc.) Don't go too hard though -- just enough to liven things up -- you need to conserve your energy when touring.

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I have fitted an Android phone to my handlebars, and I'm making a keyboard for the handlebars now too.

I can use this for: Blogging or other writing. Editing open street map (very useful in areas with poor coverage). Listening to music.

I've not tried watching films. This would be hard in most conditions because the screen is difficult to see in sunlight, but may be possible.

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Watching movies while riding? That's what I never could imagine... –  Sarge Borsch Jan 31 at 13:28
    
These ideas seem to be very dangerous. –  Uooo Feb 4 at 6:49
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You say you like to meet people....so there's your start point.

Plan a route where you have a village every four or five miles if possible, and be prepared to stop. When you feel like it, stop for some food or a drink, visit a museum, a church or something.

The four or five mile gap is long enough to have a decent ride too, especially if you can pick a scenic, traffic-free route.

Don't budget to ride too far each day - if you end up thinking "I've got 20 miles to go and only an hour of daylight left" then that will force you to concentrate on the riding and not on the experience. But by the same token its worth having some places "in reserve" too - if you're going well so have time for a detour. (For my visit over to France I left myself with only about 50km on my last half-day, so visited the museum at Arromanches, plus the one at Pegasus Bridge, before I hopped on the ferry. Great visits the both if you like your history.)

You're going to China aren't you? There must be a million things to see there, the opportunity of a lifetime if you ask me. Get yourself onto Google and make a list of things to visit.

Incidentally the last thing I would do is to wear earphones etc. unless you're confident you're not going to meet any traffic. Its just a safety thing for me. But to each their own...

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If you already have an earpiece (or headphones) or are comfortable with such a device, you could try listening to some podcasts, talk radio, or audiobooks. When I'm on my trainer, I like to watch TV shows and movies. However, I think this wouldn't work so well on the road. Also, some TV shows, like certain sitcoms, work well with the audio only. You miss some of the visual jokes, but if you've seen the episode before, those can be ok as well.

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I did this but it just made the experience bizarre (like listening to the mighty boosh podcast whilst having diahoerra and being stuck in the middle of a political protest in Lahore. –  Andrew Welch Jan 25 '13 at 23:49
    
+1 for audiobooks, I do it all the time, works great. –  Steve V Jan 26 '13 at 10:45
    
@Andrew. Can the Mighty Boosh possibly be made any more bizarre than it already is? –  TRiG Jan 27 '13 at 21:40
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This may depend on what you enjoy doing. For me, the very act of exercise will stop me being bored, and cycling wins on so many fronts. But if you need to actively do stuff, how about:

  • focus on the weather, on a good day
  • feel the breeze
  • watch the scenery
  • talk to others in your group (I'm less keen on this, as I like a quiet cycle)
  • give yourself challenges, for example x minutes for each of the next 10 miles, or stay at this speed but focus on reducing heart rate
  • use counts - if you simultaneously count down miles to next stop, number of pedal rotations and number of breaths you will find it very hard to think of anything else - you can't get bored while focusing like that
  • think on challenges at work, and possible solutions
  • compose songs - I do a lot of this, using my cadence rate as a beat
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Yeah, I have a (somewhat unfortunate) reputation for composing songs on group rides. Unfortunately, once you do just one the group expects more and more. –  Daniel R Hicks Jan 25 '13 at 12:42
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