34 comments


  • Thanks so very much for sharing Laura,

    You often don’t see these posts, so heart felt, so real. I appreciate your honesty and for sharing with the world. These words add inspiration and wisdom and I’ll remember them if I ever hit that moment on the road.

    Thanks again.

    November 20, 2010
  • Great story, it is very inspiring!

    November 20, 2010
  • Great post Laura. And I think you are right about waiting until now to share this moment. You do need some time to pass before announcing these things.

    I’ve been traveling on and off with my bicycle for the last 10 years and I’ve probably had close to a dozen different moments like this one that you experienced in Texas. They aren’t fun and they definitely take a little while to get over. Some longer than others.

    Congrats on pushing through, however. I’m glad you guys made it back to West Coast and are now settling back into your lives there. Keep up the good work. I know you will.

    November 20, 2010
  • Terrific post, Laura. It was very kind and brave of you to share this story

    November 20, 2010
  • Jim Tolar

    I’ve followed you guys from the get-go, commenting occasionally. I’ve wondered often how you can’t get to the place you just posted about, in an epic journey like this. Thanks for sharing it.

    You guys rock hard.

    jt

    November 20, 2010
  • You rock Laura!

    Thanks for sharing your story of angst. It’s often easy to romanticize the travel experience, but I’ve always found the most profound “awakenings” (even if the awakening is a delayed one) in those rare moments that challenge us to the core. They are exhausting but they sure do require us to make choices. I’m glad you decided to keep on keepin’ on.

    Take care.

    November 20, 2010
  • Tim Miller

    Thank you for putting this story into print, Laura.

    November 20, 2010
  • It’s great that you publish this, as everybody sometime will have a day like that one.

    Nowadays I always make sure I carry enough of everything. On a day like that I find a place to put the tent, and put it up and rest. Even if I put the tent up at 10am ….

    November 21, 2010
  • Jimmy

    Thanks for sharing. I have had a day quite like that on the bike before. I lived thru as I told my wife “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”
    know what? I’m making plans to do that same ride again.
    I think you did right, get off the bike, get mad, get angry. Then get back on and start again.

    November 21, 2010
  • Mark

    Laura, thank you for making it real. I’ve been there too, both on a bike, in running my first marathon and in life in general. The person who comes out on the other side of experiences like the one you described is different then the one going into it, and in my experience, always the more awakened for it.

    November 21, 2010
  • Dell Wilson

    Great post. Thanks for sharing that.

    November 21, 2010
  • Thank you, Laura!

    November 21, 2010
  • Life is hard sometimes…glad you made it through it, you are stronger. I am proud of both of you. Your trip is an inspiration. Thank you.

    November 21, 2010
  • Ps i would love to hear Russ’s side of the story too!

    November 21, 2010
  • Many people don’t understand how truly punishing wind can be, particularly the 20+ mph winds we have in the center of the country. That kind of sustained headwind makes for one of the most difficult rides you’ll ever experience. But the next time you have to ride in it, you’ll know what to expect and you can prepare yourself mentally. What does not kill us makes us stronger!

    November 21, 2010
  • Stuart Knoles

    At the Durham presentation it left me with an impression, although recounted somewhat mater-of-factly; probably because it occurred after you were well seasoned by the trip. Speculate that the prior dealing with severe winter conditions that seemed unfair to the Southern route had added mounting frustration. Although prepared, the situation turned critical without a contingency plan – like happens in mountaineering. “The best laid plans…” Critical situation of running low on food; and a food calorie deficient state could have contributed: also known as the “bonk”. It is a nightmare, and must be avoided – not a learning experience. Interesting how there were no options out. It is as if the elements and situations were just trying to take it away from you. Marathon, the name of the town: just a coincidence.

    November 21, 2010
  • Todd Dwyer

    Was that overpriced hotel in Marathon The Gage?

    November 22, 2010
  • April

    I once had a panic attack while going downhill. I’d had a minor fall a couple weeks before that had made me terrified of going downhill, and I was riding a twisty, fairly steep descent, no shoulder, logging trucks and semis passing me close enough to touch, and oh, it was about 95F outside. I kept riding my brakes really hard, and then worrying that I would overheat my rims and have a blowout. Shawn was getting tired of waiting for me because I was going So. Damn. Slow., that he eventually just decided to meet me at the bottom.

    I finally had to pull off (in someone’s driveway), and I started sobbing so hard I thought I was going to throw up. I hated bike touring. I had no idea why I let Shawn talk me into this. I hated him for leaving me behind. I felt trapped–no way anybody would stop to pick me up as a hitchhiker.

    A woman did stop to see if I was okay and give me a drink of water. Shawn called me when it had been a while and I wasn’t at the bottom yet. I did get back on the road, my hands constantly shaking, still riding my brakes and pulling off now and then to let my rims cool off. When I got to the bottom and saw Shawn, I hugged him and started crying again.

    Thankfully that wasn’t the end of my bike touring, and after a while I started getting braver going downhill (I’ll never be a speed demon though). And I’m still pretty sure I never want to ride that stretch of road again.

    November 22, 2010
  • Thanks for sharing. I think a story like that humanizes these super-human adventures.

    When I did my cross-country bike trip, the first three weeks through CA, AZ, NM and CO were like that. We just climbed and climbed and climbed for 70-100 miles a day. Let’s just say I was not in the best shape.

    Every day I was far behind the rest of the group. Frequently I had to quit and get it the SAG wagon. For several days, I rode with nothing on my mind for 6-7 hours other than how to organize a flight out of the next big city. For several days, I was ready to quit.

    Eventually, I had the experience of riding over a pass and roaring downhill for 25 straight miles where I hit 40 mph. By then, the group had gotten to know me and feelings of resentment at having to wait for me dissipated. I finally felt like I could hang on.

    I did go on for the next six weeks and ended up finishing the trip and considering it the most awesome thing I have ever done.

    Always continue. You will always be glad you continued.

    November 22, 2010
  • Ha! Nope, we just stayed in some drab motel that would have been half the price in just about any other tiny middle-of-nowhere town.

    November 22, 2010
  • […] fracturing his skull in a fall. Ex-Long Beach cyclist Laura Crawford explains what it feels like to have an emotional breakdown in the middle of a cross-country bike ride. Claremont Cyclist asks what kind of person drives in a […]

    November 23, 2010
  • Louise Koenig Morris

    Thanks for telling this story. I had a meltdown once when backpacking and having to use an ice ax I was in denial about. Those same words came out of my mouth.
    We are stripped bare by the times we meet the bare essence of oursleves, and touch what makes us tick. It is what makes us human.
    Again, thank you for sharing your experience and your perspective.

    November 23, 2010
  • It was an emotional read, i don’t know how I would have coped. Sounds like a real ‘when the chips are down’ moment. A lot different from you ‘Travelling without moving’ post!

    November 27, 2010
  • Michael Bos

    Huge long-distance hugs from me and many people like me in the Long Beach community who admire both of you.

    As I read of that particularly difficult day, I recall moments when I served years ago as a Peace Corps Volunteer… there were such moments.

    Ed Buryn in his 1970s-era book Vagabonding talks of that rough edge far from home or comfort level where hurt also means being intensely alive.

    Paths less taken… as the path less pedaled; way beyond vacation. And in the context of the memory of a few of those intense life experiences, now I especially like sitting quietly, reading my book, sipping my coffee.

    November 27, 2010
  • Don

    I haven’t read much of your blog so maybe this comment is just not relevant but… here’s my comment anyway.

    My understanding is that you don’t *have* to be anywhere, you don’t *have* to get anywhere. You are free to bike where you please and do what you want and are enjoying the ride.

    So… when this kind of thing happens why don’t you just ride *with* the wind? Sure, you are going back where you came, but if the ride is more fun, does that really matter? You can circle around or come back later.

    Riding into 20mph winds when you don’t have to be there just doesn’t make sense to me :)

    November 30, 2010
  • […] draining condition to deal with, but it’s one every bike tourist must deal with.  One of Laura’s recent posts from The Path Less Pedaled rings true for this– basically her and Russ rode into Big Bend with […]

    December 23, 2010
  • Coghhauler

    Hey, Laura. You’re a good wheel!

    February 05, 2011
  • mhudson

    Anyone who has toured a lot has had a day like that. Although for some people this will certainly run counter to their experience, this is exactly why I travel alone. If I have difficulty, I don’t want to inflict it on anyone, and I don’t want to deal with someone else if they are breaking down.

    March 27, 2011
  • Thank you for this post. I’ve been pedaling against metaphorical headwinds a lot lately myself (and so many other people). Everyday I have to remind myself that I really have overcome worse situations to find much better things. The tough part can be not knowing when that town will come into view. Eventually it does, though.

    March 31, 2011
  • James

    Well done for breaking through girl! and well handled Russ, there is always a little rain in paradise..
    I have grown to love reading your bits and blogs and seeing the odd video, yep sometimes so jealous it hurts when I see the views and the scenery you pass through, but now is not my time for freewheeling and I have already been around quite a bit! But I like to see your adventures and live your travels vicariously (?)In fact it is good to hear it is not all beer and roses, just life lived well, keep on keepin’ on..Jx

    September 12, 2011
  • […] bike touring is not the best! I love this reflection from Path Less Pedaled about being in the middle of a coast-to-coast cycling trip and feeling like you don’t want to […]

    December 15, 2011
  • Ed

    Yes, I have had several of these “melt-down” episodes. The first was way back in 1977, in Switzerland. It came as a result of several simple miscalculations on my part. I was with another person. We were on each others nerves. We were dead tired. Dehydrated. At the end of our tethers. When we got to to the place where were aiming for, no one expected us. There was no place for us to stay! I simply cracked.

    It was a terrible feeling, but it was like I was on some sort of drug. I just whipped out my sleeping bag and went to sleep on the peoples front lawn! It was a “I’m DONE with this s..t!” moment.

    It got better, but it was something that took me a very long time to get past. I even lost a friendship over it. Now I look back on Switzerland with both sadness, as well as pride. Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us! Much appreciated.

    Ed

    July 21, 2012
  • Alan

    These are the exact situations in life that make us grow, help us reflect on life, and make one feel truly alive. This is going to happen occasionally when you are really out there living life.
    Where the opposite can sometimes strip us of life, with our constant need to control our environment, cling to the security of our communities, structured jobs, apartments, and the need for friends and family to be close by. It’s really all about the rewards of doing it, and who’s to say what’s normal and if that there is any resemblance of life in it.

    January 06, 2013
  • Lisa

    You have vocalized my exact experience on a TransAm (2012). We cycling in a ripping, hot crosswind into Newton, KS. Like riding with a hairdryer pointed at you. I believe, if I recall clearly, I said, “I get it! I understand what Kansas is trying to tell me! I’m done!” Like you, there was no plan to quit. I was going to rent a uhaul and drive us to the Colorado state line (or there abouts). It didn’t happen;we pedaled all nine days through Kansas. I even learned to enjoy the state’s austere beauty….but not the wind.

    September 06, 2013

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