I left the lovely but isolated town of Durango late in the morning as the local ‘women in farming community‘ had their morning social breakfast outside my room. I cycled down the pedestrian mall until the error of my ways was pointed out to me by the local constabulary. I tried to make conversation only to be met with growls of displeasure.

I had a hankering to follow the remote paths to my destination of Zacatecas. A destination that promised meeting some other wayward travelers. Peeling off the main highway I was joined by a guy on a rusted, squeaky mountain bike. He was on a 10 kilometer ride to a ranch to join family and friends. We chatted for a while. He failed to understand why I would prefer a remote road rather than the fast highway. My research on the intended route was near on non existent. I was ‘winging it‘, so to speak, making it up as I went. As such I found myself on a rough dirt track as it was getting dark. My cycling pace of 5km/h was about the same speed as a tractor which I passed, possibly on its way back from the markets. I camped alone near the trail and wandered around the flowering cactus bushes as the sun was setting.

Morning came with the sound of a rattling truck bouncing past my tent when the stars were barely visible in the sky. The rough road continued for all of about 2 hours till I passed several villages where mules were used instead of tractors. Several hours of winding through backroads bought me to the main highway again. I checked my maps. They were all different. I use a combination of maps when I cycle. Pre loaded maps from Garmin in my GPS, downloaded topo maps on my phone from Pocket Earth, Google maps on my phone and a paper map of Mexico. I’ve learned through experience that if my paper map shows a town then I can get water. All the maps were different so without any clear plan I decided to just play it safe and head down the main busy highway. The miles came quickly with the downhill tailwind. 60km in 2 hours is not normal pace on a loaded bike. I camped in a farmers field with about an hour till dark. The farmer drove past around sunset. He was proud to have me as his guest in his field. At some point I entered the tropics, the Tropic of Cancer. So I have cycled from the Arctic to the tropics, I’m quite proud of that.

It’s been several weeks since I’ve had a real conversation with anybody. I’ve met people, I’ve talked to people but not in any real deep way. For the first time in my life I find myself lonely. It’s a strange and unusual feeling. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s temporary and bought about by my own actions in seeking the adventurous life that I lead. When people like you, read about people like me, there is a gross tendency for people like me to justify their actions by making things sound positive. It’s not always the case. Many other long term travelers justify their lives by only writing about the positives and neglecting to write about the negatives of traveling. Let me explain loneliness as I see it and have experienced it. For the most part we are social creatures. I am luckier than most people because I enjoy my own company, I don’t require the company of another person to do things. I am much more of an introvert than extrovert, some would say I’m an extroverted introvert, if there is such a creature. But the last couple of weeks have taught me rather brutally that despite enjoying my own company I need a good conversation every once in a while at the barest minimum. I’m moving through this incredible environment alone, I’m isolated from the rest of the world. In many ways that’s a good thing. I’m not influenced by sensationalised media reports that create fear and insecurity in people. I see the world without discrimination or influence. I’m able to let my own mind make judgements based on the evidence that I see and experience. But all this isolation has taken its toll. I’m sure there is a clinical diagnosis called loneliness. I’m also sure it can be fixed by reconnecting with people. My self medicated cure will be a weeks rest in the city of Zacatecas. I hope to socialise and meet other nomadic travelers.

a map is a good idea when confronted with this

many cattle grids to ride over

 

first bush camp

cactus flower


beauty in nature

remote desert camp

nice backroads, this is about where i crossed into the tropics

  

15 Responses

  1. Donna Catterick

    As kids we called the cactus fruit – cactus apples, but they were also called prickly pears. And here in New Mexico they are called tunas. Very good to eat once the spines are removed.
    I appreciate that you chronicle the good and the bad. And loneliness can be cured – be with people. Just like the opposite can be cured by getting away from them. Those extremes are rough.

  2. Mike

    What a great post. I can relate to how you are feeling. If you chase away the negative, how will you appreciate the positive? Thank you once again for your posts. You are an inspiration to me.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks for the kind words. For me it’s more a case of accepting the negative for what it is then moving on. It’s temporary, I try not and fight it nor do I try all this be positive thinking stuff. Just accept it and move on, things will be positive again soon. Works well for me.

  3. Bob

    How wonderful, this was a most interesting post. I am truly enjoying your journey, and admiring your skills at navigating through this wonderful world of ours and its’ peoples. Bob / Palm Springs

  4. Mike M

    Great post, Brad. Glad you’re feeling better. That landscape through which you’re traveling looks incredibly beautiful, and what a great time of year to be there. Awesome. God bless, mate.

    Mike M., Riverside, CA

  5. Heather

    What an interesting post. I loved reading about your perspective and the way you are feeling and dealing with the occasional bout of loneliness. Seems like so many in this world are dependent upon others and have a need to be surrounded by friends and family at all times. I adore my friends and family and treasure all of the time I am able to spend with them, especially now that our children are almost grown. However, I also treasure the time I spend alone and am proud of the fact that I don’t need to be surrounded by others to feel validated or accepted. While it doesn’t bother me that others love being the center of attention, I choose to go about my work quietly and have a few select friends. Some people don’t understand why I choose to go on some of my day hikes alone, but I love the peace and quiet and the feeling of being brave and strong and accomplishing something on my own. Anyway, your post gave me a lot to think about, so thank you (from another extroverted introvert)! I am enjoying following your cycling adventure and am so glad I somehow stumbled upon your PCT blog. I hope you are safe.

  6. Ellen C

    I am enjoying your trip as well. It is amazing the territory you have covered so far. What caught my eye were your PCT stickers on your bike. What is the other one, I could not determine what is was by the pic. Safe and happy travels. Enjoy the sunshine and warm temps.

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