The tour is over and I've had about a couple of weeks off to rest, process, and think about things. Overall I had an amazing time. I met incredible people, saw some absolutely stunning scenery, and ate very well (from time to time). I discovered that I really like the city of Regina and that there's nothing positive to report about the province of Manitoba other than the courtesy of the drivers there. I discovered that my body is capable of massive days as long as I get the appropriate rest, and that I don't actually require that much fuel on the road to keep going as long as I take care of the basics (sugar, salt, fat, protein). I traveled East of Montreal for the first time, but definitely not the last. Quebec City and Atlantic Canada will definitely be revisited several times.
I met some new friends, and a host of other really interesting people - almost all of them extremely friendly and helpful. I witnessed the triumph of new cyclists pushing the boundaries of what they thought possible and met and heard stories of other travelers who take the concept of "something different" to an entirely new level. (Specifically I'm talking about rickshaw dude and that Japanese guy who was pushing a shopping cart from Vancouver to NYC - no, I never met him but I saw the pictures and heard the stories).
I was reminded of the role that research and diligent preparedness has in life - my no flats in 7600km (6881 of them with a full touring load) is a testament to luck as well as planning, technology, and vigilance.
I had loads of time to reflect on life and dream up other potential adventures. I also discovered a real love for touring. Perhaps not the traditional sort, where the bulk of tourers lie - but then again I've never really fallen into that pool in life, either. :p I'll definitely tour again - perhaps staying in BC next summer, or down the West Coast to San Diego. I'd like to do a Canadian North-South tour, but I'm not sure of the feasibility of that given how remote Northern Canada tends to be. A paddling tour also crossed my mind...
Physically my body changed, as was apparent in many of the pictures. I lost a lot of lean muscle mass in addition to a good amount of fat and my musculature reshaped. I'm curious to see how permanent this change can be - both in terms of "fat" as well as musculature.
Mentally I'm not entirely sure how much has changed. I knew that something was different when about 2.5 weeks into the tour I started thinking of hilly 150km days as "easy days" - but it's not like I would have ever considered that beyond my reach. The "fatal flaw" of mine that I just tend to think of most things as "just not all that hard" served me well here, as did my obstinance.
I learned to lean on my friends a little bit. Remote support from Phil, Andy and Julian was indispensable, and it was such a MASSIVE pick-me-up to see Linda, Joe and LuAnne a week into the tour when they chased me down n Cranbrook. Email, text messages and blog/FB comments from everyone were great encouragement, and being able to share my experiences with all of you here made it all the more fun.
Apparently, I can survive for several days without ice cream, Snickers bars, chips, or Coke. I can also survive for weeks on primarily just those things. :p
Six weeks is a pretty long time to be gone, and I was ready to go home after that point. Eight weeks is a really long time. It's probably easier touring with someone else or a small group, but I do really like the flexibility that touring solo gives me. If I were to ever go on tour with other people, I'd have to be pretty careful about their selection. For most people I'd recommend a group of 2-4. It's a fair bit easier in a group, and one really has to enjoy spending A LOT of time alone to really enjoy touring solo. Camping and downtime is more fun with others as well.
The numbers that everyone have been waiting for are 23 and 155. That's a net loss of 23lbs, down to 155. There's still some room for me to lean out a bit, but I'm not sure how much desire is there. That would take a lot of effort, and I think it's going to take a fair amount just to stay where I am. But I do like where I am. :D
Overall I think everything went about as well as anyone could have hoped, and I'd definitely encourage most people who have an interest to try it. Maybe not solo, and maybe not unsupported. But try nonetheless. Even on a motorcycle, if pedal cycling isn't your bag. Just get out there and do something. As Shane McConkey would say: Just go down there and jump off something big, goddammit!
I've missed a few questions along the way so I'd be happy to do a Q&A if anyone has questions about my setup, route selection, touring in general, etc.