Bike Touring Bingo: embracing disaster, one square at a time

It'd be foolish to embark on a bike ride around the world without expecting a few things to go wrong. We've planned and prepared and packed well (and the world, by and large, is a pretty safe place), but risk can only be reduced, never fully avoided.

 Anti-Atlas Mountains

Coping with the inevitable mishaps of life and travel is largely a matter of mindset. Unpredictability is the defining feature of an adventure. Thus, embracing adventure means welcoming both the good and the bad.

Welcoming the good is easy. Welcoming the bad can be more challenging. So to make the latter a tad easier (and to relish a little dark humor), we've created a bleak little game for ourselves called Bike Touring Bingo.

It works like this: at the start of the trip, we'll each select two bingo boards. The boards have been randomly populated with a few dozen unpleasant experiences one could face on a long, international bike trip. Some experiences are mundane and pretty common (like a broken spoke or a snapped chain). Others are pretty grim and much less likely (say, needing an x-ray or getting bit by a dog). Most are individual-specific, but a few can happen to everyone on the tour at the same time (for instance, needing to vacate a wild campsite in the middle of the night).

When something bad happens, it's terribly unfortunate, but now it comes with the tremendous upside (if it's one of the bad things on one of our bingo boards) of getting the victim one step closer to bingo (really bad things might even check off two or more squares at once, like a dog bite that requires an x-ray).

What does the winner get? Uncertain—maybe a nice meal cooked by the other for all their struggles. But really, the winner is the loser (on account of all the bad things), so the aim is definitely not to win (if things get grisly, perhaps we'll play for the full board).

Anyway, some bike folks expressed interest in playing their own bingo, so we're sharing our four boards (and a blank one) below. Feel free to use 'em, adapt 'em, or change squares that obviously don't apply to your own travels (like getting denied a visa if you're only biking through visa-free countries). Enjoy!

For those following our trip, we'll let y'all know how—fingers crossed—our game of bingo goes as we hit the occasional bump in the road.