A Sheltered Life

I'd like to say a word or two about this whole Warmshowers thing...

Once you get over the initial trepidation of asking total strangers if you can crash on their bed, couch, or yard, the result has been, as far as I can tell, pretty favourable for both sides. Here are a few statistics that I've managed to compile:  


Host Demographics


41% - Former touring cyclists looking to pay off their karmic debt after staying at the homes of former touring cyclists looking to pay off their karmic debt.

37% - Individuals and families who, supported by a $35.00 search from geneology.com, can provide documentation showing a distinct, if sometimes tenuous, family link to Mother Theresa.

14% - Scientific households wishing to understanding the link between touring cyclists and mental illness.

6% - Mentally-ill people thinking of becoming touring cyclists.

2% - Shower salesmen.


Guest Demographics


63% - Genuine Long-Distance Cyclists of Extraordinary Fortitude Who Stay with Hosts Not Because They're Cheap But Because They Value the Interactive Experience

21% - Genuine Long-Distance Cyclists on Multi-Year Tours Who Effectively Have No Home Anymore and Feed Off Proximity to Stability

15% - Moocher Freaks Who Pretend to Be Touring But Haven't as Much Money as the Genuine Long-Distance Moocher Freaks

1% - Canadian Cyclists Who Defy Categorization, Often from the Greater Belleville Area


The above figures have strong whiffs of truth. And sometimes, we guests are even helpful. For example, one experience involved transporting a sofa bed from a farmyard outbuilding to a farmyard second-story loft. Before beginning we decided to remove the mattress and cushions to make things a little lighter for Seb.

Setting Description: It was night time. The light didn't work in the shed. There was a hint of reflected illumination from a truck headlight. If I hadn't had to pretend to be brave for Seb, since Seb is the merest child, I would have been scared.

Action Description: With only a vague suggestion of light, we pulled off the cushions and flipped open the mattress. Sometimes, partial blindness is a good thing. The sudden scattering of large rodent forms, a genuine rat's nest, was heard but only dimly perceived, like a parent unexpectedly coming downstairs at a teenage party. 

But it wasn't dark enough. The stain of rat piss was about a yard wide, and it smelled like our bike seats. Never fear, said our hostess, she had just the thing to clean it. At this point, I was aware of a tipping of the scales with respect to my enthusiasm for moving rodent-infused furniture. Nevertheless, we gamely carried the non-rat portion of the sofa into, and partially up, the winding staircase to the loft, breaking first a light bulb, then the light fixture - darkness being the evening's dominant motif. Here we got stuck in one of those profoundly frustrating moving-furniture-where-furniture-won't-fit experiences familiar to us all. Despite hernia-inducing efforts and the traditional, testosterone-fueled bout of "we'll make this work", we simply couldn't get it up, as they say. In the end, we left the couch on top of shards of glass and ceramic at the bottom of the stairs, walked calmly away, and accepted the disappointed looks and Canadian's-suck eye rolls with steadfastness and aplomb.

(Author's Note: I'm drinking sweet tea at a Hardee's in Chattahoochee, another town we had to stay in because of the name, but I fear I have to go - in so many ways.)