Inspiration rolls onto my patio on an average of once a month. It begins with an email from a traveling cyclist (or two or three or four) looking for shelter for the evening. Hailing from twelve countries (Slovakia, Belgium, Wales, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, China, Greece, Bulgaria, USA) and counting, these amazing adventurers find me via Warm Showers.
I welcome them with a glass of water, beer or wine and offer a Jacuzzi or shower. I try to leave them alone for a little – hours of maneuvering through LA can be emotionally exhausting and an occasionally harrowing experience.
People seem amazed that I welcome strangers to my home. But I know that touring cyclists worry about the extra weight of a few apples and are not likely to take off with my TV or computer. Plus someone who is willing to cross the country at 13 MPH relying upon the kindness of strangers and living off $5 a day is likely to be a pacifist.
Its this courage and resourcefulness that inspires me so much. Across the board, they trust in daily miracles or their resiliency and good attitude to get them through anything the road dishes out.
There is an adage that if you have stopped believing in humanity, then all you need to do is take an extended bike tour where serendipity and paying it forward is an every day occurrence.
Some are on a ten day tour, others ride for a few months and still others travel for years – unfettered and free. Some are on a two week vacation from traditional jobs, others take off after college graduation or a honeymoon or simply to see the world at a pace that feels relaxed and open or because they want to circumnavigate the globe. They ride from 20 to 100 miles a day. They stay at hiker biker campsites, in hostels, in creekbeds and beaches, at friends, strangers’ homes and occasionally in hotels.
My boys are used to meeting the windswept, raccoon-eyed, suntanned cyclists. They’ve come to anticipate inspiration. Jeff will exchange songs on the guitar. Kobe listens to tales about riding through Vietnam rice patties, seeing Alaska’s Northern Lights, riding a tandem bike legally blind.
These cyclists tell me that the best days are the hardest days when water is scarce and shelter hard to find. Truly, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger because you learn how tough and resilient you are and maybe even the best gift – the ability to accept life on its own terms.
There is deep gratitude for the smallest things – a full belly, a warm shower, a ride to a bike shop because of a broken chain, the kindness of strangers.
I have learned that the best adventures are the ones that answer questions that you didn’t realize you wanted to know.