Warm Showers, 2015 season (December 2014 – August 2015)

We’ve been members of Warm Showers, the bicycle touring hospitality network, since the spring of 2011, and have, to date, hosted 104 bicycle travelers, including a baby, two toddlers, and a dog, despite being on travel, recuperating from surgery, or remodeling the “warm shower” (bathroom) for weeks and months at a time over the years.  As the only hosts in this area reasonably close to the route that almost all cyclists traveling the north-south Pacific Coast take through Washington State, we get a lot of requests during the prime touring season.  We’re about one day out of Seattle, and two days out of Port Townsend or Port Angeles, the most common entry points to the Olympic Peninsula, and at the convergence of all the alternative routes from those points, not only for the Pacific Coast Route but also the Seattle Connector on the new Adventure Cycling Washington Parks loop around the Olympic Peninsula.

We do see a lot of other tourists passing through, those who don’t use Warm Showers and stay in local motels or whose daily mileage is more in the 75-100 mile range rather than the 75-100 km range, so they end up at one of the state parks to the north: Potlatch, Twanoh, or Belfair, at the end of a long day, or who ride on from further north to Olympia or Elma (where there is a popular hostel).  We occasionally get a call for advice or assistance from some of the mid-day transiting riders who find us in the Warm Showers directory.

We’re closing out our season summary at the start of Fall, even though we do often get guests through October, as we are starting on our fall travel season and will be in and out over the next few months and won’t be able to host tourists most of September,  October, and December. The 2015 season actually started in December 2014, when we put ourselves back on the “receiving guests” list after my recuperation from surgery, in order to appear on the roster for those who plan tours well in advance.  Almost immediately, we got a call from Eric, who was 15,000 km into an “Epic Tour” around the country, and who had encountered wind, rain, and the steep hills of South Kitsap County and had to be rescued from the storm just north of Purdy, 60 km northeast of Shelton, far short of his intended goal for the day, Olympia, 30 km past us.


We sent him on his way the next day, a bit drier, but still facing hundreds of kilometers of wet Northwest winter riding before reaching the warmer, drier climes of the northern California Coast. He eventually made his way to Moab, Utah, where he found work in a bike shop while preparing for the 4500-km Great Divide Mountain Bike Race this summer. We stopped by the shop on our own “Auto Tour 2015” to wish him well, just before the race. He finished, after– to borrow from the Cascade Bicycle Club brochure for my 1983 Seattle-to-Portland one-day double century ride–“a grueling test of endurance for those who have properly prepared themselves,” but nearly a month after the seasoned veterans and past champions (but not dead last), an adventure that included sore knees, broken bike, and funding issues as the ride stretched into July.

Needless to say, off-road endurance mountain bike racing is a bit different than road touring.   Experience is the best training–for next time, as it was for my one endurance attempt 32 years ago, noted above, coming in 750th out of a field of just under 1000, at one-and-a-half times longer than the race leaders (a tandem team, the U.S. women’s racing champions) and nearly three hours off the average time for the rest of us.  And, finishing counts, big time.  So does getting back on after a setback.  Our own personal comeback this year was reaching the 500-km mark for this season, the year after cardiac bypass surgery, in a couple dozen short rides of 15-40km.  We remain inspired and encouraged by our Warm Showers guests in their quest for adventure, whether it is qualifying for a criterium at 50, a four-day, 300km trial run, or a multi-year 20,000 km journey across continents.

In early spring, we got our next guests, Josh and Ganbold, Masters class bike racers from Seattle, who were participating in a criterium in Shelton the next day. Their lodging plans had gone awry, so we bent the rules a bit to help them out: they arrived by auto, with bikes in the back. OK, they had bikes, and they did ride the next day, so it worked out.


Ganbold was Mongolian National Champion, “back in the day,” and had his 15 minutes of fame on the podium (2nd place) of the Pan-Asian games in India in the 1980s, when we were all younger and rode faster and more furiously. Well, the racers are still a lot younger than us, and we may slow with age, but it hasn’t stopped us, yet, either.

We went off on our own epic 13,500 km auto tour (plus 288 km by bike) in May and June. The “season” caught up with us in mid-July, with back-to-back Warm Showers guests three days one week, then the usual once-or-twice-a-week flow, all north to south so far, some coming via Victoria and Port Angeles, some through Whidbey and Port Townsend, some from Seattle. Guests came from Australia, France, Canada, Texas, Alaska, Scotland, and Seattle.  The summer guests are shown below, in no particular order.  Bryce and Reynaldo, traveling separately, met on the road in Belfair, and arrived together, their routes diverging again at Olympia the next day.  That’s the second time that’s happened.

Albert cooked for us.
Ben and Naomi, from Sydney, Australia, are headed for Bolivia.
Benoit, from France, with his efficient one-wheel trailer. With his light rig, he could have gone farther, but Reynaldo, his Seattle host, insisted he must stay with us.
Cam and Brooke, from Brisbane, Australia, started their tour in Kelowna, BC, where Brooke has relatives. We had to leave early in the morning, so missed the usual departure photo with bicycles. Brooke was having knee problems, so took advantage of the inter-county bus routes from Port Townsend to Olympia to gain a few rest days while keeping on schedule, and Cam continued to ride.
John started in Alaska and is headed for South America, traveling very light with sleeping bag, tarp, “Bear Vault” food locker, and a few tools and clothing items, no electronics.
Michel and Mark, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on a short summer tour, Vancouver to San Francisco. Again, we had to leave early, so caught them before they loaded up their bikes with considerably more gear.
Stefan is from Texas, and rode the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail from New Mexico to Montana before heading west and now south. The Salsa line of bikes is to bikepacking as Surly is to road touring.
Zach and Angela, from Seattle, are on a short tour to Portland, for Angela’s first multi-day tour.
Reynaldo has been a popular Warm Showers host in Seattle for the past few years, and is now headed out on an extended tour that will take him to South America.

Reynaldo likes to help out with chores to thank his hosts, so we enlisted him and Bryce to help move our heavy Leclerc Artisat countermarch floor loom from the 2nd floor studio to the basement weaving studio.

Bryce is on a circumnavigation of the continental U.S., having completed the Virginia-Maine-Washington half of the circuit, with detours around wildfires in the upper Northwest.
Peter and Yolanda, from Scotland, on a Vancouver to San Francisco tour, our 4th tandem to visit.

Like recumbent riders Steve and Gordon a couple of years ago, the steep grade of East Trails Road  between WA 106 and Mason Lake Road was too intimidating for slow climbers like tandems and recumbents, so Peter and Yolanda continued along the scenic South Shore Drive to US 101, stopping at Hunter Farms at the Purdy cutoff junction for ice cream. In honor of their foggy and rainy homeland, the famous Pacific Northwest rains returned this week as they passed through.