3 Warm Shower stories straight from the recent book! The other stories in the book are from people and cyclists from all over the globe. We invest the income in a unique cycling project — the follow up of “the cycle effect” we’ve done in Patagonia –> read about that here.
Cyclists and Warm Showers members get a 15% discount on the ebook.
From the book: Reinvent Yourself..
My legs, arms and face are dirty from sand, dust and small particles of carbon monoxide coming from traffic that’s spitting out its waste. I got a sweaty ass just like my back and feet. It’s been like this from day one, today is day six and every day I’m getting dirtier. I tried the positive approach and started thinking that the new sweat of the day was washing off the dirt of the days before. It didn’t work.
When you cycle long distances, passing through the middle of nowhere, showers are hard to find. Besides that, sometimes the circumstances make you just want to crawl into your funky sleeping bag instead of looking for that ice-cold river you spotted just before setting up your tent.
Now imagine that after days of sweat and dirt, there is a house where someone opens the door for you with a big smile and the smell of fresh coffee. It’s a smile that invites you to sleep in a warm bed, eat good food, have a real talk, and take that refreshing shower. Two Canadian guys once imagined how cool this would be, and created Warm Showers. A website and mobile app where you find like-minded people who open their house for cyclists. For all cyclists, also those who are dirty and smelly.
The value of Warm Showers in connecting people from around the world—and giving cyclists a serious break—is not measurable in numbers. Warm Showers makes you recharge and move forward again. I am thankful for Warm Showers and I am grateful for all my hosts.
I’ve met many interesting hosts over the years. They are somewhat crazy just like travel cyclists are and many have a story of their own. Here three stories from Warm Shower hosts.
A Brazilian shower in Japan
“It was fall in Japan and it had been raining for days on end. I was wet, cold and didn’t shower in five consecutive days while climbing mountains, sleeping in parks and construction sites. I had started some cycling days in wet clothes and shoes so I was in desperate need for a warm shower. I checked the magic Warm Showers app and from there I met my host Roberto who is a Brazilian living in Japan. Roberto lived in a house that was almost too small for one person, but he opened it up for me. As a real Brazilian, he took care of his guest with a hot shower, a hot meal, a bed, and his warm personality. Roberto was an inspiring man but above all, he was made of iron.”
…I chose to be a host to meet new people, listen to interesting stories and contribute to the cycling dreams of others. The reason why I went to Japan from Brazil is because of a woman. I followed her when she went to Japan for work, but after three months we separated. That was hard for me. Missing my girlfriend, being alone, language and communication problems, and being in a totally different culture got me depressed.
When I was going deeper and deeper in my depression, I realized I had to change. I knew I needed to focus and that I had to do a restart. I then decided to buy a bicycle to exercise and spend more time outside. I clearly remember the day I bought it that I couldn’t go back home because of the negative thoughts I had. Everything reminded me of her and I was lost in thinking. It was that very same day that I saw a poster that changed my life. It was a poster promoting a small triathlon event close by. I decided to participate right away and making that choice was a major shift in my life.
I weighed 97 kg at the time and when I practiced for the triathlon I lost weight, I began eating healthy and as a result started feeling better. My goal now is to complete a full triathlon, the Iron Man. I now weigh 67 kg and what’s in my mind is to continue training until I complete the iconic Iron Man in New Zealand.
This goal I have—this new purpose—gives me a reason to wake up every day. It brings the energy and gratitude for training, feeling stronger and being so healthy. Now, I also see the value of time and focus, since I invest every free moment in training and getting better. Every day I do my best to make the most of it.
After devouring the Japanese-Brazilian food Roberto cooked for me, I asked if he maybe had a secret power food he’d like to share. It’s his recipe for cyclists who like to endure, a recipe for iron men and women in the making, and anybody else who needs a food boost. It is Roberto’s iron power cake!
THE IRON POWERCAKE
- 3 bananas
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup of coconut oil
- 2 cups of oat flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
Heat the oven to 350 F. Grease up a medium shaped baking thin and set aside. Beat the eggs, 2 bananas, coconut oil, sugar and cinnamon until you have a creamy mixture. Add the oat flakes and baking powder incorporating them with a wooden spoon. Mix it and put it in the baking thin. Cut the remaining banana and place it on top of the dough. Bake for about 30 min. The consistency will be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Follow the Iron adventure on Instagram: @robertoieiri
Guiding the Silk Road
“Summer in Iran 2017. It’s getting dark. Me and my buddy Rick are cycling into the city of Marand when all of a sudden we are being followed by a local cyclist. This is Iran where seemingly all people are friendly so I don’t worry about it. At first I ignored him to keep focus on the busy road but the guy insists on talking to us. We stopped to have a chat. That’s the night we met Yashar. As it turned out a Warm Shower host—an extraordinary one.
Yashar is the kind of guy who personally makes sure you eat, sleep, and meet the Iranian people so you get to know this fascinating country. He took us around for entire days: tasting the food, meeting his family, friends, and local projects. Without expecting anything in return, he was just helping, just giving and although he is exceptional it wasn’t an exception. For me he personifies the nature of the Iranian and Persian people who are intelligent, energetic and kind-hearted. It’s a surprisingly open-minded and creative culture, far from the repetitive image we’re being fed through Western media. Yashar is one of many who show that it’s the people who determine the truth. Not the media, not the government. Maybe something to consider when extremists (U.S. foreign policy) try to persuade you to support another war.”
…Two and a half years ago I was walking down the street in my hometown Marand when I saw a French guy standing beside his bicycle. I was scared and was trembling to approach him, but I started talking to him and he told me he was looking for a place to eat because he was so hungry from cycling.
I knew the right place and so I invited him to have a good Iranian lunch at a friend’s house. At some point, a man called Akbar noticed the bicycle that was parked outside and he rang at the door. Akbar was a Warm Showers host. “The what?” I asked. “The Warm Showers host?” I had never heard of this before, but it got me interested. That’s when all started.
I asked Akbar if he could tell me every time he had a cyclist in his house, because I wanted to talk to them, to get to know their culture and to practice my English. This way, I learned a lot and started to become better and better in English until at some point, I was ready to be a Warm Shower host myself!
Today my English is good and instead of only giving the cyclists a bed and shower, I take them around and get them acquainted with Iranian people, our culture and food. Now, whenever my friends see a foreigner on a bicycle they call me; then I jump on my bicycle, and I make sure to get a hold of them. I am 18 years old and have hosted and guided about 650 people. Although it’s not easy because of the political situation in Iran, I will continue to help people and show them the beauty of my country. If you ever come to Iran and pass through Marand, let me know!
Yashar on Instagram: @silk_road_travelers
A Journey for Peace
Happy and excited as a child! That’s how I felt to be back in the mountains and to be back in Nepal. I have worked and traveled several times in this relatively small country, which is settled between giants like India and China. It is one of my all time favourite destinations. I think that at least once in your life, you should visit this gorgeous country that holds the highest mountain peaks in the world.
As I navigated my way through Nepal coming from the western border with India, I was treated for a dense and wet fog. The biggest ever recorded in history, stretching from northern Pakistan to Sikkim, in eastern India. I’ll never forget feeling sorry for myself because I was wet and cold for nine days straight, until I saw young children doing terrible labour in these circumstances. What was I thinking? This was their life! I couldn’t resist a slight feeling of self-disgust as I was putting things in perspective.
When the fog cleared up in mind and weather, I reached travel hub Pokhara where I met Patrick and Steffi, a German couple traveling by bicycle. They gave me the address of a Warm Showers host in Kathmandu. His name was Pushkar Shah. Apparently he was a cycling legend in Nepal.
As I arrived at his house more cyclists were recharging their batteries, but there was enough space and I was offered a private room. Soon I got to know the man who owned this house which he makes available for adventurous cyclists. Apparently a well known man, because people told me about him as I cycled from Pokhara to Kathmandu. As it turned out, Pushkar had been cycling the world for 11 years! His house was covered with flags, newspaper articles, rewards, pictures, medals, and old bicycle parts. Pushkar had cycled the world to spread a message: Peace in the world.
Pushkar had good reasons for his ideology because his father, a Gurkha soldier, was killed during an operation with the Indian army. Also, Pushkar himself got shot at an uprising against the king when he was just 20. He was wounded badly and was left for dead. Six years later, he witnessed the start of violence from Maoist guerrillas who were seeking to overthrow the Hindu monarchy and demanding political and social reforms.
With frustration, Pushkar saw the decline of his country. In 1998—the year I discovered and fell in love with Nepal—he set off to cycle around the world to spread the message of peace. He cycled for 11 years, covering more than 200.000 kilometers and passing through 150 countries.
Pushkar moved silently and kind of mystically through his house. He didn’t talk much and basically left the cyclists in charge of his house. I found Pushkar intriguing. It seemed as if he had a serene and content sadness inside of him. There was also a big outgoing smile though, when his friends came over and they started drinking, playing cards and singing.
I asked him about his journey. A journey around the world that ended with another epic challenge after coming home: climbing Mount Everest! “My aim was to spread the message of peace and to see the world. I want to climb Everest for the same reason.” Pushkar told the French press agency AFP before setting off to the highest mountain in the world. “I want to take all the country-flags I collected to the top of Everest.” In the end, he not only committed himself to this challenge but he also succeeded. He is the first man who cycled around the globe and climbed Mount Everest for dessert.
“We have one sun, one moon, one sky, and one world. Whatever religion, there will always be just one sunrise, one moon, one blue sky, and one earth. So we have to keep our world beautiful and be and act as one.” What he learned on the road he said: “Difficulty makes you stronger. It allows you to expand and deal with future situations better.”
“I am not a real cyclist, I am more like a peace messenger and the bicycle was my vehicle. It is difficult to talk in highlights but in the 11 years that I have been cycling around the world I also got 11 marriage proposals, not bad huh.”
During his cycling adventure, he has been robbed and even got kidnapped in Mexico from which he could escape. His bicycle was completely broken in Hong Kong and his 2nd bicycle was stolen in New Zealand. But because it was such big news in New Zealand, Sir Edmund Hillary, the first (or second?) man to have climbed Mount Everest, heard about the news and invited him to his house and gave him a new bicycle. “This was a highlight in my journey.” Pushkar said his experiences on the road were overwhelmingly positive, offering evidence that “the goodness of humanity has no geographic boundaries.”
“You never know what’s in store and how things will turn out. But obviously, it gets difficult sometimes. One of the biggest sacrifices was that I have missed my family. You cannot have everything in your life. There are choices to be made. But it was worth it, to carry the message of peace from Nepal, from the land of Lord Buddha.”
“I was cycling for world peace and one man alone cannot change the world but through the newspapers, television, and invitations I have contributed to what I can. Maybe I have inspired someone who will change the world. The world nowadays is more difficult, more complex. People are fighting everywhere. Africa, Middle East, and it seems that we are destroying ourselves. It makes me sad, it makes many people sad because you, me and most people just want peace and want to be happy. It is just a few people, a few people that are in power, who are destroying this beautiful world. Why fight for power or land when we as a people and planet are one?”
During the interview, his eyes lit up and got brighter. It seemed as if he lost the sadness I had seen earlier. Was it because we were talking about the purpose he had back then? Or maybe he just wanted to jump on his bicycle again? I asked him about the connective power of cycling: “There is no better way to discover and travel than by bicycle. By bicycle, if you see a beautiful tree, you can stop and touch it, smell it, and maybe have your lunch with it. It’s so much easier to connect with nature, so much easier to connect with the environment. You can swim in rivers or lakes that you wouldn’t even see if you pass by bus or car. Wherever you stop you can dance and sing naturally, with the stars, without people staring at you. I was lucky enough to hug and feel the 7 wonders of this world, the 7 oceans, and all continents. I have been in the deepest point in the Dead Sea and have summited Mount Everest, the highest point in the world. I have been drinking water from all over the world. It’s the taste of life. I got the elements in my heart.”
Become a host, donate or have a warm shower yourself → www.warmshowers.org