We are joined today by Jerry Kopack. Jerry has bike toured through 17 countries and is a member of the Warmshowers Board of Directors. He is propelled by the curiosity of the “human experience” and lives by the mentality to always say yes.
Jerry had been following the “formula for success” he was taught in college and worked for ten years in corporate finance. In 2005, his mom called and announced that she wanted them to start a hospice together. Jerry didn’t even know what a hospice was and thought she meant a hostel! But after learning more, he made the leap and joined his mom. Dealing with end-of-life care is difficult, especially at a young age. But within days, Jerry found his purpose and knew he would never return to a “cubicle” job again. Running the hospice was the best thing he ever did in his life. The greatest lesson he learned there – the value of time - will stay with him forever.
In 2015, Jerry stepped away from the hospice and suddenly had time on his hands. While deciding what to do next, an opportunity to take a bike tour came along. Jerry grew up riding, and bikes have always been part of his life. As he got older, he made some short trips but had never been gone more than a few weeks. Jerry set off for a 6-week trip and met many amazing people along the way. He thought his journey was complete when he met fellow tourers who invited him to ride along with them for a few more weeks. He said yes, and before he knew it, his 6-week trip turned into nearly two years!
One of the craziest things that happened to Jerry while touring was in Israel. He made a post in a Facebook group that he was in town looking for good places to camp, eat and visit. Later that day, he walked into a café, and the person behind the counter looked at him and asked, “are you Jerry?” Bewildered, he answered, “yes, why?” The café worker pulled out his phone, called a friend, and handed the phone to Jerry. The friend had seen his post, and without even knowing him, offered Jerry a place to stay for as long as he wanted.
That’s one of the things that Jerry finds so unique about bike touring – you never know who you will meet along the way and how it will impact your life. Bike packing has become a passion for Jerry, and he takes every opportunity to tour. Even a few days on the road, experiencing new sights and meeting new people, is not to be missed. He has learned that tomorrow is not promised, so always say yes when new opportunities present themselves. If you are given the gift of time – take it!
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Altri episodi di "Bike Life"
For the Children
32:38It started with a bike breakdown on a cycle tour through Namibia, Africa, in 2014. No problem for a seasoned cyclist like Ursula, but she was in a remote area with no access to bike shops or spare parts. Was her tour over? What happened next would forever change Ursula’s life and the lives of countless children.Today we welcome Ursula Koll, who has had many incredible experiences solo cycling through an amazing twenty-eight countries including; the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Spain, Siberia, Mongolia, China, Africa, Chile, and Norway!For the Children recounts Ursula’s chance meeting with Salome, who helps African orphans, and how she has made it her mission to improve the lives of over 120 children in the bush. Learn more about her work to help children on her website Radreisen für Aidswaisen.Join our community at Warmshowers.org, follow us on Instagram @Warmshowers_org and visit us on Facebook. Contact Tahverlee directly at [email protected] riding and hosting!
A Seasoned Cyclist
30:36Today's episode of Bike Life first aired in 2020 and quickly became one of our most popular shows. We are joined by passionate and seasoned cyclist Ken Francis, a longtime Warmshowers user, host, volunteer, and former Board member.By the mid-80s, Ken had already completed three cross-country tours of the United States, during which he relied on the hospitality of strangers. He began touring pre-technology and used old-fashioned paper maps back then. Finding places to stay along the way was difficult, and Ken mostly camped in the bush. On occasion, he would actually stop and knock on someone's door at the end of a long day and ask for a place to stay. He was hesitant at first but was always welcomed and is still in touch with some of those folks to this day.Ken began hosting cyclists through Warmshowers in 2013, and over the years, he has welcomed more than 250 guests! Around that same time, he began volunteering with the foundation by helping with new membership applications. At that time, Warmshowers was still very small, but the organization grew very quickly over the next few years. Eventually, Ken became a valuable member of the board and served multiple terms.Ken's advises hosts to clearly communicate their expectations and house rules with cyclists before and during their stay. Try to be unique, possibly by giving your guests a small but memorable token, taking them to a local restaurant, or by offering them advice on area attractions and best places to visit to make their experience memorable. Ken encourages hosts and guests always to leave feedback, good or bad and believes it is vital to communication.Since the 80s, Ken has toured worldwide, from the US to Europe, Australia, and even Iceland. Because he has hosted so many cyclists over the years, he manages to find a familiar Warmshowers host wherever he goes. He has even heard from former guests who have talked to other cyclists while touring and realized that they both stayed with Ken at one time.Ken believes the saying, "We don't stop touring because we get old, we get old because we stop touring." Cycling is for everybody and is a great way to see the world. Life might get complicated, but that doesn't mean we have to stop. His best advice is just to keep riding!You can follow Ken on YouTube at Ken Francis World and The Intimacy Gram. Find him on Instagram @Adventureman_lb and @The_Intimacy_Gram. Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
Women in Cycling
30:24Today's guest is Pinar Pinzuti, the founder of Fancy Women Bike Ride; a woman-only bike event held in cities worldwide. Pinar's goal is to bring more diversity into the cycling world and empower more women to ride more often. Pinar has been traveling by bicycle since 2006 and using Warmshowers hosts around the world. She has tried all forms of bike touring; long-distance Cycling in South America, adventure cycling in Iceland, bike-packing in southern Italy, road biking in Spain. She loves discovering cities by bike and believes if you "go slow, you feel more."As an avid cyclist, Pinar participated in many bike events and began to notice that she was often one of only a few women involved. As a result, she became shy and somewhat insecure when riding. Pinar's neighbor, who learned to ride a bike for the first time at the age of 39, came up with the idea of having a bike event for women only. So together, they held the first Fancy Woman Bike Ride in 2013. They were only expecting about ten women to join the ride, but to their amazement, 400 women showed up! They invaded the roads of Turkey with their fancy clothes and decorated bicycles, smiling and waving to onlookers. Almost 50 journalists came to cover the event, which grew from there. Pinar believes that Cycling is a compelling way for women to become visible in society and an entirely new way to interact with their city. Fancy Women Bike Ride is a grassroots event for women, organized by women to remember the liberating joy of Cycling and to inspire more women to ride more often. The more women who cycle, the more women will be encouraged to cycle. Pinar is also creating powerful ways for women to be seen in the industry. In addition to founding Fancy Women Bike Ride, she works closely with the Woman Cycling Initiative. Women in Cycling is a new initiative to help women get more visibility, impact, and leading jobs in the cycling industry. They seek to boost equality and diversity in the sector, shine the spotlight on women in the industry and provide networking, mentoring, and training opportunities.Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the Fancy Women Bike Ride. Look for a local event in a city near you in September 2022. Besides creating more diversity in the biking industry, Pinar hopes to encourage women to dust off their bikes, join the ride, and then keep going for the pure joy of it.You can follow Pinar, who calls herself a cycling brainwasher, on Instagram at @pinarpinzuti, Facebook, and Twitter at @pinarpinzuti. But beware, she will convince you to take up cycling!Learn more about Fancy Women Bike Ride, Women in Cycling Initiative, Bike Italia, and Bikenomist.Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
Making the Journey Yours
32:16Today, we are joined by Susan Doram. Susan is a published writer, award-winning personal trainer, cycle coach, and worldwide solo cyclist.In 2017, Susan set off for a 2 ½ year solo cycling tour around the world. Her epic journey took her through 15 countries on four continents! It was a “slow cycle” tour, and she credits her bike for helping her meet the most interesting people, especially her Warmshowers hosts, some of whom she is still in touch with today. She returned home to the UK in 2020, just before the pandemic lockdown and in time for her 50th birthday. Before her journey, she spent a full two years planning and organizing her trip. The whole idea of a long cycle tour scared Susan. So in 2015, she announced to everyone that she planned to take a round-the-world cycle tour just to push herself into actually doing it. Since returning, Susan shares her story to hopefully motivate others to set off on their own cycle adventures. Before Susan left, she read all of the books about touring, which made her believe the trip would be absolutely grueling; cycling all day and night. But in fact, a cycle tour doesn’t have to be that way; it can be whatever you want it to be. The beauty of the bicycle is that it takes you off the beaten track and into so many places that you would not see if you were in a car. Sometimes, not following the recommended, traditional route allows you to see and do some pretty amazing things.Susan recalls some of the highlights from her trip, including; the best food she ate, which was in South Korea, Taiwan has fantastic cycle routes with people cheering you on along the way, cycling the Pacific Coastal Highway is beautiful, but going inland off the path can take you to some amazing places. Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are all very cycle-friendly. Her favorite place to cycle was in Southeast Asia, where she felt very safe and welcomed. Susan’s tour motivated her to become a cycling coach. Her new venture, teaching people how to ride and tour, is so inspiring. She recently taught a woman in her 70s to ride for the first time. Susan’s enthusiasm for cycling is contagious, and her goal is to get more people out there riding.You can follow Susan on Instagram at @SusanLongHaulTrucker and learn more about her adventures on her website SusanDoram.com. Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
29:20We are joined today by Ben Riopelle. Ben is a Vet Tech from Colorado who is combining his love for animals and conservation with a long dreamed about first-time bike tour.Since graduating college, Ben has worked both as a veterinary technician and a teacher. In 2019, while working as a vet tech at a low-cost, high-volume veterinary clinic in Colorado, he was offered a spot on a trip to Panama to assist with an island spay/neuter campaign. Little did he know that his life would be forever changed, and the trip would become a catalyst for pursuing a bike tour that he had dreamed about for years. When he returned from Panama, and almost nine years after first thinking about taking a bike tour, Ben decided the time was right. While spending his summer in Alaska, where he feels a deep connection, he began mentally and physically preparing to start pedaling. He recalls planning his trip, telling his family, figuring out what gear he needed (he knew he was overpacking), and finding sources of inspiration to motivate him. When he told his family about the trip, his oldest brother said he doubted that Ben could handle such a long tour. Ben challenged him to a bet, but his brother was too scared to place a wager!Ben started his tour on Labor Day in Washington, and at the time of this recording, he was just over a month into his journey. He views his travels as less about a bike tour and more about interactions with locals, being outdoors, and, most importantly, wildlife rehabilitation and release. This first tour along the US West Coast should last about two months and is primarily for enjoyment, training, and ironing out the kinks before he takes on a more extended tour abroad. The trip has been a roller coaster so far. Ben had a proper send-off with friends who came to wish him well, and the first couple of days were very exciting. After about four days, his motivation began to be tested when he realized that so much time would be spent deep in his own thoughts. But so far, the trip has been a fantastic experience. Ben has stayed with quite a few Warmshowers’ hosts along the way and is thankful for his experiences with each of them. After this first tour is over, Ben will take a position as a volunteer Vet Tech with the Laos Conservation Trust for Wildlife starting in January. He fully intends on bringing his Surly along and has been told that there is no difference between a 3-day tour and a yearlong tour. The only difference is, you don’t turn around. Ben hopes to spend the next few years biking from one Vet Tech volunteer opportunity to the next across the globe. You can follow Ben on Instagram at @Bennie.andthe.pets.Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
The Gift of Time
33:41We are joined today by Jerry Kopack. Jerry has bike toured through 17 countries and is a member of the Warmshowers Board of Directors. He is propelled by the curiosity of the “human experience” and lives by the mentality to always say yes. Jerry had been following the “formula for success” he was taught in college and worked for ten years in corporate finance. In 2005, his mom called and announced that she wanted them to start a hospice together. Jerry didn’t even know what a hospice was and thought she meant a hostel! But after learning more, he made the leap and joined his mom. Dealing with end-of-life care is difficult, especially at a young age. But within days, Jerry found his purpose and knew he would never return to a “cubicle” job again. Running the hospice was the best thing he ever did in his life. The greatest lesson he learned there – the value of time - will stay with him forever.In 2015, Jerry stepped away from the hospice and suddenly had time on his hands. While deciding what to do next, an opportunity to take a bike tour came along. Jerry grew up riding, and bikes have always been part of his life. As he got older, he made some short trips but had never been gone more than a few weeks. Jerry set off for a 6-week trip and met many amazing people along the way. He thought his journey was complete when he met fellow tourers who invited him to ride along with them for a few more weeks. He said yes, and before he knew it, his 6-week trip turned into nearly two years!One of the craziest things that happened to Jerry while touring was in Israel. He made a post in a Facebook group that he was in town looking for good places to camp, eat and visit. Later that day, he walked into a café, and the person behind the counter looked at him and asked, “are you Jerry?” Bewildered, he answered, “yes, why?” The café worker pulled out his phone, called a friend, and handed the phone to Jerry. The friend had seen his post, and without even knowing him, offered Jerry a place to stay for as long as he wanted.That’s one of the things that Jerry finds so unique about bike touring – you never know who you will meet along the way and how it will impact your life. Bike packing has become a passion for Jerry, and he takes every opportunity to tour. Even a few days on the road, experiencing new sights and meeting new people, is not to be missed. He has learned that tomorrow is not promised, so always say yes when new opportunities present themselves. If you are given the gift of time – take it! You can follow Jerry on Instagram at @WorldSpinsBy and learn more about his adventures on his blog World Spins By. Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
33:21We are joined today by Dan Beaumont. Dan is on an epic 4-month journey cycling 10,000km across Britain to raise funds for Mind Over Mountains.At the time of this recording, Dan was on day 90 and about 7000km into his journey heading down the west coast of Wales. He was resting in the beautiful yard of his Warmshowers hosts, Catherine and John, who are feeding him well! Dan has stayed with many Warmshowers hosts along the way and says the theme of kindness has reigned throughout his journey.After graduating from university, Dan left the UK and spent ten years working abroad in Romania, Germany, and Australia. Once back home, he decided to rediscover his country and thought, what better way to do it than on a bicycle. Initially, he planned to take his time cycling around the UK to see the sights, but then his mate Alex, the founder of Mind over Mountains, suggested he turn his ride into a way to help others. Mind Over Mountains is a mental health charity offering immediate and accessible support through therapeutic outdoor experiences. They believe that time in nature, coupled with professional support, is a powerful way to build resilience and re-find stillness.During his trip, Dan has learned some clear lessons of kindness and is amazed at the help he has received from total strangers. They have been there to aid with bike repair, meals, and places to stay or offer a smile and a kind word. Although he is riding alone, he feels like he has a huge support group around him. Patience is also something Dan is learning on this trip! Carrying everything you need for such a long journey will make you slow down and take your time. Dan views this trip as a life journey and says so much has happened since day one. He has experienced many beautiful moments and believes that everyone would benefit from such a journey. Whether it be cycling, walking, or just traveling, take time out from life to experience all that is out there. Dan takes time every evening to try and capture his day in his journal, but sometimes it is too much sensory overload to get it all down on paper.Dan is a data nerd and has developed a database to record the metrics during his tour. In addition, he has been doing some fun interviews with people he has met along the way. He plans to use all of this information and his journal entries to write a book after the tour is complete. His plans also include starting a nature retreat to help people struggling with mental health. Throughout his life, he has always turned to adventure and the great outdoors to heal and wants to help others do the same.Dan’s advice to everyone is just to get out and go, but take one step at a time. Start small; an adventure doesn’t have to be huge or cross country to be an amazing journey. Use your time for introspection but also put yourself out there and interact with others. If you are hesitating, just go! You will not regret the experience and will come back a changed person. As Dan says, “one is greater than zero!” You can follow Dan on Instagram at DanOBeaumont and learn more about his trip and donate HERE. Find out more about Mind Over Mountains and what they offer HERE. Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
Queer in the Community
31:34We are joined today by Kevin Belanger. Kevin is here to share his wisdom, knowledge, and personal experiences on the important conversation of being queer in the outdoor community.Kevin was a guest on Bike Life episode #33, Great American Rail Trail. He is the Manager of Trail Planning with Rails to Trails Conservancy and The Great American Rail Trail, a multi-use cross-country trail under development enabling users to hike or bike across the US on a safe and scenic path.As a queer person, Kevin has a different point of view on biking and the outdoors. There are many barriers to tour cycling, but the best way to overcome these barriers is by educating and bringing the conversation forward. Kevin travels extensively, especially in rural areas, and is grateful to say that he has had very few bad experiences.Kevin was young and not out yet when Matthew Shepherd was murdered in Wyoming just for being gay. Matthew’s murder profoundly affected him and always colored his impression of non-urban, less diverse areas. His first work trip took him to Wyoming, and he admits to being very nervous. But fortunately, Kevin met great people on that trip that helped changed his perspective.Kevin does not necessarily present as gay and has the privilege of passing. He is a drag queen on the side; his drag name is Whisky Ginger, and she is a salty redhead. But when Kevin is around a group of straight men who don’t know he is gay, he hears many things that he would not typically hear. He finds it fascinating to have a foot in both of these worlds.Kevin feels that the bike community is open and full of love and diversity for the most part. Of course, there is always room for education, but he feels very welcome and accepted while touring. He would like to see more diversity in the outdoors and biking community and is intrigued by the new affinity groups he has read about. These groups create a safe space for people of color, queer people, and various groups to share their interest in the outdoors and cycling. He does not view affinity groups as a place to hide or be separate, but rather a place to share common interests.There are several ways that Kevin feels Warmshowers can help create a more inclusive community. Language plays a key role, especially when asked to identify gender. Also, he would love to see a place on the user profile to indicate that a host is LGBTQ+ and BIPOC friendly. Warnshowers is currently undergoing a technology revision and will incorporate these ideas. The cycling community has been predominately white and straight for a long time, and Warmshowers is actively trying to change that.There is still a lot of work to do around this topic, and some might feel uncomfortable talking about it. If you don’t know how to handle a situation, then do some research. Where ever and however you can, be a part of the change and learn to be more accepting of others. There is a place for everyone in this conversation and the bike community. It starts at the individual level, and it’s ok to make mistakes along the way. As Kevin says, “as long as you are misstepping in love, you’re good to go!”Follow Kevin’s travels on his blog By Way of the Trail and learn more about Rails to Trails Conservancy and The Great American Rail Trail.Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
30:58We are joined today by Aaron Stephenson. Aaron is a Spanish teacher who lives with his family in Massachusetts and uses his summer breaks to cycle for a cause.At age 13, Aaron began working in a bike shop where his dream of cycling across the country was born. He has always been fascinated with the beauty and simplicity of the bicycle. The speed of a bike is perfect for encountering the world around you. The 360° view engages all of your senses and is so refreshing. Every sense in your body gets turned on when you are on a bike.When Aaron was younger, he did a few short 5-day tours with family and always knew he wanted to tackle a long-distance ride. He was captivated by the idea of riding cross country on a bicycle. Tour for Becky began to honor the memory of his late mother-in-law, who passed away after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Despite the challenges that Becky faced, she was always sunny and ready to help others. Aaron feels that the tour is the perfect vehicle to continue her generosity.In 2019, Aaron started the first leg of his tour and set out from Massachusetts, ending in Minnesota. Along the way, he stayed almost exclusively with Warmshowers hosts. Aaron loves the uniqueness of the Warmshowers organization and has benefited greatly from its hospitality. The first leg of the tour raised over $8000! The funds were divided between a group supporting cancer patients and another organization that helps alleviate childhood homelessness. Although the landscape Aaron encountered while touring was amazing, it was the “people-scapes” that captured his heart. Along the way, he met so many amazing people, including some wonderful Warmshowers hosts. Their warmth and hospitality fed his soul and made him feel like part of the family. He calls this unique Warmshowers phenomenon Road Magic! Aaron is so appreciative of everyone that has hosted him that he makes a donation to Warmshowers.org in each of their names to help offset the costs of keeping our technology safe, secure, and up to date.After a year in Covid delay, he is just back from his second journey pedaling from Minnesota to Montana. He is still supporting the cancer organization, but the majority of the funds will go towards buying high-quality carbon offsets this time. His interest in climate preservation began at the tender age of 9 when he read an article in a cycling magazine about how efficient the biological engine (our body) is. Aaron believes many people are paralyzed by the enormity of the climate change issue and wants to offer a communal way to do something that has a tangible impact. To date, he has raised enough funds to mitigate over 350 tons of CO2. But he is not stopping there; his goal is 1000 tons! Aaron is passionate about finding ways for us to make progress together against this genuinely enormous challenge.Aaron is very encouraged to see the bike culture growing across our country. He loves that younger people are being encouraged to hop on a bike instead of jumping behind the wheel of a car. His wish is that this bike culture will grow in all areas of our country. Up next for Aaron will be the third leg of the Tour for Becky, pedaling from Montana to Seattle.Follow Aaron’s travels on his video blog and website Tour for Becky and learn more about Trees for the Future. Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org
Great American Rail Trail
24:49We are joined today by Kevin Belanger. Kevin is the Manager of Trail Planning for the Rails to Trails Conservancy and the Great American Rail Trail.The Great American Rail Trail is the flagship project of the Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC). RTC was formed in 1986 with the mission to convert unused railway lines into hiking and biking trails. There are many miles of abandoned railway trails across the country, and RTC reimagines public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike, and be active outdoors.Currently, the route is 53% complete, with just over 2,000 miles of trail across the country. RTC works with state and local officials throughout the country to complete more of the trail. Each of these projects happens on a regional scale, and RTC relies heavily on advocates on the ground. They focus on linking these corridors to create trail networks that connect people and places to transform communities across the country, from Washington, DC, to Washington state.The trail is called the Great American Rail Trail because RTC wants it to have a railroad feel. The unused railways in the eastern part of the country are relatively flat, broad, and pass through many small communities. As a result, many people can benefit from these trails, not just conditioned athletes. The western part of the country presents a bit of a challenge as the terrain is rougher, and many railways are still in use. So, RTC is working with trail planners to create a system of trails that follows highways, canals, and utility corridors, to name a few.RTC has a companion website and app called TrailLink, which maps all of their known trails. When you are looking for your next adventure, The TrialLink app can help you find trails near your location. Whether you’re planning an itinerary or have just found a great trail, you can save all your favorites and track your completed trails. It is an excellent resource, with hundreds of miles of newly discovered trails added each year.Kevin calls himself a “certifiable trial nerd” and has biked since he was a child. He says that the best part about his job has been talking with cyclists, trail planners, state officials, and trail advocates across the country. He has been privileged to visit every state that the trail runs through, and although he has not had the opportunity to bike the entire trail, he has spent a lot of time on the eastern leg (Pittsburgh to DC). His ultimate goal is to bike the whole completed trail someday.You can learn more about Rails to Trails on their websites; Rails To Trails, Great American Rail Trail, and Trail Link. Follow Kevin on his blog By Way of the Trail.Join our community at Warmshowers.org, or you can reach Tahverlee at [email protected] us on Instagram; @Warmshowers_org