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  1. #1
    Hooked on Touring
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    Negative Warmshowers Experience

    I live in a Western community that is not on one of the designated Adventure Cycling routes, but still has some through touring traffic. I have been on the Warmshowers website for about two years, now. I have never stayed with anyone - but have hosted about a dozen people. I have also had more than a few blow me off without so much as a cancellation. Including tonight.

    First off, let me say that I have, perhaps, 75,000 miles of touring experience so that I know a thing or two about touring. I know that you cannot punch a clock and that unexpected things do come up. But I also know that I was able to make appropriate and courteous contacts in the days of pay phones and snail mail which now seem to be so difficult to do in this age of cell phones and e-mail. Or at least difficult to do if the person looking for a place has a change of plans. It doesn't seem that difficult when they are looking for a place.

    This Sunday evening a person called who had just joined Warmshowers - most likely just to find cheap sleeps. She hardly identified herself, but I said that she and her sister could stay on Monday. I got a call on Monday saying that they would have to stay an extra day where they were so could they make it Tuesday. I said, "O.K." - but let them know that I had an evening engagement.

    Now, it is only 68 miles from the town they were in to the town where I live. The temperature was in the low 70s today with very light winds - mostly side and tail. There were a few hills - but nothing outrageous. There is only one place to stop - halfway between - a rest stop with a tiny c-store. They called at 3:00 - supposedly from the rest stop - which would mean that they didn't leave until almost noon - but said that they would get in between 6:00 and 7:00. Even though there can be spotty cell coverage, the last half of the ride is on a ridge line so there should have been cell phone service.

    I went to my evening meeting after not having heard a word from them. When I got back - still no message. I finally got a call a 9:30 asking if it was still alright to come by. I said, "No." She said that they had had a flat tire and that she had fallen from the bike - but it sounded too contrived to me. I've had plenty of flats - and they didn't delay me 3 hours. I also have had a slip or two - and although I may have gotten scraped, I got back on the bike. In either of these cases - a call would have been courteous and could have been a means of assistance.

    I suspect that they didn't leave until mid-afternoon - even though I had said that I had the engagement this evening. Or that they decided to have a few drinks at some local bar before calling the chump on Warmshowers. It's not the first time - - but it will be the last. I'm tired of being mooched upon.

  2. #2
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Good for you, I would have done the same. Example of a few messing it up for the many.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  3. #3
    Hooked on Touring
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    But I still feel bad. It's a cold and windy night.

  4. #4
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    I would have done the same, but near my place there are a few campings and hotels within easy reach so I would not feel so bad.

  5. #5
    Neil_B
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    Hmm, interesting story. I wonder at the yarn the young woman was spinning. My first reaction as a rider if I have any problem is to contact the folks I am staying with so they know about any delay I might have. They abused their host by not doing so. I'd also plan for conservative mileages rather than long ones - the 68-70 miles the OP mentions would be a challenge for me, but not so much for other riders. Perhaps these women bit off more miles than they could chew?

    It appears the OP's good nature was taken advantage of, and I'm sorry to read about it. I hope he's had enough positive experience with WS travelers that he reconsiders his decision.

  6. #6
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios View Post
    I would have done the same, but near my place there are a few campings and hotels within easy reach so I would not feel so bad.

    I don't feel badly about it after getting mistreatment from two "cause" riders early this month. First they announced they were coming days earlier than I had been led to believe. After rearranging my schedule to host them they fell short and stopped 25 miles from me - they'd gotten a late start (1:00 PM) and couldn't make the miles. (They said they were going to try to get a free hotel room so they could watch the Tour de France.) Next morning, they said they would stop by to meet me. Again I waited, and finally gave up.

    The whole experience reminds me why my Warm Showers page gives 4 weeks notice as a requirement to stay here.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I don't feel badly about it after getting mistreatment from two "cause" riders early this month. First they announced they were coming days earlier than I had been led to believe. After rearranging my schedule to host them they fell short and stopped 25 miles from me - they'd gotten a late start (1:00 PM) and couldn't make the miles. (They said they were going to try to get a free hotel room so they could watch the Tour de France.) Next morning, they said they would stop by to meet me. Again I waited, and finally gave up.

    The whole experience reminds me why my Warm Showers page gives 4 weeks notice as a requirement to stay here.
    Not surprised though the popularity of touring will bring out more dishonest and rude people.

  8. #8
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    I removed my name from the Warm Showers list after 2 unpleasant experiences with touring cyclists. One cyclist from Germany made an expensive phone call to Germany without my permission and without telling me. I found out when I got my next phone bill. This guy acted like a leech in other ways, as well. This was several years back before Skype came into existence and before international calls dropped in price significantly. I had another guy stay with me who was more of a vagabond than a tourer and who creeped me out a bit. I also had a couple of very positive experiences which cyclists who contacted me from the Warm Showers list.

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I don't feel badly about it after getting mistreatment from two "cause" riders early this month. First they announced they were coming days earlier than I had been led to believe. After rearranging my schedule to host them they fell short and stopped 25 miles from me - they'd gotten a late start (1:00 PM) and couldn't make the miles. (They said they were going to try to get a free hotel room so they could watch the Tour de France.) Next morning, they said they would stop by to meet me. Again I waited, and finally gave up.

    The whole experience reminds me why my Warm Showers page gives 4 weeks notice as a requirement to stay here.
    I neglected to mention that these 'cause' tourers didn't contact me through Warm Showers. I'm simply mentioning them to point out that the OP isn't alone in having such rudeness thrust upon him.

  10. #10
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    If my memory is correct the European hostels, which is not the same thing but somewhat simular, has quite strict rules of when you can arrive.

  11. #11
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    I live on the ACA Pacific Coast route and when riding my bike I will often meet up with tourers that are either finishing their trip or have plans to cross the border. I help them negotiate the city, tell them where to stay if they want to enjoy the nightlife or where they can camp for little to nothing.

    Once I invited a couple to stay with my wife and I. I drove them and their bikes to various bike shops to find parts, my wife cooked them two wonderful carbo laden dinners, they stayed in their own room and bathrom. After they left, we heard nothing from them, but when I stumbled upon their log and found no mention - not even a hint - that they had been hosted in San Diego, but lots of stuff about what they did (but actually what we all did toether), we felt taken advantage of.

    If tourers take for granted the small kindnesses extended to them from strangers, they will become the exception rather than the rule.

  12. #12
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    is it possible they were very new to cycling and weren't really sure what they were doing? i'm fairly new and would probably have considerable trouble doing 68 miles in a day without frequent stops to rest, etc. maybe they bit off more than they could chew? just wondering out loud.....you said you got an off vibe from them on the phone. they do sound like they were trying to take more than advantage of your hospitality.

    i guess i'm just not sure why someone would look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say.

  13. #13
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    I have not toured yet, but am astonished at the rudeness of not acknowledging a host with gratitude! My plan is to tour in a year or two. Believe me- anyone who hosts me will be receiving letters and care packages! I guess it was just the way I was raised.

    Cyclesafe (Steve) - I hate to hear of your experience. Unbelievable- the rudeness!

  14. #14
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    Jamawani, I am sorry to hear it. Warmshowers is a wonderful resource, and it distresses me to hear of people abusing it. And when they do, they should not be encouraged. You did the right thing to turn these people away; perhaps they will decide Warmshowers isn't for them.

    I've had a couple Warmshowers tourists camp in my yard, which has been perfectly painless for me. And I've stayed with a few, which has been a really wonderful experience. In fact I'm planning a short tour for this weekend, again relying on Warmshowers; otherwise, I fear I couldn't do it.

  15. #15
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talarspeed View Post
    I have not toured yet, but am astonished at the rudeness of not acknowledging a host with gratitude! My plan is to tour in a year or two. Believe me- anyone who hosts me will be receiving letters and care packages! I guess it was just the way I was raised.

    Cyclesafe (Steve) - I hate to hear of your experience. Unbelievable- the rudeness!
    Hmm, I'm not sure I qualified as rude or not. I mentioned WS hosts in my posts about tours, but didn't use their names unless they already had a 'net presence. The one exception I made was Dan and his Lab Sadie, but I figured since he and the dog had been on FOX News they were public enough.

  16. #16
    Hooked on Touring
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    In response to a few comments -

    Xilios - There are a few campgrounds in town, but the wind kicked up to 40 mph a half-hour after they called. I'm sure it was a brutal night.

    Historian - These young women had already biked from New York to Wyoming - so I'm guessing that 68 miles on a 70-degree day isn't very much. And, yes, I had just had a delightful couple stay the week before. I guess I will have to set more stringent parameters - I don't want to look like Marine Corps boot camp - but for some people you have to.

    Axolotl - I head you. I have had wonderful guests and people who I distinctly feel are trying to mooch as much as they can. With something like Warmshowers - it is a crap shoot.

    Cyclesafe - It's amazing, isn't it? To get the kind of service you gave these people, they would have had to have stayed at a micro hotel with personal concierge service. In San Diego. And yet, they don't even bother to thank or acknowledge you. I go out of my way to offer help to cyclists. I don't do it with the expectation of high praise - but a little consideration goes a long way.

    jgsatl - The thought did occur to me that someone could put a couple of bikes in a van and really scam a host badly. 68 miles isn't much for someone who has ridden from New York. My sense is that these two may be drinking and, possibly, drugging their way across the country on bicycles. Not very smart for two young women.

    Talarspeed - And you will be welcome if you come thru.

  17. #17
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    In response to a few comments -

    Xilios - There are a few campgrounds in town, but the wind kicked up to 40 mph a half-hour after they called. I'm sure it was a brutal night.

    Historian - These young women had already biked from New York to Wyoming - so I'm guessing that 68 miles on a 70-degree day isn't very much. And, yes, I had just had a delightful couple stay the week before. I guess I will have to set more stringent parameters - I don't want to look like Marine Corps boot camp - but for some people you have to.

    Axolotl - I head you. I have had wonderful guests and people who I distinctly feel are trying to mooch as much as they can. With something like Warmshowers - it is a crap shoot.

    Cyclesafe - It's amazing, isn't it? To get the kind of service you gave these people, they would have had to have stayed at a micro hotel with personal concierge service. In San Diego. And yet, they don't even bother to thank or acknowledge you. I go out of my way to offer help to cyclists. I don't do it with the expectation of high praise - but a little consideration goes a long way.

    jgsatl - The thought did occur to me that someone could put a couple of bikes in a van and really scam a host badly. 68 miles isn't much for someone who has ridden from New York. My sense is that these two may be drinking and, possibly, drugging their way across the country on bicycles. Not very smart for two young women.

    Talarspeed - And you will be welcome if you come thru.
    If they were drugged or drunk they might not have noticed the wind.

    Jamawani, no need to run a boot camp. Simply ask for a couple of week's notice before agreeing to host. For a cross country tourer it's not unreasonable to expect.

  18. #18
    Crazyguyonabike
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    It's interesting how just a few people in any community can ruin it for everybody else. Look at how a relatively small number of spammers have managed to almost completely cripple email - nowadays I can't even count on my messages getting through, spam filters are so strict. Similarly, hospitality for tourists can get ruined for everybody by the moochers and leaches who are only interested in taking. What we need is some kind of online reputation management system, you might think. But even that would get gamed - remember eBay, where they tried this, and what people started to do was threaten you with negative feedback if you criticised their service... it seems that humans will find ways to game any system. I'm relatively socially liberal, but I completely recognize that more liberal areas and towns tend to attract people who are only interested in mooching off the system. It's a tough nut to crack - on the one hand you want to help people who are really in need, but on the other hand when you institute a system to do that, almost immediately you'll get other people trying to take advantage of that. Here in Eureka CA there are so many "homeless" people around town bugging you for spare change. It's frankly annoying, and reminds me of NYC, where I was effectively trained by the homeless there to avoid eye contact, since if they ever caught your eye then they would immediately try to exploit that by striking up a conversation (which would inevitably always lead to the sob story and appeal for money). Like I said, I'm socially liberal and want to help people out, but what to do about these people? There really are those in need, but when I was on the subway in New York going to work, every morning the same guy would come down the cars telling people that he had just been kicked out of his apartment and hadn't eaten for 3 days etc etc. For six months he had just been kicked out of his apartment. And I volunteered in the soup kitchens (with New York Cares) and I knew it was pretty much impossible to go without eating for 3 days in that town. There were places to go to get a free meal if nothing else. These "homeless" were simply exploiting people's better nature.

    I've not listed myself on the Warm Showers or hospitality on crazyguyonabike currently, in part because of all the weird "homeless" people here in Eureka, and also because there are just so many people who come down the Pacific Coast, I fear a constant stream of moochers looking for a free meal and place to stay. It's better when you're off the beaten track, you're more likely to see "real" tourers, but there are just too many people around here who appear to have made mooching a lifestyle choice rather than an emergency measure.

    Whenever I see a perfectly healthy young person standing around begging for money, I have to ask myself why and how they came to be here. Drugs? Mental illness? Simple desire to "drop out"? Laziness? That's probably a major reason, but it would certainly make for an interesting documentary, to really get these people's stories. In any case, most of the young, apparently healthy "homeless" people who I see hanging around Eureka seem to be completely self absorbed and really very concerned with cultivating a certain grungey "look" - the clothes, the hair artfully arranged in dreadlocks etc. This makes me wonder how "needy" these people really are. It especially makes me sad when I see them using an animal (usually a dog) to try to get people's sympathy. They put out a sign for dog food. One part of me says I'm being mean, maybe they're just lonely. The other, more cynical New Yawker tells me they are using the dog as a prop. Poor dog.

    Sorry to get off-track, but this is something that has bugged me for a while. It seems that any time you try to make a system for being nice to people, it will immediately be taken advantage of by someone. And yet, does that mean you completely withdraw the service? It's a tough nut. Online communities tend to be very nice and congenial when they start off, but then as they grow and become more popular, you get more of the people coming in who don't feel so responsible, you get the trolls and attention seekers and the ones who just don't care. The collective IQ seems to plummet. When you're in a small room with people you know, it's good, but when you're in a huge hall with thousands upon thousands of other people, then things tend to go downhill. Digg and reddit are falling into this trap as they grow, it seems to happen everywhere. Crazyguyonabike is fairly lucky in that the community is fairly self-limiting - there will never be so many people there that it becomes unmanageable, I think. You can still get a handle on who's there and what's going on. Same with this forum, you keep running across the same people, and you get to know them and some of their foibles over time, which is nice.

    I don't know how to address the "moochers vs real people" problem, except by perhaps screening people by phone before agreeing to offer them a place to stay, and then laying out strict rules as to what they can do and how long they can stay, etc. There's really no other way to be sure - you can just throw your home open to them and offer everything you have, but then eventually one of them will come along and just take it, and then you'll be another soured individual, ruined for everybody else by one selfish asshat. "Good fences make good neighbors", and similarly "Good rules make good guests".

    Neil

  19. #19
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    well, kudos to those that put themselves out there to host bike tourers. sucks to try to help people that are only out to take advantage.

  20. #20
    40 yrs bike touring
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    Over the years I have hosted many bike tourists that I have met while riding through Santa Barbara. I meet them while I am riding and give directions and/or ride with them. If I feel like it I offer them a place to stay clearly outlining my rules and expectations. I have not been disappointed yet.

    Somehow I have never signed up at warmshowers or couch surfing hosting mainly because I want to directly assess the person in person before providing the hospitality offer. This probably reflects my age and curmudgeon status but it has worked for me. Unfortunately I have most likely missed out on many more positive contacts from hosted links than my hit or miss direct method!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    I can't say that I've hosted people on tour, nor am I member of warmshowers. I do however, empathize with how you were treated (I have to be honest, one of my hot buttons is when people don't have the courtesy on craigslist to simply reply that an item is sold/no longer for sale or simply remove the ad -I mean, c'mon, how much effort is that? Hit the reply button? It really disgusts me.) It really is sad how some people just take for granted when others extend themselves for you. Hopefully no one will ever say that about me if I can help it.

    Trying to look at the "positive" side, perhaps they really did suffer a mechanical? And maybe their cell phone didn't work? Or perhaps one of them got ill and was too embarrassed to go into detail? It might really have happened. However, if that was true, and assuming they'd really not been able to contact you, I would have been extremely apologetic -and to be honest, probably not called at that late hour and waited until the next day anyway. My guess is that you had the right read on them.

  22. #22
    jackrussellsonabicycle Airwick's Avatar
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    I understand and you're right, but knowing you I am still surprised you didn't cave in, go get them, and make them breakfast.

    Any regrets the day after?

  23. #23
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Nothing is going to happen if you don't post comments on warmshowers positive or negitive.

    Historian, I have the warmshowers name of the 2 "cause" riders, if you would like to post a comment please let me know. My apologies since I sent them your way but they seemed to be pretty decent guests when they stayed with me. But post stay I had kind of mixed feelings. I had asked for their picture taken on the Montour Trail and never got it from them. I think that is little to ask for a two night stay. I have a contact for them in India and I am not going to forward it to them.


    BTW feel free to post a comment on staying with me on my warmshowers on your stay with me. But after reference of the cause riders, maybe I would rather do not post anything.


    But people please post those comments positive or negative on hosts and guests. It is probably not a good idea to agree to host anyone without first knowing their warmshowers name.

    What I like to do on tour is to bring several refrigerator magnets from Pittsburgh. They are small and light. I give one to someone that goes above and beyond to show me a kindness. Not much but a nice little token of appreciation.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  24. #24
    Hooked on Touring
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    It WAS extremely difficult.
    As soon as I hung up the phone -
    I wanted to call back and say, "Oh, alright!"
    You have me pegged, my friend.

    XOXOXO to the kids.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I have not stayed with a Warmshowers host, but my wife and I have been the recipients fo many act of kindness from "angels of the road", e.g., we were invited to lunch at a person's home near Cleveland. After taking pictures, giving them our blog site address, we noted their house address on the way out. They received a thank you note a few days later. Bike shops that helpe us out also get the same treatment.

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