By Ambassador Annalisa van den Bergh

It’s early August and my friend Steve and I are on the last leg of our cross-country bicycle tour. In steaming hot Clarkton, WA, we arrive at a total stranger’s home, grab a key from under the entrance mat, and let ourselves in.

In our world, this is totally normal.

What if I told you there was a whole underground community of adventure cyclists sharing their homes, meals, and stories and all you really needed to get in was a love for the bicycle and an open heart? As is described on their website, Warmshowers is a non-profit hospitality exchange service for people engaging in bicycle touring. In short, it’s Couchsurfing for cyclists – except, more niche.

Maybe publishing a blog post about it makes it less underground but I just want more people to sign up for it. For me, Warmshowers’ modest, enduring existence is a constant reminder of the goodness of people.

Watch this new Kona-sponsored short film that Annalisa co-created which centers around the trail families that are formed when riding thousands of miles across the US, including the special connections we make on Warmshowers.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be both a guest and a host to folks from all walks of life: a pair of Deaf cyclists with whom I filled a notebook with conversations (and have since kept in touch with), sailors who set up a bed under a sail in their backyard just for cyclists, retired pilots who live in an Arizona airport community, a South Indian family who left us with a parting gift of a banana branch from their farm, an Ecuadorian guest-turned-friend who cycled across the country in support of immigration reform. The list goes on.

I have always believed that the bicycle brings people together but there is no better beacon to prove this than Warmshowers. It is an instant connection –– one in which we speak each other’s language even if we don’t in the literal sense. And if you’ve never gone on a long bike tour, signing up to be a host on Warmshowers is a great way to dip your feet in the water and live vicariously through other cyclists’ adventures. There’s really no other community like it.