Meet passionate and seasoned cyclist Ken Francis, a longtime Warmshowers user, host, volunteer, and former Board member.
Today'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!
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