Pat Rodden didn’t have to fall on his head to decide to take his passion for cycling to the next level.
But he did.
Rodden, a life-long cycling enthusiast, fell from the rafters of his Clinton home in 2009. He was hospitalized for nearly eight months. During that time, he said, he underwent four surgeries and was briefly comatose.
Doctors said he wouldn’t survive, but if he did, he’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
“I’ve stunned people so much,” said Rodden, who has almost fully recovered from his head and other injuries.
Today, Rodden said he is grateful for his capabilities and is using a quickly growing international nonprofit called Warm Showers to transform his passion for cycling into a life quest.
Warms Showers is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists.
Those who sign up must be willing to host touring cyclists from time to time in exchange for access to the same accommodations themselves.
Rodden’s Coupeville home is one of 14 that are available on Whidbey Island through Warm Showers.
He learned about the organization about a year ago from a fellow cyclist during a ride in Freeland.
Rodden’s hospitalization left him on a limited income and without a vehicle, so the Warm Showers program allows him to see parts of the country and the world on a budget. He also opened up his home immediately to other cyclists and said the decision has enriched his life.
“I was just astounded by the people you meet,” Rodden said. “These people are totally intriguing.”
Rodden said he’s hosted cyclists from San Diego, Phoenix, Belgium, France, Canada, China and Syria. In most cases, the people who stay with him immediately offer him a place to stay if he happens through their communities, Rodden said.
A Belgian visitor left him with a pound of Belgian chocolates with a note that said, “Thanks for sharing this beautiful place with the world!”
Peter and Shahla Nygaard of Canada also left a note upon their departure.
“Your openness and generosity have strengthened our faith in humanity,” the couple wrote. “Your story is remarkable and inspiring.”
“You get it right back, it’s just incredible,” Rodden said.
Membership in Warm Showers grew 57 percent internationally during 2014, a “phenomenal pace,” according to the organization’s 2014 report, available online.
Warm Showers reported a total of 55,743 members at year-end, with 23,220 of those from North America.
Founded in 1993, the organization began simply with a list of participants, which was later placed online and then later put into the database and map that can be seen today.
The Warmshowers.org Foundation was created in recent years to improve its sustainability, and later became a nonprofit group with a board of directors, according to its website.
Rodden said he plans to stay with other Warm Showers participants this summer as he completes both the Seattle-to-Spokane Cannonball route and Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
While obtaining room and board on the cheap is an amazing resource, Rodden said he most values the sense of community and camaraderie that exists between cyclists of all nationalities.
“They socially have the same interests, and there’s a similarity from person to person even if they are from a completely different place in the world,” Rodden said.
“It’s pretty amazing.”
For more information visit warmshowers.org