“If you are presented a great opportunity-take it...you are only gonna be in that spot once! It's not a race.”
Ed Billings, the leader of my cross-country ride in 2015, gave us the above piece of advice before we started this trip. Our plan today was to ride about 84 miles and camp at Bear Ridge, but this afternoon we stumbled upon exactly the kind of opportunity that Ed was talking about.
We had spent the morning climbing and descending 3,500 feet over Sherman Pass, then pedaling up into Kettle Falls and over some rolling hills into Colville. The cool morning temperatures hadn’t lasted long, and by midday it was above 90 degrees. There was a pretty serious ascent out of Colville, perhaps the steepest climbing we’ve seen so far. The sun was beating down hard and shady spots were few and far between.
Our maps indicated that there was a biker hostel ahead and we stopped there, hoping to fill up our water before pushing the last 24 miles into camp. Shelley and Barry, the owners of the hostel, have been hosting cyclists on their property here for nine years. While we filled our bottles and mentally prepared to head back out into the heat for a few more hours, they offered us clean beds, showers, a washer and dryer for laundry, and a home-cooked dinner. So much for those last 24 miles.
We are only the second group of cyclists who have come through this touring season, and the hostel was still not fully set up, so we were more than happy to help unload boxes, vacuum the floors, and clean the bathrooms. After we finished tidying up, we headed over to Shelly and Barry’s house where they host a weekly Friday dinner with a variety of guests, including any bikers that happen to be spending the night. Dinner consisted of three separate homemade soups with fresh vegetables, one of which was made with morels collected by one of the guests (a distinguished mushroom hunter who had gathered 25 gallons of morels the day before). Dessert was a selection of no fewer than eight varieties of ice cream.
All of the food was delicious, but what made the night was the communal atmosphere of the meal. There were fifteen guests in total, including Shelley, Barry, the three of us, and two other cyclists. Most of us had never met before but, by the end of the meal, we had gotten to know everyone and felt truly at home.
We cannot thank Shelley and Barry enough for their generosity and their willingness to open up their home to complete strangers. We also owe a huge thanks to Ed Billings for reminding us to enjoy opportunities like this.