The other day I got a Couchsurfing request.
When I was in Rome I got about one a week on average, in Leamington Spa this was the first in a year.
Australian guy cycling around England, needed a place to crash for one night.
Guy said he wanted to stay one night and would leave in the morning. No problem, loved using Couchsurfing in Italy and the social scene rocked so it was the least I could do. I imagined this would be the normal thing of the dude staying over, us shaking hands and then leaving each other references about how great we both were. What I met was one of the most inspirational blokes I’ve encountered in a long time.
First of all he was completely chilled out. I’d told him my phone number and said to give me a bell when he got into Leam. About 2pm I was checking my email when a message flashed up.
“Hi Lance, phone broken. Don’t reply to this, in the tourist information centre in the library. Closing soon and they’re doing me a favour. Can you come and meet me?”
Slightly astonished at the approach I strolled on down to the former pump rooms to find him sat at a table perusing a local map. After we shook hands he introduced me to his cycle outside.
The bike weighed a ton and had 3 huge packs strung over the rear panniers. I couldn’t lift it with one hand and asked why the hell he had such a monstrous machine. Turns out he’s cycling from London to Edinburgh and had done about 75 miles that day. I enquired how he managed to make it up a hill with anything over a 1:12 gradient with a bike that heavy.
“Just stick it in a low gear and stay under your red zone. Clue is to never stop, I don’t stop.”
I asked how he knew I’d be online and he shrugged and went, “you were yesterday at that time.”
Made our way back to my house and unslung his stuff. My cat bolted the moment we walked in. Guy then looked at his ruined I-phone, got rained on during an uphill red zoner in one of England’s merry downpours that morning. We stuck it on the top of a lampshade and turned the light on, in the vague hope that the heat would dry it out.
He lay on my lounge floor, watching TV and wolfing down blueberries, trying unsuccessfully to coax the cat out from behind the sofa. After about an hour he went, “just going for a walk, back in a bit.”
I looked at him for a moment and went “after all that exercise today you want to go for a walk.”
Again he shrugged and went “it’s only a walk, like to see the town.”
When he got back we ordered a pizza which he paid for and he drank 3 tins of pale ale and then settled down for the night. Next morning I woke him up at 6.30am and as we stepped out into the alley the bin men had come to empty the garbage. He went to leave his stuff near the bins.
“They might throw it in the dustcart!”
He shrugs again. “It’s just stuff," turns to the nearest garbage guy and says “that’s my stuff ok.” Then saunters off to get his cycle. We shake hands again, get a photo taken by the garbage guy and off he goes, heading for Derby, 60 miles away.
I joined a gym the following day.