Tahverlee brings the stories of touring cyclists and hosts from around the globe together, to share knowledge and experiences of Warmshowers.org Foundation community.
We are joined today by Lorraine Lambert. Lorraine is a “later in life” first-time cyclist who discovered her path after a traffic jam moment.
About eight years ago, while sitting in a traffic jam on the way to work, Lorraine was struck by the thought that she was “stuck on the slippery slope of middle age and heading downhill fast with no way out.” She knew right then and there that she wanted her life to change, but she wasn’t sure what she wanted her new life to look like. She didn’t want a minor change, mind you, but rather something big.
That very day, Lorraine made a life-altering decision. She quit her job, left her home and family, bought a tent and a rusty second-hand bike she named Claude and started cycling! The catch? Lorraine had never cycled before and hated camping. But she didn’t let that stop her; she put on her trusty cycling skirt and set off on her first bike tour. What could possibly go wrong?
Her first trip was terrifying – and wonderful all at the same time! But Lorraine knew there was no turning back; she was hooked on the adventure of cycle touring. So, she packed her bags, flew to Canada, and decided to do a cross-country tour. Lorraine jokes that coming from a small country like England, she really had no idea how big Canada was!
The start of the trip was daunting; Lorraine was terrified and felt totally out of her element. But she persevered and made it through day one. Week after week, she got stronger and more experienced until two months, and 5000km later, she made it to Vancouver. Lorraine learned about Warmshowers before she set off on her trip and was amazed that such a community existed. She stayed with about a dozen hosts across Canada, and each experience was fascinating and unique. Lorraine has stayed in touch with almost all of those hosts who have become lifelong friends.
Here are some fun things Lorraine learned on that first trip. Instant noodles and marmalade are a valid food combination. Every country has a prevailing wind direction, which she did not know when setting off. Almost all mechanical problems can be fixed with strong tape, WD40, and cable ties. When you are alone in your tent at night, every noise outside sounds like a bear. And, most importantly, nothing can make you more grateful than the kindness of strangers.
Since discovering cycle touring, Lorraine has changed her career path and moved into the non-profit sector. She is giving back, doing work she loves, and always ready to set off on the next adventure. Taking time to cycle has given her the much-needed balance between life and career that she needed. Lorraine is happy to say that she has not had another “traffic jam” moment since she started cycle touring and is living her best life.
You can learn more about Lorraine’s adventures in her book, How to Cycle Canada the Wrong Way, and on her blog, Cycling In a Skirt.
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