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Local couple offers home to cyclists

Ron Gorrell on one of his cycling trips recently. Photo submitted

Ron Gorrell on one of his cycling trips recently. Photo submitted

A Walterboro cycling couple is breaking local ground by opening their door to strangers needing a warm place to shower, lay their head or even have a hot meal. The Hospitality Exchange System is a national concept for cyclists and travelers, and is part of a nationwide trend that encourages people to be, well, neighborly. Locally, however, the couple is using their open-home policy to encourage more Colletonians to do the same – and to expand on the county and City of Walterboro’s current biking and walking system.

“It’s free and allows people to decide what kind of hospitality to offer: a backyard spot for a tent, a warm shower, hot food … there’s no money involved so it’s true hospitality. And neighborly behavior,” said Ron Gorrell. The 65-year-old cyclist is an Ohio native who has lived in Walterboro for four years. He still does at least one month-long cycling trip each year, and also does at least two-to-three weeklong cycling journeys throughout the year. He and his wife, Diane, are part of the hospitality system and are listed as hosts on www.warmshowers.org, a Web site for cyclists seeking this type of hospitality. “I’ve received many reviews from people who have come into our house and into Walterboro,” he said. “And you get a chance to scope people out before you let people into your home or on your property.”

Gorrell had a cyclist use his home on Friday. That man left for a long-distance trip up the coast on Monday. He usually entertains about two guests per month, he said. “I show them the bathroom, the coffee pot, and tell them to make themselves at home,” said Gorrell. “I’ve had people from all over the world, Canada, Australia. Walterboro is on a popular cyclist trail from Maine to Key West.”

The Gorrells are in support of the entire Colleton County community becoming more “cyclist” friendly, he said. The city and county recently joined forces with the Eat Smart, Move More movement in Colleton County and held a public forum on the idea of expanding local cycling and walking paths. Diane and Ron Gorrell attended this event. “Cycling and pedestrian-focused areas are big everywhere else,” said Ron Gorrell. “I’m very supportive of any movement locally that will expand our current trails and make it safer and more attractive for people.”

Colleton County Planning and Development Director Phillip Slaytor told Walterboro City Council that the first forum was a success, and that the joint effort will use a combination of grant and county funds equaling about $37,000 to help expand and build newer, safer biking and pedestrian paths. A second community forum on the issue will be held in coming months, he said.

“We are certainly looking forward to the outcome of the project,” said Slaytor. “We’re looking into reaching out to the Green Pond, Cottageville areas, and recognizing the need for more designated biking areas.”


Heather Walters (1722 Posts)