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Photo by Roman Romanenko on Unsplash
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Van life is a lifestyle choice that many people are considering and with good reason too! You’re travelling rent-free, accompanied by an awesome dog, doing all the mountain biking, walking, exploring you like. It gives you a sense of adventure and freedom and creates a balanced lifestyle where experiences are given priority over possessions, but is everyday van life as glamorous as it sounds? Could you give up your home comforts and conveniences for life in a van?
In spring 2015 Flow MTB rider Heather decided to do just that and she’s written a series of blog posts to share her adventures with you, here’s part 1.
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Reflexion Pieces – Vanlife part 1
With all the #vanlife pictures flooding Instagram it is obvious that more people are considering this life choice. Although don’t be fooled 90% of them are people off road tripping for a few months in the summer rather than going the full hog! I’m writing this from the comfort of my living room, but just a few months ago I would have been sat on the seat which covers my portaloo, my shoulder level with my cooker, wondering how much juice was left in my leisure battery and if I had enough drinking water left.
In early spring 2015 I decided to move into my van, I was pretty skint and about to head to University so it made sense financially. Stage 1 was kitting out the van. Everyone has different essentials when it comes to vanlife. For me it was cooker, toilet and leisure battery. I figured I could shower at the Uni gym and I had to prioritise space for the bikes! Challenge 1 – Electrics. I had no idea, but found a website which explained cable thickness, length and amperage, how to calculate what you need etc. So, I started out with a sketch, worked out what I needed and decided to call them with my plan. The chap was great, thought my idea would work, that I’d made the right calculations and suggested a couple of parts that would be handy. It was with trepidation that I disconnected my battery to do the installation, but it ended up being a lot easier than I thought, and the van hasn’t burnt down yet so I must have done it right!
Stage 2 – what to do with all the stuff I own! Moving fully into a van means you no longer have a house or a shed to store stuff in. All those plants, kitchen equipment, books (I am a proper book worm), and of course sports equipment had to go somewhere. It was a really cleansing process, I gave a lot of things to friends, sold a lot at a car boot sale, donated to charity and the leftovers ended up at the recycling centre. I also cheekily stored my 4X frame and forks at my brothers and a good friend wouldn’t let me throw my trophies away! So that was it, essentials bought, cheap bubble wrap insulation fitted to ply lining, everything I owned stowed in every single nook and cranny I could find, dog sat on the bench seat. We were off.
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Those first few weeks were so nerve wracking. Is it ok to park here? Am I going to get moved on? Where am I going to park tonight? What are those people doing that have just parked behind me in the middle of the night? But it was also incredible. Stunning views, evenings spent gazing out the side door, collecting water from rivers, the dog roaming the wilderness whilst I did my washing up, poring over maps looking for cheeky new camp spots, feeling free and wild.
Obviously after a few months it became a bit less of an adventure and those things that used to be fun and adventurous became annoyances that had to be dealt with. Finding a campsite or public toilet to empty the loo, ensuring I had enough drinking water as well as water for the dog, never being able to shower without having to push a button every few seconds. Those days when it was pouring with rain, you’d walk the dog and come back soaked, get into the van and have mud and water everywhere.
Winter kicked in and all of a sudden I wasn’t riding my bike, it was too much hassle, my kit wouldn’t dry out, it’d just be caked in mud with nowhere to put it. It was cold and damp. The gas cooker created humidity, me and the dog caused humidity and all my wet stuff caused humidity. Time for a rethink. I needed dry heat. I needed a log burner. I needed a refit. The problem is, when you live in a van you need to empty the van to refit it. Which means you need dry weather and preferably somewhere to put your stuff. It was going to have to wait till the summer.
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“One of my favorite things about vanlife is a different view everyday”
Photo by Tyler Lillico on Unsplash
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Have you got a story to share?
Attended a skills course and want to let others about the new skills you learnt? Entered a race and want to shout how well you and all the other ladies did? Taken part in an MTB event, holiday, social ride and think others would enjoy reading about your experience too? Maybe you’re organising an event and want to publicise it to more female riders or maybe you just want to share all the benefits mountain biking brings to you.
We’re looking for guest bloggers to write interesting stories for our website. Whether you’re new to mountain biking or a seasoned rider, if you’ve got something you’d like to share that may help promote and encourage more women into mountain biking we want to hear from you. Any blog chosen to be published on our website and we’ll send you a voucher for future use at Flow MTB, find our more here.