Written By Lukas
When staff member Lukas’ plans were forced to change, it allowed him the opportunity to follow a crazy dream.
I have spent the last 6 years training and racing road bikes professionally. This journey has taken me to races across North America, from British Columbia to California, Arkansas to Quebec and everything in between. After summer 2020 of cancelled races and another summer without racing looming on the horizon I knew I had to come up with a solution to my wanderlust. It was then that I realized a different crazy dream of mine could be accomplished. To buy a van, convert it into a camper, and live in it for the summer. This always seemed a distant dream, a bit of a cycling retirement plan if you will. Cycling hardly pays well and there’s been more than a few times I have gone to a race knowing I needed a certain amount of prize money just to get home (good motivation eh?). However, after spending 2020 at home working at Outter Limits this dream seemed as if it could become a reality. Thus began “Operation Nomad”.
Step one, acquire the van. I decided a minivan would work best, as it met my low budget and is better for city driving (I didn’t own a vehicle before this). I spent a month and a half going to see every van I saw for less than $3000 on Kijiji and Facebook marketplace. I now know more about minivans than any one person ever should. Eventually I found the perfect van, a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan with stow-and-go seats… that stalls randomly while driving… No problem google told me that it might be the EGR valve so I took apart the doohickey, played with the dongle and now my van doesn’t stall.
Step two, the build. My plan is to have a rear shelving unit, a foldable bed and a space to put my bike beside it. There will be a pull out stove in the rear, as well as a sink hooked up to a water pump. The hose for the sink will double as my shower. If you ever see someone showering behind a minivan on the side of the rode next summer… that’s me. I also intend to have a small electric cooler and to hook up some LED lights. All of the electric will run off of a deep cell battery. The bed will fold up into a couch, such that one of my stow-and-go captain’s seats can be folded up and take an extra passenger. The other seats have all been removed in order to increase storage space. I have already built the support frame and rear countertop. Unfortunately the last two weeks of sub 30 temperatures have put the build on pause. It’s a little cold to be standing outside cutting wood at the moment. Thanks to my dad’s existing stock of scrap lumber the build looks like it will cost under $200.
Step three, the Journey. I have always been constrained to living and traveling to wherever my teams tell me I must go. The plan while travelling in my van is to go where my heart tells me to go. I have been fortunate to have made friends across Canada because of cycling and I have not seen any of them since the summer before the pandemic. My plan is to travel to the best cycling spots across the country, meet with my friends and go for epic rides in beautiful places and hopefully get in some races. I imagine some Strava records will be set along the way. The van will allow me to avoid hotels and restaurants while I travel, saving money and keeping me safe. There may also be some future documentation, perhaps videos and stories of my journey as I go. I’m not sure where this journey will take me or in what ways I might choose to document it. What is certain is that I have found a way to travel and ride again in spite of the pandemic.
Interested in finding out how Project Nomad turned out? Stay tuned for an update on how Summer 2021 went and plans for summer 2022.