50/50

Van life. One week in.

On the phone this morning, Luke made a comment that I have two moods during this trip: starry-eyed, smiling ear to ear over-the-top excitement + happiness or complete ‘I will kill everyone in my path’ raging distain. While he might be exaggerating, I’m going to roll with his theory and write this post accordingly.

I’m on top of the world:

Here I am, roaming around in a van, on my own, riding my bike and traveling; what could be better?! Nothing! This is awesome! I’m doing it!

I get to wake up and focus on nothing but making coffee, a meal, the day’s ride or travel. Where to go, where to ride, what to eat, where to sleep, and how to make it all happen. Oh yeah, and then write about it all.  I feel like a real athlete, focusing on my rides; prepping and recovering to do my best. It’s nothing short of amazing to be able to have this opportunity.

Waking up in the van, right besides my bicycles and opening the back doors to a full day of possibilities and adventure is incredible. I feel amazing! This is wonderful! I make my jet boil coffee and drink in the warm, delicious energy. The day is mine!

When I arrived in Killington, it was pouring so I replaced my afternoon spin with a trip to the local food co-op. Fair trade off right? I thought so.  The market was small but stocked with a great selection of local products and natural foods. I tried not to go overboard. I had only a cooler to store things in and a camp stove for cooking and didn’t need much, just some protein and a vegetable really.  Of course there were a few things, like local vegetable beet burgers and a local sumac cheddar that I couldn’t resist. Happy with my market load, I headed off to the campsite area Luke had found for me. My first morning at the camp spot was super fun. I laid out my camping ‘kitchen’ equipment and got to work. I wanted a full meal! Local uncured bacon, eggs, leftover brown rice… easy enough to cook up in my camp stove set up. To make it extra special I tossed in some greens, Cleveland Kraut beet kraut and Go Raw sprouted pumpkin seeds. I was impressed with myself. It not only looked super gourmet, it tasted perfect. I was thrilled be dominating the camp cooking task.

Next adventure, to ride bikes! Woo! I did two rides that day, one on my TT bike and another late afternoon one on my road bike. Basically repeated the same route, just to feel out my bikes and the area. I was smiling hard. The roads were rolling and fun. The sun was out, air chilly and crisp, and the scenery was picturesque; green mountains, farms, wildflowers, signs for local maple syrup, and clear water streams.

My next camp meal would be the rest of my leftover sprouted brown rice with raw carrots, kale, a packet of sustainable tuna and ranch dressing. Simple, easy and balanced. This was a rougher version of what I would eat at home. It’s important to have go-to fueling meals that you translate from your own kitchen to wherever training/ racing takes you. I ate in my camp chair, with a (small) glass of wine, and a good book. What more could I want!? I was drinking the #vanlife koolaid and loving every sip.

Today I did a pre-ride of the road course, like a real, serious athlete would. I have high hopes for racing this weekend and want to do everything I can to ensure I ride and race my best. That includes knowing what I’m getting into ahead of time. I took it easy, the point was to do recon and get a workout in, but not crush the route or burn out prior to the weekend.  I tried to be super aware; pavement conditions, turns, sprint points, qom points, what gear I was using when… I wanted every advantage I could have and tried to take it all in. The biggest thing to take in was the QOM on East Mountain.  A real finish climb! Like Tour of Tucker County, it was one of the most grueling 5ks ever that tops out at 14% grade. What fun! Everyone knows I love a good finish climb.

 

Misery and Rage:

 So long THM brakes. 

So long THM brakes. 

My bike is broken. My beautiful, supposedly well maintained BMC, has failed me and I’m not pleased. Okay, not pleased is an understatement. One of my least favorite things is wasting my time and the fact that I wasted a full day of my trip and went out of my way to be at a race I never got to race… UGH. And as far as that race goes, I’m more than livid that Bloomfield race directors do not think to update their race flyers or properly stick to race start times. It’s cool GVCC, never again will I attend one of your races.  Back to the bike. Not only did I waste the race day, but it would be days until I could ride it again. It would take two days to for parts to be overnighted to Vermont, and the bike to be ridable again. On a trip that was supposed to be devoted to doing long days in the saddle enjoying the hills and climbs of the area, this was very inconvenient. I was really depressed and frustrated about missing days on the bike. On top of that, this bike situation required me to head straight to Killington, instead of enjoying a few scenic stops and rides along the way. So much for experiencing all I could. Should I just go home? I’m failing at this.

Van life is a careful juggling act. Everything needs to be taking out and placed back in its spot just so which is time consuming.  Anytime I need to drive somewhere, everything needs to go back into the van to do so. It becomes a real task. Also, my life and cycling requires a lot of charging. At home this is nbd, but on the road… I have to be careful about when to use my battery. When I start the car, plug it all in! When I stop the car, remember to unplug it all. Get ice for the cooler. Turn off notifications to save battery. Annoying things to constantly be aware of. Also, the no service. On the side of the mountain I’m staying, I’m roaming. Seriously T-Mobile!? So I have no data. Which is nice for the whole zone out and enjoy nature part, but what about the blog posting, updating, checking weather, looking at maps, etc… Life without wifi is no life for me. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated at how difficult it is to accomplish anything.

While I enjoyed a couple of wonderful, restful nights in the van, that would end. It was raining. Rain can be such a peaceful sound, except when it is beating down on a metal ceiling just over your head. In this situation it is more deafening, irritating, and definitely does not create a pleasant sleeping situation. 2:30am the clock flashed. Ear plugs, head phones, music… still awake. Finally, I got to sleep and managed about 5 hours of shut eye. Not great for my mood. Not great for training. Of course, this would not be my worst night…

 Mice!

Mice!

I am not alone in my van. It is 11pm and I am not the only living thing in this vehicle. I hear something, rustling. Fuck it, I need sleep, noise ignored. It’s 1am and this time my eyes are wide open. I am still. Listening. Rustling. Chewing. I am suddenly perched on the driver seat headrest with my flashlight on, frantically searching for the intruder. Raccoon? Mouse? At least I could rule out bear (which are present on the campgrounds). How did it get in, how do I get it out? I opened doors, I turned on the lights I had, I shook things… I saw a mouse. Now I’m not typically afraid of mice. I once had one as a pet. They’re cute! They cease to be cute when I am trying to sleep and they are eating my things just inches from my body. After failing at removing the creatures, I gave in to co-habitation. Tucked into my sleeping bag, I placed all my lights on and under my cot to try and keep them away and I went back to sleep, waking up several times to more chewing after that. By morning they were gone. My food was safe but my shoe laces and roll of paper towels had been sacrificed. I was beyond irritable. With no espresso or cappuccino around, I settled on a double serving of mushroom coffee to bring life to my tired body and defeated mindset. My planned morning ride at 8am would have to wait so I could remove all items from the van to ensure no mice were hiding in my things. Then it was a 25-mile drive into town to the Home Depot to get mice killing supplies. Back at the campsite I finally was able to head off to ride at 11:30am with the stress of where to sleep tonight lingering. Mentally I'm falling asleep on the bike. I have to stop frequently to check the route, bugs are everywhere. I'm covered in bugs. I hate the country. I hate bugs. I hate mice. I want sleep. I'm so tired. Why isn't there a coffee shop around!?

So it is one week in. How is #vanlife you ask? Well I’d have to say I’m 50/50 on it at this point.