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ironVANing: The Van Life of a Triathlete

October 04, 2017

ironVANing: The Van Life of a Triathlete

The road to Kona looks a little different, and a little more literal, for Curtiss Feltner than it does most triathletes. Before taking off for 70.3 World Championships, he and his girlfriend sold their house, quit their jobs, and took up residence in a minivan, leaving the rest of his training plans at the mercy of the volatility of living on the road.

We convinced him to put the purple Sienna and white Trek in park long enough to share an inside look at minivan life while training for one of the sports toughest competitions.


Hello Picky Readers! My Name is Curtiss and I'm one of this year's Feed the Dream athletes. I'll be competing in both 70.3 and 140.6 World Champs this year, all while... living in a minivan. Yes, a full fledged soccer mom style, grocery getting, drop the kids off at school, minivan.

My long time girlfriend Devon are no strangers to #vanlife, but we took a much bigger leap and sold/donated/gave away most of our things, quit our jobs, and put our house on the market before we left for Chattanooga last month (it's currently pending!!) so we officially have no home!!

Home on wheels... carrying other wheels.

So what's it like doing lots and lots (and lots) of silly exercise while living on the road in a space that's smaller than some people's closet? Well it's AWESOME duh! New places, new faces, new routes, new trails, new BEER, training with friends as we pass through their towns, and the list goes on…. But I'm not just going to give you the Instragram-filter version of our life on wheels, it sucks sometimes too! There’s definitely times when I don't want to move 10 things around to get clean underwear out of that bag that I shouldn't have buried, or I don't want to wash the dishes with a trickle of water out of our 7 gallon jug, or any other number of hassles that come along with the majority of your belongings being in a small van that you also have to sleep in. Sometimes the training routes don't work out (although this is actually pretty rare,) sometimes you're in a town that doesn't even have a pool to swim laps in, and the WORST is sometimes you are just sh*t out of luck (puns) when it comes to a finding a place to... well... take a sh*t.

But does the good outweigh the bad???

100% yes. I'm not going to suggest that everyone go throw the kid’s soccer balls out of the van or offer Becky down the street a couple grand for her 06 Town and Country because van life - ESPECIALLY minivan life - is obviously not for everyone, and requires a lot of “rolling with it.”

Here are a few things I've learned so far about ironVANing:

Strava is your best friend!

But not in the usual, 'compete against all your bros when you should be going easy' way that we're all guilty of. Use the segment explorer to find popular cycling routes or trails. It's rare to find a complete long ride in a single segment, but usually putting together a few bigger ones and a little bit of looking at google maps, you can set up a ride in 10-15 min.

A day with a swim workout means a day with a shower.

All pools have showers, and let's be honest, a good shower can be hard to come by on the road. Sometimes a pool or gym will just let you use their shower if you're nice or offer them a Picky Bar (product placement BOOM.) Also, it's not pretty, but there's a lot of good moist towelette type options to get clean with in a post workout pinch.

Running is the easy one.

Most towns have some sort of well known trail or pathway, and with a little bit of searching on the google machine it's usually pretty quick and easy to find a nice place to put in some miles.

You’re gonna pee outside…. a lot.

But hey, it's natural right?

“Rolling with it” is a real skill, and an important one!

Sometimes… a lot of times… plans don't work out on the road. Whether it's timing issues, weather, bathroom hunting, batteries dying, all your food going bad, running out of propane, flat tires, engine problems, etc, it’s key to remember that it's usually going to be fine... just chill and get through it.

A bicycle is the best way to see a new place

As mentioned above, setting up routes in a foreign place can at times be challenging, but I honestly can't remember a time that I wasn't happy with the ride at the end. A road might not be what you're hoping for and you’ll have to adjust, but the new experience is always worth it (see: rolling with it.)

People are your best resource

We spend a lot of the non-training time out of the van, usually in some form of public space with other people (good beer is, even though I've tried to get rid of it, definitely a part of my nutrition.) And there is no substitute for the people we meet and the help they provide with whatever activities we are trying to do.

Have fun, or do something else.

Sounds obvious right? This was our most recent van lesson. As we started traveling the southeastern US after Chattanooga, CRAZY hurricane weather rolled in, forcing some of the big Kona work I had planned indoors. This wasn't ideal, but obviously could have been so much worse, and in the grand scheme of things we were lucky to be mobile and flexible. Plus I ended up finding some of the best cycling routes yet in Northern Tennessee, and we got to spend some extra time with my family in Kansas before leaving for the Big Island. In the end it all worked out, and the weather here in Hawaii hasn't been too bad...

If you've made it this far… thanks for reading!! Van life will be traded in for beach life while out here before the big race, but if you'd like to follow along on our ironVan'ing, find us at @dudewheresmyhome, @curtiss_feltner (me), or @draeor (Devon).

Huge thanks to Picky Bars!!! You guys are cool, and although I'm not sure it's possible, I might actually eat too many of your bars.

p.s. Please send more bars, I'm almost out...




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