Driven by Adventure
Your cure to wanderlust is in a camper van.
Photography by Weston Carls
Athlete Architecture VW Bus
“I had a VW Bus in college and have always loved them,” says Athlete Architecture founder and head coach, Chris Toriggino. “I had been looking for one for a while and when the opportunity came up to buy this one, I couldn’t pass it up.”
His dream came true in the form of a 1967 Volkswagen bus that he bought in Austin and has restored over the last three years. The engine is original, but he has given it the “Athlete Architecture Makeover” complete with a flashy green paint job and plenty of room for bikes, storage, equipment and a car seat for their young son (and future cyclist), Luca.
While he doesn’t live or camp in it, the eye-catching bus is his day-to-day driver and often seen at the start and finish line of many local races, including the weekly Driveway Race Series, road cycling races, and many triathlons around Central Texas. Both he and his wife, Angie, are competitive athletes, and Toriggino coaches dozens of individual runners, cyclists, and triathletes to finish lines of all distances and disciplines.
The VW Bus makes a statement at events and definitely stands out in a crowd. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get stopped by people who want to peek inside or take a tour. People have even knocked on our door to ask if they could look inside and take pictures.” It’s all part of the fun and culture of owning a VW Bus, he admits. It’s also part of what makes our fit city so cool and unique—people aren’t afraid to be a little different!
What makes this restored 1967 VW Bus so unique?
It’s one of very few that actually has the dome on top with some storage and standing height. Even adults can stand up inside to change clothes, haul bikes, strap kids into car seats, etc. It creates a lot more usable space inside.
It runs on regular gas, but is air-cooled through the vents on the side of the building.
This bus may be almost 50 years old, but still runs great! (albeit without a ton of horsepower).
They hold their value incredibly well and, of course, make one heck of a statement on the road.
For information on Chris or Athlete Architecture visit: athletearchitecture.com
The Barrett Hippie Mobile (that’s not so hippie)
A year ago, I wrote about the dream of living the fit life on the road and how this trend is growing steadily (or exponentially, these days). In November, our dream came true and my husband and I took took our first cross-country trip from Quebec City all the way to Palm Springs, Calif. and back with a little stop in Tempe, Ariz. to race in Ironman Arizona on Sunday, Nov. 20! In just over three weeks, we logged more than 6,000 miles and hundreds of new memories.
After researching Class B Camper Vans, we settled on a small, family-owned company out of Quebec City called SafariCondo.com, because we loved the floor plan and efficiencies of such a small camper van. It’s approximately the size of an F-150 truck, but this camper van houses a queen-size bed, two refrigerators, four solar panels on the roof, a sizeable water tank, instant hot water heater, two burner stoves, restroom, shower, and storage for up to four bikes inside! It’s perfect for a couple on the go who loves adventure and racing while still enjoying the comforts of home (albeit a small one!) You realize quickly what you really need and, trust me, it isn’t much.
Aside from the fun tourist stops including Niagara Falls, Hot Springs, Graceland, and Joshua Tree National Park, an unexpected highlight of our month on the road was being able to park right next to the finish line of Ironman Arizona in Tempe for four days.
We were literally right next to the action, but with our own private restroom, kitchen, and bed. The bathroom sure came in handy before the race, and the warm shower was much welcomed at the end! After we had finished our respective races that evening, we were sitting in our van with the sliding door open listening to Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, shout out “You are an Ironman!” as hundreds of athletes streamed across the finish line for the next several hours. It was definitely a surreal moment as an Ironman athlete. There was nowhere else I wanted to be.
What makes this camper van so unique?
Four solar panels on the roof allow for constant charging in the sun. This means we can literally go “off the grid” for days at a time without having to plug into any power source.
The queen-size bed is on a hydraulic lift so during the day, you can raise the bed to gain access to bikes and plenty of storage underneath. We affectionately refer to this area as “the garage.”
Cooking is easy with a two burner stove, microwave, and our trusty travel Vitamix, which we fired up daily for smoothies. Most meals along the way included salads, light sandwiches, soups, and plenty of healthy race fuel!
The van fits in most normal parking spaces, so we ate and slept in many a parking lot or unique space across the country. Because of its versatility, we were also able to pull up and enjoy gorgeous views along Lake Champlain in Vermont and even the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City. You can camp virtually anywhere!
Along the way, we met many helpful and friendly people who have made RVing a permanent lifestyle. The one thing they kept telling us?
“Home is where you park it.”
If this is true, I can’t wait to see where we park it next.