Needs (really, wants) meet opportunity for a new project that scratches an itch and might have bike touring utility: welcome to the Pedalshift microcamper build! On this episode, I cover the background on the project, how it relates to bike touring, and more.
Hey it’s the direct download link for The Pedalshift Project 240: The Microcamper Project – Part 1 (mp3).
Have some bike touring or overnight stories to share? Send your pics, audio or a quick tweet – all welcome. Email the show at email@example.com or call the lightly-used Pedalshift voicemail line at (202) 930-1109
Pedalshift Microcamper Project
What prompted this?
- Made a list of things I want to do
- Several items got ticked off if I could:
- visit family and friends on the west coast
- do it with Kimberly and the dogs (the latter can’t fly easily and we’ve determined we can’t travel together, but without them)
- avoid taking all of that as vacation time (I want to save that for another thing on the list… a longer tour this year)
- Leveraging remote work one more grand time
- All of this need met the opportunity: my folks bought a new car and offered this one to me for an unrelated reason that is, for the moment, postponed.
- The car is… a source of humor. It’s not a great fit for me. Or anyone. It has an enormous blind spot that is part of its odd design. It should not normally be parallel parked. But it has, on second look, a LOT of positives. Like enormous trunk space.
- Lightbulb…. this can be made into a microcamper
Ok, ok so back up here… how is this being used again?
- The near term: we’re going on a big work/play adventure to the west coast.
- Work remotely by day, visit family and friends by nights and weekends
- The vehicle maxes its value in allowing us to get places by driving in shifts and as a glamping option for mid-trip
- We will not be staying in it more than a handful of days (we got great Airbnbs – remember we are remote working!) but it will facilitate the entire venture
- Allows us to travel as a unit and enjoy everything along the way
So, um bike touring angle?
- Bike is coming with and there will absolutely be touring-adjacent adventures
- This is (as I mentioned earlier) a beta test for whether something like this can be useful for remote touring/bikepacking loops.
What’s the plan?
- I’m not going to share the specifics of our travel on the pod, but I will note a few things
- Pod will continue during the trip, so some of the adventures will end up on it
- One major destination is Burlington Campground on the Avenue of the Giants. No remote work will be happening there!
- This will be a full month plus.
How the hell is this going to work?
- I’ll be sharing more details on this aspect in the next episode, but here’s the plan
- This is not a high-end buildout. It’s more function over form… remember this is a beta test.
- That said, there are some needs we have: comfort is top of the list, but we also need power, privacy and storage.
- I’ve already removed the rear seats and much of the trim
- I’ll sound dampen the bare metal
- I’ll run some 12V and USB lines for charging devices, fans and lighting
- The biggest hurdle is building a level platform that is sturdy and the lowest possible profile over the transition between the rear cabin and the trunk. The more vertical room there, the better likelihood two side-sleepers can call this a win.
- Some back of the napkin measurements show I can repurpose a perfectly fine, but on-my-list-to replace memory foam mattress. It will need to be cut to a very odd shape, but if it works it will be plenty of space.
- Beneath the platform and mattress is a fair amount of storage. We’ll also have two roller suitcases that will be in the trunk section while driving and in the front seats when sleeping.
- I’m also going to make blackout shades for all windows, giving us privacy and stealth. I also got a magnetic bug screen for the moonroof that will be perfect for facilitating airflow on the less-than-cool nights. We’ll also have USB fans to circulate air.
I have ideas and you are doing this wrong!
- Cool. So, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in watching van builds it’s that everyone has an opinion and there’s always a way to improve on things. This is a beta and I expect to learn a TON.
What’s up with next episode?
- I’m going to document the build Tour Journals style.
- I might not finish by then… so if this is interesting to you, I can extend to a third episode in May. If you want to go back to more directly related to bike touring topics… happy to do that. Email me your thoughts on that!
And oh hey… Live show! 4/30 fri 9pm ET! Topics and more TBA but I’m sure a segment will be on the microcamper as touring enhancer. Click here for the details. Programming note, this live show will be rebroadcast as the pod on May 6th, which will knock the best of out of its usual first Thursday perch to the second Thursday in May which is May 13th.
SAVE THE DATE… Pedalshift Live Friday April 30, 9pm ET, 6pm PT
As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this spring’s DC to Cincinnatti bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at pedalshift.net/society.
Mark Van Raam
Dan Gebhart, RIP