Photo: Hannah Morvay
I’ve never been a big fan of winter, and not just because mountain biking gets more difficult. Less daylight and warmth requires more fortitude just to get out the door, even if you have the right layers. But, it also means less time spent with friends as the majority of mine are also mountain bikers and bikes are usually the platform on which we meet. So, wintertime usually means less exercise, less socializing, and less sunlight; all recipes for downward mood swings.
For some people, full-time jobs, or, now that we’re in the era of remote work, we’ll call them stationary jobs, are a year-long winter. Required presence at a location in the name of service hinders the ability to adventure and maybe to find happiness.
Vans these days are adventure multipliers, and the kind that are popular with mountain bikers, skiers, and rock climbers are usually bigger than a mini-van and smaller than a small school bus. These vans are large enough to fit bikes and gear, spacious enough to sleep and cook in, and yet, are small enough to park on a side street or drive up a groomed Forest Service road.
For those who can’t live on the road, the next best thing is using these mini-RVs for a more comfortable night’s sleep. Mountain bike destinations aren’t well-kept secrets anymore. Finding affordable lodging in a summertime destination can be just as challenging as lodging at a chic ski resort in the winter, and camping has become equally difficult to find in some places. In comes the van, again, lumbering around right-hand corners, and parking in our dreams.
This fall, I had the chance to demo one of these dream machines, thanks to Dave and Matt Vans. They rent models from their base in Gypsum, Colorado starting at $165 a night. Dave (Ramsay) and Matt (Felser) started the company in 2018. Before Dave and Matt Vans, the two met in college but went their separate ways after graduation.
Felser was a full-time teacher, adventuring, mountain biking, and sleeping out of his Honda Element in the summers while Ramsay worked in New York City at a major hedge fund. Ramsay burned out on the busy lifestyle and bought a Roadtrek camper van. Eventually, he went to visit Felser in Colorado’s Vail Valley and the two talked about the van market.
“The issue five years ago and still today, working on a teacher’s budget, you know, resources are limited,” said Felser. “And at the time, in particular, it was either $150,000 for a Winnebago or a custom van builder, or you do it yourself.”
Photos: Matt Miller
So, in 2018 they made their first van, basically a tester, and posted it for sale on Craigslist and within a day had 25 emails from potential buyers. Since then, they’ve put over 300 Dave and Matt Vans on the road. The company has expanded to 26 full-time employees in three years.
What separates a Dave and Matt van from the Winnebagos and Roadtreks? For starters, a fully built Dave and Matt van is about half the price. Dave and Matt start with RAM ProMaster vans, commonly used by plumbers and …….