Sunday, November 18, 2012


FY, MRX,and BO kickin back at grovers van with bikes already on the van.

 My first memories of any van, was in the early 70's.   It was my brother Steve's cargo van that he customized for camping and hauling his family across the country, from Eugene Oregon back to Iowa.

Bob's Bike Blender
In the mid to late 70's  my high school basket ball coach would pack a dozen of us into his van and we would drive to Dyersville to work at Bucheitte's Chicken farm  to load the birds in and out, pox and vaccinate them.  It was always a good days work and great ca$h for a high school kid.  The van ride wasn't always that comfortable but it was always fun traveling with a bunch of friends, no matter how bad they smelled.

Team Playtex and a maroon ride.
The 80's and 90's brought about a whole new round of van adventures with the RAGBRAI years.  The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world.  Des Moines Register Media has been the title sponsor of RAGBRAI since 1973.  Once again the van equaled friends, adventure and smelly buddies.  Oh well, you'll have that.
The first few Ragbrais were in Jeff Grover's Blue Chevy van.  Jeff's ride was wall to wall carpet and he had a kickin sound system.  I'm guessing he still has that old van stashed away.
Then came several years of disposable vans and bike blenders. Thanks to my buddy BOB  who dug up the van shots from the archives, great memories and too many stories to get into right now!
off route the van looks alittle out of place
feelin like a rock star.
 Two of the last ragbrais that I road on in the 90's we took a  VWs that Sid lined up from over across the river in Galena, IL.  He worked out a  deal with a guy that had a deluxe transporter that was primed up and ready for tagging and I was hooked.   Still trying to track down a few shots of that one.

Van go!  taggin lesson with another  ragbrai betty. 
A favorite memory of some of the great people we met.
Dance like no one is watching.
My first VW was an 85 automatic, Westphalia camp mobile that came with a 17' Coleman canoe. I had it for several years and made a great road trip Colorado with a return trip home by way of the black hills and Sturgis.  The only two bike rides it made it to, was the ragbrai one hour casper adventure and fridged BRR ride where it provided shelter for sid. 
BRR riders travel a 24 mile round trip from Perry to Rippey and back, regardless of the weather.  Riders have experienced everything from below frigid temps and zero wind chills to unseasonably warm weather like we had this year, which made for some very slushy riding conditions for over 1,000 riders. It came to its demise when I overloaded it with bricks and blew the head.

Jim and maxine. 
I love my Riviera—really—I do. When i bought her, i didn’t know a ton about Westys and Rivieras, just that the camper conversions were done by two different companies (Westfalia and Riviera respectively in case that’s not obvious) and we knew that Riviera tops pop straight up and Westys pop up at an angle.

The thing I did not at all anticipate is the near impossibility of finding replacement camper parts for it. One of the biggest differences between Westys and Rivieras is that VW contracted with Westfalia to build Westys, while Rivieras were shipped from the factory to distributors as standard (non-camper) busses/vans and the distributor contracted with Riviera to do the camper conversion.

Now  my 71 Rivera is parked below the gardens under the willow waiting for spring and with a little help from a friend she'll be tuned up and back on the road for trout fishing adventures next spring. 


Folk art piece. Oil pastille on cardboard by Artist Bob from his one man show at Monk's "The Fly in the Ointment" circa 2006


  1. Heard of a van, loaded with bycycles, packed up and ready to go

  2. Great post. Really miss sleeping in that van??? Maybe in a couple of summers we'll do the Awake My Sole journey with some VW vans following the runners. :)