I’m not even going to try to introduce the concept of this section in any sort of playful way.
There is one point that you need to know, that hopefully you will realize after reading this post.
And I am going to sum it up in four words right here:
Here’s the general rule if there are no races going on (because you should be watching them):
If you are not already in the vans, you should get in them.
For some people, this is an extremely complicated concept, and they somehow fail to remember this simple rule when they are dawdling in a gas station in South Carolina at 4 a.m. on the way to Florida. And when a sleep-deprived Ryan Gray screams “GET IN THE VAN“, he means get in the van.
You should always be in the van.
Now, what to do once you’re in it? Well, that’s a little more complex.
You spend a lot of time in the vans. During a typical race season, if you do every race and go to Florida, you’ll probably spend about 100 hours traveling in the van. No joke (unless my math is horribly wrong). That’s a lot of time. You’re going to learn who you like to travel with, what you like to do in the van, and you’ll probably try about 15,000 different ways to fall asleep, only to discover that there is no POSSIBLE way to be comfortable in a 15 passenger van.
The vans travel in a convoy, usually, unless one of the vans somehow manages to go south on 95 on the way back from Florida. If this suddenly becomes the case (or if a van doesn’t get off the Mass Pike to 84 in Connecticut, or if the bikes fly off the roof in traffic), then the vans will find a suitable place to wait up for their misdirected/disaster stricken compatriots.
And as such in a convoy, there is a lead van. This usually has the coach in it – who has money for tolls and knowledge of where this parade of idiocy and traveling dick jokes is going. So, since this is the guy who knows where everyone is going and has the money to pay the 90 million tolls in Jersey that we still have to stop for because the vans don’t have EZ-Passes yet, it’s probably wise to not pass the lead van. Feel free to do so on long stretches of highway, but when you’re unsure of where to go or there are tolls imminent, stick together.
One of the downsides of traveling in a convoy is that when one van has to stop, so do all the others. Keep this in mind when you’re pounding an extra-large coffee in the parking lot before departure. Because everyone is going to be pissed when you have to pee before getting on the highway. If you have a penis, it is in the best interest of the entire team that you learn to pee in a gallon jug in the van.
EWW!! GROSS!! GALLONS OF PEE!!
Stop crying. There are worse things to have contained in bottles.
Anway, peeing in a jug is very useful. I found that I was RARELY able to do so in a moving van. It certainly wasn’t stage fright, but I think the motion of the van while I tried to pee was confusing my bladder. But if you can master this skill, your bladder and the rest of the team will thank you for it, especially when the driver of the van refuses to stop for the next twenty minutes. But make sure that you pee in something that will be easily identifiable as urine. A simple fact that will be addressed later.
For lady folks who don’t have the luxury of urinating in containers, the vans stop. But if no one drinks any fluids, it will make things much easier.
So that’s the big picture of the van situation. The picture from the outside.
From the inside, the view is not so cozy. Take this little photo, for example:
Inside the van it is a strange place, a cacophony of insanity contained only by shatterproof glass and sheet metal from Detroit. Despite this, there are a few roles that must be fulfilled while in the van.
- Driver – Duh. The Driver. His/her only purpose is to get the team to the destination ALIVE. They should be focusing on the road. They shouldn’t be on their cellphone, fiddling with the radio, creating playlists while driving at night through North Carolina or doing meth. The drivers comfort is paramount to everyone else’s – if The Driver wants to listen to The Mountain Goats for five hours, then everyone fuckin’ listens to The Mountain Goats for five hours. And the volume is kept at a level that The Driver wants. Because if The Driver is uncomfortable, he/she just may plunge the entire team into the icy depths of the Hudson River. All other non-driving tasks should be taken care of by…
- The Co-Pilot – The Co-Pilot does everything for The Driver aside from scratching his/her genitals and driving. The Co-Pilot cannot fall asleep. Because if they do, The Driver will have to adjust the radio, and then what happens, kids? That’s right, the van plunges into a fucking river and everyone dies because the Co-Pilot wanted to sleep. The Co-Pilot is in charge of directions, talking to angry teammates who call The Driver on their cell phone, adjusting the heat and A/C to a level that is comfortable for the Driver and occasionally (occasionally!) providing oral sex to The Driver.
- Everyone Else – Everyone Else’s job is to not distract The Driver, which would cause the untimely demise of everyone in the van. Everyone Else should also not demand that The Driver put on hair metal if The Driver does not feel like it. Fuckin’ a. There’s nothing wrong with The Mountain Goats.
Those are really the only constant roles in the van. There are some special roles on various occasions, such as:
- Sign holders – who hold up signs to cars as we pass by.
- Beverage provider – who sits in the middle row and provides beverages as needed.
- Instigator – the person who instigates nudity/near nudity, dick jokes, and other bad ideas that may reflect poorly on the team.
Aside from the roles in the van, there is also quite a bit of van etiquette. If followed, this will help keep the upholstery of the van from getting soaked in blood and brain matter.
- No one wants to hear your fucking phone conversation. Yeah, people have to talk on the phone in the van. If you must, try to keep it short and sweet. Or go to the back of the van and do it quietly. Don’t sit in the front of the van and tell everyone else to shut up so you can talk on the phone. Because that’s just going to encourage everyone to be louder.
- Don’t pee in McDonalds cups that usually hold soda, put the top and straw back on and put it in a cupholder so it appears to be an unadulterated cup of soda FOR FUCKS SAKE. WHAT THE HELL. You know, if someone hops in the van and sees what, on first inspection, appears to be a cup of sugar-filled soda that apparently has no owner, THEY’RE GOING TO DRINK IT. And probably swallow the contents of that mouthful before their body has time to realize it was HUMAN URINE. I’m just saying.
- Try to keep you shit in one place. I made a similar point in part 3. If all of your shit is one place, it’s easier for you and easier for everyone else. Also, you won’t go rummaging through the van at 10 p.m. screaming “HEY I NEED TO FIND SOMETHING RIGHT NOW THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT AND SMALL AND DARK”, because no one is going to care and you probably won’t find it. If it is with your other shit, you’ll have more of a chance of holding onto your small, dark, easy to lose trinkets.
- Please keep your dirty chamois somewhere that people don’t put their heads. Yes, the vans are a breeding ground for bacteria that have never been studied before by science. But please try to refrain from introducing new and possibly deadly specimens from your bike shorts soaked with taint-sweat on the very benches where your teammates will shortly rest their heads. Put that shit in a bag. Hopefully your bag.
- If people in the back of the van are reading from Trivial Pursuit cards, and you are sitting in the front, don’t ask them to shout questions to you after a weekend of racing. Listen. I’m sure the people in the back of the van want to play with you. But they probably don’t want to shout across three rows of seats, over the noise of I-84 after they’ve been screaming all weekend at a race. So turn around and read or something.
- I’m positive I’ve forgotten stuff. Put it in the comments.
Another thing that will probably help keep the blood inside people’s bodies is choosing a van that isn’t full of drama. Probably a good idea to steer clear of the crazies. If you know that they’re crazy, try to corral them in their own van and let them have at it. The rest of the “normal” people can drive to the race in relative peace while a lycra-clad Jerry Springer episode plays out in the Ford van behind them.
Keep that in mind: Segregate the crazies.
In addition to crazies, there are other van hazards that should be watched out for:
- Urine. Everywhere. Triple-check everything before you drink it. And even then, it still probably has urine on/in it.
- Sleeping is nearly impossible. These van seats were made to keep people up for days on end. If you try to sleep, and manage to actually fall asleep for more than twenty minutes, you will wake up and all of your limbs will be totally numb, and you will fear that you just had a spinal cord injury. But fear not, that’s just the wonderful seats of Ford vans.
- Stinky bananas and other rotting food will stink up the van. Try not to leave shit hidden under the seats while the vans bake in the sun in Florida. I mean, the vans will eternally smell like bananas and ass…but you can at least try to limit it.
- I always got horrible swamp ass. Maybe it’s just me. But wear adult diapers or something. Maybe.
- One radio station, maybe. And a tape deck that might work. Your tune selection is limited. Which is why you should memorize every Iron Maiden song to serenade your vanmates with at two in the morning.
So those are the hazards. Again, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. So add them in the comments.
Another hazard that I have forgotten to mention is not being in the van. Because if you aren’t in the van, someone will scream at you to get in the van. It won’t be me, as I’ve moved on to the “real world”, but there will always be some loud asshole that doesn’t give a fuck about what everyone else is doing, and all he cares about is getting in the van and getting on the road. And the only way that can happen is if you