Our Taste Agent Lauren Gregg pared back her possessions to live out of a van and dig more deeply into her career as a mountain biker. What she's come out with is nothing short of a rich experience.
Those of us with streaks of wanderlust in our blood have pipedreams of hitting the open road, wild and free; going where we please, exploring the world with reckless abandon. Our Taste Agent - mountain bike athlete and gravity rider Lauren Gregg - made this wanderlusty pipe dream a reality when she moved into her Ford Transit van - affectionately named Loosey - and began to call it home this spring. She rolled up to Skratch Labs headquarters recently and gave us a little tour + a recap of what’s been going on for her lately and it was clear to see: Lauren’s new house-on-wheels is a perfect symbol for the physical, mental and logistical approach she’s taking this season; thinking outside the box, keeping an open mind and going all in.
Frustrated with the common cycle of struggling to make a season work financially, spending all season burning through savings then starting at square one again when the races end, Lauren wrote a proposal to non-endemic companies in search of funds and support to make her van life dream a reality. Ford was one such sponsor who came back with a unanimous YES, empowering her with a way to tell her story, focus on her racing, and inspire others to chase their aspirations. "The best feeling I've ever had was at the beginning of the season, looking at my contracts and realizing I could just focus on my racing." she says.
And inside little Loosey, it's difficult not to do just that. Lauren personally designed the interior of her rolling home to include a comfortable sleeping space, a pantry and smart storage to keep her minimal-yet-effective mobile kitchen contained. "Making meals on the road has been a great chance to slow down and reassess my diet. Having a small kitchen gives me space for limited ingredients, and all my food I cook from scratch. Not bringing processed food into the van has made a huge change in my health, fitness, and performance on the bike. I feel like it's made me happier too!" she says. She has the Feed Zone Cookbooks on board and constantly on hand, "whenever I'm about to do a grocery run, I'll flip through them for inspiration," she says. "...so many of [the recipes] are simple (and delicious), so they are easy to make in the van. Recently I made the Nicoise with Pasta which was delicious, and Chicken Fried Rice is always a favorite of mine. The rice cake portables are great when I'm out on rides!"
When she isn't riding out of the bike garage in the back, or hosting a friend or two in the small "living room,' Lauren works on her newest project, Turn Loose. "I want to inspire people to go out and do more of what makes them happy. Sharing stories of people doing what they love, taking risks, going outside of their comfort zones - this is powerful and can motivate people to chase their dreams and start organizing their lives with a new focus." she says. "Money is a common issue holding people back from pursuing their dreams, projects and adventures. Many people dream big, and they just need a bit of funding to get started. This is where Turn Loose comes in." Lauren's budding organization sells adventure clothing, the proceeds of which go to helping connect aspiring, creative, adventurous athletes to sponsor cash - both endemic and non-endemic - so they can fund their dreams.
As Turn Loose evolves, Lauren is evolving too. Though she's been coming back from injury this season, she's recovering well, racing gracefully and soaking up every opportunity and moment of van life. During her visit, she talked about how paring down her life - in a materialistic sense - has made it more possible for her to live and experience expansively, changing her perspective of herself, and the world around her. "The biggest transformation has been in my relationship with myself and with other people. All this time solo on the road has given me a lot of time to think about myself and about the person I am and who I want to be, and become more aware of my true personality when I'm on my own."
It may have been her mission to make van life a reality, and to make her racing the focus of her season when she started organizing last spring, but it's clear that Lauren's experience in Loosey has made her not only a more focused athlete, but a more mindful one as well. We're inspired by her sense of self-trust, her dedication to spreading stoke and sharing the adventure. "It's been very empowering and allowed me to trust in my own decisions without having anyone else to rely on for advice when navigating life on the road." she says.
What's her best advice for athletes upcoming? "Be a light in your sport and you will stand out, a smile and good relationships with people will speak just as loud as (or louder than) your results.” We’re proud of your light, Lauren! Keep up the good work!