Two weekends ago, I found myself joining a coed team of 12 runners (the Banditos) and embarking on a 28-hour race called the Smokey Mountain Relay. The race started in our backyard (Pisgah National Forest) and ended at the Nantahala Outdoor Center—212 (hilly) miles away. It’s much quicker to drive there, or even hike in a straight line, but everyone knows that races don’t always take the most direct path. While I could write about how great the run was, how much fun I had, or how sleeping for only one hour out of 36 is hard, I’m going to pass on all of that. What I want to write about instead is the brand-new Ford Transit van that we used for our team vehicle.
The Ford Transit is replacing the old Ford Econoline as the new passenger van for the entire Ford fleet. Adventure Treks uses only brand-new vans each year, so we will also be making the switch to the Transit for the 2015 season. I will happily admit that I am very excited about the switch.
Our office team had checked them out at the dealership, but I had not had the opportunity to test drive one until the race. Driving the Transit was so much nicer than the Econoline. It was easier to drive and handled like it was much smaller than it truly was. Riding in the back was even better. Each person has his/her own seat—instead of bench seating for three. And the windows are massive! They are about twice the size as the Econoline’s – Perfect for great views this summer!
But the best things were the unseen things. The standard safety advances are incredible. Here are a few:
- Air bags. Not just for the driver and passenger, but for the entire van.
- Lower center of gravity. With higher side walls, this ensures that the van will only roll over in the most extreme of situations. Plus, people up to 6 feet tall can walk down the aisle without bending over.
- Center aisle. While this may not seem like a big deal, it now means that weight is distributed evenly throughout the entire van.
- Rain-sensing wipers. Not that we ever drive in the rain without our wipers on, but this is just one more way to help with the sudden splash of water on the windshield.
- Advance Trac with Roll Stability Control. The most advanced stability control system out there; it automatically brakes and/or shifts power to wheels.
- Trailer sway control. This passive feature keeps the trailer more stable in crosswinds or at highway speeds.
As safety is the most important thing at Adventure Treks, we work hard to make sure we use the most reliable vehicles to transport our students. But we can’t rely solely on the safety options of our new vans. Each instructor attends an eight-hour course on van driving and procedures, and then is tested and ultimately approved by Dock or myself. Then we practice driving for more than 1,000 miles before we get our first students.
While I imagine that most people are not as excited as I am about these new vans, I hope that you share our desire to have the best possible equipment for our trips, in order to provide the best possible experience for our students.
And for those of you that are interested, the Smokey Mountain Relay is a great way to spend a weekend running through the woods!
We will be picking up 20 brand-new Ford Transit vans on June 3, but we cannot wait till June 22 arrives (when our first three trips open!), and we can get these vans loaded with students and finally get on the road.
All the best,