Navy veteran Lt. Brett Zimmerman left Hawaii and sold most of his belongings after his time in the military last year.
It was his goal to live a simpler life, one without clutter to anchor him.
“Life’s too short and I realized that when I was in the Navy and on a submarine — sometimes it gets pretty dark,” said the 30-year-old North Dakota native. “You’re under water for months at a time and you look back and think what am I doing? And what do I want to do with my life?”
The answer to that question soon became clear.
Zimmerman is an avid cyclist, runner and swimmer. Since his senior year at Oregon State University, he’s found freedom in triathlon races.
“I’ve found something that I love wholeheartedly, and I just want to go out there and do the best that I possibly can,” Zimmerman said.
It’s his goal to become a professional triathlete.
Zimmerman’s family winters in Maricopa every year. He spent the better part of this season strength-training and swimming at Copper Sky as well as cycling and running in Rancho El Dorado.
He’s also been modifying a 2005 Dodge Sprinter for a life-changing road trip.
The tour will feature stops in the Midwest and as far as the East Coast as Zimmerman chases down his dream.
The ambition was first born from his late coach Jason Kilderry, who passed away last year.
“I wanted to find a purpose and a meaning in life and he just said, ‘You have an opportunity right now to go out there and just take life by the horns,’” Zimmerman said Kilderry told him.
To live minimally, he enlisted the help of his father Rodney and their neighbor Jim Pfeifle to transform the van into a home-on-wheels.
“It’s gratifying,” said Pfeifle, who worked in construction and contributed much of the woodwork to the van’s interior.
The van is DC-powered with running water, a small refrigerator, a propane stove, a full-size bed and a composting toilet.
‘Ruby’ the van – named after Zimmerman’s July birthstone – will transport the triathlete through at least November when his last race of the year takes place in Miami.
If Zimmerman goes pro, he will travel abroad to races in Europe.
“I’m really excited about what’s about to happen it’s going to be a wild couple of years,” Zimmerman said.