A Sprinter Van Is Keeping This Mountain Biker’s Adventurous Spirit Alive

Sarah TaggartSeptember 6, 2018

A Sprinter Van Is Keeping This Mountain Biker’s Adventurous Spirit Alive

Before the accident, Ryan St. Lawrence was an aspiring professional mountain bike racer.

In 2016, the thrill seeker, originally from New Hampshire, was involved in a mountain biking accident resulting in a spinal cord injury (SCI). Ryan’s complete T4 SCI makes him unable to voluntarily move or feel sensations below his chest. Although his life has changed dramatically since the accident, one thing has remained the same: his passion for the outdoors.

Ryan has spent the past two years regaining strength through physical therapy with Project Walk and pursuing adaptive mountain biking. Outfitted with an awesome, accessible Sprinter Van, he and his wife, Kim, can almost always be found pursuing the next epic road trip.

We caught up with Ryan to hear more about his story—and his cool van, appropriately named “The Rig.”

Outdoorsy: How has your life changed since the accident?

Ryan: “Prior to my injury, I spent all of my time [outside of working] pursuing my passion of riding and racing bikes. My desire to maintain an outdoor and active lifestyle has not changed since my injury. Things have certainly become more difficult, but having a setup that allows me to travel and remain active has been great. In additional to my van, I have also built an electric-assisted, adaptive bucket bike. I have been spending a lot of time riding and traveling.”

accessible sprinter van
Photo courtesy of @good_n_you.

O: Why did you decide to convert a Sprinter van?

R: “After my injury I had a small, 600-square-foot pool house built and was looking for something for road trips and adventures on the weekend. I’m hoping to take my rig to 500,000 miles, so diesel was the way to go. The Sprinter van was a no-brainer.”

O: What accessibility features did you implement in your build?

R: “I had a wheelchair lift and hand controls installed in the van before the conversion started. Those are the only two handicap-specific modifications in the van. The build out in the rear is a design that allows me to utilize all of the space available. It’s pretty simple compared to how complicated some of the van build outs [can get].”

adaptive sprinter van
Photo courtesy of @good_n_you.

“The wheelchair lift and hand controls for driving were installed prior to the camper version. The specific product used for the lift is Paravan Casette Lift. The hand controls used for driving are Featherlite Suregrip. The campervan conversion was completed by Tourig, a Sprinter van conversion company in Denver, Colo. The campervan conversion incorporated accessibility features like centralized switches for easy access. Tourig also provided remote control battery switches to start power inside the van. They also designed an easy access plug for auxiliary solar power as well as safe space for storage of a wheelchair.”

O: What has life been like with The Rig and what advice would you share with others living with an injury?

R: “Fantastic! This van allows me to go wherever I desire, without depending on a handicap-accessible hotel room. That is very important to feeling free and independent.”

“My best advice would be: Do not let this injury define you. If you have the desire to spend your time outdoors, find a way to make it happen. It’s worth it.”

What’s stopping you from getting on the road? Start searching for your adventure rig on Outdoorsy today! 


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Sarah Taggart, Outdoorsy Author

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