Ready for the Road with Joey Desjardins

Brand ambassador Joey Desjardins is a full-time athlete and a member of the Canadian Para-Cycling team. Joey is an active guy and he certainly loves the outdoors. Recently, he bought an adapted bus to transform it into a recreational vehicle and we recently chatted with him to learn more about his project.

Have you always been thirsty for adventure?

Yes, I've always loved the outdoors. I try to spend as much time outside as possible, whether it's cycling or doing activities with the family. I went camping when I was younger, and it stuck with me as an adult. We go camping a few times every summer, and even occasionally, we just camp in our yard, our daughters love it. I also like to drive, so… hello road trips!

What motivated the transition from classic camping to buying this new vehicle?

I love camping, but the process of packing whatever it takes, putting everything in the car and pitching the tent was more on my wife given my condition. It's going to make our life so much easier to have our bus always ready to go on our getaways and to be able to bring the bikes with us. It was also not always easy to transfer from the wheelchair to the tent's mattress on the floor. The bus will make everything more enjoyable!

Why get this particular bus, knowing all the development work involved, instead of another type of vehicle already ready to hit the road like an RV?

The bus I chose was already adapted and it has a lifting platform, it's also a question of pricing to be honest! If we had opted for a trailer for example, I, unfortunately, did not have the right vehicle to pull it.

I have a friend who did a similar bus renovation project and it inspired me. I'm a manual guy, and I have construction experience, so the bus's layout and renovation appealed to me. I worked in construction from age 14 to 22 before my accident. I have an interest in mechanics too, so working on the bus doesn't scare me, on the contrary.

Do you know a little bit about the history of the bus you bought?

Yes, the bus was previously owned by a father and bus driver who used it to transport his severely disabled daughter. Unfortunately, the little girl's condition deteriorated, and she has gone to the hospital full time. The bus has only 67,000 km on the clock (42 000 miles) and the mechanics are in pretty good condition. The rules are strict for this type of vehicle and the bus had to pass a 6-month inspection. Now that I am changing the vocation of the bus, it will be labeled as a recreational vehicle.

How is work progressing?

I've had a few hiccups with the delivery of essential parts and I had to put the work on hold a bit, but finally received what I was missing. So we are back working hard to move the project forward. Things are going well and I even have my daughters helping me out sometimes!

Who made the plans for the interior of the bus?

It's just my father-in-law and me. He’s an industrial designer so I had a lot of help from him to make the plans a reality with software like AutoCAD. Everything has been calculated to make sure that all the furniture and appliances can fit well on the bus. The plans also helped validate that there was enough room so I can move around with my chair inside. We will find all the amenities of an RV on our bus and I am also planning a folding platform at the back of the bus to be able to transport my hand-bike and the other family bikes.

Where will be your first getaway with the bus?

Our first real family vacation with the bus will be at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. We are going to enjoy nature, do a bit of cycling and swim in the lake. The challenge will be to have the bus ready on time, but we're going to go with the bus anyway even if it's not 100% complete. The important thing is to have beds ready!

Do you have a bucket list of destinations?

A bit of everything honestly! The bus will allow us to make camping weekends, long weeks of vacation and even more extended getaways for a few months. The bus will be useful for my para-cycling training camps, which sometimes can last up to a week. It will save us hotel costs! We also want to take trips to Florida, for the sun and it's a right place for training too. Number one in my "bucket list" would be a cross-Canada trip!

What makes the project exciting, and what are you looking forward to the most?

The kids are super excited about the bus and going on adventures! We did the project for us, but mostly for the children. What was supposed to be a four-year project has come true much faster than I expected. I’m really looking forward to traveling my family and making new memories!

This blog post is part of a series of article on Joey's bus project. Stay tuned for more!

To learn more about Joey, visit his ambassador profile.

About Motion Composites

Motion Composites has an international reputation as a leader in the design and manufacture of ultralight manual wheelchairs.