We asked Kate to write an article for us on life with her Load after having it for just a month. Coincidentally she had just done her first Murgon to Kingaroy (M2K) ride, a big milestone for her. She titled this article "The bike that changed my world" and when you read it you will understand why.
If you are on this page because you want to donate to her stRIDES4Strokes fundraising campaign, here is the link.
Goal: Ride 1,000km and raise $1,000 in November. Read on for why this matters to Kate and her Therapy Doods...
The Electric Bike That Changed My World
I’m sure that sounds a bit melodramatic, but I really am the proud owner of a bicycle that is changing my life.
Hi, I’m Kate and in 2013 half my world disappeared.
See, I have an autoimmune disorder called Primary Cerebral Vasculitis that causes strokes, and I had at least five strokes—three TIAs and two bigguns—just after my 31st birthday. The last one permanently took out half of my vision and has precluded me from driving ever since.
Not driving may not be a big deal for some, but it is pretty limiting when you live in a small country town without public transport. It’s even more limiting when you work with Therapy Dogs in schools in other small towns that also don’t have public transport.
You know how they say “never work with children nor animals”? Well the strokes must have damaged my ability for common sense, because now I work with both.
What’s more? I bloody love it!
I was inspired to pursue Animal Assisted therapy (AAT) because of the catharsis I experienced from my very own inhouse therapist and rehab coach, Sebastian the RSPCA stray dog. Sebby was purchased for me by a dear uncle, and I named him Sebastian as that was the surname of the neurologist who both saved my life and gave me hope for a productive future.
Don’t get me wrong, I also had some amazing friends and family that helped me in countless ways throughout this time and since, but I probably wouldn’t have taken as kindly to them jumping on the bed to wake me every morning with their whiskers, hot breath and dribble... But that’s exactly what Sebby did for me. And every day, no matter how hard it was, I would have to haul my butt out of bed to take Seb for a walk.
I have always been a dog lover, but that experience taught me the restorative power of canine connections and I’ve been trying to harness that magic for others ever since.
I had returned to study only months prior to getting sick, and I switched degrees to Bachelor of Science, major in psychology as soon as I returned. It’s been terribly slow going ever since, but I finally graduated Bachelor of Science in 2018 and the BSCI Honours degree in 2020.
Ultimately, I want to train as a psychologist, but the prospect of enduring a weekly 12hour return trip on public transport to access mandatory on campus training has me putting that goal to the side for the time being. Tragic events involving far too many youth suicides in my area was the final motivation for putting the books to the side, to try to help change the prospects for other young people at risk of taking their own life.
I was off work for 2.5-years, and through that time I spent hours researching Animal Assisted Therapies, and the breed which would best suit the role of a Therapy Dog. That’s when I fell in love with Labradoodles, and I was gifted my first Labradoodle, Yarn, in 2019. Yarn and I were accredited as a Human-Canine Therapy Team in the middle of the COVID lockdowns when he was about 8 months old. We started working together in 2021 and launched The Therapy Doods later that year. Since then, we’ve added another Dood—Augie—and a Doodette—Berta—to the team, and we have been delivering learning support and emotion regulation training in schools ever since.
I absolutely love my work, I love my area too, and the young people in my area do it tough. I think that what I am doing is making a tangible difference to the young people we meet, but the fact I will never drive again and the prospect of burdening family and friends to take me to work for the rest of my life is incredibly disheartening.
As far as getting to work went, I had to either suck it up or find another alternative. Another alternative, like cargo eBikes! I think I first came across cargo eBikes on Instagram. I’d never even heard of them before, and certainly not electric ones.
I hit Google and started researching options and reviews to discovered that there were only a few unreliable and/or unsafe options available within my budget. Three-wheel cargo bikes with no suspension topple around corners. Cheap cargo eBikes wouldn’t be able to withstand the weights and distances that I required.
Enter EBB And The Electric Bike That Is Changing My Life!
I started talking to Jill and Sam at EBB mid 2021. They listened to my problem and started exploring possibilities right away. They never made me feel silly for my lack of bike-smarts, nor like a problem customer due to my hairbrained idea: Carting my relatively large dogs and myself around the South Burnett via the beautifully sealed South Burnett Rail Trail (SBRT).
In fact, they seemed to relish the challenge of devising the best solution for my situation.
We trialled the doods in Sam's ebike, the Riese & Muller Load 60 and it was bang on, with an upsize to the Riese & Müller Load 75!
Then the wait began.
With the ongoing impacts from COVID19 on the manufacturing industry globally, it took about 10 months for my very own Load to arrive—I spent those months pretending it was all just a dream in case it didn’t arrive—but arrive it did. And as for changing my life? Well it's doing that too!
November 1, 2022
I’ve now had my Load 75—dubbed The Therapy Dood’s Chariot—for one spectacular month. And it’s been a month full of firsts. Not necessarily first-time-evers, but definitely first-time-in-a-long-times.
Like day one was the first time in 9.5 years that I picked up the dog’s food—that’s 24kg of Big Dog B.A.R.F. in there—and got it home without having to ask for a lift.
Like on day four, the first time I rode to Wondai and back—about 32km—just me and the Load.
There was the first time I added a dog, it was 15kg Berta and she took it all in her stride. It really wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought it’d be, as she is happy to try anything and very light so I barely felt her movements....
Day 10 was both my first time riding Murgon to Kingaroy, and the first time I did a long trip with B. It was also the first time I got bombed by a magpie on a bike, because all the ones around home know me. Day 10 was also the day that I realised The Chariot really and truly could be the answer for my problem.
Day 15 emphasised the stark contrast in wildlife between morning and afternoon. Morning brings magical sightings of wallabies, roos, deer, baby quails and echidnas; where the afternoons bring big lizards, goannas and...errr...big brown sunbathing snakes!
Day 20 was the first time I had a buster—only hurting my pride—or the first time I did a big grocery shop and beer run without relying on others to cart it home. I can’t believe it took me 29 days to think of the beer run! 😊
I felt so self conscious that all of these little firsts had me crying at the drop of a hat (like in the video I took below after I had done my first full Murgon to Kingaroy ride!).
I think that’s because it is also the first time that I had to acknowledge how disempowering it was to have lost all these little freedoms, and just how empowering it is to have them back!
I still have so many of these firsts to go, and I’m saving up the most important one for next month: the first time I get two of The Doods both to and from our work 42km away in Kingaroy without any help. I’ve been busting to try it out but have saved it until November so it will contribute to my tally.
See, I’m participating in stride4stroke this year, but I am going to stRIDE4stroke, and I’m challenging myself to ride 1000km for $1000 to help fund stroke recovery and research. I’m not entirely sure that I’ll make this goal, but I’m going to give it a red hot try anyway: Wish me luck!
xxx Kate, Sebby & The Doods
The bike that's changing my world: Riese & Muller Load 75 Vario electric bike