Nathan McDowell with his ride trainer and support worker Matt Bell and sister Danielle at Tingoora

June 29, 2022

If you’re out and about on the South Burnett Rail Trail on Thursday, keep an eye out for Nathan McDowell and his specially modified top handcycle.

Nathan, from Redcliffe, completed Stage 1 of a 120km fundraising bike ride on Wednesday, from Kingaroy to Tingoora.

Stage 2 on Thursday is from Tingoora to Murgon, where he will be greeted by well-wishers about 2:00pm near the Murgon Services Club.

Riding the rail trail would be difficult task for many of us, but for Nathan it is particularly challenging.

He has been confined to a wheelchair since childhood.

Nathan, 32, has spina bifida, cerebral palsy, is legally blind and has a very rare genetic condition, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD).

He was accompanied on his ride on Wednesday by his sister Danielle and support worker and trainer Matt Bell.

The riders stopped at Memerambi for morning tea and lunch in Wooroolin before finishing at Tingoora.

“The ride went better than we expected. We are all very proud of Nathan,” Matt told at Tingoora.

“He just rode really well today. On the uphill section, he did better than expected and we arrived early twice!”

Nathan was more modest: “It went all right!” but admitted he wasn’t fond of the cold start in Kingaroy.

Three young pushbike riders from Kingaroy State School and Kingaroy State High School joined Nathan for the Wooroolin to Tingoora leg, and plan to accompany him all the way to Murgon on Thursday.

Nathan and his family hope the ride will help raise awareness about PMD – a progressive, degenerative central nervous system disorder – as well as some funds for Leukodystrophy Australia, an association which aims to provide information, support and advocacy for families affected by leukodystrophy.

PMD is a form of leukodystrophy.

After his two-day journey along the Rail Trail, Nathan and his support team will be heading to Caboolture for two more days of riding and fundraising.

On Friday, it will be an Open Ride Day with community riders joining Nathan for a loop ride from Caboolture to Caboolture via Wamuran.

On Saturday, he’ll be tackling the last leg, from Shorncliffe Pier to Suttons Beach at Redcliffe.

Nathan with the three young Kingaroy cyclists who joined him on Wednesday … Cale Welch (Year 8), Jakob Sanderson (Year 6) and Zak Sanderson (Year 5)
Nathan with his proud dad, speedway driver Gavin McDowell … Gavin’s race trailer has been turned into a support vehicle for the ride

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables


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