For many powersports enthusiasts, riding a dirt bike or an ATV isn’t just something fun to do, it’s an essential joy that must be nurtured. The challenge of pushing oneself through various obstacles whilst seated upon a whole lotta horsepower makes for meaningful outings and a life filled with adventure. With this spirit in mind, Kela Louise created Wide Open, a podcast that highlights resilient female athletes who tell their stories of creating a fulfilled life out of the chaos.
Normally, Louise is the one behind the mic asking the questions. In this instance, it’s a rare opportunity to do a little role-reversal and see how this podcaster handles questions in the hot seat.
Kela Louise is from Qualicum Beach, B.C., and rides a 2017 KTM 250SX dirt bike. — Photo credit Alaina Vesper
Who or what got you into ATVing/motorbiking/snowmobiling?
I always had a desire to learn to ride bikes. I was a competitive kid with two brothers and we always had ATVs growing up. But what really pushed me to get my first bike was when I was 16 and my boyfriend at the time let me ride his Yamaha YZ250F. I went to kick it over and my pant leg got caught on the kick starter and I fell over. He then says to me, “My ex-girlfriend could ride better than you.” Let me just say that little phrase never left my head.
Five years later, after we broke up, I purchased a Yamaha YZ125 and began taking girls out on “girls rides,” trying to see if I could get some female friends to join me. I met a girl named Jennelle and we became instant moto besties. From that day forward, we both supported and pushed each other to get better at biking—and still do today. Now we have an amazing group of moto ladies on Vancouver Island who all support each other and have become a family to me.
How did you come up with the Wide Open podcast?
I’ve always loved educating people and I love learning about people’s stories. To me, the more raw and real someone’s life experience is, the deeper the educational value, and I feel those experiences need to be shared.
As an athlete who’s grown up as a competitive gymnast, professional dancer and now rides dirt bikes and mountain bikes, I’ve always lived my life “Wide Open,” so to speak. I’ve felt it’s in these controlled chaotic environments where I’ve had the most therapeutic experiences and learned not only how to work through physical pain, but also work through mental pain. I believe that sport is mental therapy. It always has been for me, just as I find it has been for so many others.
I created Wide Open to facilitate a space where athletes can share their stories of creating a fulfilled life out of the chaos. It’s a judgment-free environment where we can discuss mental health, hardship and more in relation to sport.
Kela Louise discussed mental health and the importance of diet and exercise during a Zoom podcast featuring Wanetta Beal. — Photo courtesy Kela Louise
What is the coolest thing you’ve learned while doing your podcast?
That’s a tough one, because every guest has such a unique story. But if I had to narrow it down, episode number 10 with Wanetta Beal is full of amazing stories and educational advice. Wanetta is a marathon runner, cyclist and has completed three Iron Men back-to-back, among many other incredible achievements. She talks about her early diagnosis with bipolar disorder and how she has been 20 years free of medication due to proper diet and exercise. I found this to be one of the most inspiring discussions I’ve had and I believe that anyone, whether you suffer from bipolar disorder or not, can learn something from this incredible woman’s journey.
Who are some of the powersports guests that you’ve had on so far and what stood out to you about each of them and their stories?
Currently I have had four powersports guests:
Ami Houde is an ex-professional motocross racer, monster truck driver and e-scooter racer. She was one of the reasons I got into dirt bike riding when I was 21. I came across her Facebook page through a friend-of-a-friend’s one day and instantly thought, “Damn, this chick is dope. I want to ride like her.” Ami has always had influence on my riding through the energy she exudes, her go-getter attitude and love for pushing the boundaries to achieve the next goal in whatever sport she is in. Although she’s had some struggles and setbacks in her life and career, she’s always managed to make a comeback with the boss babe attitude we know and love from her.
Chrisma is an incredibly talented B.C. local enduro motocross racer with the most genuine heart. She is heavily dedicated to giving back to her community and followers through educational videos and posts and offers a unique outlook on life partly due to her unique upbringing as an immigrant from South Africa. What sets Chrisma apart from many female racers in the industry is her ability to stay true to herself. It’s such an honour to have her as one of my first guests.
Eline Mets is an actress, poet, filmmaker and motorcycle enthusiast and stood out to me because of how she is pushing to change the way we look at the motorsports industry. She balances femininity with masculinity. Her goals for a new poetry book that combines art and motorsports is something I know is going to inspire many young female riders to come.
Rose Lantaigne is from Northern Ontario and races and rides enduro and trials motocross. I came across a post of hers on a page we are both a part of where she shared a bit about her struggle with chronic fatigue and health issues after falling ill to the Epstein Barr virus. Her tenacious attitude and open mind to alternative health practices was very inspiring. I knew I had to have her on the show.
“Sport is mental therapy. It always has been for me, just as I find it has been for so many others.” — Kela Louise — Photo credit Amanda Pihan
What is your best powersports misadventure story?
I have been lucky to never have any crazy breakdowns, no broken bones in my life and no serious wipeouts to date, but I have learned a few things from my friends’ mishaps and adventures on what to carry with you at all times.
Currently when I go on longer rides, I carry in my pack a medic kit with pain meds, EpiPen, Benadryl, tire pump, extra fuel canister, small ratchet, sockets, Allan keys, snacks and zap straps! Never forget zap straps. My friend and I had to zap strap her backpack on once after she broke the bolt way up a mountain. Worked like a charm. I also wear an iWatch with a protective case because one time I got pinned upside down, down an embankment and was unable to lift myself up or get the bike off of me. These moments you are unable to reach your pack because it is pinned under your back, you really appreciate a life line on your wrist.
For anyone considering starting up their own podcast related to powersports, what would you tell them?
If it’s something you’ve always thought about doing, go for it. The biggest fear of mine was that I’d launch it and no one would care to listen. But I kept telling myself, if one of my episodes changes just one person’s life for the better, then all of it was worth it. I’ve had beautiful messages from woman and men all over saying they loved an episode or felt inspired or could relate after listening to one of the athletes. I’ve now had listeners in over 20 countries. With so many free apps and programs, it hasn’t cost me a dime to start it. It would be nice to eventually monetize a little from it just so I can allocate more time to it, but for now, it’s a passion project I plan to continue based on a love to educate and help others. If anyone wants to reach out for tips and tricks that I have learned, I’m always open to help the next as others have helped me.
Kela Louise is all about encouraging female riders to get out and participate. Here she is with a group of friends at the Mudhunniez Ladies Moto Clinic in 2021. — Photo credit Re.bel.red Photography
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Every day the world of both motorsports and mental health is changing, and I am so lucky to be in a position to promote positive changes in both. The goal for me is to continue highlighting the benefits of sport and how it relates to a positive state of mind. I want to continue to show there are alternative routes to medicine, drugs or alcohol when coping with hardship, depression, anxiety and so forth, and provide beneficial tools my audience can use in everyday life. I believe sport will always be a positive avenue for this.