Last February we were blown away by Karen’s Lockdown Story, in her own words “A Life now Open to Adventure”. So today, in support of the Women Cycling Festival, we are catching up with Karen to see how much further she has taken herself and “Buzz”, her Metro LS.
*A little reminder: Karen suffers from chronic and painful health conditions, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia and arthritis which mean limited mobility and her standard mode of transport are a mobility scooter or wheelchair.
VOLT: We are grateful for all the pictures and tags you have sent us, how many miles have you and Buzz now done together?
KAREN: Buzz is now sitting at 662 miles!
VOLT: The outdoors seems to be your favourite place, tell us about your latest adventures, what did you achieve and what is your next challenge?
KAREN: I love getting outdoors and living in Moray there are many fantastic places to cycle and I am currently mapping National Cycle Route Network as it passes through Moray. Due to my health issues, I can only do it in small sections but it’s been a fantastic opportunity to discover new routes.
KAREN: I am also taking an electric bike up a local mountain! It’s not Buzz, but she’s still a huge part of my training, helping me with my stamina and balance. There’s a local mountain that I see every day and I have always wanted to go up it, but even at only 841m, Ben Rinnes might as well be Everest, as I can’t even walk 50m without stopping for a rest! An Outfit Moray volunteer kept posting photos of his bike rides up there and, thanks to my Volt Metro I had a newfound love of cycling, so I came up with the plan to cycle up it on an electric bike! My health issues mean I have very specific cycling needs, but I was lucky enough to get someone to convert a second-hand mountain bike into an electric bike that met my specifications.
VOLT: Supporting your local communities, can you tell us a bit more about Outfit Moray and Flying Scholarships?
KAREN: I have done lots of training with my Outfit Moray colleagues and am slowly learning the new skills needed to get me up the mountain on 15th August to raise funds for Outfit Moray and Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (as they are the people responsible for getting me up there) https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/thewobblycyclist
KAREN: In 2016, I was awarded a life-changing flying scholarship through the charity, Flying Scholarships for Disabled People. They were set up in 1983 as a living memorial to the indomitable spirit of Douglas Bader and have now helped over 400 disabled people to change their lives by learning to fly! I spent three weeks far away from home and learning to fly, which taught me so much about what I was capable of and gave me the courage to try so much more in my life, including having the confidence to apply for a job with Outfit Moray in 2017!
KAREN: Outfit Moray are an outdoor learning and adventure charity based in Lossiemouth who deliver life-changing activities for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in Moray, as well as providing affordable adventures for young people and their families. They’ve helped over 17,000 young people since they were set up in 2003 and it was my Outfit Moray colleagues who encouraged me to try an electric bike at one of our events and that bike was a Volt Metro and changed my life!
VOLT: We are very intrigued, what is the “Spoon Theory”?
KAREN: I am a ‘Spoonie’!
KAREN: The Spoon Theory is a fantastic story which equates physical/mental effort to spoons and explains how people with chronic conditions can struggle to due to a lack of ‘spoons’ and how we need to use our limited supply wisely and have to always plan our lives accordingly to make sure we don’t run out (meaning we are can no longer function).
VOLT: Your story has been a great inspiration for our Volt Team, would you have any words or advice to encourage women to get cycling?
KAREN: I am lucky to be surrounded by some great women cycling ambassadors, most of the Outfit Moray cycling team is female and they have been a tremendous source of inspiration and support, but I realise I am one of the lucky ones! Many women face difficulties integrating with male-dominated cycling groups and can be put off by not seeing more female cyclists in their area. We need to keep getting out there! Ask your friends, post on Facebook, check out your local Cycling UK cycling group (there’s a Cycling UK’s women-only Facebook group) and reach out – there’s other women out there who feel the same as you and, together, we can break down the gender barriers.
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