The second Role Model in our She’s Electric campaign is Karen Cox. Karen’s story is beyond inspirational and feels exactly the right story to be championing on Mental Health Awareness Week. Karen has various conditions that affect her mobility, meaning she can’t walk that far, and was also recently diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
Karen never dreamed she would be able to ride a bike again, but when she tried an e-bike she was amazed how much it enabled her. And the sky is literally the limit for Karen, as she has also learnt how to fly a plane! She has become a recognised cycling influencer via her much-loved Facebook page, The Wobbly Cyclist, her ‘can-do’ attitude is winning public admiration and inspiring others both with disabilities and without!
We are proud to have Karen as a Cyclechic customer, taking her trusty panniers with her on her adventures on her much loved and treasured Volt e-bike. This piece is in partnership with Karen Cox, aka The Wobbly Cyclist, and Volt Bikes. Enjoy her inspirational story!
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a 56-year-old mum of three living in Moray, North East Scotland. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia and arthritis, as well as a few other conditions that cause pain and affect my mobility, plus I have also recently been diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
In 2016, I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship from Flying Scholarships for Disabled People and it completely changed my life. I spent three weeks learning to fly, which helped me come to terms with my disabilities but also taught me what I was capable of. Since then, I always make sure I am challenging myself and my disabilities, including abseiling off the Forth Road Rail Bridge, getting a job with Outfit Moray, travelling abroad and taking up cycling.
What e-bike do you ride?
I started with ‘Buzz’, my Volt Metro LS, then had a converted mountain bike, but now have a Volt Pulse LS called ‘Flora’. I have had mid, front and rear motors, and find the rear motor the best for my particular requirements.
How did you get started on an e-bike and what was the experience like?
I work for Outfit Moray, an outdoor learning and adventure charity based in Moray, and part of our goal is to encourage more people to get cycling as part of our Bike Revolution Enterprise project. We were holding a ‘bike fest’ in March 2020 and my colleagues convinced me to try an e-bike. I was very anxious as I hadn’t been on a bike in around 20 years, let alone one with a motor, but I knew I had to at least give it a go. I really struggled to keep the pedals going round to start with, but my friend explained the power settings and I was off! I had a massive smile on my face and immediately borrowed an e-bike from work to see if I was going to enjoy cycling. Luckily for me, lockdown happened, and I had the opportunity to develop my cycling on quieter roads and was soon hooked. I bought my Volt Metro LS in April and haven’t looked back since!
How does your e-bike benefit your life?
If it wasn’t for my e-bike, I wouldn’t be able to cycle – it really is as simple as that! Even with the benefits of a motor, I can still be very limited on distance and will struggle with things like headwinds and hills.
The rear hub motor of my Pulse takes the resistance out of the pedals, which basically enables me to cycle, and it gets me to places I haven’t been able to get to for years, including being able to enjoy the beach again. Cycling is my only form of exercise, and it also means I am able to get out on social rides, as well as enjoying our beautiful local countryside.
What’s a typical trip/ride for you?
I am not sure I have a typical ride! There are so many different places to cycle locally, and I like to mix it up (low boredom threshold), so I guess a ‘simple’ ride would be a local route from my house with my husband, who is now a very reluctant cyclist. But I also enjoy joining the local Breeze ladies or heading out with my Outfit Moray buddies for a good cycle and gossip.
Got any big challenges coming up?
I am doing Cairngorm to Coast with Outfit Moray on 27th May, which is a 100km cycle from Cairngorm ski centre to Windswept Brewing in Lossiemouth, and the Ride the North in August (64 miles). I am also hoping to get up Cairn Gorm (the sixth highest peak in the British Isles) this summer on an electric ICEtrike with Able 2 Adventure.
Which Cyclechic accessory helps you ride your e-bike with style?
I came across Cyclechic during a seemingly endless search for the ‘right’ carry accessory to suit my needs, having discovered that cyclists needed to carry a lot of tools and spares, such as inner tubes, drinks, snacks, clothing, bike pump, locks (the list goes on). Due to my health issues, I can’t use a backpack and most panniers seemed too low for me to be able to get things in and out of.
Suddenly there was this beautiful high pannier bag on my search that ticked all my boxes, including being able to remove it easily. One became two, and they were soon joined by a third (which is my current favourite), the gorgeous and sunny Basil Bloom pannier. My original Botanical pannier is now my everyday work bag and can be easily clipped onto Flora when I decide to cycle to work.
What’s one thing you would say to inspire more women to ride electric bikes?
There’s an e-bike to suit every style of riding these days from classic ladies’ shoppers to mountain and road bikes. There’s also amazing cargo bikes and small folding bikes. So my advice would be to find a local organisation/bike shop and find the bike that suits your cycling style and, if possible, hire/borrow it for a few times before you commit to buying.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of barriers to cycling, especially for women (although some of them can be our own), and there can be some anxiety around looking the part (at least there was for me). My advice would be to just be yourself and find your own cycling mojo. You don’t need to be clad in Lycra or covered in mud to be a cyclist, it’s your journey to enjoy how you want. British Cycling also have Breeze groups up and down the country, so if you are anxious about getting out there, why not join in with some group rides – e-bikes are welcome!
You won’t know until you try and there’s nothing to lose!
Want to try a Volt Bike?
If you want to try a Volt e-bike, we have a special code for our Cyclechic customers for £100 off all Volt Bikes! SHESELECTRICVB10. Take a look at their website to check out their range and find out how to book a test-ride. (offer lasts until 31st August 2023). Volt have something for everyone from folding to commuter styles; our personal favourite here at Cyclechic has to be the Kensington!
About She’s Electric – We are on a mission to get more women on e-bikes. We believe e-bikes can help women over many of the barriers to cycling and as a result redress the gender gap in cycling and active travel. Do you ride an e-bike or e-cargo bike? Could you be a role model? Get in touch, we want to tell your story and inspire more women to try an e-bike. firstname.lastname@example.org