"Paralysed from the chest down following a climbing accident aged 21, Karen Darke’s current Quest79 project – nine rides on seven continents to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association – has already seen her claim a hand cycling gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games, shatter the women’s hand cycle land speed record in Nevada, and ride along the Ganges from its source in the Himalayas."
We're really looking forward to Karen's talk, so we asked her where she found the motivation and inspiration that got her to where she is today.
From Surviving to Thriving
Thanks to FINDRA I am speaking at the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival about the incredible cycle adventures I’ve been lucky to experience across the world’s continents, since winning Gold in the Rio 2016 Paralympics. But medals and globe-trotting is absolutely not what cycling is all about for me.
The glistening black ribbon of road that beckoned us through the Ethiopian landscape is a wonderful metaphor for life…the contusions that we are forced to navigate through the unexpected events and escarpments of living. Perhaps we are all just like those children that ran beside us…eager for movement, for adventure, for the gifts and balance that being outside brings us.
Paralysed at a young age in a rock climbing accident, it is these elements that have healed me – mentally and physically. When things get tough in my head, I turn to my bike. When things get tough in my body, I also turn to my bike.
To read more from Karen, head to her dedicated blog post!
Quote of the Week
Karen tells us, "I don’t have a mantra, but my ‘philosophy’, which is kind of like a mantra, is this. (I wonder what amazing things could happen today... I wonder how good I’ll feel when I eventually master this hill and get to the top… this is a tough situation - it’ll be so interesting to see how we overcome it…."
Book of the Week
Karen has now written three books, so choosing a 'book of the week' was an obvious one.
"I always thought I'd rather be dead than paralysed: One slip, one moment and everything changes..." Most of us live life in a safe zone but some individuals look over the edge. A few years ago, Karen Darke was on a rock-climbing expedition on sea cliffs in Scotland. She fell, and was paralysed. This is Karen's story about coming to terms with her lost of movement from the chest down and regaining the will to live. Out of her disability comes strength to embrace, challenge and transform it into an opportunity to learn and grow. It is also about the borderline between body and spirit. Karen is drawn into the world of faith healing and spirit surgeons in the Brazilian jungle. In testing these improbable claims she explores her own inner world and self whilst regaining her confidence. Combining wheels with wilderness, Karen escapes the city and embarks on an evermore daring series of adventures by hand-cycle, ski and kayak. Karen's story is inspiring and energizing; it will help everybody who reads it to respond positively, to overcome adversity, and to strive for their dreams.
To find out more about Karen's two other books, head over to her website.
Music of the Week
We’re building a FINDRA Community Playlist over on Spotify, bringing you music of a rather eclectic variety! From classic dance tunes to lesser-known indie songs, we hope there’s something new in there for you. If you’ve got a favourite you’d like to hear in the playlist, drop us a tweet!
I Love My Life by Robbie Williams is Karen's favourite song. "Whatever is going on in life inside me or around me, it always reminds me to be grateful and focus on all the good things. "