A disabled cyclist who has scaled a north-east peak on an electric bike hopes the accomplishment can encourage others to smash stereotypes.
Karen Cox struggles from arthritis, fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which leaves her in pain, with chronic fatigue and balance issues that mean she is unable to walk far.
Until last year, the Lossiemouth resident relied on a wheelchair and mobility scooter to get about.
However, since being introduced to an electric bike the charity worker, who calls herself the Wobbly Cyclist, has been using pedal power.
Now the cycling campaigner has pedalled to the 2,700ft summit of Ben Rinnes on an electric bike – an accomplishment she hopes will inspire others.
‘It’s physically impossible for me to walk up’
Mrs Cox, who is a fundraiser for outdoors charity Outfit Moray, was first introduced to an electric bike by colleagues in March last year.
The feeling of being able to navigate local streets and trails under her own power quickly appealed to her.
And after building her confidence in the saddle she set herself the target of accomplishing a lifelong dream to reach the summit of Ben Rinnes.
Mrs Cox said: “If it wasn’t for the e-bike I wouldn’t be cycling, I would never have achieved that.
“I’ve lived in Lossiemouth for 26 years and have always seen Ben Rinnes in the distance, I wanted to see Lossiemouth from Ben Rinnes.
“But the children were too young and then my health declined and it became physically impossible for me to walk up. I didn’t think I would ever do it.
“When I’m on my mobility scooter I feel disabled but when I am on my bike I’m a cyclist – and I’m definitely a mountain biker, I love that feeling of going on tracks and trails.
“There was low cloud when we went up but it cleared when we got to the top and the sun bounced off the Lossiemouth lighthouse. It was an amazing feeling.”
‘Electric bikes are for everyone’
Mrs Cox’s electric bike campaigning has led to her being named one of Cycling UK’s 100 women in cycling for 2021.
On Ben Rinnes, she was helped to the summit by a team of friends, family and colleagues who, at times, pushed and pulled her to the top.
Despite the extra battery power, her health problems still meant she was unable to cover some of the rugged terrain and steep sections herself.
The electric bike expedition has raised nearly £1,100 for charities Outfit Moray and Flying Scholarships for Disabled People.
And Mrs Cox hopes it will encourage others to use electric bikes to realise their dreams, get fitter or just enjoy the outdoors more – while joking she is now targeting reaching the summit of a Munro.
The campaigner, who shares her experiences on her Wobbly Cyclist blog, said: “Cycling doesn’t have to mean going 80 miles or throwing yourself down a mountain
“I really want to encourage people who are less able to take it up.
“So many people use electric bikes, they’re not just for disabled people.
“They can help you go just a little bit further than you would be able to get to or just enjoy it a bit more.
“It opens up so many more opportunities.”
Donations can still be made to support the Ben Rinnes climb online here.