Karen Coulter - 2023 Women's Cycling Advocate
Karen Coulter (Image: Warren McConnaughie)
Current cycling club?
The Feel Good Factor
I'm currently the Chairperson of a hillwalking, climbing and mountain biking club for women.
What is your current age?
What cycling discipline are you involved in?
My main discipline is mountain biking but I also enjoy road cycling, gravel biking and the occasional bikepacking trip.
What age did you get involved?
I've always cycled in one form or another but I only started mountain biking when I joined The Feel Good Factor in 2017.
Why did you start cycling?
I liked the idea of mountain biking but didn’t know how to get involved. Through the club I participated in a Cycling Ireland ‘Bike for Life’ course and with the loan of a club mountain bike became very quickly hooked!
What has been your involvement in cycling, your story?
I initially joined the club to meet like-minded hillwalkers but was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try mountain biking. Since then I've become a Trail Cycle Leader and have taken beginner courses for new club members, including a 'Bike for Life' course.
I've always dabbled in road cycling and loved the idea of touring. During the pandemic I bought a gravel bike and bikepacking bags and started to plan some trips. I've completed a few multi-day routes across Ireland and hope to do more bikepacking trips in the future.
Do you have a quote that you live by or inspires you?
If there's a will, there's a way! With drive and a positive mindset, anything is possible.
What have been your cycling highlights?
My highlight so far is coming full circle through the club from joining as a novice, becoming a coach, to delivering beginner sessions and introducing other women to mountain biking. Through mountain biking I've travelled to trail centres across Britain and Ireland and last summer I drove to Morzine in the Alps.
In 2020 I took on the Lakelander Gravel Grinder ‘Big Dog’ Challenge, a 100km gravel race in Fermanagh. I only thought I knew what I was in for! Unfortunately I didn't complete the race that year due to injury but I wasn't going to be defeated and was over the moon to complete the race in 2021.
How do you feel cycling has benefitted you?
Through cycling I've met so many inspiring people, made lifelong friends and had the opportunity to explore and travel to new places. Mountain biking in particular is a very mindful activity as you're completely focused on the trail ahead and truly in the moment.
What is your favourite thing about cycling?
Nothing beats a day on the trails with friends. I love being out in the elements, the exercise, the social, the challenge and adrenaline rush but most importantly the craic! I always come back from a day on the mountain bike feeling energised and motivated.
What would you say to other females who may be interested in cycling?
Taking the first step is always the hardest part of anything, so reach out to your local club or Cycling Ireland Advocate and get involved, you’ll only ever regret the things that you don’t do! The great thing about cycling is that there are so many different disciplines and levels at which you can participate, so there's something for everyone.
How do you feel about becoming a Cycling Ireland Women in Sport Advocate?
I'm excited to encourage and support other women to get involved in cycling and experience the many benefits it has to offer.
What is your *when it comes to the IT’S NOT A RACE* campaign?
It’s about your physical and mental wellbeing and having fun!