Josie Fouts is a transradial congenital amputee, which means she was born without her left hand. She’s also the star of an inspirational new film in which she discovers the freedom of gravel cycling, as well as a few things about herself.
Go Josie. – The Self-Discovery of Parathlete Josie Fouts is a short film presented by Pearl Izumi and sponsored by Shimano, Lazer and Swiftwick, and it shows that the body is capable of so much more than we often give it credit for.
Josie grew up without using prosthetics and getting by as she was. The self-proclaimed ‘mad scientist’ was, until recently, working 9 to 5 as a microbiologist and commuting single-handedly by bike for 28 miles a day.
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Even after she quit her job to train as a full-time cyclist, setting her sights on the Paralympics, she considered herself as ‘normal’ and raced crits, circuits and stage races alongside able-bodied competitors without prosthetics or adaptations.
In this film, we follow her journey of self-discovery as she sees what other paracyclists are able to do with custom prosthetics and adapted bikes. She rides alongside Katie Walker — who is also missing her left hand — and Leo Rodgers, cycling with one leg.
Alongside Rodgers, Fouts builds a gravel bike from scratch and realizes that her stubbornness around seeking help could be holding her back.
“I’m definitely most stubborn about asking for help, because I don’t want it”, she says in the opening of the film. “In the beginning, people didn’t know how to help me, and I got a lot of positive reinforcement for helping myself”.
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In Go Josie, we witness a pivotal moment in Josie's cycling journey, particularly around how cycling is helping her to understand herself on a deeper level. Alongside this pivotal point, it marks a beginning for her as she sets her sights on one day being a Paralympian. The film itself starts some much-needed conversations around how the cycling industry needs to do more to include all bodies, and this is mostly highlighted by her discovery of gravel: a cycling discipline with no boundaries or limits.
As a Swiftwick and Pearl Izumi supported athlete, Josie is making waves in the industry in a bid to close the gap in opportunities given to able-bodied and disabled athletes.
As one of Josie's sponsors, Swiftwick is a great example of a brand that strives for inclusivity in both the athletes it chooses to represent the brand, and the gear it manufactures. Swiftwick is the only athletic sock brand that makes both adaptive and non-adaptive socks, and it worked closely with the adaptive community to design the Valor line: a collection of socks made for below-knee and above-knee amputees.