Meet Josie Fouts, the gravel-grinding paracyclist making waves in the industry

Go Josie film image, shows Josie Fouts laughing while sitting next to a dog
(Image credit: Pearl Izumi / Swiftwick)

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.

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”.

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.

Mildred Locke
Freelance writer

Mildred previously worked as a review writer for Bike Perfect. She enjoys everything from road cycling to mountain biking, but is a utilitarian cyclist at heart. Determined to do everything on two wheels, she's even moved house by bike, and can regularly be found pedaling around Bristol and its surrounding areas. She’s spent over four years volunteering as a mechanic and workshop coordinator at the Bristol Bike Project, and now sits on its board of directors. Her expertise comes from previously working in a bike shop and learning the ins and outs of the industry, and she's previously written for a variety of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. At home on slicks and knobblies alike, her ideal ride covers long distances through remote countryside, on mixed terrain that offers a bit of crunch, followed by a gourmet campfire meal and an overnight bivvy beneath the stars.

Rides: Stayer Groadinger UG, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Marin Larkspur, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg