22
Oct

The Ride of Our Lives

The Tibetan Plateau:‘The Roof of the World’. It’s had a mysterious appeal to me for a long time, particularly the route of the Friendship Trail, joining Lhasa (Tibet) to Kathmandu (Nepal). Tibet has never been an easy place ...

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11
Aug

The Magic

Do you ever get days where everything just seems to flow? Things just happen effortlessly and at the end of the day you look back wondering how you got so much done so easily, which on another day might have felt really stressful....

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27
May

Inner Warrior

I’m just back from a great weekend of bike racing in Switzerland. Last night our 9 strong team (♯strong) – 7 riders and 2 coaches - celebrated a successful weekend of results with dinner beside the lake in Luzern, spectacula...

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03
Apr

The thing in your blood…

I’ve always believed that unless we commit wholeheartedly to something, we’ll never make a success of it. Yesterday I came across this quote and it got me thinking about the nature of commitment. “Anyone can dabble, bu...

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07
Oct

Trauma-ntana

The lady spoke quietly, her voice and head low, her shyness almost painful as she asked me “really, how did you overcome such a difficult thing as becoming paralysed”. It is a question I’ve been asked many times after I’ve...

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24
Jul

Pole of Impossibility (for now…)

I’ve never been one for giving up. I believe that if we commit to something, give it our all and persevere, then most things are achievable. I still believe that but there are other things at play besides our commitment and dete...

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22
Jun

Sunset Setback

It had been a long day in the car. I drove into the Cumbrian village on a rare evening, the sun blazing and golden velvet of Lakeland fells in the distance. My handbike was buried in the back, amongst four months of life packed i...

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22
Feb

5x50 Challenge for BACK UP

People often ask how I stay motivated to train every day. How do you get yourself out whatever the weather? Partly it’s because of habit – just like you clean your teeth before going to bed, I get up in a morning with the habi...

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12
Jan

Pushing Possibility

It’s been amazing to be back in the mountains. Low winter sun turning white mountains pink, glittering lakes of ice, huge expanses of virgin snow (there’s not many Norwegians out in January and it’s a big land…it’s a...

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03
Jan

Heroes of Telemark?

In Rjukan, Norway, staying at the great ‘Climb Inn’, just below all the ice climbing waterfalls but more famously the factory of the Heroes of Telemark (the Norwegian heavy water sabotage during World War II). The team - Andy ...

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05
Dec

Silver Moments

I’m sat at the hospital waiting for a routine scan to check that the 3/4 of me I can’t feel is healthy…and wondering where the three months since the Paralympics have gone. Train, plane, automobile…school, charity,...

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21
Oct

World Triathlon Champs

About 15 years ago, not many after being paralysed, I found myself beside an Australian beach. I was on my own but really fancied going into the sea, lured by the hot sun and turquoise water…but I’d never been in the sea s...

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21
Sep

POD

Andy asked me how my POD was the other day, and I thought he meant the very comfy portable athlete bed I was sleeping in for the month before the Paralympics, though I couldn’t quite figure why he wanted to know how my bed was g...

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28
Aug

Battles

We were training at the University of Kent the other day and it happened to coincide with the ‘Transplant Games’. Sat in the cafe before training, I got chatting to Joel - I guess around age 7 - who was fuelling up on a sausag...

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23
Aug

BELIEVE

It’s probably a challenge for any of us to consistently believe in our abilities, or in the possibility that we may even have ability! My journey to the London Paralympics has involved a roller-coaster from self-doubt to absolut...

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13
Aug

Boundless

So that’s the Olympics been and gone and I for one found it really inspiring to see the support of the British crowds and the performances it helped produce. Only a few weeks to go until the Paralympics now - I love the channel ...

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29
Jun

Sign of the Times & THANK YOU

The weeks and months away from home add up - I’m not long back from a team training camp in the Spanish mountains. It was good mental training as much as physical given the only roads from our base led 1000m downhill. The on...

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02
Jun

Gladiators

Away in Europe just now for a stint of racing, and a chance with 3 months to go to the London 2012 Paralympics to see what form everyone is in. Last week in Rome, many of the 2011 World Champion jerseys weren’t in the centre of ...

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13
May

100 Days To Go

Blogging and tweeting seem a bit like stretching - I’m full of good intentions to do it, but somehow they get pushed down the priority queue and then weeks go by without them happening. It’s nearly 100 days to go until the sta...

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11
Apr

Race Time

First European race of the season. A few hundred handcyclists. A long straight, crepe-flat French road, punctuated only by roundabouts. I felt nervous. I, like every other woman on the start line, wanted a winter of training to sh...

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17
Mar

Fake it ‘til you make it

I have good intentions to write a blog at least every week, but then I suddenly realise that nearly a month has gone by. Training seems to suck time away. Three hours training a day always takes at least six - getting dressed and ...

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26
Feb

Video Blogs

Karen Darke Video Blog 1st Feb 2012 from Karen Darke on Vimeo.  Untitled from Karen Darke on Vimeo.

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26
Feb

Stretching

Back from Lanzarote and disappointed to have missed the Berghaus Athlete Camp in Austria - a great chance to learn about the product plans for the next year, and for athletes and designers to share feedback and ideas. It’s ...

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15
Feb

Chaingangs

It’s not often you come across 80+ handcyclists in one place. Not sure the car drivers know what to make of it, like a bunch of aliens on the road, flags flapping in the wind (and they’re proper flapping as its seriously windy...

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28
Jan

Testing testing…

After a block of training, its good to find out if progress has been made. So, this week has been one of resting and testing, with the British Cycling physiologist in Manchester, and then with the Scottish Institute of Sport team ...

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16
Jan

‘If You Fall’

Been doing quite a lot of writing again lately, and remembered how much I love it. Its the perfect antidote to a hard day training, and forces me to sit still and rest physically even if not mentally. Andy has put my first book ...

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13
Dec

The Great Escape

The snow fell thick and fast as we sped down the A9, south through the whitening Cairngorms. A few days of travelling around the country later - not least to see the Queen at a Buckingham Palace evening for adventurers and explore...

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23
Nov

Back-Up on Location

Snow on the mountains this morning: my fingers numb as the cold penetrates the gloves, heavy breathing fogging my glasses as I work hard to climb the hills, big puffy pants to stop my legs freezing, that extra bit of energy it tak...

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11
Oct

Downtime

Racing season over, its ‘downtime’ time. Instead of prescribing killer training targets and structured sessions, my programme this month simply says ‘Do what you feel like, you need a rest.’ Ahhh, luxury. Free choice howev...

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26
Sep

Berlin Marathon

In Berlin for the marathon, testing my cousin Becci’s patience with the logistics of travelling with a handbike - its big, its long, a no-go in most taxis, and I was refused on a train when we got here for not having pre-booked ...

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14
Sep

Sustainable Training

Sitting in a Copenhagen cafe trying to make a Chai Latte last a long time so I don’t need a bank loan to stay in here for a few hours (ouch, its expensive). Feeling like there’s a space given all the work towards the World Cha...

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03
Sep

Troll Hunter

A few leaves have dropped off the trees this week, fluttered through my bike spokes and reminded me it’s that ‘change’ time of the year. My partner Andy, aka ‘The Troll Hunter’ has just left for Norway on unfinished busi...

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20
Aug

Chasing Dreams

A few weekends ago, I raced across a finish line in Germany, wheel to wheel with the current World Champions female handcyclist. I’ve never been so happy about losing a race. I was 0.1 seconds closer to her than I’d ever dared...

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31
Jul

Vineyards and Taper Blues

Ah, its a hard life missing chunks of the British summer…out in Italy again, to race and train…except FlyBe (aka MayBe) sent my handbike on a romantic mini-break to Paris. It took a while to track it down and get it to...

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20
Jul

A story about POD

What about POD? The staff at BBraun Medical created a new acronym today - ‘POD’.  “So what are your plans ‘Post-Olympics’?” they asked me. Well, as I haven’t even officially made the team for London 2012 yet, I ...

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29
Jun

BBraun Fit 2 Wheel Challenge

June 28th…The first day of the ‘BBraun Fit 2 Wheel Challenge’, saw us cross the North Yorkshire Moors from Middlesbrough to north of York. Myself and Katie Carter of BBraun are on a 4 day bike ride, linking talks at the ...

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15
Jun

On the Road

Been on the road for the last 3 weeks, racing in Italy, Switzerland and another World Cup event in Spain, with the British Paracycling Team (see here). The lowlight of the trip was being on the wrong road - accidentally cycling on...

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21
May

Gold is bling, silver is classy

Not long over jet lag from the first big race of the season – a World Cup in Sydney. It was sunny in the UK, rainy there, but rain so warm you could bike in shorts, to the sound of surf and exotic birdsong. Ahhh, its hard this j...

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29
Mar

Beat the Yankee

I’ve had lots of bike training in Mallorca this winter (fab for it, up to 20,000 cyclists at any one time on the island, more bikes than cars). Last week I met the current World Champion there – a Swiss woman, Ursula Schwaller...

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29
Jan

Adaptation

Recently returned from three weeks bike training in Mallorca, the last week with the British Paracycling Team. I’d been scheming it since all the snow of last winter, a ‘Great Escape’ to a place where the sun shows itself, a...

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24
Dec

Handbike Scotland video

Handbike Scotland Aviemore Promo. from Handbike Scotland on Vimeo. A great weekend training near Aviemore, Scotland…and a great short video by Gordon Gillespie, Handbike Scotland.

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12
Dec

Happy hedonist?

I’ve somehow along the way come to believe that most things in life happen for a reason. Even the things that at first seem bad – like becoming paralysed - seem to steer us onto a new track, often a better one. When we set our...

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01
Oct

Berlin Marathon

The Berlin Marathon: fast, flat, wet, and the biggest field of handbikers I’ve ever seen. 175 to be precise, from racing recumbents to handbikes clipped onto wheelchairs, with teenagers to pensioners at the helm. It was the kin...

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16
Sep

The Game of Racing

I’m cradled into my shiny new handbike. I wait, anxious – its taken a lot to get here. “Thirty seconds to go” the race commisaire announces. Poised on the start ramp, the Quebec sun too hot for tight lycra, let alone the...

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29
Jul

Lucky in Wheels

When you lose something for a while, it makes you appreciate it all the more. After the weeks laid up in bed back in April (with a small pressure sore) the freedom of being back on the bike has spurred me on for hours ‘in the sa...

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09
Apr

Spring Forward, Fall Back

The clocks are forward at last, lighter nights, new energy after the long cold winter months of the far north. And ‘Spring Forward, Fall Back’ seems a great metaphor for life too – at least from my position right now. I’m ...

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17
Feb

Norway, mountains, friends and stuff

Minus thirty. Eyelashes tipped with mini balls of ice. Fingers numb. The cold gnawing at my cheeks so they feel that skin has been stripped from them. I wish I could feel my legs and wonder if my toes are blue; and we’re plannin...

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10
Feb

Into the Unkown

Over the last few weeks I’ve donned my very best BBC voice, presenting a new series for BBC Scotland called ‘Into the Unknown”; interviewing explorers such as John Blashford-Snell, John Ridgeway, Pen Haddow and B...

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01
Jan

Remarkable New Year

Happy New Year! Its snowing like I’ve never seen it snow in Inverness before. Scotland has the best ski conditions in Europe, as demonstrated by skiing along the canal towpath this afternoon. Had to remove the Air Greenland tag ...

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07
Dec

Fit for Purpose

Fit for Purpose I spend dark winter hours like a hamster, pedaling my handbike on a turbo-trainer, occasionally strapping on a heart rate monitor to try and keep a pace. I watch something on iplayer – great that ‘Spooks’ is...

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15
Nov

Cosmo Fearless Woman Award?!

Just home from glitz and glamour of the Cosmopolitan ‘Ultimate Women of the Year’ Awards for ‘Fun Fearless Females’. What’s one of them, I wonder? Certainly there was no fear of showing legs or cleavage, and amongst the ...

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30
Aug

Sport mad week

Last week was a mad one for travelling and sport. The 15th August was the London World Triathlon Championships, where bizarrely given my minimal experience of triathlon, I was asked to go and compete for Britain…apparently my ...

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11
Aug

Paddling and hand-cranking

Any kind of adventure would have seemed great after a week in bed with swine flu - good to have some antibodies now though in case of a more vicious winter version. We chose the Caledonian Canal. There were three in a boat (Andy a...

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17
Jun

Skwooshing by…

The last month seems to have gone with a skwoosh! (check out www.skwoosh.com if you never want to get a sore or numb bum again – brilliant products that I’ve used loads this month for kayaking and biking - thanks Skwwosh!)...

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04
May

Toured Out

This week is the last date of the ‘If You Fall…’ tour I’ve been doing – ending in Caernarfon. Touring some of Britain’s arts centres and theatres has been a great way to see family and friends around the country (a spe...

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07
Apr

Quality not quantity

Tired out after my first time at touring theatres, we decided to head west for a day out. It was only two months since we sea kayaked through Patagonian seas, but two months off the water felt like a lifetime. The weeble that I am...

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17
Feb

Promo vid

Here’s a little promo for my tour which starts next week. Karen Darke - El Cap Memories from andrew on Vimeo.

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12
Feb

Patagonia Pics

Patagoina pics can be seen at my Flickr site…Back from the wilds of Patagonia to the much colder wilds of Scotland. Minus twenty this week…haven’t seen anyone paddling. Looking back, we can’t quite believe ...

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03
Feb

Surviving the ‘Eater of Men’...

It squeezed us dry of every last drop of energy, and then demanded more. Patagonia, that distant magical place with towering spires for mountains and roller coaster seas, where someone told me “there’s nothing much doing with ...

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15
Jan

Happy New Year

It’s 55 degrees hotter here in Australia than at home in Scotland. Going outside is like stepping into an oven, and going training on the bike means being wrung dry of every last drop of fluid. Even at 8am this morning, I was cy...

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05
Dec

Cycle Crazy

Since attempting to cycle up Ben Nevis in August, (I was raising funds for a community health / water project in Tanzania), the “One Off” mountain bike has been based at Glenmore Lodge National Outdoor Centre, awaiting...

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27
Nov

Patagonian New Year

Plans to sea kayak to the San Rafael glacier in Patagonia are finally coming together, though right now the film crew have flights booked and we don’t. The production company Triple Echo will be working with Andy Kirkpatrick...

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09
Nov

Hand cranking

The Stockholm Archipelago is a mass of small islands like freckles in the Baltic Sea, tide-less and timeless. We imagined calm water, paddling up to beach-side ice-cream stalls and colourful wooden waterfronts, miles of sunshine...

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10
Jul

Wheel High

The last time I got to the top of a Scottish hill, since being paralysed, was on a hen weekend – in the back of one of these all-terrain quad bike type machines. It ploughed through water and heather, with me in the back bouncin...

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