Team USA Para-cyclist Josie Fouts unleashes a hearty laugh when she discusses the magical things that seem to happen out of uncertain situations. She’s found a strong bond with fate, helping her see things at the right time to apply, or having a stolen custom racing bike turn into an even better piece of equipment.
She even has a special name for the mysterious forces in her life: “Josie Style.”
The latest installment of her good fortune came recently, as she was named as a recipient of a Women’s Sports Foundation grant. The foundation awarded $75,000 to 15 American female athletes and two teams aiming for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to help fund training and travel.
Fouts received $3,000 as her grant, earmarked for adding a coach to her team.
She credits U.S. Paralympics star Oksana Masters with helping her find the WSF grant.
“I follow Oksana on social media, because she is awesome and the leader in Para-cycling, and I saw she had something about it on her Instagram,” Fouts, 29, said. “She’s always really good about listing the things she’s involved with, and I took note of that. I looked at the WSF post, clicked on it, and it was the right time — and I just clicked through to apply for the grants. And then, I found out later that I got it! Just in the right place at the right time.”
The addition of a coach is valuable right now, as Fouts is fine-tuning her training and work with an eye toward the 2021 season and the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Fouts, who competes in road, time trial and individual pursuit, has been competing in elite-level Para-cycling events for the past three years. She has won two gold and two silver medals in the national championships in 2018 and 2019. She competed in the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima.
Fouts said she is learning as she goes, wanting to improve to be at her best as she tries for her first Paralympic Games. She hasn’t discovered her personal bests yet, something that excites her.
“I’m still at a relatively low training age; I’m competing against people who have been riding for like 10 years, and I am only a few years in,” Fouts said. “I’ve been able to gain so much in terms of fitness, because I don’t even know my ceiling yet. I keep seeing that I can get better and stronger. I saw it in 2020, so far, and now I want the same for 2021.
“Not having to compete this year, and just train, and really discover how I should be riding has been really huge. I have been able to put all of my mental and physical energy toward getting better and stronger. I feel like I am thriving this year.”
A big part of Fouts’ improvement came from, yes, another Josie Style moment. She had her $9,000 bike stolen in Sept. 2019, after she parked it in the driveway of her San Diego home for a brief time.
The black and blue hued Fuji racing bike, which was customized with Shimano gear to help her ride, was far from an off-the-shelf thing. Fouts rides with her right hand controlling everything, as she had her left hand amputated at birth. The bike was custom fit to help Fouts ride comfortably and effectively.
The irony was, she was going to ride to an appointment to meet with the Shimano representative when the bike went missing. Sadly, it was never recovered, but something bigger and better happened.
The two major bike manufacturers heard about Fouts’ misfortune and came through with a replacement: a new customized competition bike, with the latest in tech and carbon framing.
She’s been riding on her new bike for a year now, and she said the relationship with both as new sponsors is a blessing.
“I’ve gotten a lot of perspective from riding on the new bike, because it’s helped me see the differences in how things go,” Fouts said. “Shimano and Fuji have been so amazing to me in all of this. I am undoing a lot of the balances I have, and they were being exaggerated on the old bike. People used to tell me things to do, things they saw that were happening that I needed to undo on the bike. I didn’t get it, it didn’t make sense to me. But now I do. I get it. I see it. This new bike is given me the power and the tool to rebalance myself.”
Her adventures make complete sense.
The new bike leads to better training.
The grant leads to more coaching to improve.
It’s all just part of the ongoing Josie Style, with many more chapters to write.
“I know it sounds like a sitcom, but it’s all true. Things just happen, which is cool,” Fouts said.