A group of cyclists determined to change the way women riders are perceived including encouraging others to push themselves to their limits will this weekend attempt to ride Scotland’s North Coast 500 route in less time than it took Mark Beaumont to complete it last year.
The challenge marks the launch of The Adventure Syndicate, founded by Lee Craigie and whose members include round-the-world Guinness World Record holder Juliana Buhring and London cycle courier turned author Emily Chappell, as well as other women with a background in adventure and endurance cycling.
Billed as “Scotland’s Route 66,” Beaumont’s ride on the North Coast 500, completed in a shade under 38 hours, was designed to help publicise the route, devised by VisitScotland and which had opened earlier in 2015.
The Adventure Syndicate plan to ride it in less than 36 hours on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May in a non-stop team time trial of seven riders, and are inviting riders to join them during their challenge or to offer support on social media.
“If you are an experienced road rider, get on the front and give us a break from the wind. If you are less experienced, jump on our tails,” they say. “If you prefer, ride separately from us altogether or cheer us from the road side.
“Whatever the outcome of our attempt, do come to Inverness on Sunday afternoon to witness us all slumped in a corner of Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop eating mountains of cake. Check Twitter for our ETA.”
Writing about The Adventure Syndicate on her blog, Craigie - who has represented Scotland and Great Britain in XC Mountain Biking - said:
Women and girls can be discouraged from participating in sport for any number of social and psychological reasons but The Adventure Syndicate believes that independent, adventurous travel may succeed where more traditional routes have failed.
Although many women and girls are not attracted by the more overtly competitive elements of cycling, the personal and social benefits of riding for adventure or exploration can ensure a similar beneficial outcome. In addition, the possibilities for empowerment through the planning and execution of an adventurous bike ride can have untold benefits on participants’ self-esteem and confidence.
She summarised The Adventure Syndicate’s goals as follows:
– to encourage and enable our audience to take on their own adventure
– to offer advice and make tangible links with services in local communities that will help more girls and women achieve their adventurous objectives
– to provide an alternative, diverse, powerful female sporting model in the cycling industry where the activity, and not the looks of the participant, takes precedence.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.