NC500 record set by women cyclists
A new record has been set for cycling the North Coast 500 route. Seven women completed a time trial of the 518-mile road circuit in north-west Scotland in just 36 hours.
Last year, Scottish adventurer and film-maker Mark Beaumont rode the route solo in just less than 38 hours.
The all-female time trial also marked the launch of a new cycling organisation, the Adventure Syndicate, which aims to encourage other women to achieve goals they did not believe possible through mutual support and collective effort.
Record breaking NC500 ride
Seven women set out from Inverness Castle at 6am on Saturday May 14 and three of them rode the complete NC500 route without sleep. The seven-strong group, who supported each other along the way, finished together at 6pm on Sunday May 15.
The North Coast 500 is a challenging route with some punishing climbs, including the Bealach na Ba above Applecross. By the end, the cyclists had climbed more than 10,000m of hills in total.
Former Scottish and UK mountain bike champion, Lee Craigie, organised the event. She rode 450 miles of the route in support of her team mates.
She said: “The idea was to set a really difficult challenge, not to shy away from it, but to put everything into trying to achieve the goal. We wanted to inspire others to take chances to achieve their goals in the process. And we did it. It feels great to have achieved this as a group of women together.”
Six other riders joined Lee in the challenge including Emily Chappell, Ricki Cotter, Anne Ewing, Gaby Leveridge, Zara Mair and Jo Thom. They were followed by support vehicles.
Lee added: “Our objective was to work as a team get one rider round the 500 miles non-stop in 36 hours. Strong riders and team leaders sacrificed themselves for a communal goal.
“Our success was due to a combination of careful planning, a stellar support crew and the skill and experience level among all seven team riders. This meant we nurtured, shielded from the wind, fed and encouraged not just one but three of the team round the whole route.
“We finished together in a full team sprint topping 30mph along the Beauly Firth then collapsed tired and happy back at Inverness Castle.”
The Adventure Syndicate
The Adventure Syndicate has been set up in recognition of the fact that not all women share the same motivations for being involved in sport. Lee hopes that by offering alternative, diverse female sporting role models who embody the more traditionally feminine strengths of endurance, cooperation and collaboration, everyone will benefit.
She said: “We feel it is time to present women in cycling in a different light. All too often, the physical appearance of a female athlete is the first thing that is considered, rather than her skill and ability. Less combative approaches to triumphing over challenges are rarely celebrated in the sporting world, or the world in general. It’s time these things changed.”
Also see All female NC500 record bid.