Inspiring, Encouraging and Enabling
Inspiring, Encouraging and Enabling
The Adventure Syndicate is a collective of female endurance cyclists whose aim is to increase levels of self-belief and confidence in others (especially in women and girls) by telling inspiring stories, creating an encouraging community and delivering enabling workshops and training. We do this because we love the way adventuring by bike makes us feel and we passionately believe we are all capable of so much more than we think we are.
Inspiring, encouraging, enabling. That is the motto of The Adventure Syndicate, and what we aim to achieve. But what does it mean in practice? Who are we trying to inspire, encourage and enable? And how?
How many of us hated netball? How many of us looked out of the window during double maths wanting be out in the hills? How many of us just didn’t fit in? While some girls chased boys and learned make-up, I just wanted to camp out and get dirty.
I squirm in my bivvy bag and try to pull the fabric up over my face completely, thus limiting my ability to breathe, (on the down side), but, (on the plus side), protecting me from the swarming midges. I eventually resolve that the midges will not allow me any more rest, and I have no choice but to pack up and get back on the bike.
I can’t fathom how a person can move through an environment like Fisherfield smoothly and with ease without first stopping to doff their cap in admiration and awe. Omit this humble gesture and a wild place remains intimidating. A bike rider can charge on if they wish, and slip, slide and stumble their way through somewhere like Fisherfield but there will be tears and stubbed toes. Personally, I don’t think racing this way is faster but, perhaps more importantly, it feels pointless and really hard.
In just over a week, Jenny Graham will be setting out from Berlin on the journey of a lifetime, attempting to break the women's round-the-world record. But as we all know, the journey to the start line is often far more challenging - so we caught up with Jen to see how her final week of real life is going.
Huddled together in a Pyrenean mountain shelter with blue lips and clattering teeth, the four of us knew the 20km descent would be bleak. We contemplated a brew on our stoves but that was just a stalling technique – this sleet and rain was here to stay and we needed to clock those final miles to honour the efforts of all the kids at home who had committed their time to matching our miles. It was the least we could do to end on a high…
Okay, well its description includes things like “they don't come much tougher than this” and “the legendary 24 hour mountain bike endurance event”. Not to mention the fact that the event takes place in the middle of the Scottish winter. So why did I do it???
This weekend Lee, Rickie, Jenny G and Jenny T will unveil their gorgeous new Shand bikes at Bespoked (The UK Handmade Bike Show in Bristol), and then launch our 2018 team by riding #Southbound for one week, encouraging schools across the UK to follow their progress online and collectively match their daily mileage...
It's hard to believe that this time last year Lee and Rickie were still planning and preparing for the Tour Divide, writing and re-writing their kit lists, obsessing over footwear choice and route profiles, and wondering if their relationship would survive the strain as each of them settled into their own unique brand of mid-expedition squalor. Now, less than 12 months later, you can watch the film of their grand adventure, and witness this squalor for yourself...