Adventure Syndicate

On Friday 5th of May, my mum drove me to Inverness to join the Adventure Syndicate on a bike

packing weekend. The plan was to carry all our luggage in bags on our bikes and sleep outside without tents. So on the Friday we all met up at a cafe to meet everyone and to learn more about the weekend we were about to face. The whole program was to influence girls into cycling and to teach people that there are many new opportunities in cycling than we think. There was 7 other girls, 2 club coaches and 3 people who joined us from the Adventure Syndicate. I knew 2 girls there, Niamh and Elena but we all became really good friends after the weekend.

To learn more about the Adventure Syndicate and what they do click on the link:

http://theadventuresyndicate.com/#aboutus

When we got to the cafe we played some games to get to know everyone. Only one of the Adventure Syndicate people was there, Ferga, because Lee Craigie and Rickie Cotter were cycling around the coast of Scotland and stopped in Inverness to host this adventure for us. Ferga showed us what she carried in her bags that could last her a few weeks and she could fit so much more than you could think. She pulled out her handlebar bag which I thought just had a sleeping bag in but inside she had her sleeping bag, all her clothes (including a down jacket) and cooking equipment. Later that evening we all cycled to the bike store and we left our bikes there overnight. We also got to see what food we were going to have over the weekend. We had oatcakes, cheese, pepperami, cereal bars, porridge, pasta and lots of sardines! Not many people liked the sardines but I thought they were quite nice. We all went back to our hotels that night and met up early the next morning.

The next morning we met up at the bike store and started packing our bags. It took forever to pack all our bags and I thought I was doing quite well and that I had a lot of space until I realised I didn’t pack my sleeping bag, bivvy bag or roll mat. Half way through our packing Lee and Rickie joined us. Immediately, I knew Rickie was one of those people just full of energy and we all thought she was brilliant. Lee seemed a bit more responsible but still lots of fun. After we packed we had a look at Lee’s bike. She had special handlebars that had lots of different places to hold them and her forks were like rigid forks but she had a bit of suspension at the bottom beside her hubs. Once we had packed, we all got on our bikes and cycled to a local skate park and pump track, this was to check if any bags rubbed. We looked ridiculous with our mountain bikes and bags but we definitely showed the skateboarders up! After that, we headed along the Great Glen Way towards Abriachan. Abriachan was the town apparently near where we stayed but I think that was a lie because we were no where near civilisation! The views all the way along were stunning and it was a really nice place to go for a ride. There were a few natural trails along the way we rode and it was very different with heavier bikes. We stopped for lunch along the way where there was beautiful views and had our oatcakes, cheese and pepperami. We were supposed to stay in a campsite where Colena, the organiser, was there with some food and supplies. But when we got there we all still had a lot of energy so Elena looked up a hill and asked if we could sleep at the top. Colena looked shocked and I think she was a bit worried because we wouldn’t have a water supply or extra food if we needed it. We all agreed to carry on up the hill and sleep at the top and it was definitely worth it. The views at the top were absolutely unimaginable due to the wonderful weather all weekend. We stayed at the very top for a while and took lots of photos then we cycled along a bit to find a sheltered spot. We got showed how to set up the bivvy equipment because obviously we didn’t have tents. We had a large bag that we put our sleeping bags and roll mats in and it looked a bit like a body bag! When you were inside you could either zip a midge net over or a full cover incase it rained but I thought I would feel claustrophobic so I just slept with the midge net. Before we made dinner, the adults went down the hill to get more water so we were left on the hill by ourselves. We decided we would all get in our bags and have some races! We looked like a big group of caterpillars bouncing about and it was surprisingly hard to move about because of the roll mats inside. When the adults came back up the hill we decided to hide but it didn’t really work because they found us really fast. They lined us all us in a line and pushed us over like dominoes! For dinner we heated up water and poured it into the pasta to prevent the pot and our bowls from getting dirty. It was really hard to clean the equipment without water and we ended up using moss. We sat around a stove, roasted marshmallows and told stories. Rickie was Welsh and she taught us a few Welsh words like microwave which was called “Popty ping”! Eventually we all got into bed and looked up at the stars.

In the morning, dew had gone onto my midge net and it was lying wet on my face. It felt really cold when we got out our bags because it was surprisingly really warm inside. We all went to our stoves and started heating up our porridge. The porridge tasted amazing and I think it was because I was so hungry but I would do anything to eat that again! After breakfast, we started packing up all our bags, which didn’t take as long as the day before. As we all cycled back to Inverness, it started to chuck it down with rain so we cycled with our heads down as fast as we could to get to the trees. But when we got to shelter, it stopped raining but we took a break anyway. Towards the end of the trip and we were close to Inverness, we took some trails down towards the river. The trails seemed easy enough but with all the heavy equipment everyone kept falling off! At the very end of the last trail, a girl called Lexie fell off and really hurt her hand, she might have broken her pinky. She still managed to cycle all the way back to the bike store and I think she was very glad to be nearly home and safe. When we got back we spent a while talking about the weekend and what we had learned and what we would take away. Many people said that they would take away the whole experience; learning to cycle with equipment, meeting new people and learning to help one another, learning where to find fresh water and edible wild food.

Overall, it was an amazing adventure and we were all very lucky to be picked for such brilliant experience. I would definitely recommend searching for new cycling opportunities out with racing and the common cycling experience. I think the Adventure Syndicate and what they do is brilliant and I would love to do more stuff like they do!

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply