When three outdoors adventure-loving daughters suggested to their young at heart mums to join them on a Highland bike packing adventure, it could have been a very bumpy outing indeed. 

For a start, the mums are aged from 63 to 79, and the mini break spent pedalling up steep hills and bunking down at night side by side in a hostel may have sounded like anything but relaxing.

Instead, the three-day cycle trip through stunning Cairngorms scenery - apart from an unfortunate face first encounter with a wasp nest after one mum’s electric bike hit ‘turbo’ mode and sent her flying – turned out to be everything they didn’t expect, and more. 

For having fretted over a host of potential problems that might come from rounding up their trio of mums for the kind of bike packing outing that tends to be left strictly to the young ones, they found themselves on a laughter-filled, life-affirming, relationship-building venture that proves you’re never too old to get on your bike. 

The mums and daughters’ bike packing adventure was planned by Lee Craigie, a former professional mountain bike racer, and fellow members of the cycling collective, The Adventure Syndicate, Phillipa Battye and Alice Lemkes. 

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Phillipa and her mum, Hilary

Founded seven years ago, The Adventure Syndicate aims to inspire and encourage more people – particularly women and girls – to experience the physical and mental boost of the outdoors. 

With a focus on highlighting the benefits of cycling, the group has completed a string of bike packing adventures and races, organised gatherings of like-minded women and run expeditions for teenage girls. 

It was when they started to receive enquiries from older women – aged 60 plus – expressing an interest in bike adventures but wary they might not have the skills or confidence to take part, that they decided to see if they could prove age does not have to be a barrier. 

And who better to ask along for the ride, than their own mums: collective age 210, one with a diagnosis of MS, none of whom had tackled anything like it before and all with a degree of apprehension over what they were letting themselves in for.

Says Lee: “At The Adventure Syndicate we are all about showing adventure is not just for other people, athletes and blokes in Lycra, so we always work with teenage girls and people from different backgrounds. 

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Lesley on her bike

“But we were getting messages from older women saying they didn’t see themselves in this space and were missing out. 

“We wanted to prove it was something they could do too. We thought we could have our mums as ‘guinea pigs’ and get a feel for what it’s like to ride with older people.”

The trio – who are used to cycling long distances and camping out under the stars – realised they would have to curb their usual full-on adventure experience to cater for an older generation. 

That meant switching full pedal power for electric bikes rented from Aviemore Bikes for the mums and booking rooms with Hostelling Scotland’s Aviemore and Glenmore hostels. 

Lee’s mum, Lesley, at 79 the most mature of the group but a regular on her own bike around her Glasgow home, admits there was slight trepidation, much of it surrounding the thought of sharing close hostel space with strangers. 

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“I went in blind, thinking I’d do it but that it would not be marvellous,” she admits. “But it was a truly wonderful experience. 

“The relationships that formed around us made it special - not just between mothers and daughters, but between the six of us. We all forged relationships and that experience was as important as the physical side.” 

Their first day was spent cycling from the Aviemore hostel around Loch an Eilein, then sharing a six-berth room at night. 

Next day they headed from Aviemore to Nethy Bridge via Boat of Garten and Loch Garten for a refreshing dip before staying the night at Nethy House. 

According to Lee, the conversation flowed and as the miles rolled by, friendships were forged, and mums and daughters’ bonds grew. 

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However, the road to Glenmore Hostel next day brought bumps in the road that could have brought it all crashing down.

And, in the case of one of the mums, ended with a jolt on the steep and gnarly route known as the Sluggan. 

Having been led to believe it had been resurfaced and achievable for the mums, it turned out to be tougher than thought. 

And for Philippa's mum, Hilary, 69, and with MS and mobility problems affecting one leg that meant that while cycling was fine but getting on and off her e-bike posed more of a difficulty, the Sluggan would be her downfall.

“We had to make sure we could get her on her bike and then not stop – once cycling, she was fine,” recalls Lee. 

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“But this was a difficult, technical climb. And Hilary fell off at the bottom and landed in a wasp nest. That wasn’t ideal.”

Hilary, who travelled from home in Norfolk, for the adventure, says: “I was going up a bit of a hill, and there’s a ‘turbo’ setting on the bike that gives you a real ‘oomph’,” she says. “I hit a boulder and didn’t navigate very well so I landed in a ditch on top of the wasps’ nest.

“But we had a good laugh.”

Meanwhile Alice, who’d gone ahead to check the route and was on her way back to warn the others to turn around, recalls being astonished to see mum Linda and Lee’s mum Lesley powering on regardless up the bumpy route. 

“It was rough and steep, and I thought it would be impossible to get the mums up,” she says. “But they were charging up. 

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“My mum was a shade of purple but she wasn’t going to be stopped!

“That’s when I entered ‘mum’ mode and tried to dissuade them, but they were going so fast I couldn’t catch them. 

“It was probably the highlight of the trip for me - they were doing this really impressive thing and getting on with it.”

Her mum, Linda, 63, who lives in Yorkshire and was the only one of the mums to get through the trip without taking a tumble, admits she was at first daunted but grew to love both the bikes and hostels. “It’s very flat where I live, so I was apprehensive about the hills and really steep descents on rocky, gravelly paths.

“Especially on the e-bike: you press the boost button and it’s like taking off and I was holding on for grim death.

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“Half the time I was terrified I’d come off and end up in a bush – I didn’t - the other half was like being a girl again and loving it.”

While the mums hit ‘turbo’, Lee says the daughters wrestled with a bizarre role reversal: “None of us have children of our own, and we began to wonder ‘is this what it’s like to have kids?’

“To be this concerned about another being and looking out for their wellbeing 24/7, preventing disasters and trying to avoid discomfort - it was an interesting role reversal. 

“All this worry was unfounded, just as a lot of our worries are unfounded.”

The group had a poignant stopover at Cairngorms Connect, a partnership of neighbouring land managers committed to an ambitious 200-year vision to enhance habitats across an area within the Cairngorms National Park.

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“Thinking about future generations felt like a lovely thing to do with our mums,” adds Lee.

While one of the biggest surprises for the mums was how different the hostels they stayed in were to what they expected.

“Their memories of hostels are of doing chores and being bunked up with others,” adds Lee. “They were blown away at how they were more like hotels.”

The group hope their experience will now inspire other older women to become more adventurous. 

“We all could have shied away from it and said was too much trouble, let’s not do it, but we got so much from it," adds Lee.

“The conversations we had with our mums while riding and in the evenings were so rich. We were 100% focused on each other’s conversations, experiences and opinions.

“I remember looking at my mum and thinking ‘oh my God, I’m so proud that you’re my mum. I hope I’m like you when I'm 79’.

“It was worth all the trepidation.”

Visit http://theadventuresyndicate.com/mums-and-daughters to register interest in future adventures