Other Ways to Win

A competitive cyclist's reflections on success

Author: Lee Craigie

WINNER – The Vikki Orvice Women’s Sports Writing Award, Charles Tyrwhitt Sports Book Awards

Lee Craigie is one of Scotland’s great bike racers. In Other Ways to Win she tells her story of discovering the freedom of cycling while at school, of her journey to becoming a national mountain bike champion and her life after racing on cycling adventures around the world, and encouraging other women through her work with the Adventure Syndicate.

‘I rode back down the hill to the athlete’s village. Some of Team Scotland had been watching on the big screen and I arrived to hugs of congratulations. I went inside for a shower and ceremoniously dropped my heart rate monitor into the bin. It was the first day of the rest of my life.’

A little before 1.30 p.m. on Sunday 21 July 2013, Lee Craigie crossed the finish line at Cathkin Braes in the southern outskirts of Glasgow several minutes ahead of her nearest competitor to become the British cross-country mountain bike champion. Lee’s win was the culmination of seven years of training and sacrifice, but it marked the beginning of the end of her competitive career; less than a year later, at the same venue, this time representing her native Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, she crossed the line and quit professional bike racing for good.

Lee Craigie is one of Scotland’s great bike racers, yet she has accomplished much more since retiring. In Other Ways to Win she tells her story of growing up near Glasgow and discovering the freedom of cycling – skipping French lessons and heading off into the Campsie Fells to see just how far she could ride. These teenage adventures established cycling as the thread which would run through her life – not only through her racing life and into a new life of two-wheeled adventure, but also through the positive impact she would have on the lives of others, particularly encouraging other women through her work with the Adventure Syndicate. Written with breathtaking honesty, she recounts epic adventures along the Tour Divide, Silk Road and the Highland Trail 550, and examines themes of friendship, loss, identity and the power of the outdoors – and, of course, cycling.

Lee Craigie’s story is a welcome reminder that there is more than one way to win at cycling – and life.

Lee Craigie was born and raised in Glasgow. She began cycling while at school and discovered mountain biking in 2006. She went on to compete internationally in cross-country mountain biking and represented Great Britain at the 2011 and 2012 World Championships. She joined the Cannondale team in 2013 and later that year became the British champion after winning the senior women’s race at the British championships in Glasgow. Lee represented Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and in 2016 she became the UK 24-hour MTB champion. After retiring from full-time racing, she went on to set records on several self-supported bikepacking races at home and abroad. In 2009, Lee founded Cycletherapy, a Scottish Government-supported project that used mountain biking to engage marginalised young people in the Scottish Highlands. In 2016, she launched The Adventure Syndicate to offer an alternative female sporting role model and was part of the women’s team that set a record time for the North Coast 500. She co-founded Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop in Inverness, Cargo Bike Movement in Edinburgh and hosted the series Life Cycle on BBC Radio Scotland. She is an ambassador for the charity Venture Trust and uses her work with the Adventure Syndicate to inspire adolescent girls to be more physically active outdoors. Between 2018 and 2022 she was Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner, working independently of government to ensure the provision of fair, accessible spaces where everyone in Scotland can benefit from being everyday active, promoting the health, environmental, social and economic benefits to everyone who lives, works in or visits Scotland. Lee and her work have been featured in The Scotsman, BBC News, The Press and Journal, and The Courier, and in publications Waymaking and Imagine a Country. And she rides bikes. A lot.

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