Scottish pro biker Lee Craigie on how MTB helps your mental health

Mountain biking doesn’t just help your legs, lungs, and physical fitness. It’s good for your mind and soul too

It’s long been known that the endorphins we release during exercise boost our mental and physical wellbeing, and that spending time outside in glorious wilderness has an uncanny ability to put our personal problems in perspective. We’re pretty small compared to a mountain, after all.

Scottish pro mountain biker Lee Craigie knows this better than most. Growing up she always felt somehow different to her peers, and had an unhappy time at school. Discovering mountain biking, and the freedom she found on the tracks and paths of the Highlands, helped her to cope.

Escape – Lee Craigie’s inner journey along the Caledonia Way

Lee Craigie of the Adventure Syndicate shares her short film about cycling the Caledonia Way in Scotland. This video was filmed along NCN78, the Caledonia Way. The Caledonia Way is a long distance cycle route, linking Campbeltown in the west, with the Highland capital of Inverness in the east.

Lee later became an outdoor instructor, before her biking career took off – she has been both Scottish and British Champion, and represented Team GB internationally on the World Cup circuit. Nowadays she uses her skills and experience to help women, girls and young people struggling with social exclusion or behavioural problems through her initiatives Cyclotherapy and the Adventure Syndicate.

In her own words:

“I was inspired to make this film with [the charity] Sustrans because I’m reminded daily of the positive, emotion-regulating effects that cycling and outdoor exercise can have on the mind. It’s so easy to forget that the simple action of riding a bike in the fresh air can make you feel better about almost anything – at least temporarily – and that’s something I want for everyone. I’ve faced many challenges over the years, both emotional and physical, and cycling has provided me with a continuity – an escape from the everyday pressures of life.

“My hope is that people watching this film will think ‘that’s the freedom I want’ or ‘I remember those feelings that bikes can bring’ and be inspired to get outside and start their own adventure. I particularly hope that people in need of creative solutions to make themselves feel healthier and happier emotionally as well as physically, see this film. So whether you are a young person struggling to find your way, an adult who has lost theirs in terms of participating in physical activity,  or even a regular bike rider who recognises the joy I feel when I ride my bike, I hope this film offers some inspiration for the planning of your next adventure, whatever that may be.”