To be honest. My feelings about gravel bikes were mixed. Although I am proud that my picture decorates one of the walls at the Radius Brewery in Emporia, the start of the famous Dirty Kanza, mother of all gravel races, I never warmed up to the idea of owning another bike. Drop bars and off-road, this combination only offered limited attraction to me. For me the days of drop bars were gone, and while I sometimes wished for a bit more speed on my Ogre, so far I thought there was simply not enough to make a gravel bike stand out from my trusted rigid mountain bike round the world companion.
I knew that I was wrong shortly afterwards. I worked on a project for Glasgow City Council and it was the first time I seriously thought about the idea of skinnier tires and drop bars again. The interesting thing is that my thinking had nothing to do with bikes, but somehow a rigid mountain bike wasn’t really what I would have expected in pictures advertising city cycling routes. For some reason it felt wrong. Continue reading “Gravel joy.”
Looking into Glen Ample last night, I couldn’t hide my excitement. I had been here once before, and waited ever since for the right opportunity to return. Today was the day, and I was everything but disappointed. I was happy. After two long days riding trails over and over again, this was the last crucial bit missing to release the provisional route for the Central Belter.
After I returned from cycling around the world it was my dream to create a trail that combines the three great bikepacking loops in Scotland, the Highland Trail 550, the Capital Trail and the Cairngorms Loop. And with the Deeside Trail providing another great bikepacking opportunity in the North East of Scotland, this was well worth including as well.
My aim was to create a route that is perfectly worth riding by itself, including parts of the four trails, but also provides the opportunity to create a mega bikepacking loop, like the Tour Aotearoa in New Zealand. I haven’t added all number up yet, but riding the Capital Trail, Central Belter, Highland Trail, Cairngorms Loop and Deeside Trail in one go will be a journey of more than 2,500km. And one of the best in the world. Continue reading “The Central Belter”
After the wonderful feedback to our first video of the Reiver Raid, which has now been watched almost 3,500 times on YouTube, this new video is a follow up to give you more of an idea what the route is like. Filmed and edited on an iPhone, it is the first of two videos to describe the route in more detail. We have now ridden the full loop at least twice, made changes, and made more changes, and we are pretty confident that the final route will be one thing – fun! This is why we changed the musical theme a bit from our first video while sending Markus with his Surly Ogre around the course, with one gear.
The Reiver Raid is a new bikepacking route in the Ale Water Valley in the Scottish Borders, which has been developed by round the world singlespeed bikepacker and Capital Trail founder Markus Stitz. Since his return from the epic 34,000km singlespeed trip last September, Markus has focussed on setting up Bikepacking Scotland with the aim to develop new bikepacking routes in Scotland.
Bikepacking is adventure. No matter if big or small. And our home Edinburgh is full of inspiring adventurous people. This is why we created Adventurous Edinburgh, a new series of events at Craigdon Mountain Sports in Edinburgh. To give those inspiring people a platform to share their stories. A platform to inspire you!
It’s been a bit quiet here, but we are happy to announce that you can register to take part in this year’s Capital Trail ride on 3/4 June soon. Entries are open now and places are limited to 100 riders, so get in there soon. If you would like to know what the trail is like, best watch the video from last year.
Two weeks ago I attended an event at Abottsford, the home of the world-famous Walter Scott. An inspiring place by itself, but the event, hosted by MBTAG, the new Midlothian Borders Tourism Action Group, brought people together that came there with the mindset to change things. The idea behind the meeting was to identify what the Borders and Midlothian have to offer, and understand what can be done with partnership work to improve the offering for visitors. Continue reading “A bikepacking residency”
The biggest joy when developing new bikepacking trails is finding new trails, riding them, riding them again … and again. After riding and enjoying a trail in various conditions it is fit for the purpose of being included in a bikepacking adventure, and I must admit I am a perfectionist when it comes to finding the right route. This doubles up as a perfect excuse to jump on the bike and ride bits I have already decided on again, and eventually finding the hidden gems that you miss the first few times you ride a trail. And then eventually I make the final changes, and the result hopefully paints loads of smiles on people’s faces. Developing the Capital Trail followed exactly that approach, and the development of the Central Belter will be no different. Continue reading “A day on the Central Belter”
Fàilte! Welcome to the new home of bikepacking in Scotland. While bikepacking is possibly nothing new, its popularity is constantly growing.
With its very good access laws, Scotland is a unique country for bikepacking. Rich in history with an abundance of heritage paths crossing the vast landscape, quiet country roads, purpose-built mountain bike trails, and a great network of bothies and hostels, great local cuisine and friendly people, it is hard to beat as an off-road cycling destination.
After creating the Capital Trail and riding around the world on a singlespeed bike through 26 countries, I am back in bonnie Scotland. Bikepacking Scotland is a work in progress, but my aim is to give you ideas for routes, gear reviews and inspiration to explore Scotland’s wonderful scenery on two wheels.
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