Way back in September 2017 I wrote the following post for CyclingEurope.org:
Cycling The World… Single Speed
Yes, single speed. Just to clarify: with one gear. It sounds a crazy idea to most but not to Markus Stitz, an Edinburgh-based bikepacker from Germany. In the autumn of 2015 (shortly after I finished my own somewhat-less-epic ride from Tarifa to Nordkapp), Markus set off to cycle around the world. Unlike most (you can’t accuse him of following trends), he headed west rather than east crossing the USA, New Zealand, Australia, much of south-east Asia before a final leg from Tehran back to Edinburgh. It was a journey of some 33,708 km over a period of 328 days so he clearly wasn’t going to break any records other than the rather intangible one of having the audacity to set off on a single speed bike in the first place. Here’s Markus reflecting upon the motivation for embarking upon such a journey and his subsequent experience:
“I love the simplicity…” he says for his reason for taking a bike with just one gear. He has something of the Henning Wehn about him (and his English is just as good – I love how he throws in the expression ‘cheap as chips’ into the conversation) and his talk last night in Hebden Bridge was just as entertaining as his fellow German, albeit with fewer jokes.
“If you really want to do it just do it…. for me this has been fun and I think whatever you do, if you take a year off it should be fun. Of course you’ll suffer every now and you will have a rocky day but I think overall you should really enjoy it.”
Back to February 2021… A few days ago I had the opportunity of hosting Markus’ talk at The Cycle Touring Festival. Following his presentation, I asked him if I could interview him for The Cycling Europe Podcast and I’m delighted to report that he said ‘yes’ and this afternoon I did just that:
During the podcast – which will be published in a few days – he talked about his round-the-world cycle but also more recent trips to cycle along the ‘green belt’ (the strip of land where the border fence between East and West Germany used to sit) and the John Muir Way in Scotland (that runs from Dunbar in the east to Helensburgh in the west). Here’s an extract from the podcast in which Markus talks about his childhood growing up on the eastern side of the border. It starts with, err… Ronald Reagan:
(The clip of President Reagan is from Markus’ film – see below.)
In preparation for listening to the podcast, you may wish to watch the following two films that he made about his journeys in Germany and Scotland. Many more of his films can be found on his YouTube channel.
Images credit: Markus Stitz, markusstitz.com