Explore Your Boundaries – a new documentary by Mark Beaumont and Markus Stitz – is all about gravel routes following the council boundaries of Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Falkirk and Glasgow in Scotland. Markus mentioned the film at the recent Cycle Touring Festival. It was inspired by the national lockdowns and the requirement to ‘stay local’ with our exercise. It’s difficult to comprehend that the first of those lockdowns was nearly two years ago. Life seems to have returned to normal for most people, but I’m still wearing my mask on public transport and in shops… Although it was clearly a terrible time for many, I do look back upon those months of relative peace and quiet with some nostalgia, although I readily admit that my reminiscences are probably very rose-tinted… Here’s the film:
And here’s the information from Markus and Mark:
‘Explore Your Boundaries’ was inspired by the desire to create adventures close to home, a way of seeing the familiar in unfamiliar ways. Mark Beaumont, Guinness World Record holder for the fastest circumnavigation by bike, and Markus Stitz, singlespeed round the world cyclist and filmmaker, mapped 24 Scottish council boundary routes to encourage people to stay active, whether cycling or walking, and to inspire adventures that started and finished at their front door. To create the routes, they uploaded the council boundaries GPX files onto the mapping platform Komoot and matched them with the closest existing pathways. This ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ documentary captures their four adventures in Clackmannanshire, East Lothian and Falkirk, undertaken from June to September 2021, and Glasgow, undertaken during COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, in November 2021.
Mark Beaumont comments: ‘The thing I love about the ‘Explore your Boundaries’ concept is that it forced us to find routes which we never would have looked for. Often it felt like you were in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and yet if I stopped and thought about it, I was only 25 miles from home. It’s really interesting when you have a project, a journey, which is defined by a route which is not necessarily a trail. Straightlining expeditions have always fascinated me, and in a weird way ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ is like a straightlining expedition, albeit most of them are big circle routes. Because you’re following this predefined line.’
Filmmaker Markus Stitz comments: ‘The idea of ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ was born in the second lockdown of 2020, when we jointly turned a limitation, having to start any exercise within or close to the boundary of our local council area Edinburgh, into an opportunity. We used the council boundaries to map 24 different gravel routes throughout Scotland. From the feedback on social media those routes inspired people to ride their bikes. And they motivated us to get this film project off the ground. It was great to get the support from Clackmannanshire Council, Visit East Lothian, Visit Falkirk, Schwalbe Tyres UK and Vango to produce this documentary. For me the film also highlights regions in Scotland which are not normally in the tourist spotlight. Responsible and sustainable tourism by bike can bring new income streams and visitors to those communities, and I hope the film will inspire more people to visit in 2022 and beyond.’
The routes along the boundaries of Clackmannanshire (79km/49mi), East Lothian (169km/105mi), Falkirk (133km/83mi) and Glasgow (119km/74mi) allowed both cyclists not only to experience the varied landscapes, but also offered them an insight into the historic places they experienced along the way.
Beaumont comments further: ‘I can think of so many examples, even from the ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ we’ve done so far, where I’ve learned different parts of Scotland’s history, which would have passed me by if I was just going out to do a training ride.’
‘Explore Your Boundaries’ is available to watch for free on YouTube here, with subtitles available in English and German. More information about ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ can be found on Bikepacking Scotland’s website, while the routes are also available to download on Mark Beaumont’s Komoot profile and Markus Stitz’s Komoot profile.
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