‘Cycling Stuff’: Hostels In Scotland And Great British Gravel Rides

Having a presence online, as I do, can create a rather skewed image of the person writing this. The books, podcasts, films, social media etc… don’t help in this regard. I dare say some of you think I lead a rather different life to the one that I actually experience myself. Yesterday, a colleague in the school where I toil asked if my work as a teacher subsidised the ‘cycling stuff’ or the other way around. I broke the news gently that, without my income from cajoling the 11 to 18-year-olds of my small town in West Yorkshire into engaging with the educational process, I would be living on the streets. Perhaps one day the ‘cycling stuff’ will be the bread winner and the teaching a nice add-on. For the time being however…

Yet there are people out there who have made the leap from leading a ‘normal’ life to earning their living from, as my colleague put it, ‘cycling stuff’. One excellent example is Markus Stitz, the German-born, Edinburgh-based cyclist who never ceases to impress me with the prodigious and high-quality cycling-themed material he produces, often in collaboration with the various cycling communities of the UK, especially those in his adopted home of Scotland. I have been privileged to get to know Markus a little over the years – I first met him at an event in Hebden Bridge several years ago – and more recently he has appeared onThe Cycling Europe Podcast (episode 029) to talk about his round-the-world cycle on a single-speed bike (yes, you did read that correctly…) and the films that he has made, often about off-road routes in Scotland but also elsewhere.

Well, Markus continues to produce high-quality ‘cycling stuff’. First up is a delightful film about hostels in Scotland called ‘People Who Shape Places – Scottish Hostels’. The film doesn’t focus on cycling – although that certainly features – but on the people who run and manage hostels across Scotland. It’s quite a short film – just 8 minutes – but contains some beautiful shots of the Scottish wilderness. Enough waffle. Have a watch:

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Yes Markus is not done there… He is also the person behind a new book from Vertebrate Publishing called Great British Gravel Rides. Here’s what the publishers have to say:

The routes featured are suitable for a wide range of cyclists, starting from 20 kilometres to 600 kilometres, to reflect the variety which gravel offers and to give readers the opportunity to progress with the help of the book. Readers can join round-the-world cycling menโ€™s record holder Mark Beaumont in East Lothian, experience a different side of East Anglia with ultra-endurance racers and GBDURO20 winners Josh Ibbett and Gail Brown, embark on a coast-to-coast trip across Scotland with round-the-world cycling womenโ€™s record holder Jenny Graham, or see the best of the Scottish Borders with diversity in cycling champion Aneela McKenna. But the book is not just about the big names in cycling or well-known British gravel destinations like Gravelfoyle or the Cambrian Mountains, It also features the unsung heroes of British cycling clubs, bike shop owners and people who simply love riding their bikes, as well as rides around some of the most populated areas in Britain like London, Milton Keynes and Newcastle upon Tyne.

Vertebrate Publishing

…and here’s a look at the book itself:

You can read the full first chapter of the book about that coast-to-coat gravel ride with Jenny Graham on the Vertebrate Publishing website.

I’m delighted to see that Yorkshire features in the book – routes 13, 14 and 15 – around Harrogate, Hebden Bridge and Sheffield respectively and I am familiar with much of the route around Hebden Bridge, a town that is a bit of a mecca for off-road cycling. Be warned however; the valleys are steep and, if I dare use the c word, cobbles are a frequent features of the minor roads… Bearing in mind Markus’ pedigree on a single-speed bike, I can’t imagine that even he would relish some of the climbs that you are frequently confronted with here in the Calder Valley with just one gear.

Great Britishย Gravel Ridesย byย Markus Stitzย is a collection of 25 routes โ€“ each is a favourite of a passionate gravel cyclist โ€“ exploring the very best gravel cycling across England, Wales and Scotland. Illustrated with stunning action photography and overview mapping; downloadable GPX files are also included.

Vertebrate Publishing

The book is published on July 7th but is available to pre-order from the Vertebrate Publishing website.

Visit the dedicated Grand Tour page of to find out more about the planned 2022 cycle along some of western Europe’s most iconic cycle routes.

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