Adventure at home: A Scottish journey to the boundaries
Markus Stitz and Mark Beaumont are two riders that have seen a lot of the world by bike. Beaumont is the Guinness World Record holder for the fastest circumnavigation by bike (a leisurely 78 days, 14 hours, averaging roughly 390 km per day). Stitz has cycled around the world on a singlespeed and is an avid filmmaker whose work has been featured extensively on CyclingTips (for some pretty epic wanderlust, check out his bikepacking trip through Kyrgyzstan, his search for distance in Western Scotland, and his ride along the former Iron Curtain).
For their latest series of rides – a collaborative project – they decided to stay a bit closer to home.
Both are, at least part of the time, based in Edinburgh, Scotland – and when the second COVID lockdown of 2020 restricted their movement, like so many other cyclists, they had to get creative with ride routes in their local area. That turned out to be something of a light-bulb moment. As Beaumont explains, “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.”
The lockdown ended but the concept remained, and the duo set out to map 24 Scottish council boundary routes to inspire adventures both from, and back to, the same place – home.
“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,” Beaumont says. “You’re following this predefined line.”
The project proved a more enduring inspiration. “From the feedback on social media, those routes inspired people to ride their bikes,” Stitz says, reflecting on how it motivated the duo to produce this film project with the support of a handful of local councils and tourism bodies. Some of those destinations are off the well-beaten tourist path, but as the film and images show, that’s not for a lack of beauty. “For me the film also highlights regions in Scotland which are not normally in the tourist spotlight,” Stitz says.
The routes along the boundaries of Clackmannanshire (79km/49mi), East Lothian (169km/105mi), Falkirk (133km/83mi) and Glasgow (119km/74mi) not only showed the diversity of landscapes within a small region, but also offered the adventurers an insight into the places they discovered along the way. From this series, Beaumont says “I can think of so many examples … 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.”
For more information on the Explore Your Boundaries project, visit bikepackingscotland.com.