Great British Gravel Rides – New Book from Markus Stitz captures the variety of Britain’s Gravel Community and Trails
Markus Stitz, founder of bikepackingscotland.com and singlespeed round-the-world cyclist, has curated a collection of 26 routes across all of Britain – each a favourite route of gravel cyclists from many walks of life. His first book, Great British Gravel Rides – Cycling the Wild Trails of England, Scotland & Wales, published by award-winning publishing team Vertebrate Publishing and supported by Schwalbe Tyres and Kinesis Bikes, is the first comprehensive portrait of the modern British gravel scene. The routes are chosen by 12 female and 16 male riders; background information about the riders is provided, and some insight about why they have chosen their particular route. Each route has a detailed route description, a map of the trail, public transport details and attractions to explore, cafe and pub recommendations, and a list of local bike shops and bike hire providers. On top of this there are downloadable GPX files for all the routes making this an essential companion for every gravel rider in Britain.
Stitz commented: ‘I was curious about the places gravel bikes take us to, but I was even more interested in the people whose infectious enthusiasm makes gravel riding as vibrant as it is. I am very grateful for the time and enthusiasm of the people who kindly shared their favourite gravel routes with me. Everyone I interviewed and photographed for this book, and captured in moving pictures for the documentary accompanying it, is representative of how colourful and diverse gravel riding in Britain is. While we still have a long way to go to make cycling more inclusive and diverse, I hope this book portrays the gravel riding community as one which has made a good start towards a journey in which neither race, gender or age present a barrier to participation.’
Next to writing and photography, Stitz has also established himself as a filmmaker over the last few years. The book will be accompanied by a feature-length documentary to be released later in 2022. As in his recent short film Maiden Race for Shimano Gravel about the Racing Collective’s GBDURO, selected for the Boulder Environmental/Nature/Outdoors Film Festival and London Mountain Film Festival, sustainability is at the heart of the book and film project.
Stitz continued: ‘I tried to produce this book in as sustainable a way as possible. Most of the trips to research this book were done by train or bus. Due to time constraints, I couldn’t research everything by public transport and bike, but I made sure that most of the routes in this book are accessible for people who choose not to own a car.’
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 men’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 women’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.
Great British Gravel Rides publishes on 7 July 2022. More information can be found at greatbritishgravelrides.com.