Field Notes: Sharing the stoke with Markus Stitz
Thanks for stopping by. And welcome along to another 'share the stoke' campfire-side-chat type thing. And we're beyond stoked that bike-packing adventure legend and friend of Stohk Markus Stitz agreed to share a Stohk with us by the campfire...
One of our founders Gareth, got the lowdown from Markus on what drives him to do epic singlespeed adventuring, and chatted about the things that inspire him to keep on keeping on and sharing with us the view from his incredible perspective...
Gareth - Who is Markus Stitz please? Maybe from a few perspectives. Yours. Your friends. Your peers.
From my friends: Someone who is a bit nuts, not many people get my passion for singlespeed bikes.
From peers: Someone who is a pretty good allrounder on the camera and enjoys hiding in various bushes to get the best shot.
From me: Someone who is confident in his skin and likes a good adventure as much as interesting people.
G - Tell us something, anything, that you really want to talk about, that you really want to know, or just that you really want.
M - I would love to travel in deep snow, see the northern lights and drink a nice cup of coffee at the same time. Maybe impossible, but I like to dream big.
G - Could you tell us what bikepacking means to you?
M - A lot. Without bikepacking my life would have possibly taken a different turn, it has become a passion, making a living and great source of memories and friends. And coming into it in 2014 has also meant that got to experience how bikepacking has grown and changed over the years, which is magic.
G - You were the first person to ride around the world on a single speed? WHY???
M - Maybe I am not the first, sure there have been others before influencing was invented. But nevertheless, for me cycling should be simple, and taking a singlespeed around the world left more room to focus on the journey other than on the bike.
G - What was the biggest eye opener or lesson you learned on your round the world ride?
M - That the world is a great and welcoming place. People are out there to help, they go out of their way to make things happen, no matter in which country or culture. And the bike is the best vehicle to travel, as there is no cage around you.
G - What are the things that challenge you every day? Or what is the challenge you have on your bucket list?
M - On an everyday basis the challenge is to juggle a mix of roles and jobs I have, and to make sure that private life doesn’t take a backseat. I find saying no hard, but it is necessary. For the bucket list, cycling in ice and snow. Svalbard would be great!
G - Apart from the round the world epic, what’s the achievement you’ve had in your time adventuring outside that you’re most proud of, that when you think about it, makes you smile from ear to ear?
M - I think finishing the Atlas Mountain Race on a singlespeed when the race was first held in 2020. I just had a shoulder operation the September before the race, and it really took a lot to finish it. Arriving to the applause of the racing community after such a slog was simply magic. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment.
G - How did you get into bikepacking and adventure riding? What do you enjoy about it?
M - I got into it when I started university in Germany. I lived in the Thuringian Forest and had an amazing playground right next to my front door. While I was studying, I also worked at the Fringe in Edinburgh, and that was my introduction to mountain biking in Scotland, and subsequently my first adventure trip in the Scottish Highlands, before bikepacking bags were a thing. I then moved to New Zealand and got into touring, backcountry riding and ultimately the desire to return to New Zealand at some stage was the motivation for cycling around the world.
I enjoy that bikepacking is such a simple but rewarding way to get out in nature, meet people and justify the cakes I eat.
G - Who inspires you to still get out there when it’s wetter than wet?
M - That sounds a bit selfish, but I don’t really need others to inspire me to get out there. The sense of achievement I get when coming back from a dreich and wet ride is so much greater than from an easy ride in sunny conditions.
G - Flip it - what inspiration are you hoping to provide to people that are following your journey through the outdoors?
M - I hope I can do my bit to inspire people to get out of their comfort zone and enjoy the short time we have on this planet. That can be on their way to work or cycling around the world, both can be amazing adventures.
G - Where’s your favourite place to ride? Have you got any dream destinations lined up?
M - The Monega Pass in the Southern Cairngorms holds a magic that has not yet been beaten by any other place in the world. But I often find the dream destination thing a bit too much – but I like to do much more riding in Norway.
G - We like a few tongue in cheek rules over here at Stohk, #rulesofstohk...do you have any fun rules or superstitions that you can share with us? Any routines pre or post ride? Or any rituals or things you treat yourself to after a ride?
M - Never scratch at night. Never make things complicated when they could be simple. And put the camera down at times and enjoy a good piece of cake and a coffee.
G - Favourite place to have a post-ride beer on the planet?
M - At the Pierhouse watching the sun set over Lismore over fresh seafood.
G - Tunes or wind noise?
M - Wind noise.
G - Sunrise or sunset?
M - Sunrise.
G - Fenders or wet bum?
M - Wet bum.
G - Solo or buddy?
M - Solo.
G - Favourite person to get out there with and why?
M - My girlfriend, who helps to change my perspective, which is important.
Well, epic and wise words indeed!
Markus was kind enough to sign a few copies of his Great British Gravel Rides book which we've bundled up with a case of fresh XPA HERE - super limited stock so order yours now.
Fancy joining Markus on an adventure - why not sign up for some epic gravel and bikepacking adventure Dirt Dash action in 2023? Find out more here...
Cheers, and see you out there!
Best enjoyed after a while sitting near a