I've got the stomach for 1000 mile cycle

THOUSANDS of Edinburgh residents will flock to trains, planes and cars as they return to their family home for Christmas.

• DINNER DATE: Markus Stitz plans to cycle 1000 miles across Europe on a single-speed bike to deliver a haggis to his family in time for Christmas. Picture: GREG MACVEAN

But for one man, the journey home will be slightly more arduous, and the weather will be the least of his worries.

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Markus Stitz will return to his German home by bicycle in an epic two-week trip to deliver a vegetarian haggis.

The mission - aimed at raising money for an African charity - will take in four countries and more than 1000 miles.

The Broughton 31-year-old won't even have the luxury of additional gears as he has opted to use a single-speed "grassrooots" machine.

The marketing manager told the Evening News: "It might not be the easiest way to get home in time for Christmas, but it's a pretty unique way and a real challenge for me. I can't wait for the adventure to start."

Mr Stitz's preparation has included massive cycles around the Highlands of Scotland. He even recently forced himself to learn how to cycle effectively in the snow in case extreme weather hampered his attempt.

He has not left much room for error, due at his family home in the Thuringia region just before Christmas.

He said: "My cycling trips in Scotland have been pretty unique this summer. I had no time for longer tours with working two jobs so I had to squeeze in as much as possible.

"Doing more than 300 miles in two days is probably not what people understand as cycle touring, and adding the Scottish weather in made them real adventures.

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"But as my body was coping very well, I came up with the idea for this Christmas tour."

He will leave Edinburgh on Saturday, taking with him a vegetarian haggis for his family to sample.

After a night's stay in Newcastle he will catch the ferry to Amsterdam, at which point the cycling will resume taking him to the German border, before moving on to the city of Cologne and home to Thuringia.

As well as the immense physical challenge of the cycle, Mr Stitz wants to raise cash for BEN Namibia, which looks to take unwanted bikes to the African country and has already set up numerous bike shops where locals can buy their two-wheeled vehicles.

He added: "Hopefully I'll be home in time for Christmas Eve at my parents' house with plenty of room in my belly."

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