Scottish cyclist Mark Beaumont's bike challenge allows Scots to see home 'in a new way'

Scottish cyclist note-0Mark Beaumont explains how his local authority boundary challenge helps Scots across the country explore their homes ‘in a new way’ and brings back ‘childlike imagination’.

Mark Beaumont takes part in Explore Your Boundaries challenge in East Lothian in the Lammermuir Hills (Photo: Markus Stitz).

In what started as a lockdown challenge in January, Edinburgh-based Mark created the ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ campaign with Markus Stitz from Bikepacking Scotland to encourage people to cycle, walk, run and explore within and beyond their council boundaries.

Speaking from his home in Trinity, the Scot, who has travelled around the world by bike said: “When we were suddenly not allowed to travel outwith our council areas I thought, ‘Who actually knows where their council boundary is?’ and thought of this.

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"In December, I originally explored the council boundary around Edinburgh which took 13 and a half hours in the snow but it allowed me to travel close to home in a new and an interesting way.

Mark tackling the Lammermuir Hills in East Lothian (Photo: Markus Stitz).

“I then put out all the boundary routes online for people across Scotland as a challenge whether they were a dog walker or a cyclist or whatever to explore their home areas in a time of isolation.

"Clearly we are not in lockdown anymore but it’s kind of grown arms and legs and allows people to push themselves and go on adventures in their local areas and beyond.”

The challenge has developed into 24 routes, ranging from 30 miles to 315 miles, covering the majority of Scotland’s local authorities.

Mr Beaumont has completed six local authority boundaries – Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian and Falkirk – and has said that being at home has allowed him to explore more of Scotland away from his global journeys.

The first challenge Beaumont did in lockdown last year was to run every street in Edinburgh with his daughter.

“It’s not free-riding a volcano or cycling around the world, but there was something about running down every road in this city with my daughter which gave me a whole new appreciation of home.

"I’ve made over 100 films of cycling around the world and I guess I’ve kind of overlooked what’s here.”

Beaumont created the collection of local authority boundary routes online to allow people to contribute, creating a “community hub” of boundary explorers.

“I don’t know if we’ve done every single council in Scotland but we must be getting there.

“It’s actually great because people who know the area more because they live there are able to correct the routes and make them better.”

Talking about the purpose of the challenge, Beaumont said: "The overall purpose is to get that childlike imagination back to create adventures.

“It allows you to see home in a new way.”

The challenge has seen a lot of positive engagement according to the Scottish cycling star with many people finding new aspects of each area.

“You don’t immediately think of Falkirk or East Lothian as a tourist hotspot but there are stunning sections around those boundary rides.

"Going around Falkirk I didn’t know the story of the Pineapple House – a nod to the sign of wealth – and I learnt all about that.”

Beaumont added that it would be “cool” to see the rest of the world participating in a similar boundary challenge.

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