Driving home for Christmas with a difference – endurance rider Markus Stitz travels 700 miles from Edinburgh to Germany by cargo bike
Chris Rea’s seasonal classic may be about getting stuck in festive traffic, but that was the least of Markus Stitz’s worries during his own odyssey – cycling home for Christmas in a near 700-mile epic from Edinburgh to Germany.
The week-long trek is becoming a personal Yuletide ritual like the song because this is the sixth time the endurance cyclist and writer has completed the journey to see his family in Erfurt, west of Leipzig.
Mr Stitz arrived on Friday aboard a cargo bike, with space for presents for his family, after cycling eight to ten hours a day and an average of 90 miles.
The author of Great British Gravel Rides told The Scotsman: "Cycle touring in the busy time before Christmas has become a bit of a tradition for me. I have done this journey five times now, and was looking forward to another adventure.
“I started cycle touring when I lived in New Zealand, and Christmas was always the perfect time to go on a trip down there. When I moved to Scotland, my first Christmas back was a bit different, and I missed going on a big bike ride. So the following year, in 2010, I announced I would be cycling home for Christmas – and so I did.
"I like Christmas, but I am not a big fan of shopping, so a trip like this is perfect."
Mr Stitz was accompanied for two days through northern England by fellow round-the-world cyclist and record holder Mark Beaumont. They followed a new touring route along the Yorkshire coast from Staithes, north of Whitby, to Hull, which is due to be launched in late January.
Mr Stitz’s 682-mile journey continued by ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, then through the Netherlands to Arnheim and across Germany, past Dortmund and Kassel.
He said: “I had strong winds, but it remained dry for the first four days, then a total washout on day five and drier again, but windy the following day.
"Day seven was spent cycling in a storm, with winds and torrential rain. The last day felt somehow easy after all of this.
“The highlight was undoubtedly cycling from Staithes to Hull. The scenery was dramatic, but also cafes and restaurants were open, which was not the case in rural Germany.
"Lows? There were none really. It’s a privilege to cycle, and in the event I even appreciated having two punctures as I now know how I can easily get the wheels off a cargo bike.
“Compared to previous trips, I thought I would be slower, but I wasn’t. I would have loved some colder weather, as I had all the gear with me, but in the end I didn’t use it.
“What I realised is that the area where I grew up in Germany could easily become an amazing gravel biking destination, so maybe there is scope for a book there.”
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