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Edinburgh cyclist rides round world on singlespeed bike

Markus Stitz returned to Scottish capital yesterday after year-long, 34,000km journey

A cyclist has returned to Edinburgh 12 months after he left the Scottish capital to ride around the world – on a singlespeed bike.

Markus Stitz, originally from Germany, ran a gear of 32x18 on his Surly Ogre bike his journey, which finished on Edinburgh’s Portobello beach just before 4pm yesterday after 34,097 kilometres in the saddle.

The 37-year-old set off on 3 September last year, his trip taking him through 29 countries, with the cyclist regularly posting updates on his progress on his website as well as on social media.

After leaving Scotland, his route took him through France and Spain, from where he flew to Iceland before crossing the United States.

From there, he crossed the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia, then through Asia and Europe – including his native Germany – and finally, via Ireland, back to Scotland.

Ahead of the final leg of the journey yesterday from Glasgow Green to Edinburgh, in which he was joined by friends on their bikes, Stitz recounted memories of his travels to Herald Scotland.

The people of Iran provided the warmest welcome he encountered. "I wasn't sure what to expect, and had really mixed feelings about going through the region and then I was just blown away,” Stitz revealed.

"It is an amazing country and such a different culture. They would stop me to offer me tea. They welcomed me into their homes, and give me a bed, or a space on the carpet. It is how they welcome strangers."

He said that “the scariest moment” of his year-long journey came when he was chased by farmers’ dogs in Illinois, although he was able to give them the slip.

Stitz now plans to write a book about his travels, which will focus on how conditions for cyclists, and attitudes towards them, differ in the areas he cycled through.

"I simply wanted to see what cycling around the world was like, and whether it was possible to do it with only one gear on my bike,” he said.

"Emotionally I’ve been at my limits, I’ve had ups and downs, went from being shaken and high with joy to almost collapsing at bad times.

"I don’t know whether or not someone else has ridden around the world on a single gear. It might be a world first, but then it might not be.”

He added: "For years I carried around the feeling that I wanted to do this; I’m looking forward to carrying around the knowledge that I’ve done it."

An experienced long-distance cyclist, Stitz devised the 150-mile Capital Trail bikepacking route through East Lothian, the Lammermuir Hills, the Borders and the Pentland Hills, which made its debut at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling last year.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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