Great British Gravel Rides

Great British Gravel Rides

How do you choose a great gravel route near you?

Answer: ‘Great British Gravel Rides’ will do the hard work and guide you to the very best gravel cycling across England, Scotland and Wales. Regular Kinesis contributor Markus Stitz approached us about this project and we jumped in. The book will introduce you to the joy of cycling away from busy roads, perfectly aligned with our G2 bike, Tripster AT and Tripster ATR framesets. Markus has curated 25 routes across Britain, each a favourite route of a well-known gravel cyclist. You can join round-the-world cycling men’s record holder Mark Beaumont in East Lothian, experience a different side of East Anglia with ultra-endurance racer Josh Ibbett and GBDURO20 winner Gail Brown, embark on a coast-to-coast trip across Scotland with round-the-world cycling women’s record holder Jenny Graham, or see the best of Scottish Borders with diversity in cycling champion Aneela McKenna. There are also routes from Kinesis Ambassadors Emma Osenton (Yorkshire) and Jo Burt (East Sussex) as well as Kinesis Brand Manager Rory Hitchens (West Sussex). But don’t be shy of the big names who have contributed, as each route has been selected to start from a place of easy access public transport and cater for a range of abilities on the bike so as to encourage new adventurists. You’ll get to know each person in a profile and the route descriptions talk you through each ride with useful tips and local points of interest, as well as recommendations for other rides. With inspiring photography, bespoke maps and free downloadable GPS files, ‘Great British Gravel Rides’ is the most comprehensive resource on new routes to date. You can order a signed copy directly from Markus here or a regular copy is available from, your local bookshop, library or Amazon, The recommended price is £25. More information about the book can be found at We caught up with Markus about the project.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: You have ridden and helped create a lot of gravel routes in Scotland so what inspired you to take on the UK?

M: I often travelled across the whole of Britain when I cycled home for Christmas from Edinburgh or on my round the world trip, which started and finished in Edinburgh and took me all the way south to Plymouth at the very beginning. While Scotland is my base and most of my work has been here so far, I was keen to explore other parts of Britain much more, but more through the eyes of a local other than a tourist. So ‘Great British Gravel Rides’ offered a perfect opportunity to portray the people as well as the very different landscapes and cities we have in this country.

Photo: Deer Island Gravel - the bonus route on the Isle of Jura.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

M: I could use my own words, or those from Rolf Rae-Hansen, who has recently reviewed the book and describes exactly my intention: ‘Great British Gravel Rides’ is a book designed to spark (or feed) your sense of adventure, filled with an enthusiasm that’s infectious. It reminds me of the lo-fi and laidback hippie-happy spirit that enthused and infused the mountain biking scene in the late 80s/early 90s, capturing a cycling scene that’s not about being the fittest or fastest, unconcerned with who has the lightest, most expensive bike.’ So for me the book does two things. It portrays an area of cycling that has always been around, cycling on gravel paths is nothing really new. But with gravel bikes being called gravel bikes there has developed a more vocal community around them. A community that is not as defined as the road or mountain bike genres, which have become highly diversified over the years. The routes in the book are a mixture of those amazing big country rides with stunning landscapes and routes that are accessible and close to where most people live. The great thing about a gravel bike is that you don’t have to be a superb rider to have fun. And don’t be fooled to think that you need to run to your nearest bike shop and buy a gravel bike. As you’ll see with the bikes featured in the book, my definition of gravel is very wide, and the same applies to bikes.

Photo: The Cambrian Mountains in Wales.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: How important was it to make the routes accessible to a wide audience?

M: Very important. There are three guiding principles for the book: I wanted to write a book that doesn’t require owning a car to experience those routes; the majority of them are easily accessible by either train or by buses that take bikes, like the Ember bus in Scotland. A few routes require a longer cycle to the train station. The other thing that was very important is to have a much more equal ratio of men and women in the book. It was inspiring to see that 50% of the top ten finishers at GBDURO were women last year and that the Transcontinental Race had a female winner with Fiona Kolbinger. When I look at books and magazines I see more men than women on the front cover, and that has an impact on who you see out on the trails. I wanted to have a book that inspires men and women at the same time, which features people from different walks of life. From my documentary experience I know that people get inspired to ride bikes or go bikepacking because they see others doing it, but they need to be able to see themselves, so a couple of ultrafit and fast people don’t do that. And then there’s diversity, and I talked in length with Aneela on that subject when we rode her route in the Scottish Borders. With Aneela and Dalila there are two women of colour in the book, which hopefully helps to make the book interesting for those people too. The book isn’t perfect, there is a lot of room for improvement on inclusion, equality and accessibility, but I tried at least to make a change.

Photo: Gravel in Devon.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: How did you choose the people to supply routes?

M: I made a long spreadsheet and thought about the people I knew that could be interested in helping me with the book. Those were people like Mark, who did a number of joint projects with me, or Jenny Graham. Then there were a number of projects I had in the pipe anyway, which were great to include, like going down to Gritfest in Wales for Kinesis or on the maiden journey of the Highland Explorer in Scotland for Wild About Argyll. The whole book was very complex and required time and money, and that is why I am super pleased that Kinesis and Schwalbe supported me, as otherwise the cost of the book would have been prohibitive. So after I had a first shortlist I looked where people were based, and how that would fit. Sometimes people I know are clustered around a certain area, and I could only include one ride there. Both Kinesis and Schwalbe then helped me to identify more people that could be interested in the book, and at times one ride led to another one, like Gritfest, where I met Andy, who is featured in the second ride in Wales. The research wasn’t simple, some people dropped out in the process, so it needed a lot of re-adjusting and change to get there in the end. I am an ultra-racer and have cycled the world, so adjusting plans is something I have learned through those events, and it helped me finish the book.

Photo: Jo Burt.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: Which bike did you take to ride these routes?

M: I used my Kinesis Tripster AT, and it was the perfect bike. It is really versatile and fun to ride on short and easy routes, which are closer to road cycling, as well as on the difficult routes like the coast to coast ride with Jenny Graham, which is possibly more a mountain bike route. I documented all rides with photos and video, as there will be a documentary about gravel cycling in Britain soon as well. The flat top tube is ideal for the bag that holds my Canon G7X, and the bike had enough clearance to test various widths and models from Schwalbe on those rides. And there is something about the orange colour, it is amazing for pictures.

Photo: Gravel in West Sussex.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: We get a bonus route at the end of the book from yourself. Which other three routes really impressed you?

M: All routes have impressed me for a number of reasons, but to pick three: I wanted to have routes close to major cities, and the route around Milton Keynes with Grant was an amazing surprise. I love when routes are not just great cycling, and sitting in the same pavilion that inspired the writer of ‘Amazing Grace’ with Grant looking out on the lovely landscape was special. And there are elements of the route that are close to cycling in the Netherlands, like canals and windmills. For a long expedition that could be a great bike-packing trip the ‘Tour of Highland Perthshire’ is my favourite. I have recently worked on a new film for the Cairngorms National Park and cycled parts of the route a second time, and loved it. The route takes you into the big and remote mountains of the Cairngorms, and it is worthwhile checking out the grounds of Blair Castle, they host amazing trees. And as the last choice it needs to be a route in Wales, where the early origins of gravel in Britain are. Matt Page’s Gritfest was not only a fun event, but also offered stunning riding in the Cambrian Mountains.

Photo: With Dalila Lecky in London.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: You are well known for your filmmaking, is there footage to accompany the book?

M: Yes, I hinted that in another answer already. ‘Great British Gravel Rides’ is a whole project of which the book is one part. The next step is working on the documentary that will portray gravel cycling in Britain. Both book and film will complement each other. While I think that pictures and route descriptions in the book will give you a great idea of those routes, the footage I have from all the rides will hopefully make people dream of cycling in Britain’s beautiful landscapes.

Photo: Gravel around Milton Keynes.

Great British Gravel Rides

K: Vertebrate Publishing are doing a great job at promoting cycling though their books. Do you see there being a sequel to this ‘Great British Gravel Rides’?

M: Yes, and I am working on it. This is as much as I can say at the moment.

Great British Gravel Rides
Great British Gravel Rides
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