In early 2014, Markus Stitz was aiming to ride the way in a day on a single-speed bike.
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Cycling the West Highland Way in one day would be enough for most people â€“ but as soon as Markus Stitz finished his epic 16 hours in the saddle he was thinking about how to better it.
His next plan? To ride the 96-mile (154km) long-distance off-road trail from Milngavie to Fort William on a single-speed mountain bike.
Markus says: â€œI just love a challenge and I want to see if I can ride this entire trail on one gear. Riding on a single speed will just make it all the more spicy!â€
It was in June last year that Markus, originally from Germany and now living in Edinburgh, first cycled the West Highland Way.Â He says: “Iâ€™d heard about people doing this and it looked like a brilliant route.Â As I found out for myself, it is a brilliant route.
“However, itâ€™s not all easy-going. There are some tough sections, in particular along Loch Lomondside, north of Rowardennan, is very hard. I had to push my bike for a lot of that.
“Then there is the remoteness and isolation of Rannoch Moor and the steep ascent of the Devilâ€™s Staircase. Oh, and the descent off the Staircase is also technically very demanding.Â There is much of the route that is very rideable but there are also very tricky sections. But thatâ€™s what makes it so much fun.”
To add to the challenge, Markus was forced to ride from Rannoch Moor to Fort William â€“ around 45 miles â€“ with a tyre held together by tape.
Markus, 34, says: “My tyre burst while I was riding through remote Rannoch Moor and I tried to get it fixed at Glencoe but no-one could help. I ended up having to ride all the way on a dodgy tyre held together by â€˜gafferâ€™ tape. It wasnâ€™t the easiest thing to do.”
Markus, a Scottish Swimming marketing manager, reckons that the views offer fantastic rewards for the “occasional” difficulties of the route. He says: “The views of the Scottish landscape take your breath away.Â I love the descent into Kinlochleven, the lochs, the remote and moody moorlands and all the magnificent mountains. Itâ€™s such a fantastic landscape to ride through, especially when you hardly see another soul.”
Plans for the single speed WHW ride
Markus has March or April earmarked for his single-speed WHW adventure. He has already ridden several sections of the route “to see if itâ€™s possible” and he reckons it “should be”.
He says: “I have a single-speed mountain bike with a set up of 32/20. This isnâ€™t great for riding on the roads but off-road itâ€™s the right gearing for going up fairly steep hills and descending.
“I love the simplicity of single-speed. You just go out and ride and donâ€™t need to think about the gear you are in. I know there will be sections that I will have to walk uphill with the bike but that happens at times with any bike, even if it has lots of gears.
“I am really looking forward to my ride on the single speed and hopefully I will make it to Fort William without mechanical problems. I should go much faster than the previous 16 hours. Thatâ€™s the hope!”
We will be reporting on his adventure when it is completed. See his blog Fearless and Unique
Do tell us about your West Highland Way bike rides.