Markus Stitz - The Silk Road Mountain Race

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Markus Stitz is a living legend.

The first man to cycle the world on a single speed bike, Markus has amassed countless long-distance adventure rides and races on multiple continents.  

In early August, Markus embarked on a journey to Kyrgyzstan. The following are snippets of his journal during his two weeks bike-packing through remote mountains and awe-inspiring countryside in the lead up to his latest challenge – the Silk Road Mountain Race.

The below is just a teaser of what’s to come, keep an eye out for Markus’ full review of his adventure on the Aussie Grit Apparel blog in September.

August 7th

“The landlocked country with about 6 million people will be my home for the next few weeks. I am here to race the Silk Road Mountain Race from 17 August, but beforehand I am exploring this beautiful country at a slightly slower speed.

“After two days cycling from Bishkek to Balykchy in almost 40 degrees, I have seen amazing scenery already, coupled with very friendly locals and great gravel tracks. I have cycled through places that reminded me very much of my upbringing in East Germany, and slowly but surely my Russian returns as well.”

August 8th

“What an amazing place to ride bikes. I made it into the high mountains, climbing up to 3030m this morning. The pictures speak a clear language, this is one of the most wonderful countries I have been to.” 

August 13th

 “My leisure trip through Kyrgyzstan is almost over. On Thursday morning I plan to be back in Bishkek to recharge myself, all battery packs, clean the bike and my kit and head out there again.

August 14th

“The Silk Road Mountain Race - Here’s my race preparation:

“Riding 10 days through one of the most beautiful countries I can imagine.

“Figuring out if the bike setup is ideal - it is. Otherwise it’d be too late anyway, but I have carefully identified a few items I can deal without. And, that one pair of bibs is indeed enough, especially if they are from Aussie Grit.

“The last three days I rode over the highest pass so far, with diarrhoea. Not ideal, but I managed, reducing the food intake to as little as possible. And as the mountains looked so nice, and I got frequently got told I need to enjoy other things than cycling, I scrambled up one, and loved it. With cycling shoes.

“Today it all stayed in again, but riding 85km with two slices of bread and honey was cutting it fine. Thankfully it’s not the race yet, so I happily accepted the friendly offer from fellow Canadian bikepackers Emma & Sarah of a Twix, which more than doubled my calorie intake on the ride to the shop.

“Then instead of being sensible and staying in a guest house I rode up the last pass, being covered in dust and diesel fumes. At 3000m I had to admit defeat to the wind, and rolled down a random dirt track - which thankfully led me to Kyrgyzstan’s highest ski resort. I am the only guest, cooked my own dinner and purchased a beer, and used the restaurant to down both, while admiring the Christmas decorations.

“So, in short, I am well prepared for the race, and life is good. The only thing that proves challenging is convincing people I am either from Scotland or Germany. Especially with the hobo look I have adapted…”

On August 17th Markus began one of the toughest bike-packing races in the world. The race runs until August 31st so keep an eye out for more incredible photos to come.

You can follow Markus’ progress riding the Silk Road Mountain Race, here.

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