The Bike List

1350km ride in coldest Dec ever

If you thought commuting this December was cold, spare a thought for Markus Stitz. The Bike List applauds him as a hero (and a crazy one at that) for cycling 1350km from Edinburgh to Erfurt, Germany on a singlespeed touring bike during what turned out to be the coldest December for 100 years.

Why? To test out his new single speed cyclo-cross bike of course. But would he have started pedalling if he had known it was going to be so darned cold? "Yes! I love the beauty of winter, and with good kit, it is more than possible to ride in those conditions," says the 31 year old German. "I was first inspired by Alastair Humphreys who rode in Siberia. I personally like the extreme things more than the easy ones, so we fit well together - not to mention about having only one gear for it all."

Markus cycled from Edinburgh to Newcastle Upon Tyne, took the ferry to Amsterdam for two days cycling through the Netherlands to the German border and down the river Rhine to Cologne. Then he rode to Ilmenau, as he used to organise a music festival there, before cycling the final 50km to Erfurt, his parents' home in time for Christmas.

His bike did worry him though. "I wasn't sure whether taking a bike with only one gear was the right choice," said Markus. "However, part of the attraction for me was to do a grassroots trip, and after testing this new bike I am in love." See more single-speed bikes on The Bike List here.

Although he loves winter, this year's cold was an issue. "I had serious problems finding the right gloves," says Markus. "For most of the time I had my Specialized Pro mitts I used for road cycling combined with Montane's Extreme Mitts as insulation, which proved to be warm enough even for under minus 5 (windchill not calculated in) and saved the trip. The rest was done with positive thinking."

Markus did this crazily cool trip not only for the personal challenge but with the aim of raising £1 per km for the Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia (BEN Namibia). They run a Bicycle Empowerment Centre program, a network of independent, community based bike shops that are supported by local grass roots organisations and will in future run themselves. See more here www.benbikes.org.za

Donate via Markus' blog here