Gravel Culture: Built to Last
Gravel Union On
16 May 2021
If you picture a museum in your mind’s eye, you might well think of an imposing building, constructed by a well-meaning Victorian philanthropist, containing dusty exhibits in glass cases. Perhaps a café full of elderly ladies. Definitely a gift shop crammed with small children trying to relieve parents of their hard earned cash.
But museums don’t need to be constrained by a structure. That’s the thinking of the Cateran Ecomuseum – a museum without walls, whose interesting “objects” are all found outside. What does this have to do with gravel riding, you might be thinking! Well the “eco” part of the Cateran Ecomuseum is based on the premise of visitors travelling to the different sites in an ecologically sound manner – ideally either on foot or even better by bike! In order to help visitors get around the museum, trail finding maestro Markus Stitz, founder of Bikepacking Scotland has put together a range of routes suitable for gravel bikes and mountain bikes.
Markus is passionate about leaving our world in a better state than we found it “In my eyes we need to be more mindful about what impact we have on our planet and future generations, so that beautiful places like the Cateran Ecomuseum will inspire generations to come. For me the joy of cycling doesn’t depend on the latest innovation in cycling. It depends on a connection with people and places, and the Cateran Ecomuseum has provided exactly that for me.”
The film that Markus has created to showcase the museum, local scenery and gravel riding opportunities in the region does a wonderful job of capturing all that’s good about using our gravel bikes not only for fun or for exercise, but as a means of improving our world, even if only in a small way.
“For me travelling by bike has had a massive positive impact on my life, both for my own physical and mental wellbeing. I understand that changing our habits will take time and depend on good alternatives like the electric bus service I used to get to the Ecomuseum from Edinburgh. But as Jane wonderfully puts it in the film, we can make a small difference and can be part of a better history in the future.”
We asked Markus to suggest his favourite route and he picked this one. You might look at the map and think “oh, it’s only 63kms, it’s hardly worth the effort of going”, but Markus assures us that this route belies its seemingly short distance and actually is a full day of fun riding and exploring. With a mixture of gravel roads, farm tracks, short sections of quiet tarmac and some archetypal Scottish boggy bits “which might require you to push your bike”, it sounds like a fantastic way of travelling around the sites of a museum.
Along the route, you will pass close to prehistoric burial mounds, through ancient farming communities, past a Celtic well a couple of lochs and most importantly, a coffee stop at Peel Farm. Looks to us like the absolutely perfect way to visit a museum!
You can find out more details about the museum here.
If you’d like to see more of Markus’ genius gravel trailfinding, check out his website here.
And if you’d like to find out about Markus’ other adventures, check out his blog here.