Riding with Markus Stitz: Winter Gravel

When I picked up the F/GRAVEL-R in Oslo it was still cold. My first ride took me through Oslo and to Holmlia station. The day afterwards I couldn’t resist, packed my drone and camera and cycled a short but amazing loop around As. I loved the network of gravel paths around the town when I visited in October, but being able to cycle through forests covered in snow was an even better experience.

Winter Gravel

When I arrived in Oslo a few weeks back I had one clear mission: To work on the draft for my upcoming project about gravel cycling in Britain. My partner has recently moved to the small town of As in the south of the Norwegian capital. Staying here for a few weeks was a welcome change of scenery, something I often need when working on large-scale projects. 

It’s fair to call this a large project, as I spent the summer and autumn travelling across Britain to meet 23 gravel riders in their home environment, ride their favourite routes with them and document this all in pictures and film material. The shortest journey was 20km, the longest 600. In between I filmed one of Britain’s most demanding bikepacking races, GBDURO, by (gravel) bike and public transport. The film, called MAIDEN RACE, was recently published on Shimano’s YouTube channel

Photo Credit: Markus Stitz

When I arrived in As, the temperatures were well below zero. I spent almost two weeks without cycling, and instead focussed on my book. It was good to have some time off the bike, but it also showed me how much I like cycling. When I picked up the F/GRAVEL-R in Oslo it was still cold. My first ride took me through Oslo and to Holmlia station. 

The day afterwards I couldn’t resist, packed my drone and camera and cycled a short but amazing loop around As. I loved the network of gravel paths around the town when I visited in October, but being able to cycle through forests covered in snow was an even better experience. In my recent feature for Singletrack Magazine I called winter the ‘Fifth Season’. While riding in snow and ice can be challenging, it can also be the most rewarding time of the year to get outside. 

Photo Credit: Markus Stitz

Often fatbikes are closely connected with winter riding, but gravel bikes are just as good, and take much less effort to move around. The F/GRAVEL-R came with wide mudguards and studded tires. The clearance between tires and mudguards was big enough, there were no issues with snow building up underneath them. At the very few places where the snow on the roads was a bit more slushy, the mudguards worked a treat. The bike is a great commuter and adventure machine at the same time. 

I loved the crunchy sound while my tires took me through a winter wonderland. Wherever I cycled was beautiful. The 26-km loop took much longer than expected, as I stopped more often than normal. I mixed some singletrack, gravel roads, cycle paths and roads. The gradients were gentle, I was the only person on most tracks and roads. To spice things up a bit at the end, I followed some shoe prints across a field. While riding in deeper snow and on a bumpy surface was much tougher, the bike handled extremely well. I got off a few times, not really because I couldn’t ride, more to appreciate and enjoy the winter landscape while pushing my bike. 

I figured out that while gravel riding in summer is amazing fun, going out in such a beautiful winter landscape takes it to another level. While we get some days of snow each year in Edinburgh, it’s hard to find conditions as beautiful as here. So for the next week I will make sure I type a bit faster, and enjoy a few hours each day on the F/GRAVEL-R. It’s a great bike for winter riding.

Photo Credit: Markus Stitz

About Markus

Back home in Scotland Markus runs Bikepacking Scotland, developing and promoting bikepacking, launched a network of gravel trails and a bikepacking route in Highland Perthshire. is the co auther of Big Rides, a guidebook that details 25 different long-distance bike journeys in the UK. and most recentky worked with More recently I worked with Mark Beaumont, the current world record holder in cycling around the world, on a project called ‘Explore Your Boundaries’.  

Markus Stitz

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You can buy Markus’ book Big Rides: Great Britain & Ireland on the Vertebrate Publishing website or Amazon.