Super tandem along silvery Tay for luscious fresh farm strawberries at Port Allen and visit to new Pickled Peacock cafe at Cairn o’Mhor Fruit Winery

This “old lady” tandem and the silvery Tay – sensational views on NCN Rt 77.

This blog is the story of my dynamic crew having lots of laughs and fun on a super Sunday #tandem along the banks of the silvery Tay on The National Cycle Network Rt 77 for luscious fresh farm strawberries from Mains of Errol Fruit Shack at Port Allen and a visit to the new The Pickled Peacock café at Cairn o’Mohr Real Fruit Wines.

Another epic day out started with an early alarm call and after breakfast the “old git” and “old gal” headed to Dundee and parked Matilda Transport at the Tay Road Bridge Kiosk car park over the water from the city.

You can check out the details of our tandem route by clicking on the Strava map below.

After crossing the Tay, Team Matilda tandemed out of the city on the waterside Sustrans Scotland NCN 77 path – part of the The Green Circular cycle path which circumnavigates Dundee. After passing the airport Rt 77 passes thru Invergowrie where the River Tay opens up in front of you showing its true width and majesty. More of that on the way back!

With just a little breeze it was great conditions for tandeming along the quiet and relatively flat rural roads. Great to see so many other cyclists out – tho we failed to spot any other tandems!

We pedalled thru Errol Village before turning down a signposted track to our picnic destination of Port Allen. The “old gal” spotted the Mains of Errol Fruit Shack – an honesty mini hut shop selling freshly harvested strawberries.

It truly was from farm to fork in zero food miles – and as a result the strawberries were just lusciously sensationally fresh and flavorsome … providing the perfect accompaniment for one of my dynamic crew’s signature prosecco picnics in a true natural alfresco habitat!

The “lesser spotted” rose prosecco hiding in its “natural” habitat – complete with fresh strawberries.

Indeed the “old git” immediately added one of the smaller strawberries into the prosecco, so not only was it farm to fork, but farm to glass! “Extremely decadent – but very yummy” was the “old gal’s” verdict from the taste test! But only after exhaustive repeat testing just to make sure!

The “old gal’s” taste test of the ultra fresh strawberries from Mains of Errol Fruit Shack …

… the luscious zero food miles strawberries mixed perfectly with the pink prosecco! …

… and the “old gal’s” verdict after much tasting! – extremely decadent but very yummy!

Port Allen offered the idyllic picturesque picnic spot, sitting on a lovely bench featuring the wording “For what in Scotland can compare with the Carse o’Gowrie.” (The Carse o’Gowrie being the name for the renowned soft fruit growing area) And at that beautifully serene picnic moment – complete with those strawberries and the sun breaking thru – Team Matilda couldn’t agree more!

Luscious fresh farm to fork strawberries – the very best the Carse o’Gowrie can offer!

Cheers! Prosecco with a fresh strawberry from Mains of Errol Fruit Shack in the glass!

Amazingly given its solitude now, Port Allen historically was a bustling local harbour offering  a ferry crossing of the River Tay to Lindores in Fife. Records show that back in its heyday large quantities of grain were shipped from the port and around 200 people lived there in 1700s. The area is now a nature reserve with the reed beds proving the perfect venue for wildlife, in particular birds.

Enjoying the tranquility at Port Allen, with its reed beds now a nature reserve.

Team Matilda at picturesque Port Allen outside Errol – hard to believe it was once a bustling port.

After a most relaxing picnic Team Matilda pedalled on to the amazing idiosyncratic Cairn o’Mhor Fruit Winery just outside Errol to sample the delights of the new – and wonderfully named – Pickled Peacock café. The café has new owners along with a new name – with a sideways reference to the possibility of getting a little bit typsy from the fruit wines and cider made on the premises!

The “old gal” eyeing up the wooden “totem” sculptures at Cairn o’Mohr Real Fruit Wines!

And the menu looked fabulous – with great sharing plates – tho after their picnic my dynamic crew had to restrict themselves to sampling a slice of cheesecake with a nice strong coffee! And the whole winery and café is ultra bike friendly – and is therefore a favourite with cyclists.

The new The Pickled Peacock café  was worth a visit for fab cheesecake and coffee.

Naturally the “old git” had to visit the shop at the winery and purchased a bottle of Pictish cider for consumption at home at a later date! Well it would have been rude not to buy anything!

Here I am having a chat with the delivery vans at Cairn o’Mohr Real Fruit Wines!

After interrupting my very interesting chat with the smartly designed wine delivery vans, it was time for the “old gal” and “old git” to pedal back to Dundee – into a modest headwind as the tide was rushing back into the Tay estuary. There was a stop for pictures just before Invergowrie where the photos showed off the reality of the words from the famous poem by McGonagall about the “silvery Tay.”

The “old gal” reflecting on the words from the famous poem by McGonagall about “the silvery Tay”.

By the banks of the silvery Tay – Team Matilda enjoying the view across the river.

Despite the sun, the return crossing of the Tay Bridge was a bit blustery back to Matilda Transport. After I was safely packed away, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worth of a staggering 50 gongs – made up of a very pleasing 15 personal bests; 21 2nd bests and 14 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 33.9 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 33 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 13.3 mph given the wind. Elevation was just 689 feet as it was mainly along the banks of the river. The maximum speed was 35.6 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,489 calories and produce an average power output of 145 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Quite simply another great fun day out on a bicycle made for two!

Fab tandem round the beautiful wilderness Loch Rannoch and lunch at Rannoch Station Tea Room – probably the remotest tearoom in Scotland!

Ready for the ride – Team Matilda at the Kinloch Rannoch end of stunning Loch Rannoch.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had lots of fun on a stunning day out on a fab #tandem round the beautiful wilderness Loch Rannoch Rannoch & Tummel Tourist Association – with lunch at Rannoch Station Tearoom which is probably the remotest tearoom in Scotland.

Another epic day out started with an early 6am Sunday alarm and after breakfast the “old git” and “old gal” headed to the wilderness spot of Loch Rannoch in Highland Perthshire in Matilda Transport to clock up some miles pedalling in magnificent scenery in one of their favourite locations in Scotland.

And an added bonus is there is no wi-fi signal adding to the peaceful nature of the area – but the all-important Strava still works to record the effort!

You can check out the details of our tandem route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The drive to the village of Kinloch Rannoch was thru constant heavy drizzle and my dynamic crew were hopeful that the weather forecast would be correct – with the rain due to give way to sunshine by the back of 10am.

That didn’t happen quite on schedule, so to give the weather gods a bit more time to get back on track the “old gal” decided that it would be a great idea to visit the ultra bike friendly Riverbank Cafe for a relaxing strong coffee and a tasty fresh scone. The “old git” noticed some tandem and cycling themed coasters, and couldn’t resist a purchase!

Tandem and cycle themed drinks coasters bought from Riverbank Cafe at Kinloch Rannoch.

By the time my dynamic crew emerged the thick clouds were starting to lift and there was even a hint of the sun breaking through. So a bit later than planned Team Matilda set off down the north side of Loch Rannoch on the B846 heading to Bridge of Gaur at the other end. There was a quick photo stop at the Kinloch Rannoch end just to breathe in the spellbinding beauty of the area.

The “old gal” enjoying the fabulous views down the full length of Loch Rannoch.

It is an area Team Matilda know well and the route is mostly gently undulating – and given the absence of any noticeable wind it was a true joy to be out tandeming. It was certainly another glorious day to be out in tandem in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside Trust, and Love Perthshire area.

As the clouds continued to lift, the majesty of the perfectly conical shape of Schiehallion – one of Scotland’s most recognisable mountains – emerged from the mist, adding to the magical aura.

Another stop was made at the beach area near Bridge of Gaur to spot the 19th Century folly which almost seems to be floating in the water. It is actually situated on Eilean Nam Faoileag (Island of Gulls) which is an old crannog dating back to 1110AD. It originally had a larger surface area but this was reduced by the raising of the water level when the loch was damned for hydro electric generation.

Spot the folly! – the building on a small island in the middle of Loch Rannoch.

At Bridge of Gaur we headed onto the steep and steady climb across the moor into the “middle of nowhere” on the scenic but secluded B846 to Rannoch Station – which must be the station with the best view in Scotland – for lunch at the amazing Rannoch Station Tearoom, which is situated bang in the middle of the active station platform on the West Highland line.

The “old gal” at Rannoch Station Tea room – the remotest tea room in Scotland?

Selfie time for my dynamic crew at remote Rannoch Station on the west Highland line.

It is billed as “probably the remotest tearoom in Scotland” and is one of my dynamic crews favourites. Despite its unique rural location it was incredibly busy. The “old git” was happy that he had booked in advance as that meant Team Matilda had the luxury of sitting inside and avoiding the plagues of midges which were around. However they had already sprayed on their Smidge repellent which kept them bite free.

My dynamic crew enjoyed yummy toasties followed by a slice of the magnificent carrot cake – de rigueur for Team Matilda (and indeed many other tandem crews!) And all while watching the live theatre that is the natural wilderness of Rannoch Moor.

The tearoom felt very safe, keeping to Covid guidelines, and in a nice cycling related touch the hand sanitiser on the tables was made by Ineos, sponsors of one of the cycling team Ineos Grenadiers.

Nice cycling related touch – hand sanitiser made by Ineos, sponsors of Ineos Grenadiers.

After the re-energising food it was time for a most enjoyable few miles downhill where my dynamic crew took a few photos at one with nature – starting with a photo of this “old lady” beside the roaring River Gaur, which flows into Loch Rannoch.

At one with nature – this “old lady” tandem and the roaring River Gaur which flows into the loch.

Next “natural” stop was a rock which looks like a big frog. Now Millport one of my dynamic crew’s other favourite spots for tandeming may have Croc Rock (a rock that looks and is painted like a crocodile) but Rannoch has Frog Rock!

Millport may have Crocodile Rock – but Rannoch has Frog Rock!

We pedalled past the Gaur hydro electric power station, part of the Tummel Valley hydro scheme, currently owned by SSE Renewables.

One of the many hydro electric facilities around Loch Rannoch at Gaur.

Back at Bridge of Gaur we took the quieter B-class single track road back to Kinloch Rannoch which hugs the south side of the loch. This was a superb easy – and speedy – tandem – thru the magnificent scenery of the Black Wood of Rannoch – part of the ancient Caledonian Forest. You could almost feel the history of the area.

Interesting old tree remains at the Black Wood of Rannoch – part of the ancient Caledonian Forest

It certainly lives up to its Forestry and Land Scotland billing as “a living growing monument with some trees thought to be about 400 years old, and is home to a wonderful variety of plants and wildlife, including deer, pine martens and red squirrel.” It is little wonder that it is designated a Special Area of Conservation and the “old gal” and the “old git” felt privileged to be there.

Cheers! The “old gal’s” prosecco toast to the end of the ride at the beach area.

Back at the top of the loch there is a super beach area just outside Kinloch Rannoch village and my dynamic crew doubled back there after completing their lap for their obligatory Team Matilda prosecco toast – which was a great way to celebrate the end of the ride.

Perfect spot for one of Team Matilda’s signature prosecco toasts.

The beach spot was halcyon – offering magnificent views down the full length of the loch to the mountains beyond – if only it had been about 10 degrees warmer!

Selfie cheers time for my dynamic crew – with fizz to mark a perfect day!

After Matilda was packed away in Matilda Transport my dynamic crew enjoyed a superb dinner in the tranquil surroundings of the very hospitable and highly recommended The Inn at Loch Tummel.

The “old git” and “old gal” both had thought they would order one of their fabulous handmade burgers – but there were none left on the menu after a busy weekend. But the special – which was recommended by the magnificently friendly host and owner Jade – was Lobster Thermidor. Ok then, if you insist! Even the “old git” – who can be difficult to please – admitted that the “non burger” Lobster Thermidor was just ace! It was simply a divine meal!

Lobster Thermidor – perfect meal to end a perfect day at the superb The Inn at Loch Tummel

With wi-fi restored at Strathtummel, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worth of a perfectly acceptable 12 gongs – made up of six personal bests; three 2nd bests and three 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 33.7 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 14 minutes. The average speed was an impressive 15.0 mph – a new record average speed for Team Matilda. Elevation was 1,221 feet. The maximum speed was 32.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,851 calories and produce an average power output of 205 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

With the usual helpings of madcap fun en route, it was another sensational day out on a bicycle made for two!

And a good test of my dynamic crew’s fitness for their upcoming Nutty Tandemers Club Tour of Suffolk with fellow founding members John Taylor and Jane Termini Taylor towards the end of September. Team Matilda can’t wait!

Double header weekend – another ride with “the other ‘Tilly the tandem” and a sociable ride to our favourite riverside picnic spot in Comrie

The “old gal” feeling a bit cold despite being sandwiched by Jon and the “old git” at Saltcoats!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had lots of fun on a busy double header weekend of social #tandem rides starting with this “old lady” having another “date” with “the other ‘Tilly the tandem” crewed by Linda and Jon Reed on a pedal from Irvine to Ardrossan.

The second ride saw Team Matilda enjoying a hilly route to Comrie to show good solo cycling friends Anne Connel and Alan Ince our favourite riverside picnic spot.

Ride 1 – Another ride with “the other ‘Tilly the tandem” from Irvine to Ardrossan on the Cunninghame Cycleway with Jon and Linda

Excitement had been building for weeks about my second big meet up after a few months ago Team Matilda amazingly discovered there was another bicycle made for two called Matilda – tho this one is affectionately known as ‘Tilly for short by her crew of Jon and Linda.

Check out the details of our “double Matilda” tandem route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The other ‘Tilly’s crew are on a somewhat convoluted “slow pedal” Lejog – covering a rather circuitous route from Lands End to John o’ Groats in three stages.

You may remember my delight when I got to meet “the other ‘Tilly back in May on stage 1 of their ride which was from their home area of Ipswich to Edinburgh. Subsequently they have done stage 2 which covered Lands End to Ipswich.

Not really a forced smile from Jon posing with stoker Linda and “the other ‘Tilly the tandem’!

So now Team ‘Tilly are on stage 3 of their route – which will see them pedal from Edinburgh to John o’ Groats – but not exactly taking the direct route. They have decided on a more scenic journey which takes in Kintyre and then the Hebridean Way en route! It seems they decided on adding in the #HebWay after reading my blog – so I am truly honoured!

So on Sunday they were pedalling from Irvine to Ardrossan Harbour for a ferry to Campbeltown – and my dynamic crew teamed up with them for the short tandem ride.

It was great for the “old gal” and “old git” to meet up with Jon and Linda again and to catch up on some of their more recent adventures over coffee and breakfast in Small Talk Coffee and Gift Shop by the harbour in Irvine.

Team Matilda meet up with “the other ‘Tilly the tandem’ at the harbourside in Irvine.

The tandems then set off on the short 11 mile pedal along the Cunninghame Cycleway – also known as The National Cycle Network NCN Rt 73 – from Irvine to Ardrossan.

This is a great Sustrans Scotland off-road path – with an excellent hard surface, which goes thru moorland before touring the seafront of the ‘Three Towns’ – Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan. Lots of cyclists out on the route and we even had the joy of an original comment from one who on seeing the two tandems in convoy quipped: “Oh look out, it double, double trouble!”

The low cloud made conditions a bit chilly and the “old gal” was certainly wishing she had brought her winter gloves with her – especially on the blustery and exposed sea front stretch at Saltcoats. Not surprisingly there were not too may people spending the day on the beach!

Just a tad blustery and chilly on the exposed sea front section at Saltcoats!

Team Matilda in action – pedalling on NCN Rt73 at Ardrossan as the sun tries to break thru!

At the sea front at Ardrossan the “old git” found some benches under a bandstand like cover – and decided this was the perfect venue for a posh picnic for the two Team Matildas. And naturally there was the obligatory bottle of prosecco to add to the proceedings!

It would have to be said that Jon and Linda did let their side down by drinking the fizz out of plastic beakers rather than my dynamic crew’s infinitely more refined plastic prosecco glasses!

But Linda made up for their drinking utensil failings by producing a wonderful box of posh patisserie chocolates – which were immediately devoured!

Glasses (or beakers!) at the ready! The “old git” popping the cork for the signature prosecco picnic!

Posh picnic are us! Epic fail from Jon and Linda with plastic beakers for the prosecco tho!

But Linda made amends with fab patisserie chocolates – which were instantly devoured!

Picnic over we headed for the CalMac Ferries terminal at Ardrossan where the “other ‘Tilly the tandem’s day” took a major downturn – with news that the ferry to Campbeltown had been cancelled at short notice due to Covid hitting crew rosters and a ferry being withdrawn.

Fortunately Cal Mac had ordered a coach to take passengers the long way by road – a journey of over 5 hours – and even more fortunately decided that the “other ‘Tilly the tandem” could travel in the large boot area. A real get out of jail card!

So despite taking much longer to get to Campbeltown, Jon and Linda would still be able to continue with their long planned schedule of pre-booked over night stops. Phew!

My dynamic crew left the other Team Tilly just as the coach arrived – promising to follow their progress out on the Hebridean Way and on to John o’ Groats with interest and meet up again on their return to central Scotland for an essential catch up before their journey home. Or, if time doesn’t allow that, then since they live near Ipswich, there is a planned meet up when my dynamic crew take part in the Nutty Tandemers Club Tour de Suffolk in September.

Meanwhile the “old git” and “old gal” pedalled back to Irvine, enjoying the paths of NCN Rt 73 all the way back into Irvine.

Back in Irvine – my dynamic crew enjoying the sun breaking thru the cloud on a bridge over the river.

Back at Matilda Transport the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worth of zero gongs – as it was a brand new route for Team Matilda!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 21.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 21 minutes. The average speed was just 9.2 mph due to the social nature of the ride and poor weather conditions. Elevation was just 243 feet as the route was mostly all at the coast. The maximum speed was 19.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,385 calories and produce an average power output of 147 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Not too many miles then – but remember that Team Matilda’s motto is “It’s the Smiles not the miles that count!” And there are certainly plenty of smiles when the two Tilly’s – and their crew’s – get together!

Ride 2 – Hilly route to Comrie to show Anne and Alan our favourite riverside picnic spot.

The second part of our busy weekend saw my dynamic crew delighted to welcome good solo cycling friends Anne and Alan on a Monday pedal with us!

The destination – my dynamic crew’s preferred local prosecco picnic spot by the River Earn just outside Comrie.

And Team Matilda decided on a reprise of the new route to get there – via the hilly Langside Road. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Amazingly the “old gal” – who you’ll remember doesn’t do hills – was actually looking forward to this one as although hilly it falls into the manageable category as it is a gentle grind rather than a sharp steep incline.

And of course the views at the plateau across the rolling Perthshire countryside are rather dramatic and certainly worthy of the climb!

My dynamic crew with solo cycling friends Anne and Alan looking back at the Langside Road climb.

All smiles from the “old gal” and solo cycling friends Anne and Alan on the way to Comrie.

What noone had factored in to the ride however, was the windy conditions – which made the 2 mile blast across the top quite a battle against a fierce headwind. But it meant everyone enjoyed the speedy long freewheel downhill into Comrie all the more.

Picnic supplies were sourced at the wonderful Hansen’s Kitchen deli, before pedalling across the old Ross Bridge and following the cycle and walking friendly route, recommended by The National Cycling Network.

Selfie time at the prosecco picnic spot by the River Earn just outside Comrie.

Luckily the picnic spot was empty and was the venue for one of Team Matilda’s signature prosecco picnics – with Alan producing a bottle of fizz which he opened with gusto!

Alan doing the honours with the fizz for the signature prosecco picnic!

Fortunately Anne and Alan had got the email and came equipped with proper prosecco glasses – not beakers! Anyhow, the prosecco certainly helped wash down the very yummy ham, brie and cranberry baguettes!

The sun even broke thru the cloud to raise the temperature – Anne and Alan were suitably impressed with the riverside setting!

Cheers! The “old gal” and Anne and Alan with the prosecco – an essential ingredient for the picnic!

Re-fuelled it was time for a fairly quick pedal back to base – as the “old gal” had an appointment to meet mid afternoon in Perth – on the regular route home via Crieff and Kinkell Bridge.

My dynamic crew even managed the challenging Kinkell to Tullibardine section and their nemesis of Easthill with relative ease – maybe it was due to the pleasantly warm sunny conditions.

It was certainly another glorious day to be out in tandem with good friends in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

On return to Matildas Rest the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worth of an acceptable 12 gongs – made up of two personal bests; eight 2nd bests and two 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 38.2 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 58 minutes. The average speed was a very healthy 12.8 mph despite the hilly route. Elevation was 1633 feet. The maximum speed was 32.4 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,205 calories and produce an average power output of 184 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

A busy social schedule for my dynamic crew while clocking up 60 miles riding with friends. Quite simply a great weekend in tandem … on a bicycle made for two!

Clocking up Team Matilda’s 7000th mile in tandem on celebration sunny “overseas” ride on Millport with new round island record!

The “old gal” taking in the sunshine and stunning views towards Millport Town.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had fab fun on a truly epic Sunday clocking up Team Matilda’s 7000th mile in #tandem on a celebratory “overseas” ride on Millport What’s On Millport, Isle of Cumbrae complete with a new round the island speed record!

The big 7k was approaching and – unable to attend the Tandem Club rally in Nottingham – the “old git” and “old gal” decided that there was no better place to hit the mileage mark than a day trip to ‘Costa del Millport’ Visit Cumbrae.

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was definitely one of those sun-kissed, wind free, days when the Isle of Cumbrae lived up to its slogan: “Millport – in a world of its own!”

Up at 6am and after a near 80 mile drive to Largs my dynamic crew boarded the 10 minute CalMac Ferries trip from the mainland.

The “old gal” with her Cal Mac ferry ticket just before boarding.

The “old git” and “old gal” enjoying the short 10 minute crossing from Largs to Cumbrae.

On arrival on the island there was a quick pedal clockwise from the ferry slipway to the town of Millport and a very welcome yummy strong morning coffee at Crocodeli Millport – seated in their new outdoor seating table with wonderful views across the bay.

Coffee spot with a view … fab coffee too from Crocodeli Millport

Lap one was a fairly brisk clockwise pedal with my crews breathing in the sea air and taking in the wonderful coastal views all the way round the 10 mile perimeter road. The sunny vistas towards the island of Arran were just spectacular.

The ‘Sleeping Warrior’ of the hills of Arran was a spectacular view with crystal clear visibility.

The “old gal” captured the “old git” making sure the camera angle is just right!

Millport is known as a cycling paradise due to the virtually flat and quiet circumference route – and it was great to see the island so busy with visitors. Super to see big queues at bike hire shops like Mapes of Millport. Round the island is not an official The National Cycle Network route – but it should be!

Back into the town and there was a look at some of the shops before going anti-clockwise to our fabulous “table with a view” – situated just before Fintry Bay – which overlooks the beach and has stunning views across to the island of Bute. Team Matilda’s retro AG2R CITROËN Team tops perfectly matched the blue of the sea and sky!

This is one of my dynamic crew’s favourite spots and naturally it was the ideal venue for one of Team Matilda’s signature prosecco picnics.

Picnic table with a view – the stunning outlook across to Bute!

My dynamic crew took a fun selfie on a walk on the sun-kissed beach.

It was idyllic sitting in the sun having the picnic, before a walk on the beach and some madcap photos at a spot potentially earmarked for a future top secret Team Matilda project!

The “old gal” having fun on the beach – with cycling top matching the blue of the sea and sky!

On the rocks! The “old git” posing for a madcap photo on the beach.

With still a good few miles to pedal to hit the 7k mark, the “old gal” decided that our picnic spot would be the ideal place to hit the milestone. So recharged after the picnic, my dynamic crew did some calculations to work out just how far was left to pedal, and completed the anti-clockwise lap cycling back into Millport for a loo stop and coffee and cake at The Dancing Midge Cafe.

Now it was time for the “speed lap” with the “old git” determined to break Team Matilda’s record of 38 minutes – which they failed to do by just 5 seconds on their previous visit!

The Strava sector is known as “Millport TT Clockwise Out and Back from Royal George Hotel” and my dynamic crew were totally up for the challenge – helped by the warm sunshine and hardly any breeze.

The “old git” knew they had to pedal at above the average speed of 15.6mph on their previous attempt to break my dynamic crew’s existing record for the 10.02 miles circuit.

And amazingly the energy levels held all the way round as the “old git” and “old gal” completed the circuit in 35.01 minutes, at an average speed of 17.2 mph. And that spectacularly shaved some 3 minutes off their previous best! Wooooo!

The “old git” feeling the pain after smashing Team Matildas round the island record by 3 minutes.

The “old git” was more than a bit out of breath by the end, so made a call for a celebratory – and recovery – refreshment in the new beer garden at Millport Pier, which is the new name from the recently taken over Royal George Hotel. The celebrations were helped by Strava informing my dynamic crew that they had registered the “seventh fastest worldwide” time for the lap of the island for a female as this “old lady” tandem is obviously registered as a female. Fabulous to get such recognition!

And proof from Strava of the 7th fastest time ever!

Team Matilda next paid a flying visit to the great new island business – Isle of Cumbrae Distillersset up by a group of five women on the island who distill gin to match the mood of Cumbrae.

Team Matilda had to pay a visit to the fab Isle of Cumbrae Distillers – a local gin distillery!

A purchase was made of Croc Rock gin – which has a hint of ginger and therefore seemed highly appropriate for the “old gal”! The “old git” decided that the only thing to be done was a fun photo opportunity – with the Croc Rock gin at the iconic Crocodile Rock on the promenade!

A purchase was made of Croc Rock gin and there was only one place for the photo ….

… naturally the “old git” had to introduce Crock Rock gin to the iconic Crocodile Rock!

There was now just 5 miles to go to hit the 7k mark so my dynamic crew headed clockwise back towards their favourite picnic stop. And as luck would have it, just as it came into view, the milometer clicked over to 7,000 miles! What an amazing coincidence!

The actual magic moment was captured by the “old gal” on video – so click here to view or on the image below.

There was a burst of mutual celebrations, especially as the “old git” had worked out that a 7000 mile radius of non stop cycling from our home base would take Team Matilda as far as Tokyo in Japan; Jakarta in Indonesia; or Buenos Aires in Argentina! Quite an amazing distance really!

And there it is… 7000th mile clocked up by Team Matilda!

There was a small celebration toast – complete with a superb congratulations video call with our great tandeming friends Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor – who are fellow founding members of the self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club! Sadly they were unable to be with Team Matilda on Millport, but have shared several previous thousand mile landmarks in person on some of our amazing tours.

The 7000 miles landmark is obviously worthy of a small celebration toast!

Fellow Nutty Tandemers Jane and John joined us by video link to celebrate!

Mission accomplished, my dynamic crew pedalled back into Millport and had a most tasty alfresco fish and chips by the harbour. Why does it always taste so much better outside at the seaside?

Superb end to the epic day on Millport with alfresco – and very yummy – fish and chips!

It was a perfect way to finish an epic action packed day on Millport, before a frantic dash back to the ferry slipway and the ferry back to the mainland.

On the ferry back to Largs the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being a brilliant 30 gongs – made up the “seventh fastest in the world” plus 16 personal bests, 10 2nd bests and three 3rd bests. No wonder it was an energy sapping day!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 46.9 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 08 minutes. The average speed was a very healthy 14.9 mph. Elevation was just 418 feet, given the island is virtually flat. The maximum speed was 22.6 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,852 calories and produce an average power output of 147 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on on the image below.

One final piece of news in this blog is that my dynamic crew were asked by Sustrans Scotland – the charity that makes it easier for people to cycle – to join in on publicising The Scottish Governments Net Zero #LetsDoNetZero campaign on Twitter, to help reduce the country’s carbon footprint and be “net zero” by 2045, by making a journey by bike.

So the “old git” calculated that by pedalling our 7000 miles, Team Matilda had saved the planet a staggering 3.5 tonnes of co2 emissions – compared to driving the same distance. And of course there’s an argument for saying you could double that as there are two cyclists on board!

Here’s the series of tweets:

So epic adventures – and helping to save the planet – its all part of Team Matilda’s ethos having fun on a bicycle built for two!

New loop route to Comrie for prosecco picnic by River Earn after detour to Cultybraggan Camp

The “old git” at one of the old Nissen PoW huts at Cultybraggan Camp just outside Comrie.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had lots of laughs and fun on a sun-kissed new #tandem loop route to Comrie for a prosecco picnic by the River Earn, after a detour to the historic Cultybraggan Camp.

The forecast promised more of the recent hot weather so my dynamic crew decided it was a perfect day for a picnic by the river at their preferred spot just outside Comrie Perthshire

And they bravely decided on a new route to get there – via the hilly Langside Road, off the main Comrie to Crieff route. Even the “old gal” – who you’ll remember doesn’t do hills – was tempted by the route due to the promise of dramatic scenery. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Believe it or not, the “old gal” actually conceded that the climb was easier than anticipated – being more of a gentle grind rather than the steep sharp inclines which make Team Matilda feel as if they are going backwards.

The “old gal” looking refreshed – and happy! – that the Langside Road climb was behind her!

It was slightly cloudy to begin with, which probably was just as well during the climb. Reaching the plateau offered superb views across the rolling Perthshire countryside, once used by the Army as a tank training facility. It was another glorious day to be out in tandem in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

The “old git” near the top of the climb to Comrie with the old tank training area in the background.

The old adage that for every uphill there is a downhill was never more apt as my dynamic crew enjoyed a superb long downhill freewheel towards Comrie with the speedometer regularly reading over 30mph.

Again, like the uphill, it was a gentle downhill rather than one of those scary steep descents which makes the “old gal” scream on my back saddle!

About a mile from the town of Comrie, my dynamic crew decided on a quick detour to the historic Cultybraggan Camp – once used as a Prisoner of War camp in World War 11. At its peak the facility – officially named PoW camp No 21 – housed 4,000 Category A prisoners in a series of Nissen huts.

Cultybraggan Camp is steeped in its history of being a Prisoner of War camp in WW11.

The area is now under the control of Comrie Development Trust after a land buyout in 2009. The Trust aims to develop the site as a model of sustainable development for rural communities across Scotland – including revamping and radically modernising the interiors of some of the huts into stylish self-catering accommodation.

The visitor attraction buildings are all currently closed – due to Covid – but the trust plans on re-opening in Spring 2022. It’s a fascinating place – steeped in history, which will hopefully come alive again next year.

The “old gal” with an old Army truck at Cultybraggan Camp, just outside Comrie.

We pedalled on thru Comrie and out to to old Ross Bridge and following the cycling and walking friendly route, recommended by The National Cycle Network. Although it goes all the way to Loch Earn, our destination was a favourite picnic spot by the side of the River Earn about 2 miles out of Comrie.

Naturally this was the venue for a signature Team Matilda prosecco picnic, with the bottle of pink fizz popped with much gusto! Once again our posh picnic antics caused lots of comment from passing cyclists and walkers – who all looked just a little envious of the set-up! It was the first outing for our new prosecco glass holders too!

A signature prosecco picnic by the River Earn – complete with posh glass holders!

Cheers! A selfie as my dynamic crew toast their prosecco picnic by the River Earn.

After a relaxing picnic we decided to visit Tullybannocher Cafe a mile outside Comrie for a coffee – but the least said about that visit the better! Think instant coffee in a cup – at rip-off prices – and you probably get the drift. Let’s just say it was very poor and expensive and won’t be on my dynamic crew’s re-visit list!

Feeling rather disappointed the “old git” and “old gal” started the pedal back, on the more familiar road home – firstly on the section to Visit Crieff. This is a real joy with gently rolling well-surfaced roads.

To counter the disappointment of the earlier coffee stop, the “old gal” shouted for a stop at The Steading Courtyard in Crieff – which more than hit the spot with some delicious strong coffee and tasty home made cakes.

Perfect hand sanitizer holder for cyclists at The Steading Courtyard café in Crieff

Re-energised my dynamic crew were ready for the “rocky road” back from Crieff to Matildas Rest via the quiet rural backroads – which includes the challenging Kinkell to Tullibardine section but amazingly the “old gal” and “old git” recorded their second best time there, despite the hot temperatures.

The final stint is Team Matilda’s nemesis of Easthill but yet again the synchronicity and power kicked in to record a 3rd fastest time – and that was without really trying!

It was however a big relief to be back at Matildas Rest where the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 15 gongs – made up of four personal bests and seven 2nd bests and four 3rd bests – which given the fact that half of the route was on new sections was a pretty good return.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 39.7 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 51 minutes. The average speed was a very healthy 13.9 mph despite the heat. Elevation was 1648 feet. The maximum speed was 31.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,194 calories and produce an average power output of 191 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Always good to try a new route which – with the hills – added a “we did it” feelgood dimension to yet another fantastic sunny day out on a bicycle built for two!

Lovely long languorous (liquid) lunch at friends Dot and Bill in Bridge of Allan via Auchenlay

The “old gal” with good friends Dot and Bill in their beautifully manicured garden in Bridge of Allan.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had lots of fun on a lovely long languorous (liquid) lunch at friends Dot and Bill in Bridge of Allan with a sun-kissed tandem ride via Auchenlay.

Lets get the excuses out of the way for the mileage as Strava “operator error” – aka the “old git” forgetting to press start!!! – meant there was no recording of the route till the Gleneagles-Braco junction after nearly 7 miles. And as always happens when no official record – Team Matilda were flying along but no new personal bests on the section were recorded for posterity. So just for the record the actual distance travelled was 38.4 miles and not the 31.6 recorded by Strava!

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The purpose of the trip was a lunch invite from my dynamic crew’s old friends Dot and Bill in Bridge of Allan – where the “old git” and “old gal” enjoyed the most wonderful hospitality over a six hour lunch while absorbing the sun (and other things!) on the decking of their gorgeous garden!

But first Team Matilda had to get there! … never mind getting home! A highlight on the outward leg was when my dynamic crew caught up with the #Auchterarder amateur weatherman legend that is Windy Wilson Weather and Road Reports.

Windy was out on his mountain bike but managed to say my dynamic crew were “cheating as there’s two of you on the one bike” as we pedalled past! He also found breath to shout that comment so loved by tandemers: “She’s not pedalling on the back!”

But he caught up with us as we discovered the Strava error at the Gleneagles-Braco junction – and happily posed for a selfie! Maybe Windy should try a #tandem on of his fabulous charity fundraising efforts! Oh, and it was a “scorcher” as he so accurately predicted!

Posing for a selfie with the Auchterarder amateur weatherman legend that is Windy Wilson.

It was a glorious day to be out in tandem in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area. After skirting the edge of Braco our route took us to Kinbuck Bridge where the “old gal” tried her hand at an action selfie, while we pedalled along.

Selfie of my dynamic crew in action at Kinbuck Bridge. Best watch that weight limit now!

Then it was the excitement of a new route for my dynamic crew – turning right at Kinbuck Bridge and pedalling to Dunblane via the quiet farm roads thru Auchenlay. This was a totally stunning tandem ride – and a revelation to Team Matilda – so a big thanks to Strava friend and fellow tandemer Victoria Peters for the recommendation!

The “old gal” enjoying the views on a new way into Dunblane for my dynamic crew – via Auchenlay.

The section over the Faery Bridge and beside the River Allan – on The National Cycle Network NCN Rt 765 – is beautifully scenic and is highly recommended.

Selfie time for the “old gal” and “old git” on the Faery Bridge at Dunblane.

The footbridge was built by the owners of Springbank Mill in 1911 to allow their workers easier access to the Mill from the east side of Dunblane. The bridge, built of ferro-concrete was at first called the Ferro Bridge then locally corrupted to the Faery Bridge!

The “old git” along the picturesque River Allan in Dunblane on NCN Rt 765 with Faery Bridge.

The “old gal” on the section of NCN Rt 765 along the River Allan heading into Dunblane.

The route passes Dunblane Cathedral before my dynamic crew headed on from Dunblane to Bridge of Allan, arriving around noon to a wonderful warm welcome from Dot and Bill, who we hadn’t seen for almost exactly a year.

My dynamic crew on arrival at old friends Dot and Bills for what turned out to be an epic six hour lunch!

It was great for the “old git” and “old gal” to be in their company again and immediately the first bottle of prosecco was popped for a celebration drink and toast to good friends, followed by a tour of the magnificent beautifully manicured garden which naturally is their pride and joy.

The conversation flowed – as did the food and drink – during a very hospitable and leisurely lunch on their decking! The time just flew past and it was fast approaching 6pm by the time my dynamic crew realised the time!

Last man standing! Nearly six hours later just before departure from a fabulous long lunch!

Oooops! – only the small matter – or quite large matter as it turned out! – of a 19 mile pedal home in the warm sunshine to be negotiated!

Fortunately the new route via Auchenlay took Team Matilda past the Tappit Hen, Dunblane on the way home – and it would have been rude not to go in for a refreshment and loo stop! Wonderfully welcoming pub! And it was a good excuse to get out of the sun!

A much needed refreshment and loo stop at the Tappit Hen in Dunblane on the homeward pedal!

All smiles at the Tappit Hen – a good excuse to get out of the heat!

Let’s just say the remainder of the journey was certainly an “interesting” pedal home in the warm evening sunshine after the excesses of the relaxing long lunch!

After what was a bit of a torturous (albeit self-inflicted) return tandem journey it was certainly a big relief to be back at Matildas Rest enjoying a cool drink (of water!!) on the decking. The “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of nine gongs – made up of four personal bests and five 2nd bests – which given the slower than normal pace on the homebound leg was a satisfactory achievement!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 31.6 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 06 minutes. (My trusty milometer did however record the full journey as 38.4 miles!) The average speed was a healthy 11.3 despite the heat and the long lunch! Elevation was 1,891 feet. The maximum speed was 32.2 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,373 calories and produce an average power output of 190 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

All in all a fabulous day out – visiting fantastic friends – on a bicycle made for two!

Yellow Jersey Tadej Pogacar Tour de France victory celebration pedal to Gloagburn Farm Shop

All smiles in yellow for my dynamic crew celebrating Tadej Pogacar’s Tour de France victory.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had lots of fun and laughs on a Yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar Le Tour de France victory celebration #tandem to Gloagburn Farm Shop. There’s also news of this “old lady” tandem attracting even more media fame by being the focus of The ”Stoked To Be Here” podcast by the crew of a tandem round the world record attempt!

It was the final day of the biggest bike race in the world and Tadej Pogacar had already won his second Tour in a calendar year – as tradition means it was a procession into Paris. So Team Matilda decided to wear their yellow race leader’s jerseys in honour of Pogacar’s victory!

Tadej Pogacar on his way to Tour de France victory!

But before we get to the pedalling, I want to tell you just how delighted this “old lady” tandem was to be the subject of an entire hour long podcast! Talk about when two different worlds collide!

It was a great honour for Team Matilda to be interviewed on the “Stoked To Be Here” podcast presented by Laura Massey-Pugh, the stoker part of Stela Tandem Round the World Record. I mean my dynamic crew’s nutty adventures are about as far removed from an attempt at a record breaking tandem ride round the world as you can get!

But grab a drink, relax and listen to the entertaining podcast as the “old git” and “old gal” talk all things tandem! Simply click here to listen or on the SteLa Tandem image below.

So to our ride – and the “old git” decided a fairly early start was required as the forecast was for a scorcher of a day – as we say in these parts!  You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

My dynamic crew enjoyed a superb ride to Gloagburn where even the daunting climbs at Denfield and Gask seemed a bit easier than normal – maybe the “old git” was actually using the ‘correct’ gears! … as repeatedly requested by the “old gal”!

At the top of the climbs – to coincide with a breather! – there was time for a photoshoot to honour Tadej Pogacar’s position as the number one cyclist in the world!

Yellow jersey tribute to the No. 1 cyclists in the world Tadej Pogacar from the “old gal”.

My dynamic crew celebrating the Tour de France winner after the Denfield and Gask climbs.

On arrival at Gloagburn, the coffee shop was somewhat busy so my crew decided to buy some goodies from the farm shop and enjoy them on a sun-kissed bench on the farm grounds. Naturally there was a small toast to Tadej involved!

A toast from the “old gal” and “old git” to Tadej Pogacar while having a break at Gloagburn.

Tandeming back was a joy as the inevitable headwind that my dynamic crew face on this journey had all but disappeared to a whimper!

Crossing Kinkell Bridge there was time for a water stop and a few minutes of quiet contemplation at what is a spot with a special meaning to the “old gal”.

Team Matilda having a water stop and a moment of quiet contemplation at Kinkell Bridge.

Pedalling on my crew managed to power up their personal nemesis of Easthill without too much trouble – despite the ever-rising temperatures.

It was good to be back at Matildas Rest enjoying a cool drink on the decking. The “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of seven gongs – which was quite ok given the warm temperature – made up of two personal bests; two 2nd bests, and three 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 29.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 34 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 13.5 despite the heat! Elevation was 1,285 feet. The maximum speed was 34.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,991 calories and produce an average power output of 193 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Plenty of time later then to watch the end of the final stage of Le Tour de France and see Tadej Pogacar’s inevitable coronation in Paris.

Tadej Pogacar in the iconic yellow jersey celebrating his second Tour de France win in a calendar year!

Such a shame that Mark Cavendish didn’t win the Paris stage to break the record of the great Eddie Merckx – but what an amazing sporting comeback story for him to equal the record of 34 Le Tour de France stage wins – and win the green jersey too.

Comeback King! Mark Cavendish equals the record of 34 stage wins on Le Tour de France

A fun way for Team Matilda to honour some brilliant cycling champions – who are obviously substantially faster and fitter than my dynamic crew!

And another great sunny Sunday on a bicycle made for two!

Nutty Tandemers Club 2021 Mini Tour de Callander

Team Matilda in action tandeming along the NCN Rt7 on the Glen Ogle climb.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had epic fun on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2021 Mini Tour de Callander.

With Covid restrictions easing, Team Matilda welcomed ‘best pals’ Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor as fellow founding members of the self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club to Callander Woods Holiday Park – along with two honorary (ex-officio!!) weekend members Bob Bending and Karon Bending – for a weekend of nutty tandeming fun!

Well, strictly speaking it was Jane and John who were on the site first with their caravan earlier in the week, as part of a two week staycation – before being joined by Bob and Karon.

Due to work commitments my dynamic crew couldn’t arrive till the Friday evening after driving all of 23 miles from Matilda Rest – but it could have been 2,300 miles such was the desire to get away from home for a post lockdown mini break!

And immediately the madcap action began in signature Nutty Tandemers style as the two other crews joined my dynamic crew on the decking at their stylish bijou glamping pod for a prosecco welcome toast!

Cheers! The three Nutty Tandemers crews enjoying a signature prosecco toast on arrival!

Team Matilda’s glamping pod at Callander Woods.

After unpacking and exploring the extremely well fitted out pod my dynamic crew enjoyed a tasty carry-in fish and chips before the Nutty Tandemers convened at Bob and Karon’s static caravan for a proper get to know you session – with drinks and snacks.

John and Jane had met Bob and Karon before – but the “old git” and “old gal” only knew them from social media and in their roles as joint editors of The Tandem Club Journal.

It was a fun relaxing evening – full of laughs as all the crews exchanged tandeming stories – which set the scene brilliantly for the next two days of seriously nutty tandeming!

Ride 1 – Fab pedal to Killin for champagne and smoked salmon lunch thru Glen Ogle.

The destination was Killin for a champagne lunch at the Falls of Dochart Smokehouse.

The Saturday ride had been a long planned epic adventure – a true world class tandem ride with the three crews pedalling from Callander to Killin thru the magnificent Glen Ogle and over the viaduct. The route is on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network NCN Rt 7 – which runs through the stunning Rob Roy Country and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Departure was early at 9am as there was a lot to pack in to the day and amazingly the “old git” and “old gal” were ready on time! The exuberant crews were kitted up in anoraks as there was a bit of low cloud about which was promised to burn off later. It was an easy pedal to get from the holiday park thru the town of Callander and onto the well signposted NCN RT7 starting in the Meadows car park.

The cycle path heads out of Callander on the old Oban railway line alongside the picturesque River Leny. Now this is one of those railway lines that is most definitely not flat and has a slow gradual uphill section for the first two miles, which was a bit of a shock to my dynamic crew! But soon the synchronicity kicked in and we picked up speed. The two other crews of John and Jane and Bob and Karon were both riding electric assist e-Pino tandems, so obviously had no such problems!

The Nutty Tandemers crews all kitted up in anoraks and taking in the view at Falls of Leny.

The first photo stop was at the Falls of Leny before climbing thru the forest at Pass of Leny, with some brilliant colours and impressively tall trees. This climb rewarded the tandem crews with spectacular views across Loch Lubnaig, where the route hugs high above the loch’s western shore.

The three crews – including two electric assist e-Pino tandems – in the forest at Pass of Leny.

A close up shot showing the two e-assist Pinos and me – fuelled solely by old fashioned leg power!

Enjoying the relatively wind free conditions the Nutty Tandemers decided to indulge in a bit of monster spotting to see if we could see Lubbie – the mysterious monster said by locals to live deep in Loch Lubnaig! Despite some serious looking – and even some wildlife-type calls of “Lubbie, Lubbie, Lubbie” from the “old gal” – it was nowhere to be seen! Obviously Lubbie is equally publicity shy as its elusive cousin at Loch Ness!

Devastated at not being able to get a photo of Lubbie we tandemed onwards on the undulating path heading for Strathyre. All of a sudden at the end of the loch the relatively smooth path abruptly finished and we were faced with a very steep zig zag stone strewn section in the shadow of Ben Ledi! It was exciting for this “old lady”, who as you know likes to try new things – but the “old gal” on the back was less convinced by the sharp bends and bumpy ride, so we took a little walk! Perhaps not surprisingly the e-Pinos managed the tight bends, and rough surface, with relative ease thanks to the additional battery power!

Bit of a push for Team Matilda at the rough and steep zig zag section just before Strathyre.

Tandem Club Journal co-editor Bob in action as John and Jane’s e-Pino manages the climb!

Pedalling on we were soon at the fabulous welcoming Broch Café in Strathyre – which offers a real oasis for cyclists situated right beside the NCN Rt7, and has won awards for being one of the best bike-friendly cafes in Scotland. It offered an ideal spot for a Nutty Tandemers morning coffee and home-made cakes and scones stop,

It was great to see the café so busy – with full social distancing measures in place and it felt very safe. It was good to catch up with mine host Lesley Johnston again too. And greatly encouraging that the business is having its best ever season, no doubt helped by people holidaying at home.

A Nutty Tandemers morning coffee scones and cake stop at the bike friendly Broch Cafe.

After the coffee stop NCN Rt7 route continues to Kingshouse and on to Lochearnhead – tho we took a short detour on to the wide main road at this point, rejoining at the entrance to St Angus Church, which dates back to1888. Signposting along the route is superby clear.

Great clear signposting on The National Cycle Network Rt7 above Lochearnhead.

Leaving Lochearnhead there is a demanding steep zig zag section – with interesting tight z-bends as the cycle path rises 330 feet in just a mile, with a peak gradient of 12%. Whisper it – but my dynamic crew decided that they would push me up a bit of this section, which I think was a wise choice as I am a long vehicle and don’t bend in the middle for some of these sharp turns!

There was also a bit of slow powerful pedalling involved – which allowed the “old git” and “old gal” to feel justified in being suitably kitted out in their red polka dot King of the Mountain jerseys (Maillot à pois rouges!) to mark the first day of Le Tour de France!

The reward at the top of this section – as my dynamic crew got their breath back – was a wonderful view right up the 7 mile length of Loch Earn.

A bit of pushing required at the steep zig zags out of Lochearnhead …

… and a bit of slow powerful pedalling got Team Matilda up the steep incline …

… but the view up the full length of Loch Earn was a stunning reward for the “old git” and “old gal”!

The next section of the route was a real highlight for the Nutty Tandemers as it follows the old Killin railway line up thru Glen Ogle. It is a steady, but manageable, 1 in 50 climb for just under four miles to the summit. But the tandem crews hardly noticed the climb as they were too busy taking in the magnificent beauty and raw nature views across the Glen to the moody mist covered mountains beyond.

There is a “must do” photo stop at the magnificent scenic and atmospheric  Glen Ogle Viaduct – which dates back to 1870 and is a 12 arch, 139 feet long, 44 feet high single track masonry viaduct which runs along the steep eastern hillside of Meall Reamhar and Scorrach Nuadh.

The Nutty Tandemers at the spectacular Glen Ogle viaduct on the old steam railway line.

Pausing to take in the dramatic scenery, the tandem crews could (with a just a little bit of imagination) almost feel the impressive rich railway heritage of the Callander to Oban railway which had its heyday in the golden era of steam trains. What an impressive sight it must have been to see a train at full steam climbing up Glen Ogle.

A dramatic picture of a steam train heading up Glen Ogle in 1955

A British Railways poster from the golden age of steam in 1950.

In fact the whole of the Rob Roy Country area has a fascinating rail history which you can read more about here. Our tandem ride also took us past the point of the Glen Ogle rockfall – which led to the line’s early closure in 1965.

At the top of Glen Ogle, and crossing the A85, the dedicated cycle route drops down thru the Acharn Forest. But having previous experience of this cycle path – it is probably more suited to mountain bikes than road bikes.

So the Nutty Tandemers took to the main A85 road on a fantastic smooth downhill section – where Team Matilda clocked a speed of just over 40mph.

Our destination was the the tourist hot spot of Killin and the mesmerising Falls of Dochart. The “old git” had pre-booked lunch at the Falls of Dochart Smokehouse which turned out to be rather yummy smoked salmon tasting plates accompanied by a superb bottle of chilled Lanson champagne! Not a bad Nutty Tandemers lunch really!

Lanson champagne was the fizz for the Nutty Tandemers toast at Falls Of Dochart Smokehouse.

The fabulous tasting plate with freshly smoked salmon made a rather yummy lunch!

The “old gal” chilling and enjoying her cool glass of Lanson Champagne!

After lunch there was time for a quick walk around at the Falls of Dochart, which because the water was low allowed people to walk right out into what would be the middle of the river.

The “old gal” and Jane at the iconic tree in the middle of the Falls of Dochart in Killin.

All smiles from the “old gal” and the “old git” and Jane at the falls!

The least said about the return journey out of Killin to the head of Glen Ogle on the busy A85 the better. Lets just say it was really tough going for my dynamic crew – powered by legs and not by battery. It is a fairly hard climb at an average gradient of 8% as it rises nearly 600 feet in just 2 miles.

After a few stops to re-energise, my dynamic crew were glad to see the viewpoint carpark at the peak of the climb where Team Matilda rejoined the other Nutty Tandemers on NCN Rt7 for a most enjoyable downhill section.

There was even time for one of the Nutty Tandemers signature prosecco pit stops on the return journey just after crossing the Glen Ogle Viaduct – with a magnificent view over Loch Earn.

A traditional Nutty Tandemers prosecco pit stop overlooking Loch Earn.

The Nutty Tandemers continued their return journey re-tracing their steps to Lochearnhead then Kingshouse and Strathyre where my dynamic crew suddenly became somewhat less dynamic as they bonked – the cycling definition of hitting the wall thru a lack of energy!

Emergency supplies of an energy bar and a sugary drink were quickly sourced from the village shop in Strathyre – which took a few minutes to kick in but was enough to see Team Matilda revive and eventually catch up with the other tandem crews who had wisely moved on due to being bitten alive by midges.

Despite that minor setback it was a sensational day out in simply stunning scenery. Back in the comfort of our pod, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of an incredible 30 gongs – made up of no less than 12 personal bests; 17 2nd bests, and one 3rd best.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 47.1 miles with a moving time of 4 hours 36 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 10.2 mph despite the climbing! Elevation was 2,261 feet. The maximum speed was 40.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 3,184 calories and produce an average power output of 172 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

After a welcome shower the Nutty Tandem crews headed to the Potting Shed Cafe Bistro at the nearby posh Roman Camp Hotel in Callander for a most convivial evening of drinks and dinner. The food was excellent – coming from the same kitchen team as the hotel but much more affordable – and was served in a suitably relaxed and informal setting. of a converted potting shed in the middle of the hotel’s gardens. Perfect for the occasion!

On return to base there was time for a quick nightcap at John and Jane’s caravan before yawns all round signaled it was time for sleep to recharge the batteries for the next day’s nutty adventure!

Ride 2 – BLiSSful Loch Earn loop with prosecco picnic and visit to see outside artworks at Briar Cottages

Team Matilda’s stylish pod at Callander Woods Holiday Park. Very bijou and comfy!

A slightly later start for the Sunday ride – to allow for additional recovery time from yesterday’s exertion, and last night’s indulgences! After Saturday’s epic ride thru Glen Ogle to Killin, Sunday’s scheduled tandem was set to be equally spectacular with the three #tandem crews doing a route from Callander to Strathyre then a leisurely anti clockwise loop round Loch Earn mainly on the Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network NCN Rt7.

Apart from the fabulous scenery, this would allow the Nutty Tandemers to take in parts of the fabulous Robroycountry outside artwork #BLiSStrail in the heart of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The  initial section of the route followed the same start as yesterday, with the crews pedalling from Callander on NCN Rt7 towards Strathyre – again passing the Falls of Leny, going thru the forest at Pass of Leny and then above Loch Lubnaig before negotiating the rough zig zags before dropping down to Strathyre for the first of several re-fuelling stops planned for the day.

The first was a re-visit to the superb highly recommended bike friendly The Broch Cafe in Strathyre where owner Lesley Johnston served up some more great home made cakes and scones and welcome strong coffee to help wipe out any hangovers!

Nutty Tandemers morning coffee cake and scone stop at The Broch Cafe in Strathyre

The three tandem crews got back on their bikes to enjoy a wonderfully smooth section of NCN Rt7 towards Kingshouse. Before the “old git” built up the pace there was a quick photo at Drover’s Bho – part of the award-winning innovative cultural outside art #BLiSStrail which is  the brainchild of LETi, the local Loch Earn Tourism Information group.

The “old gal” at the Drover’s Bho installation on the BLiSStrail on NCN Rt7 at Strathyre.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Kim Proven, chair of LETi, and her fellow community team volunteers, the trail had the honour a couple of years ago of being crowned winner of the ‘Innovation in Tourism’ category at the National Grand Final of the VisitScotland Scottish Thistle Awards – regarded as Scotland’s tourism ‘Oscars’.

There is a great new audio tour of the BLiSStrail where you simply download the Geotourist app on your smartphone, follow the trail and listen to the voices of locals and artists as they tell stories about the artworks around the trail.

Team Matilda in action pedalling along NCN Rt7 just after Strathyre in Robroycountry.

After heading towards Lochearn the Nutty Tandemers started their loop of picturesque Loch Earn by taking the signposted route along the quieter south side of the loch. This is a great gently undulating section with the single track road hugging the edge of the loch most of the way.

One of the viewpoints is overlooking Edinample Castle – a late 16th Century tower house which has a bit of a chequered past. It was originally built by ‘Black’ Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy and is built on land acquired by the Campbells after their campaign for proscription, and the subsequent demise of the MacGregors.

Team Matilda overlooking the impressive Edinample Castle on the south shore of Loch Earn.

Like all good castles it has its very own ghost! It is said that Black Duncan pushed the castle’s architect off the roof, in part to avoid paying him, but also because he omitted to construct the ramparts that had been requested. It is also said that the ghost of the builder has been seen walking on the roof near the aforesaid ramparts.

Edinample fell into a state of dereliction by the early 1970s – but it has now been refurbished for use as a private family home.

The tandem crews did have to pay attention and take care as the south side section was fairly busy in stretches – particularly around Ardvorlich – with cars using every conceivable parking space for hillwalkers doing the popular Ben Vorlich route. There were plenty of quiet areas for spectacular photo stops however, and Jane also managed to capture the “old git” and “old gal” in full pedal!

Great weather and fab views for the Nutty Tandemers on the quieter south side of Loch Earn.

All smiles from the “old gal” and “old git” in full pedal in this action shot captured by Jane!

The water was very calm today but the “old git” couldn’t resist recounting the interesting fact that Loch Earn is one of very few freshwater bodies of water that has its own seiche – a tidal system which is caused by the action of the prevailing wind blowing along the loch. This makes Loch Earn fairly unique and is in the illustrious company of a few other bodies of fresh water which experience this effect including the Great Lakes, Lake Garda, and Lake Geneva.

Lunch was designated as a self-catering posh prosecco picnic and the Nutty Tandemers didn’t disappoint with their individual menus – all of which was enjoyed in a lovely quiet setting just before St Fillans, at the end of Loch Earn. The fizz was perfectly air cooled after being transported in the La Bouclée bike wine carrier! As always the signature Nutty Tandemers prosecco picnic set up caused more than a bit of interest from passing cars!

Prosecco picnic cheers – John and Jane enjoying their posh picnic fizz, complete with napkins!

Bob and Karon enjoying the fizz with their shiny bronze coloured glasses!

The “old gal” and “old git” enjoying their posh picnic bubbles!

Jane’s remotely taken picnic image manages to capture 5 and a half of the Nutty Tandemers!

Fuelled by the fizz, the pretty village of St Fillans was the venue for a series of suitably nutty madcap photos for the crews including another of the BLiSStrail artworks, the Moodnight Meadows cowch – a bench which looks like a cow! – superbly situated looking over the full length of Loch Earn.

This included another classic The Three Wise Monkeys shot. Now the original Nutty Tandemers have been making a thing of taking an annual photo of that pose – for their nutty photo highlights calendar – since their first ever tandem tour back in 2016. So the cowch provided the perfect setting for a “See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” pose, complete with Tandem Club buffs!

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – Jane, the “old git” and John, complete with Tandem Club buffs.

Bob and Karon joined in the Three Wise Monkeys fun with the “old gal”!

The “old gal” and “old git” enjoying the view sitting on Moodnight Meadow at St Fillans.

The “old git” having fun on a jetty looking down the full length of Loch Earn!

After cycling down the busier north side of Loch Earn the Nutty Tandemers enjoyed a real highlight of the day with an invitation from Kim Proven – who heads the local tourist body as previously mentioned – and her husband Fraser, for a wonderfully hospitable refreshment stop at the magnificent garden of their Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead holiday accommodation business.

The garden and the views are just sublime and on the lawn are two magnificent metal artworks which are part of the BLiSStrail – Stan the Stag and Blawn Wi the Wind.  It was a truly magical stop – hugely appreciated by the Nutty Tandemers.

The three Nutty Tandemers crews posing with Stan the Stag at Briar Cottages,

A triple tandem line-up with Blawn Wi The Wind – another artwork installation on the BLiSStrail

The three Nutty Tandemers crews in the garden of Briar Cottages with owner Kim Proven

The “old gal” enjoying the view up Loch Earn from the magical garden.

The “old git” with Kim and Fraser, owners of Briar Cottages holiday accommodation.

Two iconic metal structures together – this “old lady” tandem and Stan the Stag!

It was time to pedal on to Kingshouse where there was a final stop to re-energise at the popular Mhor 84 Motel. Bob and Karon did a few extra miles at this point to bag a British Cycle Quest clue at nearby Rob Roy’s Grave at Balquhidder, while the two other crews had a cool refreshment (of the soft drink variety!) and an energy bar.

As a result, when it was time for the final pedal back to base at Callander, I am delighted to report that the “old git” and “old gal” had learned their lesson from yesterday and did not suffer from bonking!

Time for one final photo stop to emphasise that my dynamic crew pedalled the routes over the two days using only their leg power – unlike the electric battery power assist on the e-pinos tandems! In fact the only battery used by Team Matilda was a solar powered one for phone charging!

Electric battery assist power on the e-pinos v solar power for Team Matilda! – for phone charging!

Back at Callander Woods the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of another 29 gongs – an amazing 16 personal bests; 12 2nd bests, and one 3rd best.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 46.6 miles with a moving time of 4 hours 03 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.5 mph. Elevation was 1,531 feet. The maximum speed was 28.4 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,653 calories and produce an average power output of 163 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

The “old git” and “old gal” had an evening meal of delicious pizza before the Nutty Tandemers gathered on the decking of Team Matilda’s pod for some end of tour celebration drinks, and to recount the highlights of the weekend.

The “old git” perfecting the art of pouring the prosecco!

The total for the two Nutty Tandemers rides was over 90 miles – 93.7 miles to be exact, with a total elevation of a not insubstantial 3,892 feet.

And with even more smiles and laughs than the miles, the Nutty Tandemers all agreed that they had enjoyed a simply superb weekend of tandeming – underlining just how its “double the fun” on bicycles built for two!

As the sunset produced some magical colours through the trees at Callander Woods Holiday Park there was time for a final toast to “Nutty Tandeming!”

John and Jane and the magical colourful sunset at Callander Woods Holiday Park.

Huge thanks to John and Jane and Bob and Karon for their efforts and enthusiasm to share the Mini Tour de Callander. They all more than lived up to being fellow Nutty Tandemers and proved they are real kindred spirits to my dynamic crew!

Team Matilda certainly can’t wait for the next Nutty Tandemers tour!

Take 2 – Delayed leisurely coastal pedal to Arbroath for sun-kissed alfresco prosecco picnic – and Landward tv feature!

Fabulous blue skies on Team Matildas coastal tandem route to Arbroath.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a brilliant Take 2 – Delayed leisurely coastal #tandem to Arbroath for a sun-kissed alfresco prosecco picnic ride on The National Cycle Network NCN Rt1. There’s also news of this “old lady” tandem attracting more media fame by featuring on BBC Scotland’s Landward tv programme!

It was Take 2 as this was the group ride which had been scheduled during the previous weekend’s Maymas delayed festive celebrations. You may remember that Team Matilda had planned to ride to Arbroath with fellow Nutty Tandemers Jane and John – joined by solo cycling friends Anne and Alan.

But sadly the ride had to be abandoned in the Tay bridge Car Park as Jane and John hit a mechanical with their handlebar stem on their tandem which couldn’t be repaired and Anne had a puncture on her solo bike – which was quite a feat on a tubeless tyre. It was probably just as well however as the low cloud- known locally as haar – made conditions far from ideal.

So a week later my dynamic crew decided to revisit the scheduled ride – but alas just on their own as the others had returned to their bases in Englandshire.

But before we get to the pedalling, I want to tell you just how delighted this “old lady” tandem was to make an appearance – albeit a fleeting blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance! – on The Landward tv programme on BBC Scotland as Team Matilda pedalled past Castle Stalker at Appin.

The footage appeared in the viewer’s videos section of the tv show – in the august company of presenters Dougie Vipond and Nick Nairn! The fame may go to my pedals!

You can watch the short 25 second clip of the programme – with our tandem flypast – by clicking here to view or on the image below.

You know I am quite enjoying all this publicity – in fact I am picking up a nickname of being a bit of a media tart! So much so that the “old git” thought about making a sign for my ageing frame proudly pronouncing “Matilda the tandem – as seen on BBC Scotland tv!” … but then thought better of it. Well, truth be told, the “old gal” put her foot down and said no!

Ready to roll from the Tay Bridge Car Park opposite Dundee under fabulous blue sky!

So to our ride – and what a difference in weather conditions from the previous week. No signs of the chilly and damp haar – with blue skies and warm sunshine as Matilda Transport pulled in to the Tay Bridge Car Park across from Dundee. The “old git” and “old gal” just knew it was going to be one of those glorious blissful tandem days. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The decision was taken to make this a leisurely relaxed ride as my dynamic crew’s schedule had been a bit hectic recently – and decided to treat the day like a holiday.

The “old gal” in particular loves the route to Arbroath as it is pretty flat all the way. We headed up past Dundee Docks and thru Broughty Ferry with sensational views out to sea at Monifeith Sands.

The “old gal” enjoying the blissful conditions at Monifeith Sands.

The “old git” taking in the stunning views over Monifieth Sands as NCN Rt1 hugs the coast.

The “old gal” called a stop for welcome morning coffee looking out onto the beach at Carnoustie. Pedalling on, conditions were just ideal for tandeming – with warm sunshine beating down as my dynamic crew enjoyed the path which hugs the coast.

Arbroath was looking resplendent as we arrived in the bright warm sunshine!

Into Arbroath and some purchases of fresh fish were made from the amazingly named C Lyons Fresh Fish (get it?!!) – prawns, salmon and cooked mussels – to add to Team Matilda’s signature prosecco picnic which was enjoyed overlooking the harbour and marina.

Well the prosecco was actually a fabulous bottle of Cremant de Loire which had a Diane label on it – a gift from fellow Nutty Tandemers Club friends Jane and John last weekend from our wonderful Maymas celebrations! The noise of the popping of the fizz cork certainly caught the attention of some Arbroath locals who all commented favourably – and enviously! – about our posh picnic!

A signature Team Matilda posh picnic complete with Chateau Diane fizz!

Cheers! My dynamic crew enjoying the bubbles at Arbroath Harbour.

There was time for a post picnic wander round the harbour – with loads of scenic lobster pots about – and a visit to the Arbroath RNLI Shop to show support.

Here I am basking in the sun beside the lobsterpots at the harbourside at Arbroath.

The paths were much busier on the return journey so the pace had to be a good bit slower to avoid prams and rogue dogs – with my French horn in regular use! – but it was fantastic tandeming.

My dynamic crew stopped in East Haven to view two artworks – the first was a Sustrans Scotland Art Roots Fund wooden carving celebrating the village’s rich fishing heritage as one of the oldest fishing communities in Scotland, which dates back to 1214. Naturally the “old git” had to have a photo taken trying (and failing!) to subtly blend in with the sculpture!

Fascinating wooden carved artwork at East Haven to honour local fishermen.

The second was an amazing new monument dedicated to the important role played by Airedale Terriers in WW1 after being trained on local beaches.

A new memorial to the key role played by Airedale Terriers in WW1 after training on local beaches.

The sun was beating down now and the “old git” decided a refreshment stop was required and my dynamic crew pulled in for a nice cool drink at The Ship Inn at Broughty Ferry – where the “old gal” had a few seconds of shut eye in the sun!

The “old gal” enjoying the sunshine and a beer at The Ship Inn at Broughty Ferry!

Great fun on the return to Dundee where the “old git” had arranged to meetup with his former work colleague and friend Arthur Hayburn for a catch-up in the impressive The Wine Press near the city’s waterfront. Amazingly Arthur turned up in a bright orange t-shirt to unknowingly match my dynamic crew!

“The boys from Holland!” Good to meet up with Arthur Hayburn for a quick catch-up in Dundee.

An amusing aside was when an American accented lady asked us if we were from Holland as we were all wearing orange! In fact she then asked if we were from Amsterdam. To which the “old gal” quick-as-a-flash retorted: “No, we’re not from Amsterdam, we’re from Auchterarder” – which caused some confused looks!

The final part of the route was the return “uphill” crossing of the Tay Road Bridge – where amazingly Team Matilda recorded their second fastest time!

When I was safely packed back into Matilda Transport at the Tay Bridge Car Park, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of an incredible 31 gongs – quite amazing given the relaxed nature of the ride! – nine personal bests; 15 2nd bests, and seven 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 39.4 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 14 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.2 despite the ever present sea breeze! Elevation was just 417 feet. The maximum speed was 31.8 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,726 calories and produce an average power output of 133 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

All in all a fantastic way to spend a sunny Sunday. It was a shame our friends Jane, John, Anne and Alan were not able to join us and experience the joys of this fabulous route with us. But once again the day underlines how it is “double the fun” pedalling on a bicycle made for two!

Nutty Tandemers Maymas Tour – Giro themed ride to Glamis Castle for posh afternoon tea!

Glamis Castle – claiming to be “Scotland’s most beautiful castle” – was the destination of our ride.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had huge amounts of fun and laughter on the #NuttyTandemers Maymas Tour – on a Giro-themed ride to Glamis Castle from Dunkeld for posh afternoon tea!

Team Matilda welcomed ‘best pals’ Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor as fellow founding (and only!) members of the self-proclaimed and highly exclusive Nutty Tandemers Club to Matilda’s Rest for a much delayed and highly memorable festive celebration rescheduled from December.

Jane and John – who have their own Travelling In Tandem blog – have the same nutty attitude to tandeming as the “old git” and “old gal”. So with Covid restrictions easing, my dynamic crew decided to host a Maymas weekend – Christmas, but five months later! – over the end of May Bank Holiday!

The weekend started with a full on festive celebratory prosecco toast with all the Nutty Tandemers suitably dressed in festive headgear while the “old gal” went all the way with her Mrs Clause outfit.

Merry Maymas Everybody! A much postponed Christmas Nutty Tandemers Club toast!

Naturally this nuttiness had to be filmed, so with apologies to Slade this is the video of the fun ‘Merry Maymas Everybody’ toast! Click here to view or on the image below.

Both tandem crews then exchanged presents – dutifully wrapped in Christmas paper – just five months late! It will come as no surprise to find that there was a prosecco theme to a few gifts! But my dynamic crew were delighted with a present from John and Jane of an outdoor garden ornament set of The Three Wise Monkeys!

The set of Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil, See No Evil monkeys was a perfect gift as the tandem crews have been making a thing of taking an annual photo of that pose – for their Nutty Tandemers calendar – since their first ever tandem tour back in 2016. It was inevitable then that there had to be a photo!

Three Wise Monkeys – Jane and the “old gal” and “old git” recreate the pose!

After the excitement of the presents it was time for the full Christmas dinner including turkey and nut roast with all the trimmings. The table was suitably decorated with festive napkins and crackers! And there was some suitably festive wine too!

There was even a #tandem themed version of ‘Pin the red nose on Rudolph’ with a hillarious game of ‘Pin the pannier on Matilda’! John was a real expert at this and seem to have an in-built knowledge of my rear frame – despite the blindfold!

The fun continued with ‘pin the pannier on Matilda’ and John was an expert!

Again this very enjoyable madness was filmed – so click here to view or on the image below.

A fabulous evening of bonhomie came to an end to allow some sleep! This was in retrospect a good move as Sunday Morning saw the #tandem teams up early, with no hangovers!, and driving to Dunkeld for a planned 50 plus mile rideout to Glamis Castle in Angus – the ancestral home of The Queen Mother – for posh afternoon tea.

Ready to roll – the Nutty Tandemers at Dunkeld before riding out to Glamis Castle.

Given this was the final day of the Giro d’Italia – it naturally became a Giro themed ride – with my dynamic crew in their EF Pro Cycling pink jerseys making them feel as if they were wearing the race leader’s Malia Rosa! You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The request to the weather gods had worked as they opted to grant warm sunshine so it was a real pleasure pedalling along the quiet back country roads recommended by Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network in rural Perthshire. The route took us past Meikleour Beech Hedge – recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the highest hedge in the world.

The route went past Meikleour Beech Hedge – recognised as the highest hedge in the world!

After tandeming thru Coupar Angus the route was along the busier A94 to Forfar – but that was soon forgotten when we arrived at the gates to tandem up the majestic mile long driveway to Glamis Castle.

At the gates of Glamis Castle ready to tandem down the mile long driveway!

A shot from Jane’s stoker position of my dynamic crew riding up to Glamis.

As we arrived the chap on the ticket booth commented that it was very stylish and unusual way to arrive by tandem at the castle! Glamis claims to be “Scotland’s most beautiful castle” and is quite stunning, easily living up that claim!

The stunningly beautiful Glamis offered the perfect backdrop for me and the “old git” to pose!

Glamis had been chosen as our destination after featuring on Susan Calman‘s Secret Scotland programme on Channel 5. Having been inspired to visit by watching #SecretScotland, naturally the “old git” decided to make a fun little video as we arrived – in typical Susan style! Click here to view or on the image below.

The tandem crews were a bit early for their afternoon tea booking – made for lunchtime – so the “old git” found a suitable bench looking directly on to the castle for the obligatory Nutty Tandemers prosecco toast – which was a perfect aperitif for the food to follow.

It just wouldn’t be a Nutty Tandemers ride without the essential prosecco toast!

Warm sunshine for the prosecco toast at Glamis Castle – a perfect aperitif for afternoon tea!

The Glamis Afternoon Tea was certainly posh nosh and did not disappoint! Served in the castle kitchen – with platefuls groaning with savoury delights including smoked salmon on oatcakes, finger sandwiches and sausage rolls. Then there were scones, clotted cream and jam – followed by petite cups of chocolate mouse and an array of yummy cakes.

The “old gal” enjoying the magnificent spread of goodies at the Glamis afternoon tea!

There was actually too much food and the tandem crews were presented with Glamis “doggy bags” to take the rest home! Fabulous service!

Here I am with my tandem friend Siggy outside Glamis – and the afternoon tea ‘doggy bag’!

Replete the crews decided on a walk round the fabulous castle gardens enjoying the warm sunshine – including the Italian Garden and the Walled Garden. There is a very interesting Macbeth Trail of wooden sculptures thru the Pinetum – as Glamis is known as the inspiration for Shakespeare’s celebrated play Macbeth.

The witches coven statue provided an unmissable photo opportunity where the “old gal” and Jane temporarily joined the coven! They did however refrain from a chorus of “Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”!

The “old gal” and Jane joining the witches coven wooden sculpture on the Macbeth Trail at Glamis!

The warm sunshine and relaxed atmosphere created plenty of opportunity for more daft fun photos – with the crews more than living up to their Nutty Tandemers name – during the walk thru the Macbeth Trail, and the Pinetum. This area, planted around1870, has a variety of exotic trees, many of which are conifers native to North America and are tallest examples of their species in the country.

A nutty knees up in the Pinetum with John, the “old gal” and the “old git”!

A modern-day addition to the Macbeth statue of a mobile phone – mirrored by the “old git”!

‘Is this a dagger I see before me?’ No – its just John and the “old git”!

King Duncan and the “old git” – but which is which?!

John and Jane dwarfed by the massive size of the trees in the Pinetum.

After all the nutty fun it was time to leave Glamis and have a fairly quick tandem back to Dunkeld to work off some excesses of the afternoon tea! There was a stop at a farm shop to buy some beautifully fresh strawberries and asparagus from Denhead Farm. It was the perfect way to buy food – straight from the field with zero food miles!

Thumbs up from the Nutty Tandemers back at Dunkeld after the 56 mile ride.

Back at Matildas Rest – over a cool drink – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride, showing my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 56.09 miles with a moving time of 4 hours 07 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 13.6 mph while elevation was 1,777 feet. The maximum speed was 31.8 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,672 calories and produce an average power output of 161 W. No gongs as it was all a new route.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

The Giro theme was continued with a pizza and prosecco meal – complete with fresh asparagus – and watching the final stage of the race! A great way to bring to an end a fabulous Maymas pedal – underlining what just fantastic fun you can have with great friends on a bicycle made for two!

Just as well that the Sunday ride was fab as the plan for a second ride on Bank Holiday Monday fell spectacularly apart before we even got started! The idea was that the Nutty Tandemers were to be joined by solo cyclist friends Anne Connell and Alan Ince for the ride from Dundee to Arbroath for a prosecco picnic pedalling on the magnificent coastal section of NCN Rt1. All sounds idyllic.

The reality was somewhat different! The ride had to be abandoned in the Tay Bridge Car Park as Jane and John hit a nasty mechanical with their handlebar stem which could not be repaired, while simultaneously Anne had a puncture – which in itself was quite an amazing feat as it was a tubeless tyre. It was all probably no bad thing however, as the early morning weather conditions of thick low cloud – known locally as haar – made conditions rather chilly and damp.

So Plan B was hatched which saw the crews retreat to the sumptuous café in the new V & A Dundee – Scotland’s design museum – on the waterfront for coffee and scones. The sun re-appeared after driving back to base, so the afternoon continued in a most convivial manner with the crews enjoying lots of prosecco while chatting on the decking at Matilda Rest. Not too bad an outcome really!

The Nutty Tandemers rounded off their very sociable mini break with a yummy meal at The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning to celebrate a superb Maymas weekend.

Huge thanks to John and Jane for their efforts for all the driving to be with us so we could finally share our festive celebrations! They more than lived up to being fellow Nutty Tandemers and once again proved they are real kindred spirits to my dynamic crew!

Team Matilda can’t wait for the next Nutty Tandemers adventures – coming very soon!