The first ever trip on a hired tandem… and the rest is history!
On Easter Monday Chief Pilot and Chief Stoker decided to take me out for the first run of the season – back to where their love of tandeming all began – Loch Katrine. You see the “old git” decided he would suggest something different when the “old gal” suggested the pair of them go away for a day for a picnic – back in the days when they were trying to woo each other and impress each other with crazy ideas! Mind you, I am glad or I wouldn’t be here musing about my life.
You see the “old girl” had said something about going to the Trossachs for the day, and the “old git” googled Loch Katrine to see if they could hire bikes – and discovered they hired tandems at the Trossachs pier where the steamship Walter Scott sails from.
So despite never having been on a tandem before – and not having been on a bike for years – neither of them wanted to lose face, so readily agreed that they would hire a tandem, sail down the loch to Stronachlachar and cycle back the 14 miles along the water board road around the side of the loch. Oh and they would have a picnic as well, and it would be a fun day!
So that is why on a Sunday in July the pair found themselves in charge of a tandem for the day – wheeling it on to the steam ship and enjoying the hour-long cruise down the loch.
I could have told them, but obviously I didn’t know them at that stage. But it was a potential recipe for disaster as the terrain is rather hilly. And it was a fairly wet day!
Which is why they set off with gay abandon, just about keeping their balance for the first 200 yards before they hit the first hill. The old git changed gears to make things easier, only he moved them up the gears and the tandem ground to a halt.
Apparently it was almost the end of a beautiful friendship, but worse was to come. They pushed up the hill and got going again as the rain started. They were just about getting the hang of it before they faced another hill. This time they took the easy option of getting off and pushing up the incline. At the top the “old git” got back on the saddle, and thinking the “old gal” was ready (but without the crucial step of asking) started to pedal off again!
Only the “old gal” hadn’t mounted the bike in time and as the tandem took off she shot off the back, landing in a heap in a big puddle on the wet road!
Well, lets just say words were exchanged! And the local Dutch tourist who passed had to ask for a translation as the words he heard were not in his holiday phrase book!
But somehow they endured the remainder of the journey with much laughter and finished in a triumphal mood having dried out in the breeze. And what a hoot they had over the picnic as the Chief Stoker knew the Chief Pilot had a big appetite and was trying to impress him with a freezer box packed full of picnic goodies – including no less than three family-sized packs of sliced chicken – in different flavours no less! Chief Pilot was most impressed, although he ribs the “old gal” about being able to feed 500 every time they pack a picnic!
And as they say, the rest is history, as they not only fell in love with each other, but they fell in love with tandeming and decided at the very least to repeat the exercise.
In fact they did this several times, both at Loch Katrine and on the west coast island of Millport – and after getting the hang of changing the gears, and developing a well-refined system (“Are you ready? ok, 3-2-1-Go”) for starting off, they decided they would like to become the owners of a tandem.
As luck would have it I had been well looked after and well-travelled at the hands of my long-standing owners in the nearby village of Blackford. But I had been languishing in their garage and it was suggested in a conversation in the “old gal’s” hairdressing salon that they might want to purchase me.
And they did. And renamed me Matilda, and so the adventures began.
I tell you, they may be totally mad, but they are very proud owners and very kind “parents” as I am showing my age a bit now compared to some of these new trendy young-thing tandems that you can buy.
But I am glad they purchased me as I get to be where I am happiest – out on the open road again.
So there we were on Easter Monday – my first trip to Loch Katrine any my first trip on the Walter Scott steam ship. A lovely sail down the loch, lunch at the splendid Stronachlachar pier tea room, before a steady cycle back over the 14 miles. And even tho the pair of them were a bit rusty from the winter, they managed it in record time – with no major incidents.
Cheers! A welcome refreshment stop at a Loch Katrine picnic table.
And the sun even shone and the intrepid duo even managed a stop at a picnic table for a chilled glass of wine – much to the envy of many other passing cyclists.
But they correctly decided that my old-fashioned drop racing handlebars at the front, and my very small rear handle bars were too uncomfortable and making the cycling harder than it should. My gears were slipping and my brakes were not up to scratch – so next stop was a welcome major refurb.