Trip t-shirts and maps arrive!

Quelle excitement!! (See I am learning the lingo!) With just over a week to go till “Team Tandem”set off for the Tour de Burgundy du Tandem excitement is reaching fever pitch at Matilda’s Rest (that’s what I call the house, you see!)

The “old git” persuaded the “old gal” that they needed new t-shirts for the trip to make them stand out! The “old gal” decided that they should be funny, and say “Two old farts on a tandem” complete with a tandem logo. The “old git” agreed – but said they should be bi-lingual shirts, with the English version on one side and French on the other!

So after in-depth consultation with Google translation and a friendly linguist, they came up with the phrase: “Deux vieux schnoques sur un tandem” for the French version.

Then it was simply a matter of handing over the design artwork to a good friend of the “old gal” called Gill, who along with her husband Kevin run Sprinterz in Perth – who are digital print and embroidery specialists.

The highly-professional team at Sprinterz came up trumps producing t-shirts in electric pink lightweight cool material, with black printing. There was even space for the web address for my blog! Clever guys or what?

Old farts t-shirts WP_002049

 The bi-lingual “old farts” t-shirts – in electric pink. There is no hiding place! 

Gill was good enough to deliver them to Matilda’s Rest – and when the “old git” saw them, I thought he was going to have heart failure as he was so excited! Think of the famous three “yes” moment when Meg Ryan eats a pizza in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and you will kind of get the idea!

However I have to admit they are rather nifty, and the coolest thing about them is that the “old git’s” has the French version on the front and English on the back, while the “old gal” has hers the other way! That means if they are walking side by side in France, no one will be in any doubt about who they are!

If you ask me they are a right pair of attention seekers, but then I am just jealous – albeit I totally agree with the “old farts” sentiment on the shirts!

The shirts really are brilliantly designed and made – and here is the plug … if you need t-shirts or any kind of items digitally printed or embroidered then you have to contact them! You won’t be disappointed!

Now if that wasn’t enough excitement for the “old git” a package of travel documents arrived from travel company Exodus.

This contained detailed directions for each day as it is a self-guided trip; a large-scale map of Burgundy; trip notes about what to expect en route; and a list of the quaint hotels that we are staying in  along the way.

You can check out the details of the Cycling the Villages and Vineyards of Burgundy trip from the Exodus web-site by clicking here.

maps 3

Maps, maps and more maps – what could possibly go wrong?

With so many maps, and directions, the “old git” will be in his element – but he has graciously handed over the daily direction finding to the “old gal”. I mean with so many maps and instructions, what could possibly go wrong?

All the dynamic duo have to do is come up with some kind of system whereby the “old gal” can actually read the trip notes and directions as they cycle along!

One thing is for sure, I am not taking the blame if they end up “Lost in France!”

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The countdown is on – two weeks to go!

Only two weeks to go before the “Grande Depart” for the Tour de Burgundy du Tandem and I must say I am getting rather excited at the prospect of heading abroad for the tour.

And with such a short time to go before we head off, it all seems very real and that “we are going on holiday.”

So the “old git” and the “old gal” are going to have to get focused on some serious planning and list making – including the list about lists!! – to be organised for any eventuality.

To start the process of making me even more eye-catching when abroad, they have added some very nice stickers to my panniers – leaving people in no doubt that we are from Scotland. I even have a bumper sticker on my rear, like a car would have, saying ‘Ecosse’.

Mat Ecosse stickers!

My ‘Ecosse’ sticker – well its good to speak the local lingo! 

Now I have to say that these stickers and my Scottish branding is certainly not to be misconstrued that the “old git” or the “old gal” (or indeed me, perish the thought) is an ardent supporter of independence. Absolutely not, Nothing could be further from the truth!

And the fact that the referendum takes place while we are away in France is a mere coincidence. But postal votes have been organised to be lodged before departure. And lets just say that anyone who asks our opinion on the subject of independence during the trip will be told: “Well, it’s always better when we are together!”

However – as the polls seems to be narrowing by the day – I am just a little worried that since the big vote on September 18th is when we are away … will we need a new Scottish passport to get home again to Auchterarder if the vote goes the wrong way?!

Anyway, putting the political stuff to the side, the three of us had a great ride out on Sunday morning. We had indulged in more than a little French wine the night before with good friends Ann and Jack – just get into the mood for France.

The “old gal” was a little bit light-headed when she woke up – but the “old git” told her no excuses would be accepted and we pedalled off in bright sunshine and zero wind, After the stormy weather we have had recently, it really was a gorgeous morning and soon we were whizzing along the country roads and reached Dunning in no time. The “old git” decided to head further, and soon we were in the village of Forteviot.

We caused quite a stir as the local small church was coming out and at least two people came over and asked all about me, and how old I was, and said how good I looked. After all, it’s all about me!

The “old gal” almost sparked a bit of Sunday morning controversy during one of the chats however. A very nice old chap politely asked if we were married, as he said that he had heard that if you are married then it doesn’t really work on a tandem!

To which, quick as a flash, the “old gal” replied: “Well we have both been married – just not to each other!” Splutter!!! Well I thought he was going to have a heart attach, but he recovered and smiled benevolently before he drove off!

After a quick water stop, we headed back. The “old gal” was even complimenting the “old git” on his use of my gears – he really does seem to have (finally, oh so very finally) got the hang of going down a gear to make life easier going up a hill. Praise indeed!

The other addition I have had in the last day or so, is that I now have a nifty trip computer attached to my handlebars, so the “old git” can bore the “old gal” to death by regularly giving updates on a wide variety of data including distance travelled, our average speed, the top speed we reached, the temperature,  how many calories we have burned, and even what CO2 emissions we are saving by cycling instead of using the car.

Mat trip computer

My new trip computer – complete with digital readout!

Actually I do think it will be useful in France as it gives an overview of the distance travelled – and how long to go till the next food or wine stop! And as the “old gal” pointed out, the best thing is that it only gives a read out of calories burned – it doesn’t offset them against any input of calories!

Both agree that a good, maintainable, average speed on the flat is somewhere between 10 and 12 mph – while at anything less than 5 mph the wobble factor comes into play which affects the balance and makes pedalling a lot more difficult, and requiring more effort, than it should.

So for the record, the return trip from Forteviot – which involves a few long uphill stretches – saw us cover the distance of 8.5 miles in 54 minutes. The trip computer said this meant our average speed was 9.4 mph, while (amazingly) we reached the giddy heights of 30.1 mph on one steep downhill stretch! And we burned 422 calories on the way!

So in less than two hours we had done a 17 mile run and enjoyed some bright sunshine and lots of fresh air. The “old git” was feeling very virtuous, and – whisper it – but I think that just about cured the “old gal’s” hangover!

Mind you, I supposed that counts as good practice as well!

Gearing up – just three weeks to go!

So just three weeks till the Tour de Burgundy du Tandem and its been an eventful few days as the countdown continues to the departure date. Firstly, the “old git decided to get some publicity cards printed up for my blog – Matildas Musings – so they can give them out if anyone asks about their grand trip.

And even though the “old gal” and I team up to take the mickey out of some of his ideas from time to time, I have to say this time the results are not bad. I now have a very professionally designed business card which shows the three of us on the front in glossy colour.

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The front of my business card for my blog – I am now official!

As you can see from the image above, not only does it have the web address for the blog – but also the description of what the blog is about – all written over that picture taken at Balmaha during the Two Loch Challenge.

I must say the two ladies in the picture are looking very slim line and sleek – shame about the “old git” really, but I suppose you can’t have everything! He tells me it is muscle .. but I have my doubts!

And the back of the card contains a nice tandem logo and contact details for the “old git” and “the old gal.”

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The reverse side of my new business card.

I must say, I don’t know why my contact details are not printed on the card as I am the start of the show – but I suppose I do get the full blog address emblazoned across it – twice!

Apart from the excitement of the business cards, I have been back in tandem hospital since my last outing on Millport. I was raced so fast round the island that it seems I broke a couple of spokes. My personal surgeon Ally at J M Richards Cycles in Perth welcomed me back and decided that my rear wheel needed rebuilt.

Now those of you who have read all the blog postings will remember the section “Under repair” where – among many other new parts – I got a rebuilt back wheel. But given that spoke shave broken on a few occasions, Ally decided that a complete rebuild would be the answer to strengthen my rear end. Well, I mean, I do have to carry a fair weight with the combined mass of the “old git” and the “old gal”!

They really know how to look after me there and treat me with the respect that an “old lady” deserves! And my owners were mightily pleased when there was “no charge” as it was all under guarantee.

Soon I was back on my wheels and ready for action and the “old git” checked the weather forecast on Saturday afternoon. The verdict was “sunny spells” – but what he forgot to look at was the wind speed. As soon as we headed off on the training run on the back road to Blackford – it was clear it was blowing a hoolie!

I mean there were winds of around 25 mph blowing around – which created an interesting crosswind effect when it came in from the side.

But they weren’t to be deterred and we kept pedalling – although progress was somewhat slower than normal due to the headwinds! And then half way along – the heavens opened and a we all got rained on! Fortunately it didn’t last long and as we cycled back our spirits were buoyed by a most magnificent full rainbow arching across the Perthshire countryside.

The “old gal” didn’t want to stop and lose momentum to take a picture, otherwise I could show you it here. I secretly think she thought if we stopped – we would all get rained on again. So – as the saying goes – she kept calm and tandemed on!

Keep calm tandem image

The mantra of the “old gal” in the hoolie!

The  return journey was quite literally a breeze – with the tailwind helping us along in record time!

Another good run completed, with the “old git really getting the hang of the gears now – much to the delight and quiet satisfaction of the “old gal” who can now actually sometimes breathe going up hills!

The route maps and hotel details for the French tour should arrive this week – and that should be exciting as we will get to see where exactly we are going to be cycling.

Oh yes, and there is the small matter of cycling on the other side of the road! That should be fun!

Tour de Millport du tandem (Boot camp 2)

Another Sunday, and another training stint – although with only five weeks till we all depart on the grand trip to Burgundy the “old git” decided to step up the training schedule with a “Boot camp” session back on Millport.

The theory, it seems, is that he and the “old gal” can whizz their way round the flat island’s 10 mile circumference three times, thus racking up 30 miles in the one day – the average distance they will have to cover when in France.

And the “old gal” wasn’t going to be outdone this time by the “old git’s” gentle reminders about her lack of enthusiasm for going out in all weathers to clock up the miles. Oh no! She only went and entered the three of us in a charity cycle event on the island. So read on about our participation in the Tour de Millport du tandem!

The day started well with the bright sunshine on the drive to Largs in sharp contrast to the gloomy predictions of the weather forecasters – who warned of heavy rain! I was excited again about going on the ferry, as I always get lots of attention being a bicycle built for two! The “old git” and the “old gal” think they are minor celebrities – but really it’s all about me!

We were on the island by 10.30 and started the first circuit in almost balmy weather. In no time we had pedalled round the back side of the island – with glorious views across to Rothesay and Arran – and then round into Millport town.

With the charity event not being flagged off till 12.30 there was time for a very welcome coffee and tasty home-made shortbread in the cleverly named Crocodeli – a deli which has opened this summer season, just along from the “world-famous” local legendary landmark of crocodile rock.

TDM Crocodeli

The “old git” and “old gal” posing with me outside Crocodeli.

With the Commonwealth Games nearing its end – in fact it was the last day – it was good to see the island had embraced the Games and there was even a “Clyde” mascot in the window of Crocodeli.

Just as we left the deli, the storm clouds started to gather, and it became clear this was going to be one of these typical Scottish summer days – when you get four seasons rolled into one!

As we cycled along to the Tavern Bar the ominous first drops of rain began to fall. But the “old gal” had signed us up to do the charity bike run to raise money for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young.) She had noticed a poster for it on a previous visit and decided it would be good to enter.

We all had a quick word with Hunter and Susan Blair who were organising the annual bike run, in memory of their son Steven who sadly died aged just 31 in 2012 from an undetected heart defect.

TDM Charity Cycle

The start of the charity bike run,, outside the Tavern Bar, in the rain!

There were lots of bikes, but I was causing quite a stir as I was the only visiting tandem on the ride. And there was only one other – but it was a younger hired version – nothing as grand as me!

With the rain falling heavily – the hooter sounded and we were off. The “old git” wanted to be at the front so to avoid the spray from the tyres of the other bikes, so as Chief Pilot he decided to set off at a fair pace.

The “old gal” wasn’t that keen on being out in the rain any longer than she needed so she got dug into her job as Chief Stoker and we were soon out in front of the pack.

I got quite a thrill as I have never been involved in a race before – but  having watched the tandem racing the previous weekend at the Commonwealth Games, we soon all got into the spirit.

The rain kept pouring down, but that only spurred the “old git” and the “old gal” on and they kept pedalling away. The other tandem overtook us a couple of times – complete with younger riders, but they were no match for my experienced crew!

And amazingly, in well under an hour – 47 minutes to be precise – we crossed the finishing line back at the Tavern Bar being the first bike home.

So not only had we completed the Tour de Millport du tandem – but we were first to finish! There is clearly life in this “old lady” yet!

The “old git” and the “old gal” disappeared inside the bar to dry off and have a welcome burger from the buffet laid on for the cyclists, who were all very welcoming and keen to find out more about tandeming. Although I thought the “old dear” was going to deck the next person who asked if she had to pedal all the time! (For the record, the answer is most definitely YES!!!)

As they were socialising, summer returned and bright sunshine bathed the island giving it a Mediterranean feel.

TDM Matilda at seaside

Here I am basking in the sunshine at Cannes – well Millport, but it felt like Cannes! 

The temperature warmed up – and so the “old git” decided to stick to the pre-planned schedule and we set off on our third circuit of the day. I was fair racing along, enjoying the adulation of my earlier victory in the charity cycle event.

We had a beautiful ride round – lapping up some welcome sunshine, which not only allowed the “old git” and the “old gal” to dry themselves – and their rain jackets – out but it also allowed me to dry off in the slight breeze. I mean you don’t want to be stuck with rain between your spokes you know – well not at my age!

The third lap was also completed in less than an hour – with the dynamic duo both feeling that finally they must be getting fitter! The trick will be to be able  to do 30 miles a day for six days in a row in Burgundy! But I have faith in them!

Time for a relaxing coffee and a shared slice of carrot cake for my owners in the Dancing Midge Café while sitting in the window, enjoying the warmth of the sun and reading the newspapers! Bliss! (or so they told me!)

A quick change and it was time for the “old git” and the “old gal” to enjoy their much-anticipated meal at the wonderful Harbour restaurant. It serves the most amazing sea food in simple surroundings – a combination – which along with the bring your own bottle policy  and fabulous front-of-house service from co-owner Helen – means it can’t be bettered!

The duo had the highly recommended Harbour Platter – a gastronomic delight which arrives on a two-tier serving tray and is a veritable seafood feast of Fencebay smoked fish, haddock bites, west coast scallops, Cumbrae langoustines, Shetland mussels, mini cullen skink, garlic and parsley chips, garlic bread and side salad. And it was all beautifully prepared and presented by co-owner James in the kitchen.

TDM Harbour Special

The fabulous two-tiered Harbour Platter seafood feast. Yum!

And it didn’t disappoint! After all that fresh air and cycling it all went down a treat – washed down with a small bottle of prosecco which the “old git” had packed into my panniers! It was a good way to toast their victory in the charity ride! Clever lad that he is!

TDM Tig and Di Harbour

The “old gal” and the “old git” toasting their Tour de Millport du tandem success!

And if that wasn’t enough, the “old gal” decided she wanted something sweet to finish and polished off a slab of amazing home-made Alabama chocolate fudge cake. And just to keep her company, the “old git” had an ice cream sundae – lashings of vanilla ice cream with chocolate buttons!

Another incredible meal and amazing value! It really is five-star!

The only downside was that after all that food – the duo had to cycle the four miles back to the ferry. But the gods were on our side, because the rain which started while having dinner had now cleared and it was dry for the pedal to the boat. And the distance was covered without (too many) aches and pains after that brilliant meal.

We caught the second last ferry of the day back off the island, and soon I was back in the Matilda transport vehicle and in just over an hour we were back at Matilda’s Rest in Auchterader after another amazing but highly fulfilling boot camp!

You know I am actually beginning to think the old pair will manage this French adventure after all!

The countdown is on!