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!

3 thoughts on “Tour de Millport du tandem (Boot camp 2)

  1. Hi again Matty! So glad to hear you are managing to drag your old dears round more cafés, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. You go into great detail about all they consume but not much on how you manage . It can’t be easy listening to them waxing lyrical about 5star food and drink without much thought about your needs. I would have a word before La Belle France . Why not make a list of demands and if they want a good hiccup free trip, they might just listen.


  2. This stretches the term ‘boot camp’ to the very limit…food camp and/or booze camp might be more accurate! If Cumbrae is just their training ground, what will it be like when the ‘old git n’ gal’ find themselves in gastronomic Burgundy?! There could be plenty of pit-stops for Matilda! Serious question: Would French gendarmes be allowed to breathalise two Brits on a tandem? And could Matilda end up appealing to the European Court of Human Bikes?!


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