A 16 mile canter to test new axle

Gin o'clock - pit stop in the sun at the Kirkstyle Inn

Gin o’clock – sunshine stop at the Kirkstyle Inn

After the trauma of my major operation last week to replace my pedal crank shaft, the “old git” was keen to get back out on the road to test my roadworthiness. And, I suppose he had a point with the countdown clock now showing exactly two weeks to go till we set off for Bordeaux.

The “old gal” was actually keen to get back on the saddle, as it would have to be said she had lost a little of her confidence during the major equipment malfunction during last weekend’s training run – when the pedal shaft broke clean off.

So a short canter to the nearby village of Forteviot was planned, covering a distance of 16 miles with a few hills thrown in to give my new axle a real testing.

Fortunately it was another glorious sunny Sunday morning and soon we were fair motoring along with ease – with the “old git” and the “old gal” quickly getting the feeling that I was back to full working order.

I was very happy to see them smile as I knew I had been fixed properly, and the feeling that I – as an “old lady” classic tandem had let them down due to metal fatigue – quickly disappeared.

In what seemed like no time we were tandeming through the village of Dunning – past our country pub pit stop of the Kirkstyle Inn, where we planned to pause on the return journey – heading further out into the country for another three miles.

And in just over half an hour we arrived in Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

The village “square” has some very quaint houses which were rebuilt for the workers of Dupplin Estate in 1927 and are beautifully maintained.

The beautiful focal point of Forteviot.

The beautiful focal point of Forteviot.

After a quick walk around in the warm sunshine, Team Matilda set off on the return journey. The wind had started to blow a bit, and cycling into the breeze slowed us down a bit on the way back – as did the long slow grind out of Forteviot towards Dunning.

So as we pulled in to Dunning, the “old gal” was more than ready for her promised g+t stop at the Kirkstyle Inn. After all it was Sunday lunchtime, and it would have been rude to tandem past! So “gin o’clock” it was!

I had a nice rest beside the lovely beer garden as the “old gal” and the “old git” enjoyed their cooling drinks – to give their legs new-found energy for the last five miles back to Matilda’s Rest.

A welcome stop (and drink!) in the warm sunshine!

A welcome stop (and drink!) in the warm sunshine!

Dunning is a very beautiful little historical village and volunteers have worked wonders with floral displays – making it a very colourful place.

Dunning looking colourful with all the blooms!

Dunning looking colourful with all the blooms!

So fortified by their stop, the dynamic duo decided to make a push for home – to give both themselves and me a bit of a workout.

I have to say I came off  best as it was easy for me, cantering along the country roads. But as the for the “old git”, whisper it, but he seemed a bit red in the face with his exertions! The “old gal” was calm and controlled as ever!

And just a little bit longer than the outward journey, to take account of the breezy conditions and the uphill inclines, we were back home.

Everyone happy with the outing and the test of my new part! So job done!

Now where is that French phrase book again – I really do need to get studying it!

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Major equipment failure at Loch Katrine

It all started so well! With just three weekends till the Grand Depart of Team Matilda’s Tour de Bordeaux the idea was to do a tough training route up and down the side of Loch Katrine. But the best laid plans of mice and men and all that …. as the cycling ended in bewilderment (and not a little frustration) with a major equipment failure. Read on for the latest adventure!

Ready to rumble! All smiles at the start at Trossachs pier.

All smiles at the start at Trossachs pier.

Ten o’clock on a wonderfully sunny Sunday morning – after the “old git” managed to persuade the “old gal” that getting up early was preferable to sleeping – and we were ready to go at Trossachs Pier after a short half hour drive in Matilda Transport.

We were parked up at the head of the beautiful Loch Katrine ready to cycle down to the bottom of the loch, and then – after lunch – cycle back up again. The distance was a manageable 26 miles – although the terrain is fairly hilly. (“That’s HILLY rather than undulating” shouts the “old gal”!)

A simple plan for one of the last major training runs to boost fitness for Bordeaux, and the “old git” – as he is want to do – had even worked in a  carrot to get us moving at a reasonable speed. He had done his research and discovered that there was a two-hour rhythm and blues cruise on the historic and elegant steamship the Sir Walter Scott scheduled to depart Trossachs pier at 4 in the afternoon. So he booked a couple of tickets so the dynamic duo could relax after their exertions!

All sounded too good to be true – and it nearly was! Cycling down the loch was a breeze, with the “old git” setting a fair pace and the “old gal” doing her bit as chief stoker. They even managed to nail a few of the hills that previously required them to get off and push.

The route down the side of the loch is a well maintained private road owned by Scottish Water who use the loch as a reservoir to supply Glasgow. The dynamic duo were really enjoying the cycle – in unseasonably warm sunshine – while taking in the amazing scenery of the Trossachs, at the heart of Scotland’s first National Park.

In what seemed like no time at all we reached the bottom of the loch and cycled round to Stronachlachar for a welcome break. There is a fantastic spot for lunch there – the Pier Cafe – right on the pier which the boats dock at when taking passengers up and down the loch.

It is a magnet for cyclists, but the “old gal” managed to grab a table outside on their decking with the most incredible view all the way up the loch. She really is an (under appreciated) star, you know!

The "old gal" bagged the best table on the decking - complete with great views of the loch.

   The “old gal” bagged the best table –  complete                   with great views of the loch.

It really is a treasure of a find, in a very remote corner of Scotland. All food is home-made on the premises and after a much-needed chilled drink, extremely tasty paninis were ordered and demolished! Coffee and cake (gluten-free for the “old gal”) followed before it was time for the return journey. Five stars for the food and service at the Pier Cafe, and remarkably good value too.

After that pit stop, and with the sun still shining down, the “old git” and the “old gal” were in remarkably good humour as we set off for the 13 mile trip back up the loch. It was now one o’clock which left plenty of time to get back to the pier, and then changed for the cruise.

So off we pedalled making our way round the head of the loch, and again the dynamic due managed a couple of hills.

But then coming off a long downhill stretch – some three miles into the journey –  disaster struck. The “old git” had given the command to “pedal” to keep the momentum going to get us up the next hill – when there was a loud crack!

A pained expletive from the “old gal” quickly followed as we ground to an unceremonious halt.

“What happened there?” asked the “old git” – only for the “old gal” to point to the road surface where one of my pedal arms and one of my chains were lying in a crumpled heap. She also pointed to a nasty bash on her shin where the pedal arm had hit as it broke. Ouch!

The pedal arm had sheared clean off the pedal crank axle. It seems its my “old age” – because it was a clear case of metal fatigue. There was nothing I could do to help as a tandem without pedals is about as much use as a chocolate fire guard!

The pedal crank axle - without the pedal arm!

The pedal crank axle – without the               pedal arm!

But I have to say the “old git” and the “old gal” were incredibly sympathetic towards me – as clearly I had let them down badly, wrecking their well-engineered plans. But there was no prospect of a repair by the lochside – so the only solution was to walk back the three miles to Stronachlachar pier and hopefully get the tourist boat back up the loch to the car park at the top.

This was easier said than done as the “old git” was hugely frustrated, the route was very hilly and it was warm. Oh and we had to do a route march pace to cover the three miles in less than an hour to get the boat timetabled at 2.30pm.

But make it we did – with my dynamic duo looking a little less than dynamic as they were both exhausted and dripping with sweat.

The boat – The Lady of the Lake – was extremely busy as it was such a beautiful day, but we managed to squeeze on, along with lots of other bikes. The wind had picked up now, and the “old git” thought it would be a good plan to sit on the top deck outside. But sailing into the wind – waves soon broke over the bow and drenched the passengers – which didn’t improve the “old git’s” mood any! Oh how the “old gal” laughed!

Within an hour we were docking at Trossachs Pier, and I was lifted off by a very muscular member of crew, and pushed back to Matilda Transport. There was just time for a further examination of the damage done to my pedal crank axle.

The bolt had just broken, leaving jaggy edges. Definitely repairable – but only by professional bike technicians.

Spot the missing part - no rear pedal arm!

Spot the missing part – no rear pedal arm!

I did feel sorry for the “old git” and the “old gal” as they had hoped to complete this route to fine tune their training – but, as they both said – it was a blessing it happened here in Scotland and not in the middle of the Tour de Bordeaux!

Fill in your own caption here! Something like "WTF" said the "old gal"!

Fill in your own caption here! Something like                “WTF”, said the “old gal”!

I was packed back into the car, and so as not to spoil all of the afternoon, the “old git” and the “old gal” ran to join the cruise.

And if there was a way to forget about the trials and tribulations of earlier this was it. On an iconic 115 year old steam ship. listening to rhythm, blues and rock and roll music from a superb group called ‘Hoochie Coo’, while taking in the ‘brain food’ of the stunning mountains and scenery. And the “old gal” had packed one of her famous picnics – including the essential small bottles of prosecco – which were enjoyed on deck.

We all arrived back at Matilda’s Rest somewhat shattered – my pedal crank axle actually shattered! – after a traumatic long day in the sun.

But the good news is that the “old gal” whisked me off to my specialist consultant doctors at JM Richards bike shop in Perth who promised I would be back fully fit within a day. And they were as good as their word, fitting a custom-made pedal crank axle.

So  now I can’t wait to get back out on the open roads of Perthshire this weekend so I can prove to my dynamic duo that I am ready for Bordeaux!

Tour de Bordeaux maps arrive

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

The countdown is well and truly on!

Less than four weeks to go till the Grand Depart of the Tour de Bordeaux du Tandem. With excitement reaching fever pitch, the “old git” was almost doing cartwheels of joy (well he would have been, if he was fit enough!) when the package of travel documents arrived from travel company Exodus.

This contained what has been nicknamed “the bible” by the “old gal” as she is responsible for map reading on the tandem, as the “old git” focuses on steering and balance!

“The bible” is essentially a highly detailed set of directions for each day of the ‘Cycle the Vineyards & Beaches of Bordeaux’ tour – as it is a self-guided trip. Those of you who enjoyed my musings about last year’s epic trip to Burgundy will be well aware of the “discussions” that arose at certain junctions en route!

This year the “old git” has graciously promised to do as instructed – but clearly the “old gal” remains unconvinced this will be the reality!

To help guide my dynamic duo in the correct direction, the document pack also included a large-scale cycle map of the Medoc triangle of Bordeaux along with detailed trip notes about what to expect as we cycle along,  and a list of the interesting and quaint hotels that we are staying in  along the way.

You can check out the specific details of the ‘Cycle the Vineyards & Beaches of Bordeaux’ tour – including downloading the trip notes – from the Exodus web-site by clicking here.

With so many maps, and directions – plus the Michelin Green Guide for the area – what could possibly go wrong?!

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The large scale cycle map showing the Medoc triangle of our tour.

My dynamic duo will have to look out their map reading system – effectively an army map reading folder, which hangs on the “old git’s” back – which allows the “old gal” to read the maps and directions as ‘Team Matilda’ cycles along at our leisurely pace.

One thing is for sure, I am not taking the blame if they end up like the lyrics of the fabulous Bonnie Tyler classic “Lost in France!”

Tour de Bordeaux t-shirts arrive – in yellow, naturellement!

French t-shirts 15 landscape

The grand unveiling of the Tour de Bordeaux t-shirts! Subtle eh?! 

Quelle excitement! (See I am learning the lingo!) With just under five weeks to go till “Team Matilda” set off for the Tour de Bordeaux du Tandem excitement is reaching fever pitch at Matilda’s Rest!

The “old git” persuaded the “old gal” that they needed new t-shirts for this year’s trip – after the success of last year’s electric pink numbers.

So this year, in keeping with the Tour de France race leader’s jersey, the “old git” decided on electric yellow – naturellement! (Me thinks he is having  a laugh, personally! The “old gal” swears he IS having a laugh!)

The vivid colour will certainly ensure  they get noticed. The  “old gal” decided that the t-shirts should try to be amusing and make people smile – and last year’s design which said “Two old farts on a tandem” certainly did that!

This year the wording is “Always better when we’re together” – complete with a tandem logo. The “old git” agreed – but said they should again be bi-lingual shirts, with the English version on one side and French on the other!

So after in-depth consultation with the French language experts at Google translation, and a consultation with a friendly linguist, the dynamic duo came up with the phrase: “Tourjours mieux quand nous hommes ensemble.”

Wording done, it was then 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  amazing t-shirts, in that electric yellow made of lightweight cooltex material, with black printing. There was even space for the web address for my blog! Clever guys or what?

They arrived today and when the “old git” saw them, I thought he was going to have heart failure as he was so excited! He couldn’t wait to get the selfie stick out and get a photo in the garden in the new garments!

French t-shirts 15 portrait

The t-shirts are bi-lingual in electric yellow! There is no hiding place!

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  that they are tandemers!

If you ask me they are a right pair of attention seekers, but then I am just jealous – albeit I totally agree with the “better when we’re together” sentiment on the shirts! Ah shucks!

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 Sprinterz! You won’t be disappointed!

Matilda at The Kelpies

Kelpies - Matilda at start

The Kelpies admiring me – not the other way around!

Five weeks today and we would be heading for the south of France for the Grand Tour de Bordeaux. So the “old git” and the “old gal” decided another training run would be a good idea.

The venue this time was the canal paths around The Kelpies – 30 metre high horse head sculptures by Andy Scott which tower above the M9 motorway in Falkirk.

The metal sculptures are magnificent, quite spell-binding in fact. This “old lady” classic tandem – no mean feat of engineering herself – was really impressed!

Kelpies - at start

One feat of engineering admires another!

The “old gal” had roped in good friends Gillian and Craig to help with today’s training ride. The idea was to meet up at The Kelpies hub, the centrepiece of an area of land transformation now called The Helix.

The plan was to do an easy 16 mile circuit from The Kelpies, round to another masterpiece of engineering – The Falkirk Wheel.

This circuit – known as the HArTT route (Helix Around Town Trail) was heavily promoted on the park’s website, to encourage cyclists to enjoy the network of cycleways, canal paths and woodland trails around the area.

Great plan – but unfortunately after spending so much money transforming the area, the park has omitted a minor detail – placing route markers along the way.

We had even downloaded the map of the route and were all eagerly anticipating the run. Well nearly all, as (whisper it) Gillian had been out for a night on the tiles the evening before, and lets just say she was a little fragile.

But gamely she vowed to plough on, trying to convince everyone that the fresh air would do her good. I have to say her husband Craig looked a little less convinced, but decided that as it was a self-inflicted injury, sympathy would be in short supply!

So after a few photos at The Kelpies we set off. Or at least tried to! The “old git” was almost beside himself as we couldn’t find the correct path to start. As I said, no signposts anywhere – and even asking the staff proved useless as they claimed not to know either.

Everyone looked at our map as if it was a piece of newly unearthed treasure – despite it coming from their own website. As the “old git” said – why spend millions on the park and leave out a vital ingredient like signposts. Even if they were waiting on proper signage, a few cheap laminated direction finders would solve the problem.

The “old gal” soon realised that “getting lost” was going to be a reular theme to the day. Eventually, after much head scratching – and no help from the Helix – we accidentally found a path that seemed to head off in the desired direction and off we went.

Now you know I am a bit of an “old lady” and don’t really like bumpy surfaces so I was most impressed with the first few miles where the tracks were virtually motorway standards of smoothness.

We were fair moving along and everyone (including Gillian) was enjoying themselves – until we came to the first T-junction. Which way to go? I mean it was crazy as there was no indication which way to head. So we had to resort to asking local dog walkers at each junction which way to take.

According to the map, we cycled through a wetland area then Abbotshaugh Woods complete with a series of smaller, but equally spectacular artworks in unexpected places.

We headed past the Carron Works, the largest iron works in Europe in its heyday.

After a few “wrong turnings” we reached the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal wish offered some lovely flat cycling. The only snag here was that Scottish Canals, who run the canal network, had decided on zig zag gates at every junction with a main road. This seemed to be an attempt to stop motorbikes getting through.

Now single bikes – like Gillian and Craig’s were able to navigate these gates – but as you know I  am quite a length and I don’t exactly bend in the middle! So there was no chance of me getting through these gates easily. Every time the “old gal” and the “old git” had to dismount and lift me rear end over the gate. Oh the embarrassment!

The “old git” was doing lots of dark mutterings under his breath each time we came to one of these gates – but this time I actually agreed with him. Clearly zero consideration had been made for tandems, which left us all wondering how a parent and child with a trailer tandem would manage? Maybe Scottish Canals could answer that one!

Onwards we pedalled, past the Rosebank Distillery – which dates from 1817 – we arrived at The Falkirk Wheel. This is another amazing sight.

It is described as the world’s only rotating boat lift. It stands to the height of 8 double decker buses stacked on top of each other and weighs 1,200 tonnes.It essentially allows boats to travel from the Forth and Clyde canal to the Union Canal.

The two canals used to be linked by a staircase of 11 locks which took nearly a day to transit. These were dismantled in 1933. Work started on the ambitious £84.5 million Millennium Link projects to rejoin the two canals in 1998 and opened in 2002.

Kelpies - at Fal Wh TigDi

Here I am at the magnificent Falkirk Wheel.

It was good to see so many people out enjoying the area, and we decided a quick pit stop was required in the canal basin. As always I was getting lots of attention, especially from children who were quite intrigued by what some people called “a double bike!”

The “old gal” had packed some mini bottles of (guess what?!) yes! prosecco for the four cyclists – which were eagerly consumed by three! Gillian decided that she would stick to water! But I have to say the new cycle cool bag seems to be working, as the bottles remained nicely chilled. Or so they told me!

Kelpies - Falk Wheel prosecco

The obligatory small prosecco for everyone – but Gillian demurred!

Gillian decide that something to eat might not be a bad idea and headed to the coffee shop for an egg sandwich. Although she seemed a bit unsure after the first bite, it was then eagerly consumed and to a certain extent normal service seemed to be resumed in her body!

Off we headed again, starting off by joining the path at the Union Canal and making our way through the Roughcastle Tunnel, a new tunnel which was actually runs under the Roman Antonine Wall.

Kelpies - selfie at FW tunnel

Selfie time at the Roughcastle Tunnel – just as a holiday boat emerged.

A nice stretch along the Union Canal – even allowing for the annoying regular gate problems – took us to the Falkirk Tunnel. This is a 700 metre long, seemingly never ending tunnel carved out of the rock. Again Scottish engineering at its best!

Kelpies - at Fal Tunnel

At the entrance to the “spooky” Falkirk Tunnel.

Now this is where the map and the reality of the actual paths seems to lose all contact with each other. The map says avoid the tunnel and head for Callendar Park, something which was actually quite difficult to achieve.

Direction signs would have been most helpful here, but eventually we found the route which went across paths in Callendar Wood, in front of the historic 14th century Callendar House and out the other side.

Let’s just say the paths had deteriorated at this point – and one of these new mountain bikes might have been an idea. My undercarriage is not that robust, you see, so I was glad the “old git” decided that walking would be better for us all at this point. We didn’t want any broken spokes before France!

We got most “lost” at this point, ending up back at the Union canal. So we decided to abandon the last mile or so of the route – which should have taken us through Westquarter Glen – and headed back via the main roads to the Kelpies.

I was most impressed as the “old git” and the “old gal” managed to navigate safely through some seriously heavy and fast traffic to get us back into the safety of the cycle paths of the Helix park.

Kelpies - end with C+G

The “old gal” with Gillian and Craig at the end of the tour.

Actually we were all rather proud of ourselves for the effort in actually finding our way around the route, despite getting “lost” at least six times.

But the owners of the Helix really need to sort out the signposting so that other cyclists can enjoy the wonderful cycle route and great scenery – without the frustration! We decided that a posting on Facebook and Twitter may urge them into action – so watch this space!

Kelpies - selfie at end

All smiles – despite the frustrating lack of signs!

 But good practice at map reading for France, I suppose! Now that wasn’t the end to the day as the “old git” and the “old gal” got me packed back into Matilda Transport and we headed for Gillian and Craig’s home in nearby Alloa.

They have a very posh hot tub in their garden, and the “old gal” decided this would be good therapy for the muscles after the ride.

And she was correct.It was a lovely way to relax – sipping champagne bubbles while enjoying the warm bubbles of the hot tub! Bliss! The last I heard was the “old gal” saying: “I want one!” And the “old git” was heard to mutter: “Aye right!” Well she can only hope!

A great day was finished off with a lovely dinner and great hospitality from Gillian and Craig. Thanks to them.

And we all promised to do the HArTT route again – but only when the signs are up!

Millport Boot Camp 2015

With only six weeks to go till we all depart on the Tour de Bordeaux – and with Sundays fast running out – the “old git” decided to step up the training regime with a “Boot camp” session back on Millport.

The great theory being 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 one day – the average distance they will have to cover when in France in September.

And the training session was also arranged to tie in with a charity cycle event for a very worthwhile cause  – a round-the-island ride which we all took part in last year.

So this is the tale of the Tour de Millport du Tandem!

The day dawned with heavy cloud hanging around Matilda’s Rest – but the “old git” doesn’t take any prisoners and, despite forecasts of “100% risk of showers” at some points during the day, we all set out.

The “old gal” has grown to realise that mutiny is a waste of time, but she had taken the precautions of packing the new rain trousers.

But the weather brightened on the car journey to Largs and we were soon parked up in the town and heading towards the slipway for the short ferry crossing to the island.

I was very excited 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 – kitted out in matching t-shirts – but really it’s all about me!

cry millport ferry

On the Millport Ferry – feeling very smart with my panniers!

There were no vehicles on our crossing (perhaps due to the unseasonable forecast) so I had the whole car deck to myself. And I was feeling very smug as I thought I was looking very smart as the “old gal” had attached my panniers today, to carry the rain gear!

We were on the island by just after 11.00 and started the first circuit in almost balmy weather – dry, fairly bright, warm conditions with hardly a breath of wind. And most certainly not what had been forecast.

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.

You know – and whisper this – but the “old git” and the “old gal” actually seem to be getting an awful lot stronger and seem to have (finally) worked out how to cycle me!

I mean its taken a while, but the “old git” is using my gears much better and as a result we have upped our average speed from just about 9 mph to between 11 and 12 mph. Hardly breaking the land speed record I know, but by using the “big third gear” more, it means we are covering more distance quicker, and at less effort to my dynamic duo.

If I had a hat, I would take it off to them, because we can fair motor along now – and it means the “old git” is not having to say his often repeated phrase “it’s all about keeping the momentum going” nearly as often – which is a blessing to the “old gal”!

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 fantastic deli which only opened last summer season, just along from the “world-famous” local legendary landmark of crocodile rock.

cry millport crocodeli

Parked up outside Crocodeli – spot the balloon attached to me!

The owners had the deli all decked out with balloons and collecting cans for the charity event – so the “old gal” asked for one of the balloons and tied it to my frame – much to the chagrin of the “old git” who was muttering under his breath!

Just as we left the deli, the storm clouds started to gather, and there was a sudden squall – but no sooner had it started, than it blew away.

A few hundred yards along the promenade at the Tavern Bar we met up with the others taking part in the charity bike run to raise money for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young.) We had spotted the event last year and enjoyed taking part so much, we decided it would be good to enter again this year.

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


cry millport race start

Some competitors waving before the off for the charity bike run.

There were lots of other bikes, but I was causing quite a stir as I was the only tandem on the ride this year.

And soon we were off, with the “old git” heading to the front almost immediately, with us setting off at quite a pace. And so it continued, past the ferry slipway and back down the other side of the island. Fortunately the rain stayed away and even the “old gal” was heard to say how pleasant it was!

I got quite a thrill again as I really like being involved in these race-type events. And my dynamic duo didn’t let the side down as they completed the circuit in well under an hour – 47 minutes I believe – to be first to cross the finishing line. What a buzz that was for me, showing that there is still clearly life in this “old lady”! A good performance from Team Matilda!

cry millport race end

Hardly out of breath – the “old gal” after we were first over the finishing line!

The “old git” and the “old gal” disappeared inside the bar to have a welcome refreshment, and as the other cyclists and walkers appeared, joined in the barbecue. It really was a lovely event and my dynamic duo were made to feel most welcome.

As they were socialising, the sun (temporarily) appeared and soon we were on the road again for another full circuit.

The “old git” decided on a quick pit stop at a lovely secluded and protected picnic bench on the other side of the island, looking out to Rothesay. The sea was like a millpond as we parked up and had a celebratory toast to our success in the charity cycle ride with the prerequisite small bottles of prosecco.

The new picnic bag had done its job and the bubbly was still cool, and helped wash down some brie and strawberries! Yum!

cry millport celeb picnicCheers! Toasting Team Matilda’s success! 

There was time for a photo opportunity, and look at the result above. You can’t see the selfie stick! Result!

Back on the saddles and a canter into the town. Coffee and a quick change before the “old git” and the “old gal” enjoyed  their much-anticipated meal at the wonderful Harbour Restaurant run by Sandra and Sean. It serves the most amazing burgers – a perfect tonic for a long day cycling! Look out for some great seafood on the menu too! The food, and the service, are highly recommended.

After a most enjoyable meal, the only slight hiccup for the dynamic duo is having to get back on the saddles to cycle the four miles back to the ferry. But the gods were on our side, because it remained dry and it was a relatively easy pedal to the ferry.

A short return ferry crossing and soon I was back in Matilda Transport  and in just over an hour we were back at Matilda’s Rest in Auchterarder after another amazing but highly fulfilling boot camp!

You know I am much more confident that the “old git” and the “old gal” will be able to manage this year’s French trip without incident!

The countdown is definitely on till the Grand Depart!