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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!