Much excitement at Matildas Rest on Sunday! Not only was the sun shining, and a ride out beckoned, but I had been invited to be the first tandem to ride the newly opened cycle path at the nearby village of Muthill. And the local volunteers who raised all the money for the project wanted me to blog about my experience! The “old gal” is even talking about a video! Fame indeed!
I mean it’s going to be quite a week – what with my maiden trip on the cycle path and then at the end of the week the awards ceremony for the UK Blog Awards. And you’ll remember that I am the only Scottish blog to reach the finals – listed in the Most Innovative category! It’s soooo exciting!
My dynamic duo promised to take a picture of me with my invitation on our return from the trip, so more about the blog awards later.
But firstly there was the big weigh in with the “old git” and the “old gal” in the middle of their Hay Plan weight loss regime that they have been embracing. And I am so impressed as they have now lost a combined total of 49 pounds in 10 weeks!
So I am expecting big things on the ride out today – hoping for an improvement in our average speed – as they tell me that they are feeling much healthier and fitter. I mean my ageing frame is now carrying almost 50 pounds less that it was! What a relief!
After a healthy breakfast we headed off from Auchterarder in brilliant sunshine on the quiet back roads heading to Muthill. And we were all in good spirits being out in the fresh air, and my four pedals were soon spinning along at a fair rate!
Check out the route of my maiden trip on the new Muthill cycle path on Strava below – don’t forget to click on the map to get the full data and statistics!
In what seemed like no time we tandemed into Muthill and turned down past the primary school towards Strageath to the banner sign which marks the start of the new path about half a mile from the village on a nice quiet road.
The start of the path is next to the sewage works, but fortunately it is nicely hidden by large trees! And there is no smell – honest!
The path was officially opened on Friday and marks the first stage of a bigger project to have a user-friendly Muthill to Crieff cycle path running the 4 miles to the Strath capital.
The ambitious project has been driven forward by community development group Muthill Village Trust. Phase 1 is now open and stretches about a mile from Muthill to Templehill.
The cyclepath is funded from a variety of sources including The Gannochy Trust, Sustrans, Big Lottery Fund Scotland and the Perth and Kinross Community Environment Challenge Fund.
So after a few pictures it was time for my maiden trip on the new path. And what a joy it is to ride on. They really have done a fantastic job. We were soon whizzing along on a wonderfully smooth tarmacadam path which takes you right across wonderful Perthshire farming countryside with stunning views in all directions.
There are a couple of 90 degree bends, and because I am a “long vehicle” the “old git” needed to pay a bit of attention to steer round, but as the “old gal” commented, they are perfectly tandem friendly!
To make up for the tight bends there are a couple of long straight stretches, with only gentle undulations – which were a delight to tandem on.
There is a slightly steeper downhill stretch where we picked up speed, leading to another 90 degree bend before a bridge across a stream. The “old git” applied my brakes just before the turn (and just before the “old gal” screamed!) and it was perfectly manageable.
Up a slight incline and we were soon at the end of the first stage at Templemill – which is marked with a cycle path and walkers bollard.
Eventually the path will go all the way to Crieff, incorporating quiet country roads, off-road paths and a new bridge over the River Earn.
In all there are four phases to the project with phase 1 just opened. Phase 2 will upgrade the track beyond Templemill down to the River Earn. There will then be a bridge built across the river, before the final stage of a path leading to the Strathearn Community Campus.
The use of the land is under the agreement of the local Drummond Foundation, who actively support the project.
You can see the overall route on the map below (Click on map if you need to see it larger.)
Time for the return journey and although it is slightly more of a climb going from Templemill to Muthill was equally enjoyable for my dynamic duo. And as an “old lady” classic tandem, the smooth surface is a real treat to my tyres and my suspension!
It really is a great project and good to see the local community coming together to get it off the ground.
Lindsay Lennie of the Muthill Village Trust says the path was identified as a key project the local community wanted in the Muthill Community Action Plan 2011-16. Not surprisingly, it has been many years in the making – with community consultations, local fundraising, grant applications and landowner negotiations.
The main focus of the path is to allow purposeful journeys between the village and Crieff – particularly focusing on children cycling to school.
But there is also a leisure side to it – with the track attracting local cyclists, as well as forming part of the proposed Three Saints Way walking route from Killin to St Andrews.
So after completing the return journey in just a few minutes, it was time for a quick coffee stop at the Muthill end before setting off in the original direction again – with the “old gal” in charge of the video camera!
You can get a good impression of the path – and the scenic views – by clicking on the video below – complete with commentary from the “old gal” and the “old git” who clearly have missed out on their vocations as tour guides! (Remember if you are reading this on email, you need to click onto the actual blog first via the link at the bottom of the email to view the video.)
So after being honoured to be the first tandem to try out the new path I have to offer my hearty congratulations to all those involved in the project. It is well worth a visit to Muthill to try the path out – and you can easily combine it with any other routes through the area. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
You may also want to sign up for the third annual Muthill Sportive which is being held on Saturday June 11th to raise funds for the next stage of the cycle path. There are three routes appealing to all grades of cyclists. And you better to be quick to sign up (via Entry Central) as already a third of the available places are now taken with less than two months to go. Every penny raised goes to making the cycle path project a reality.
As for our Sunday ride out, we left the new cycle path – promising to return soon – and took a circular route back from Templemill back to Muthill, before heading to Tullibardine and then homeward.
And I was amazed, no make that I was flabbergasted, at the new found fitness of my dynamic duo when we managed to tandem up a very steep hill just after Machanay Bridge for the first time ever! This has always been a hill too far and ended up with me being “taken for a walk” and pushed up that stretch. But I was mega impressed!
And so was the “old gal” who – as regular readers of my Musings know only too well – doesn’t do hills. The “old git” was a happy chappy and of course claimed it was all down to his clever use of my gears! Aye right!
Buoyed by that success we easily managed to nail the long – but gentler – climb at Easthill before the nice fast downhill stretch back to Matildas Rest. Time for a well deserved coffee for my crew, while sitting out on the decking enjoying the Spring sunshine while checking out the details of the ride.
Strava officially recorded the ride at a distance of 20.8 miles, covering an elevation of 872 feet, with a moving time of 2 hours 17 minutes. The average speed was 9.1 mph and we reached a thrilling (well for this “old lady” anyway) maximum speed of 30.2 mph!
The most pleasing thing was that Team Matilda managed to clock up no less than 8 personal records on the route! See I told you the weight loss of my dynamic duo would boost our stamina and speed!
Before I was returned to my comfortable garage there was the important job of the “old gal” taking my picture with my official invite for the glitzy UK Blog Awards 2016 awards ceremony which takes place at the Park Plaza Hotel at Westminster in London this Friday, April 29.
I was one very happy tandem posing with my invite! After all as the author of this blog, who did the “old git” think it would be sent to?! Just a reminder that my Matildas Musings blog is not only a finalist in the Most Innovative category but it is the only Scottish blog to reach the finals.
Given that it was me who got the invite, the question is does that make my dynamic duo my “plus one” – or should that be my “plus two”?!
If I am being honest, I don’t think I will win – especially when you see the other blogs who are finalists in the Most Innovative category.
But if the judges are looking for something really original – what can be more original than a witty blog written by a classic Jack Taylor tandem?
My spokes are firmly crossed and I know you will cross your fingers and toes and anything else you can for me.