Sunday was dedicated marathon rehearsal day! Yes you heard correctly – marathon! The simple task was to tandem the standard marathon distance of just over 26 miles in a respectable time of under 3 hours.
Why I hear you ask? Well the “old git” has gone and entered Team Matilda into a Charity Cycle Marathon Challenge being organised by the local Auchterarder Rotary Club this Sunday.
Now long standing readers of my blog will remember that the “old git” caused a bit of a ‘minor domestic’ with the “old gal” when he signed us up for this event last year. You can read all about it here.
Last year we managed (just!) to complete the course in a time of 3 hours and 17 minutes. This year the challenge is on to smash that time. And even the “old gal” agrees they should easily beat last year’s target due to my dynamic duo’s new found fitness and weight loss programme which has seen them lose a combined 63 pounds between them in 15 weeks.
So the idea was to do a similar 26 mile distance – and see how the time went – in preparation for the charity event. The “old gal” came up with a local route which would take us on what seemed like a gently undulating route to Bridge of Earn, handily placed at a distance of just over 13 miles away.
As it turned out – gently undulating turned out to be the highest elevation we had covered since we started recording the rides on Strava – with an elevation of 954 feet! Now you know what the “old gal” thinks about hills … so more of that to come.
You can check out the location and route of my marathon rehearsal on Strava below – don’t forget to click on the map to get the full data and statistics!
Fortunately it was a gorgeous sunny day that was just perfect for a tandem ride. Lots of sunshine and next to no wind to hold us back! But it also turned out to be the warmest recorded run so far, with the temperature hitting 25 C.
So after the obligatory selfie – just to prove how sunny it was – we headed off.I have to say all three of us felt rather blessed at how beautiful a day it was!
In buoyant spirits we soon picked up speed – clicking through the gears – and the “old gal” and the “old git” got that all important synchronicity factor which ensured we were tandeming with ease along the quiet country roads of Perthshire.
The planned itinerary started by taking us along one of our regular routes to the nearby village of Dunning – and in what seemed like no time we were thru the village heading along the rural road to Bridge of Earn.
Even a couple of hills – including one with a nasty hidden double peak – didn’t phase my dynamic duo. I was truly impressed – as was the “old gal” – as these were hills that previously would have seen them both out the saddle and taking me for a walk! But they took them in their stride!
And amazingly we tandemed into Bridge of Earn with the distance reading just over 13 miles in a time of just 1 hour and 6 minutes!
Now obviously next Sunday on the charity event we are going to have to immediately turn round at the half way point and cycle back. But today we had more time and we had been invited by one of the “old gal’s” hairdressing clients, called Evelyn, to call in to say hello.
So we pulled up at Evelyn’s house to find her sitting out in her beautifully planted garden – where we joined her for a cup of coffee and a chat in the warm sunshine. The garden is nothing short of sublime and there are no less than three sets of tables and chairs in the secluded garden – which all get the sun at different points in the day.
Fortunately I was parked up in a nice shady part as it really was rather warm, as the “old git’s” sunburned face which appeared later in the day will testify to!
Evelyn recommended we should drop in at the nearby Brig Farm Shop, so back on the saddles we tandemed along through Bridge of Earn, over the bridge which gives the small town its name, and into the countryside. Within half a mile we spotted the farm shop. “Scone?” asked the “old git”. I have to say it seemed a somewhat rhetorical question as the “old gal” had already dismounted and was walking into the premises! So that’ll be a “yes” then!
Now one of the great joys of tandeming is a stop for coffee and a scone – and this was a bit of a classic. They had a lovely decking area which was basking in sunshine and soon the “old git” and the “old gal” were both enjoying a tasty warm scone baked on the premises, accompanied by home made raspberry jam, and washed down with a nice strong espresso. Bliss!
Back on the road and it was time to do the second half marathon – back to Matilda’s Rest. And a good workout it turned out to be for all three of us, as there were quite a few longer, slower, uphill stretches on the return journey. Even the “old git” – who normally doesn’t admit to seeing any inclines – agreed there was much more uphill on the way back!
But tandeming through the rich and fertile Perthshire farmland was a joy on such a warm day – giving the “old git” and “old gal” some real fresh country air and a feeling of well being!
Soon we were tandeming back through Dunning before the final stretch back to Auchterarder. More plaudits for my Team Matilda crew coming up here because when we return from Dunning we face a steep hill at the bottom of Abbey Road. On every previous ride, this has required my dynamic duo to dismount and walk up the steepest part. But not today! The “old git” moved us into the lowest gear in good time and we cycled up the hill! Slowly albeit – but we did it! Another small victory!
So we arrived back at Matilda’s Rest full of excitement at that achievement – with the “old gal” elated and heard to say: “That felt good!”
Marathon distance achieved as Strava officially recorded the ride at a distance of 27.8 miles, covering an elevation of 954 feet – the biggest elevation covered since my dynamic duo started using the Strava gizmo. So the “old git’s” comment about tandeming uphill were justified!
The moving time was 2 hours 44 minutes, with an average speed of 10.2 mph. Top speed was 30.2 mph. And particularly pleasing was that Team Matilda managed to clock up 3 personal records on the route! See I knew the weight loss of my dynamic duo would boost our stamina and speed!
My team even managed to burn up 1,565 calories! So that scone was allowed after all!
Now there’s just the requirement to do it all again on Sunday – but without a two hour stop this time – to beat that time of last year of 3 hours and 17 minutes. Should be a easy, eh?!! What could possibly go wrong?!! To be continued ….
In the meantime, if you like my tandem blog then – if you haven’t already found it – you will undoubtedly enjoy another tandem blog I have been reading! It is the EuroTandem Tour blog – which recounts the adventures of Mick and Louise, a couple from Jersey who are on a six month self professed “mid life crisis tour of Europe” on their tandem called Claud.
I won’t spoil the fun – but suffice to say things aren’t quite going according to the grand plan at present and I am sure both Mick and Louise would agree that their theme tune at present would be: “Things can only get better!”
If you get a moment have a look at their blog site – it really is entertainingly written, in amusing tongue-in-cheek style. All told it is a great read – even if this “old lady” tandem is muttering under her chain … “There but for the grace of god …. !”