Blowin’ a hoolie on the Salmon Run NCN Rt77 Dundee to Errol for fab soup and cake At AliBob Cafe at Cairn O’Mhor Fruit Winery

Amazing light formations on the River Tay Salmon Run on NCN Rt77 – 4.5km wide at Invergowrie.

“Do you fancy going to one of our favourite cafes and I’ll treat you to Sunday lunch with views of the Salmon Run along the River Tay?” the “old git” casually inquired of the “old gal.”

The “old gal” had been caught this way before and instead of imagining a warm drive in the car immediately knew that the “carrot” on offer was to soften her up for a Sunday pedal! Don’t say my Captain doesn’t know how to treat my stoker!

But the “old gal” readily agreed as some fresh air was required – though she wouldn’t have known just how much blustery fresh air she was letting herself in for!

The weather forecast said it would be pretty windy (with winds averaging 15mph) but remaining dry, and it was certainly blowin’a hoolie – as we say here in Scotland – as my crew set out from the Tay Bridge Kiosk car park across the bridge to Dundee.

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

After a blustery pedal across the Tay Road Bridge – protected in the middle section from the traffic – Team Matilda headed out of Dundee, the City of Discovery, on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network #NCN Rt 77 – on our route to Errol, passing thru Invergowrie.

This part of the NCN – which links Dundee with Pitlochry – is nicknamed “The Salmon Run” as it hugs the mighty River Tay – famed for its salmon. And it also offers some magnificent views across the 4.5km wide river at Invergowrie.

Rt77 is nicknamed The Salmon Run with spectacular views across the mighty River Tay.

My dynamic crew were enjoying the relatively flat and stunning Carse of Gowrie countryside. However, the wind was pretty much directly in my Captain’s face – with some gusts significantly stronger than the forecast 15mph – as we pedalled along the near 15 miles along to Errol where my crew had booked a table at the wonderful – and very bike friendly – AliBob at Cairn O’Mohr Café at Cairn o Mohr Real Fruit Wines.

The bike friendly AliBob café at Errol – served up fab soup and a sandwich plus yummy cake!

It was great to see the café open for business again and thriving – despite the obvious Covid-19 restrictions. But full marks for all the safety precautions and it felt very safe.

My Captain had pumpkin soup (what else with it being so close to Halloween!) and a chicken bacon and lettuce sandwich – washed down with a yummy glass of freshly squeezed apple juice made at the neighbouring winery – and removed before the cider process begins! My dynamic crew managed to make space for a coffee and some home-made carrot cake to finish their splendid lunch treat off!

As for me, this “old lady” found plenty of bags of apples waiting to be processed at the winery, which would have been extremely useful for “dookin for apples” this Halloween – if we were allowed to be in people’s houses, which of course we are not!

Before we left the winery, the “old gal” looked very pleased with herself when she found the home delivery van for the wines!

I certainly found enough apples at the winery for “dookin; for apples” this Halloween!

The “old gal” looks quite proud of herself that she found the home delivery van for the wines!

My dynamic crew were really looking forward to the return journey – given the wind forces they faced on the outward leg – and it did not disappoint. Team Matilda fair whizzed along the return leg – with the “old gal” heard to say: “This must be what an e-assist #tandem ride would be like!”

It was certainly a fun turbo-charged run back – with the “old git” nearly losing his hi-vis jacket at a photo stop to get an Autumnal shot of a perfectly symmetrical tree lined avenue. The wind was gusting so strongly he had to keep a firm hold of it as it was acting very like one of those wind socks you see at airports!

The “old git” had to keep a tight hold on his jacket which was acting like a very lively wind sock!

Centre of a tree-line driveway – with what looks like a light source homing in on the “old git’s” helmet!

Back into Dundee in record time – as the Strava gongs prove! – and time for a quick reviving coffee at the café at Discovery Point and RRS Discovery just beside the stunning architecture of the relatively new V&A Dundee Design Museum on the waterfront.

Discovery Point and the V&A Design Museum made an impressive backdrop at Dundee waterfront,

The imposing £80 million building – which opened in 2018 – has been designed to look like a giant ship by the acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

It is built beside Discovery Point with the three masts of the wooden Royal Research Ship Discovery, which was captained by Robert Falcon Scott on his first journey to the Antarctic in 1902, creating an interesting old and new juxtaposition.

Team Matilda having fun at the coffee stop!

The coffee (and loo!) break was to give my crew strength for their nemesis of a head-wind battle across the Tay Bridge – but amazingly it didn’t seem as bad as my dynamic crew had been dreading.

However, it was good to get back into Matilda Transport and out of the blast of the wind. The “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a spectacular total of 31 gongs – made up of 13 personal bests, 10 second bests; and 8 third best times. Whisper it, but most of the PBs were on the return leg with the wind pushing Team Matilda along!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 29.3 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 19 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.6 mph – which given the strength of the wind was perfectly acceptable! Elevation was a relatively flat 404 feet given we were pedalling alongside the river. The maximum speed was 39.4 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,296 calories and produce an average power output of 139 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.

Another great fun tandem day out in the late October sunshine for Team Matilda on a bicycle made for two!

My spokes are firmly crossed for some mild and dry late Autumn and Winter weather so we can keep up those miles … and Smiles!

Autumnal colours, waterfalls, monster spotting, great coffee, viaducts, old railway lines and prosecco picnic on epic tandem ride from Callander to Killin

Autumnal colours added to the natural beauty at Falls of Dochart at the tourist hotspot of Killin.

“Do you fancy taking in the Autumnal colours this weekend with some waterfalls and a pedal along old railway lines with a bit of monster spotting thrown in?” the “old git” casually asked the “old gal”.

Never short of a quip she wittily replied: “The Autumn colours, waterfalls and railway tracks sounds great for a tandem ride, but I don’t need to go looking for a monster – I’ve got a perfectly good one here!” Oh how the “old git” laughed! Ouch! … but I presume she was joking! Right?!

And that’s why Team Matilda found themselves up before dawn broke and heading to Callander for a much recommended – but hilly – epic route from Callander to Killin on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network #NCN Rt 7 – which runs through the stunning and #BLiSSful Rob Roy Country and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

The weather forecast was for a cloudy, but dry and still day – which was exactly what met my dynamic crew as the “old git” parked Matilda Transport in the Meadows car park in Callander, before getting me kitted up for the ride. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Now as all tandem teams know, one of the first duties of the Stoker is to find a signpost to ensure the Captain heads off in the correct direction! Sometimes this is easier said than done – but not today! Callander seemed to be a busy crossroads for NCN Rt7 with clear signposts pointing in one direction to Strathyre and on to Killin – and to Aberfoyle in the other. So after a photo of this “old lady” as a Callander girl – see what I did there?! – we headed off.

A “Callander girl” shot of this “old lady” at the “crossroads” signpost on NCN Rt7.

The NCN signpost confirmed the route is 22 miles each way. The cycle path heads out of Callander on the old Oban railway line alongside the picturesque River Leny. Now this is one of those railway lines that is most definitely not flat and has a slow gradual uphill section for the first two miles, which was a bit of a shock to my dynamic crew! But soon the synchronicity kicked in and we picked up speed.

First photo stop en-route was to view the white water Falls of Leny.

The first photo stop was at the stunning Falls of Leny before climbing thru the forest at Pass of Leny, with some brilliant colours and impressively tall trees. This climb rewarded my crew with spectacular Autumnal views across Loch Lubnaig, where the route hugs high above the loch’s western shore.

Fabulous colours and impressively tall trees at the Pass of Leny.

The lesser spotted Stoker taking in the wonders of the Autumnal colours at Loch Lubnaig!

Enjoying the virtually windless conditions my dynamic crew decided there was time for monster spotting to see if we could see Lubbie – the mysterious monster said by locals to live deep in Loch Lubnaig! Despite some serious looking – and even some wildlife-type calls of “Lubbie, Lubbie, Lubbie” from the “old gal” – it was nowhere to be seen! Obviously Lubbie is equally publicity shy as its elusive cousin at Loch Ness!

Monster spotting for Lubbie – the mysterious monster said to live deep in Loch Lubnaig!

Devastated at not being able to get a photo of Lubbie we tandemed onwards on the undulating path heading for Strathyre. All of a sudden at the end of the loch the relatively smooth path abruptly finished and we were faced with a very steep zig zag boulder strewn section in the shadow of Ben Ledi! It was exciting for this “old lady” who as you know likes to try new things – but the “old gal” on the back was less convinced by the sharp bends and bumpy ride, so we took a little walk!

Pedalling on we were soon at the fabulous welcoming Broch Café in Strathyre – which offers a real oasis for cyclists situated right beside the NCN Rt7, and has won awards for being one of the best bike-friendly cafes in Scotland. My dynamic crew resisted ordering a tempting full breakfast and instead treated themselves to yummy strong coffee – just like the “old gal” likes it! – and home-made fruit scones and caramel shortcake! After all they needed to fuel up for the hills ahead!

Yummy strong coffee and home-made scones and caramel cake at the bike-friendly Broch Café.

It was great to see the café busy – with full social distancing measures in place and it felt very safe. It is a credit to the ultra-friendly owners Lesley and Bill, and it was great for my dynamic crew to catch up with them again. And encouraging to hear that the business has had its best ever season, despite the Covid restrictions – helped by Scots holidaying at home.

Mine host at Broch Café Lesley with the “old gal” – with Covid-19 precautions!

My dynamic crew got back on my saddles to enjoy a wonderfully smooth section of NCN Rt7 towards Kingshouse. Before the “old git” built up the pace there was a quick photo at Drover’s Bho – part of the award-winning innovative cultural outside art #BLiSStrail which is  the brainchild of LETi, the local Loch Earn Tourism Information group.

The “old git” at Drover’s Bho – one of the outside artworks on the #BLiSStrail in the area.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Kim Proven, chair of LETi, and her fellow community team volunteers, the trail had the honour a couple of years ago of being crowned winner of the ‘Innovation in Tourism’ category at the National Grand Final of the VisitScotland Scottish Thistle Awards – regarded as Scotland’s tourism ‘Oscars’.

There is an audio tour of the BLiSStrail where you simply download the geotourist app on your smartphone, follow the trail and listen to the voices of locals and artists as they tell stories about the artworks around the trail.

New artworks are regularly added to keep the trail fresh to attract repeat visitors to the area and after following the NCN Rt7 route to Kingshouse and on to Lochearnhead the “old gal” shouted a stop as we saw ‘Ewen – Westies of Craggan” at the entrance to St Angus Church, which dates back to1888.

Me making friends with ‘Ewen – Westies of Craggan’ another installation on the #BLiSStrail.

Leaving Lochearnhead there is a demanding steep zig zag section – with interesting tight z-bends as the cycle path rises 330 feet in just a mile, with a peak gradient of 12%. Whisper it – but my dynamic crew decided that they would push me up this section, which I think was a wise choice as I am a long vehicle and don’t bend in the middle for some of these sharp turns!

The “old gal” admiring the fab view up Loch Earn after the steep zig zag climb.

The reward at the top of this section – as my dynamic crew got their breath back – is a wonderful view right up the 7 mile length of Loch Earn. The water was very calm today but the “old git” couldn’t resist recounting the interesting fact that Loch Earn is one of very few freshwater bodies of water that has its own seiche – a tidal system which is caused by the action of the prevailing wind blowing along the loch. This makes Loch Earn fairly unique and is in the illustrious company of a few other bodies of fresh water which experience this effect including the Great Lakes, Lake Garda, and Lake Geneva.

The bright blue Millennium signpost stands out on NCN Rt7 above Lochearnhead.

The next section of the route was the highlight for my dynamic crew as it follows the old Killin railway line up thru Glen Ogle. It is a steady, but manageable, 1 in 50 climb for just under four miles to the summit. But Team Matilda hardly noticed the climb as they were too busy taking in the magnificent beauty and raw nature views across the Glen to the moody mist covered mountains beyond.

There is a “must do” photo stop at the magnificent scenic and atmospheric  Glen Ogle Viaduct – which dates back to 1870 and is a 12 arch, 139 feet long, 44 feet high single track masonry viaduct which runs along the steep eastern hillside of Meall Reamhar and Scorrach Nuadh.

The “old gal” at the magnificent scenic and atmospheric Glen Ogle Viaduct.

The “old git” at a jaunty angle having a breather at the viaduct after the steady 1 in 50 climb.

Pausing to take in the dramatic scenery, my dynamic crew could (with a just a little bit of imagination) almost feel the impressive rich railway heritage of the Callander to Oban railway which had its heyday in the golden era of steam trains. What an impressive sight it must have been to see a train at full steam climbing up Glen Ogle.

A brilliant picture of a train at full steam climbing up Glen Ogle in 1955.

A British Railways poster from the golden age of steam c1950

In fact the whole of the Rob Roy Country area has a fascinating rail history which you can read more about here. Our tandem ride also took us past the point of the Glen Ogle rockfall – which led to the line’s early closure in 1965.

At the top of Glen Ogle, and crossing the A85, the route drops down thru the stunning Acharn Forest.

Contrasting colours – the “old gal” deep in the Acharn Forest on the drop down to Killin.

Although very scenic some of this section is right on the margins for an “old lady” road bike like me as the route suddenly – and with no warning – becomes a bit rough and rugged and in places turning into muddy trails more suited to mountain bikes. So take it carefully!

The NCN Rt7 route emerges at the tourist hot spot of Killin and the mesmerising Falls of Dochart which offered my dynamic crew a spectacular spot for one of their signature prosecco picnics – on the rocks right beside the loud roar of the amazing waterfalls. Picnic spots don’t come much better than this!

The Falls of Dochart offered a spectacular spot for my dynamic crew’s signature prosecco picnic.

The “old gal” couldn’t get much closer to the waterfalls without falling in!

Selfie time! Prosecco cheers! Picnic spots don’t come much better than this!

The “old git” enjoying his lunch with the scenic backdrop of the Falls of Dochart.

My dynamic crew enjoyed a healthy salad and some fruit – followed by a coffee from the busy café at the Falls of Dochart Inn – but chose to ignore any treats of cake or chocolate, which was to prove to be a big mistake later!

The “old git” spotted a sign for the Falls of Dochart Smokehouse and paid a visit to purchase some locally cured smoked salmon. There was time for a few photos at the bridge overlooking the falls before starting on our return journey.

The “old git” on the bridge at Killin overlooking the mesmerising Falls of Dochart.

Team Matilda captured at the bridge at Killin with the beautiful Falls of Dochart as a backdrop.

With my dynamic crew deciding the track back up thru the Acharn Forest wasn’t road tandem friendly, the “old git” and “old gal” headed out of Killin on the trunk route A84 and A85 climb back to Glen Ogle. It was a bit busy with several very fast close passes from cars.

It was also what the “old gal” described as a “horrendous and not fun” climb at an average gradient of 8% as it rose nearly 600 feet in just 2 miles.

After a few stops to allow the “old gal” – who suffers from asthma – to breathe, my dynamic crew were glad to see the viewpoint carpark at the peak of the climb where Team Matilda rejoined NCN Rt7 for a most enjoyable downhill section. A quick stop at the Glen Ogle Viaduct for yet another photo – it just was too good an opportunity to miss!

The “old git” back at the Glen Ogle Viaduct with its great dramatic views.

The downhill continued all the way to Lochearnhead – tho make sure your brakes are well serviced for the steep zig zag section!

A blast along to Kingshouse followed by a similar speedy section back to Strathyre. As the skies got darker, Team Matilda came to the realisation that their slower pace at the start of the return leg meant there would be no planned re-fuelling at Broch Café – as it was now closed for the day.

Heading out of Strathyre the heavens opened and heavy rain – which was not forecast till much later – started to fall. And just to add to the fun, my dynamic crew suddenly became somewhat less dynamic as they bonked – the cycling definition of hitting the wall thru a lack of energy!

Emergency supplies of an energy bar and gel from my panniers put an end to the bonking(!!) by providing some much needed instant energy – which  helped power us back to the start at Callander, arriving somewhat drenched from the rain!

The emergency supply of an energy bar and a gel from my panniers stopped the bonking!

After I was safely and quickly packed back into Matilda Transport to avoid the downpour, the “old gal” had one of her brilliant ideas – fish and chips! Ten minutes later my dynamic crew were tucking into a hearty fish supper in the car which provided much needed sustenance for my dynamic crew, and revived their somewhat dampened bodies and spirits.

Back in the warmth and dry at Matildas Rest, after a hot shower, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the epic ride as being worthy of a total of 17 gongs – made up of 7 personal bests, 9 second bests; and 1 third best times.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 43.8 miles with a moving time of 4 hours 38 minutes. The average speed was 9.4 mph – which given the elevation was 2,224 feet was perfectly acceptable! The maximum speed was 26.6 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 3,306 calories and produce an average power output of 178 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.

So overall an amazing – but challenging and energy sapping day for my dynamic crew! It is not a route for beginners or for the feint-hearted! But the scenery was magnificent and stunning and there was a palpable sense of achievement from the “old git” and “old gal” at completing the route on a bicycle made for two in #BLiSSful Rob Roy Country and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

Covid-19 precautions on sun-kissed seaside ride on Ayrshire Coast Cycleway from Irvine to Ayr

My dynamic crew ready to roll in the stunning morning sunshine at Irvine Beach Park.

“Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!” – especially on a tandem on The National Cycle Network

Sunday morning had not yet dawned when my dynamic  crew were up and preparing to leave Matilda’s Rest for a promised sunshine day at the sea!

Team Matilda’s schedule was to head to one of the “old gal’s” favourite #tandem rides – along the Ayrshire Coast Cycleway. The start point would be Irvine, with a picnic lunch at the turnaround point of Ayr. So fully kitted up – including extra Covid-19 precautions – the “old git” drove Matilda Transport to the Coastwatch Scotland car park in Irvine. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was a beautiful sunny day as we arrived in Irvine allowing some great sunny pictures with the early morning shadows before the “old git” and “old gal” rolled out along the superb Ayrshire Coast Cycleway, which forms part of Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network #NCN Rt 7.

Early morning shadows at Irvine sea front for the start of our pedal!

The “old gal” smiling at the day ahead in bright sunshine on the Ayrshire Coast Cycleway.

My dynamic crew’s route is also part of The Coig – which is Gaelic for ‘five’ and is a new tourist initiative comprising five cycle-friendly touring routes around Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands. of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae. NCN Rt7 is part of Route 1 known as The Shire – short for Ayrshire.

A tail wind and pedalling along some amazingly almost motorway-smooth tarmac on the cycle path saw my dynamic crew at Prestwick Promenade in what seemed like no time – buoyed by the (almost!) warm sunshine blasting into their faces. A loo stop was called by the “old gal” with a great coffee picked up from the neighbouring Mancini’s at the beach café.

Time for a fantastic photo with the “old gal” looking out towards Arran in one of those sea meets sky pictures – with almost unnatural shades of blue! Just perfect! This is actually one of our photos where it is worth clicking on the image to see it in a larger size!

One of those fab where sea meets sky shots with almost unnatural shades of blue!

The whole route is well signposted and easy to follow – ideal for newbies to the NCN – with dedicated painted cycle lanes on stretches along the sea front promenades at Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. Pedalling on the route took my dynamic crew into Ayr – which was hugely busy compared to a normal October day as people were desperate to get out ahead of any further potential lockdowns. But good to see that nearly everyone was wearing masks, so naturally this “old lady” bike followed local regulations in the Ayrshire and Arran area and donned a mask at the sea front for some pictures!

I decided I would match everyone else in taking Covid-19 precautions by wearing a mask!

The “old git” at Ayr Promenade with Arran and Ailsa Craig as a stunning backdrop.

The “old gal” having a laugh at the “old git” trying – and failing – to avoid his shadow in the photo!

My dynamic crew found a sheltered bench in gardens just off the promenade to enjoy their picnic lunch – and signature prosecco toast, naturally! – while enjoying the stunning views out to Arran and Ailsa Craig – aka Paddy’s Milestone. Great brain food to take the mind off these troubled times.

The “old gal” enjoying Team Matilda’s signature prosecco toast near the sea front at Ayr.

Great sign making it clear to take your rubbish with you at Ayr sea front. We did!

On the return leg my crew battled a bracing headwind and made their second stop at Mancini’s to sample the gorgeous array of ice creams on offer. (It had been too early to indulge during the morning coffee stop!) The “old git” tasted the rum and raisin while the “old gal” had the chocolate orange. And the verdict was that it was very yummy – and worthy of the “Best Ice Cream in the UK” award that the café was proudly promoting!

A yummy ice cream stop – the “best ice cream in the UK” from Mancini’s at the beach.

Pedalling back thru Troon there was time for a quick “hello” at Tinto Tapas – Troon– where the “old gal’s” daughter Kirsty is restaurant manager. Sadly the eaterie – like all others in Ayrshire and Arran – is currently only offering takeaway meals to customers due to the latest virus restrictions.

My dynamic crew then blasted back to Irvine for a re-fuelling takeaway coffee and cake at the Small Talk Coffee and Gift Shop which looks out on to the harbour. Amazingly this transaction also saw the “old gal” buy a handbag! Well obviously she had to carry the coffee and cake in something! The morale of the story? – a very expensive coffee stop!

Back at Matilda Transport, while enjoying the last of the sun’s rays, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a total of 27 gongs – made up of 6 personal bests, 9 second bests; and 7 third best times.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 33.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 45 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.2 mph – which given the headwind on the return journey was perfectly acceptable – while the elevation was 580 feet due to the route mainly running along the edge of the sea. The maximum speed was 25.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,652 calories and produce an average power output of 149 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.

Another great day of tandeming on a bicycle made for two for my dynamic crew on the west coast of Ayrshire – with the sun showing off Scotland (and the National Cycle Network) at its very best!

Team Matilda clocks up 6000 miles in tandem on a flood-hit weekend Tour de Arbroath mini break

I am a tandem – not Noah’s Ark! Looks like I have found the ability to cycle on a canal on NCN Rt1!

Saturday afternoon saw Team Matilda drive to Arbroath in Visit Angus for a weekend break with good solo cyclist friends Alan Ince and Anne Connell – Team AA!

We arrived late afternoon during a period of torrential rain with a severe weather warning for flooding. However the “old git” remained his usual optimistic self about a change in the weather as we all checked in to the very welcoming and luxurious Harbour Nights bed and breakfast wonderfully situated overlooking the harbour and marina.

The luxury Harbour Nights b+b sits on the waterfront.

The view from the brand new luxury sea view suite – across the marina and harbour

Everyone else thought he was mad (what’s new there!) as the “old git” said he was confident the rain would relent in time for the planned Sunday ride which would see my dynamic crew clock up their 6000th mile in tandem!

To take the minds off the by now biblical rain a gin and prosecco bar was quickly set up by the cycling teams in the brand new luxury sea view suite – with magnificent views across the marina and harbour – and naturally the crews had to sample a few of the offerings!

Team Matilda and Team AA enjoy the first prosecco toast of the Tour de Arbroath!

A gin and prosecco bar was quickly set up in the suite to take the minds off the biblical rain!

Waterproofs on we walked the short distance for a great Greek style evening meal at Andreou’s Bistro – which if it wasn’t for the constant rain battering the windows would have felt like the crews had arrived somewhere in the Mediterranean!

After a nightcap – of a sumptuous new dark red Shiraz flavoured gin brought by Anne and Alan – the crew’s went to bed with my Captain still bravely predicting that the storm would blow thru by the morning, as the weather forecast predicted. Everyone else just smiled along to keep him happy!

Ride 1 – Team Matilda hits 6000 miles in tandem on pedal where Noah’s Ark would have struggled on Arbroath – Dundee route with Anne and Alan

Sunday dawned – and believe it or not – the sun was out and the rain had subsided! So after a hearty home cooked tasty breakfast at the b+b, the crews got kitted up and we headed out of Arbroath on the pre-planned route heading for Dundee on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network  #NCN Rt 1. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Team Matilda’s dynamic crew and Anne and Alan of Team AA ready to roll at Arbroath marina.

A bracing pedal down the promenade – which was being hit by amazing waves – took us to the start of the coastal cycle path. After a couple of miles we suddenly hit a large area of water. Somewhat inadvisably the crews thought they could pedal thru, not being able to tell the depth. But when the flood water came up over my pedals after about 60 yards it was time to stop!

With fairly fast flowing water from a heavily flooded burn now lapping at the shins of the crews the next decision was whether to push the bikes on for a couple of hundred yards or reverse and seek a detour. The decision was made in no uncertain terms when a solo cyclist coming the other way decided to walk his bike thru and ended up with it over his shoulder and waist high in water!

So the “old git” bravely battled to turn me in the water and Team Matilda and Team AA waded back to dry land! But the stalwart crews simply decided to ring out their socks and shoes and squelch off to continue the ride by retracing our pedals back into Arbroath and finding the alternative cycle path which runs along the route of the A92.

Feet wet! At the edge of the waist high flooding on NCN Rt1 just after leaving Arbroath.

Drying out by the side of the cycle path as the crews rung out their shoes and socks!

The wind helped dry out the feet of the crews(!!) and we were soon turning back down a quiet rural road to the village of East Haven – where we saw a beached fishing boat! But this wasn’t the result of the severe floods but was in fact part of a beautiful community garden display!

Despite the flooding this boat is meant to be beached in a lovely garden at East Haven.

Back on the planned #NCN Rt1 the next stop was at Carnoustie, where there was time for photos while admiring the raw power of the high breakers pounding the seafront.

The pounding waves and bracing fresh sea air at Carnoustie enjoyed by Team Matilda and Team AA..

Alan and Anne of Team AA admiring the raw power of the sea.

The “old gal” and the “old git” take in some salty sea air at Carnoustie.

Pedalling on, the cycle path is wonderfully flat going past the Barry Buddon tank training range – with its dire warnings of potential death to trespassers if the flags are flying. The sun was shining brightly and Broughty Castle and the small harbour at Broughty Ferry offered the perfect backdrop for another photo opportunity.

Don’t jump! Broughty Ferry harbour looking down to the Tay Estuary towards the Tay bridges.

My dynamic crew enjoying the sunshine and the backdrop of Broughty Castle.

The path then continues along the scenic seafront before a new section along Dundee Docks brought us into Dundee at the revamped waterfront area incorporating the impressive V&A Dundee, which is built to look like a large ship. The cafe at Discovery Point and RRS Discovery offered a perfect stop for re-fuelling scones, cakes and coffee.

Selfie time at Discovery Point and RRS Discovery in Dundee with the V&A Dundee in the background.

My dynamic crew now had just a few miles to go till they hit their 6000th mile in tandem landmark and with much checking of my milometer on my handlebars – and the “old git” doing a countdown – it finally clicked over at Broughty Ferry sea front right beside a bench with a great view down the Tay Estuary.

Photo proof of the 6000th mile clocked up in tandem for my dynamic crew!

Naturally this was deemed a perfect spot to pop the cork on the signature #prosecco celebration with Anne and Alan who had helpfully packed a hip flask with some sloe gin which turned the fizz into a very appealing pink #ginsecco! Not surprisingly this popping of the cork and subsequent fairly loud celebrations caused a bit of interest on a very busy sunny Sunday afternoon at the sea front! But I think that hitting 6000 miles – with just as many smiles! – on a bicycle made for two is good justification for a celebration!

Popping the cork with a bang to celebrate the 6000th mile.

My dynamic crew were basking in their personal glory – fuelled as a quick bit of Google research revealed that a 6000 mile circumference as the crow flies from their home base of Auchterarder would have seen them pedal as far as Johannesburg in South Africa; Bangkok in Thailand; Sao Paulo in Brazil; or Hong Kong! Quite an achievement and as the “old gal” quipped: “See what a blind date on a tandem can sign you up for!”

A signature prosecco toast for my dynamic crew to mark the big moment at Broughty Ferry!

We even had a quick impromptu video call to our close tandeming pals Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor to share the fizz moment as we had been with our Travelling In Tandem blog friends in person as Team Matilda hit 3000 miles on our Nutty Tandemers Club Tour de New Forest and then again for 4000 miles on the fabulous Tour de Hebridean Way last year. We just had to share the prosecco with them virtually as Team Matilda fell just a few miles short of hitting the 6000 mark on our recent Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

A virtual toast with our tandeming pals John and Jane of Travelling in Tandem blog!

There was also a toast to my trusty bike doctor John at Richards Cycles in Perth for keeping me on the road! Team Matilda is acutely aware we couldn’t have hit this landmark without you! Cheers!

The 6000th mile brought back memories of our 5000 mile landmark – which was achieved strangely enough just along the cycle path at Monifieth Beach back in May this year. Now that was during the Covid-19 lockdown and I decided it wasn’t really the mood to write a blog about it at the time, but my dynamic crew did record a couple of videos that day to record the 5000 miles for posterity!

So I decided to include them in this blog! The first one was a little celebratory tandem song – with profuse apologies to The Proclaimers! Click on the video to watch!

The second one saw the “old git” doing a toast in tribute to the “old gal” – my trusty Stoker (and Chief Engineer!) who has been a stalwart for every one of those miles! Again click below to watch!

Celebrations over, the crews pedalled back to Carnoustie where the flooding was worse than earlier, which seemed to turn the cycle path into a canal at some points. Then there was the amazing sight of the Open Championship Carnoustie Golf Links at the Carnoustie Golf Hotel and Spa looking more like a fast flowing river than its carefully manicured fairways.

Don’t put your feet down! My dynamic crew pedalling thru the floods near Carnoustie.

Looks like a river to the right of the “old gal” – but it’s the waterlogged Open Championship golf course!

Now as if the flooding wasn’t enough drama for one day, unfortunately Alan punctured around East Haven. For what ever reason noone noticed he had fallen behind and the others all pedalled on oblivious to his plight on the steep climb out of the village. A ping on Anne’s phone alerted us to the problem and we went back to find him just as he had completed a quick change of his inner tube.

It was just starting to get dark as the now tired crews pedalled back into Arbroath. Safely ensconced back at the warmth and comfort of the Harbour Nights b+b, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing Team Matilda had been awarded 20 gongs – made up of 7 personal bests; six second bests; and 7 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 44.6 miles with a moving time of 4 hours 14 minutes. The average speed was 10.5 mph – which given the windy conditions and flooding detours was pretty respectable – while the elevation was just 601 feet. The maximum speed was 24.8 mph and the “old git” and “old gal” managed to burn up 2,322 calories and produce an average power output of 136 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.

After welcome reviving showers, a brilliant day was completed with some tasty fish and chips for re-fuelling from Marco’s On The Shore – superbly situated right next door to our wonderful bed and breakfast – which was naturally washed down with another couple of tastings from the gin bar!

A great full-on tandeming day out – with a second route planned for Monday, which hopefully will be a little less eventful! But who can tell! After all, I I do need something to write about in my Matildas Musings and these adventures just seem to happen naturally!

Ride 2 – Arbroath to Lunan Bay – take 2 … after a snapped rear gear cable was fixed within 20 minutes as a hero at a local bike shop saved the day!

Monday morning and my dynamic crew and solo cyclist friends Anne and Alan (Team AA) woke after a restful nights sleep at the charming and highly recommended Harbour Nights bed and breakfast for the second ride of their Tour de Arbroath mini break.

After the drama of tandeming thru the floods on Sunday both crews were hoping for a less eventful pedal. But – as always – our rides never seem to be straightforward, and this one turned into another adventure full of drama! Firstly it was blowing a hoolie – as they say in Scotland when the wind is pretty blustery. But despite a few sharp squalls while the crews enjoyed a tasty breakfast – including the local delicacy of an Arbroath Smokie – it had dried up when we pedalled off. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The bracing head wind along the sea front towards the cliffs on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network  #NCN Rt 1 made progress interesting!

Then disaster struck with less than 2 miles on the clock as my dynamic crew tackled the first hill climbing away from the sea. There was a resounding twang as the “old git” changed down gear and this “old lady” tandem ground to a halt.

Closer inspection revealed I had a snapped rear gear cable at the handlebars end, and I was stuck in a low gear. Just as it looked like the ride was going to have to be abandoned a helpful local walked past and suggested calling in at the bike shop in the town.

A quick downhill pedal took us back to Arbroath and easily found the Angus Bike Chain shop. The “old gal” disappeared inside more in hope than anything – but after a quick chat with the fantastically helpful ‘Biker Steve’ who owned the shop, she gave a thumbs up and I was wheeled inside.

The business more than lived up to its reputation of being “the best bike shop in Angus”. Not only did it have the longer gear cable required for my lengthy frame in stock – but within 20 minutes the new cable was carefully fitted and I was fully tested and repaired – and all for a very modest payment. Great service!

“Biker Steve” at the fab Angus Bike Chain shop soon had a new rear gear cable attached and tested.

The Angus Bike Chain certainly lived up to its reputation of the best bike shop in Angus!

Then it was Take 2 – as the crew’s retraced their steps and enjoyed a great ride on undulating quiet roads to the wild and beautiful Lunan Bay Beach and its attractive red-coloured sand.

The wild and beautiful Lunan Bay Beach was our scenic destination.

Leaving the bike’s at the boardwalk entrance to the beach the crew’s admired the views of nearby Red Castle which overlooks the beach.. History says that both Robert the Bruce and William the Lionheart used the castle, which now is sadly in a serious state of disrepair.

The viewpoint overlooked the rugged sand dunes offered a perfect spot for some pictures of Team Matilda and Team AA before the signature #prosecco toast overlooking the blustery beach.

The “old gal” with Anne – one half of solo cycling Team AA!

Selfie time for Team Matilda and Team AA showing the wide open red coloured beach.

Another view of Lunan Bay Beach from the viewpoint in the sand dunes.

Cheers! My dynamic crew share their signature #prosecco toast overlooking the beach.

Blowing a hoolie! Prosecco toast at a blustery – but beautiful – Lunan Bay Beach.

After taking in the sea air the crews pedalled back to Arbroath but on the return leg we had a P-word incident as Alan had the misfortune to puncture for the second time on his rear wheel in two days.

The crews tried a quick fix with the instant spray sealer foam but the tube must have been too badly damaged as it didn’t work. So as we were just 3 miles from the finish, Alan decided that the rest should all head back into Arbroath, with the “old git” then collecting him by car to avoid having to do the full wheel removal puncture repair.

Don’t mention the P-word! Alan Ince suffered his second puncture in two days.

Safely back in the town the crew’s enjoyed a reviving coffee scone and cake at The Old Boatyard – while recounting another typical drama-filled Matildas Musings adventure!

The “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing that despite all the trauma of the day Team Matilda had amazingly been awarded a gong for being “8th fastest in the world” for a downhill stretch known as “Flat out to the fire station” coming back into Arbroath!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 18.2 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 39 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.1 mph given the blustery conditions, while the elevation was 924 feet. The maximum speed was 28.9 mph and the “old git” and “old gal” managed to burn up 1,188 calories and produce an average power output of 179 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.

My dynamic crew bid fond farewell to Alan and Anne – with the promise of a repeat weekend trip in the future – probably in the Spring!

Before heading home to Matildas Rest, Team Matilda decided to enjoy the last of the early evening sunshine with a brief walk round the exterior impressive sandstone ruins of Arbroath Abbey, which dates back to 1178 and is now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

The “old gal” dwarfed by the magnificent sandstone ruins of Arbroath Abbey.

A celestial moment as the sun broke thru the cloud above Arbroath Abbey

It is currently closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions but the Abbey is most famous for being the base for the Declaration of Arbroath when Scotland’s nobles swore their independence from England in a letter to the Pope sent from the Abbey 700 years ago in 1320.

A bit of history in the Arbroath sunshine to end a fabulous weekend of tandeming adventures!

Finally, As a little tribute to the unforgettable Tour de Arbroath the “old git” has pulled together a photo montage video – set to music – to help everyone remember the madcap fun  we all enjoyed – so click below and enjoy!