A short blog post which recounts my dynamic crew managing to squeeze in a windy #tandem to the ancient Pictish capital of Alba – Forteviot – on a ride with solo cyclist friends Alan Ince and Anne Connell – Team AA!
While not an official National Cycle Network route, the ride from Auchterarder to Forteviot in southern Perthshire is all on quiet back roads and is a joy to pedal.
You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.
The “old gal” was delighted to see a bright object rising in the sky – otherwise known as the sun! – as my dynamic crew fuelled up with a healthy breakfast. But it was going to be chilly so the next task was kitting up in multiple layers of winter cycling gear.
Next the “old gal” – in her role as “chief mechanic” – lovingly gave me the once over to check all my bits were in working order, and that my tyres were rock hard.
The reason time was of the essence was that my dynamic crew were making an essential drive to see the “old git’s” Mum in Ayrshire later in the day.
Team AA arrived bang on schedule, and after the compulsory photo we all headed off from Matildas Rest on the planned pedal around Pictish Perthshire – heading towards the historic nearby village of Forteviot – pedalling thru Dunning – covering a distance of just under 16 miles.
There was a lovely tailwind on the outward journey which saw my dynamic crew clock up four personal bests on the stretch to Dunning as the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” kicked in and they quickly picked up speed, with all three of us perfectly in tune! But Team Matilda paid for it on the return … as they always seem to do!
The crews were really enjoying the conditions in the glorious Perthshire countryside – and the sunshine appeared right on cue for the ride to give everything and everyone a healthy glow!
It was great to see so many cyclists out – and in what seemed like no time we covered the 8 miles and pedalled into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.
There we saw the amazing Cradle of Scotland- A Stone for Forteviot which is a proud centrepiece to the small village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross.
The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot. It is now housed in the nearby St Serf’s Church in Dunning – which we passed – and is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.
The Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project has provided the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.
Alan and Anne having purchased two new bikes – a Liv and a Giant – from our trusty bike doctors Richards Cycles in Perth – and this was their debut ride. And very pleased they were with their new steeds it seems!
The crews enjoyed a socially-distanced “DIY Costa Coffee” stop at the bus shelter at Forteviot – coffee from a flask with the first mince pie of the season!
The new eco-friendly bus shelter was created as part of the Tay Landscape Partnership funding for the area by local forester Jim Thomson who runs his own Woodland Craft business. The shelter also houses a brilliant information board giving lots more detail about the deep history of the area.
The Forteviot village “square” (or green to be exact!) provided an ideal sun-kissed stop – with its quaint houses which were rebuilt for workers of the Dupplin Estate in 1927 and create a beautiful focal point for the village.
Re-freshed by the DIY coffee stop, it was time to pedal back into the now fierce headwind! As the “old gal” said: “Why is there always a headwind on the way home?!” Let’s just say it just shows what a difference 180 degrees can make!
The crews had a stop for a breather as they cycled back thru Dunning – a village which is also rich in history having been burned to the ground during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. But sadly, due to Covid, no opportunity for a reviving libation at the great friendly country pub called The Kirkstyle Inn – which my dynamic crew have been known to visit from time to time!
The last notable historic landmark the crews pedalled past – but didn’t stop at – was the monument to Maggie Wall. This is an eerie stone cross with a hand painted date of 1657 and it is said to be a memorial to the last witch to be burned at the stake.
Not surprisingly there were no personal bests on the return leg but my dynamic crew and Team AA battled on to arrive back at Matildas Rest.
After bidding farewell to Alan and Anne, with a Covid-friendly fist pump, and safely out of the wind the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a healthy total of 5 gongs – made up of 4 personal bests and 1 second best times. Amazingly one of those was nearly a minute – 56 seconds to be exact! – quicker than our previous best! It couldn’t all have been the tailwind … could it?! Must be something to do with my dynamic crew’s fitness … surely!
The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 15.7 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 13 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.8 mph – which given the headwind on the return leg was perfectly acceptable! Elevation was 711 feet. The maximum speed was 31.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 923 calories and produce an average power output of 187 W.
As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.
All in all a super way to get some much needed rays of the sun and exercise while pedalling with friends – a great way to start a Sunday!