Lockdown2 Ride4 – Sunny but windy ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for “essential” balsamic dressing and glacé cherries (as you do!)

The sun created a reflective Team Matilda image as we battled a fierce headwind on the return leg!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew crew took advantage of milder weather for #Lockdown2 Ride4 and enjoyed a sunny but windy ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for “essential” balsamic dressing and glacé cherries (as you do!)

The “old git” and “old gal” woke to bright sunshine seeping thru the blind at Matildas Rest so were keen to get out for just their fourth fun #lockdown adventure – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

Team Matilda needed some “essential” food shopping items – so decided on a fabulously scenic, but fairly hilly, route to visit Gloagburn – which also had the added attraction of offering take-away coffee and cake! You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was a joy to be out in rural Perthshire with magnificent visibility over the valleys – even if Team Matilda were still feeling a bit rusty … and that wasn’t just this “old lady” #tandem!

But the only way of getting back into fitness is to grind out the miles and that’s exactly what my dynamic crew did on the Gask climb! They did however find it a good bit easier than expected – and really enjoyed the benefits from being a combined 4 stone lighter! There was much less heavy breathing! And of course the dramatic vista at the top made it all worthwhile!

Gorgeous sunshine and a perfect view at the top of the Gask climb made it a joy to be out!

Interesting to pass a cute home made sign which read “Please kill your speed – not the locals” designed to help protect the local wildlife … in particular red squirrels! Dutifully the “old git” followed the local rule and applied my brakes – tho I am sure any self-respecting red squirrel could easily outpace us!

Always good to adhere to local rules! The “old git” applied my brakes to help protect red squirrels!

Here I am resting in the glorious winter sunshine at Gloagburn Farm Shop!

On arrival at Gloagburn Farm Shop – which was basking in the winter sun – it was quickly mission accomplished as the “essential” purchases of balsamic dressing and glacé cherries were made by the “old gal”! The glacé cherries will be used in some home-made flapjack, so it truly was essential!

Mission accomplished- the “essential” purchases of balsamic dressing and glacé cherries!

The farm shop was offering takeaway coffees, scones and cakes so it would have been rude not to support a local business – and some further purchases were made! These were consumed on a socially distanced bench in the grounds of the farm in almost warm sunshine. But if you think this was a picnic – think again! Your eyes are obviously deceiving you! But the coffee and goodies were absolutely delicious and a most welcome tandeming treat!

This is most definitely NOT a picnic! You’re eyes are deceiving you! Nice alfresco coffee and scones tho!

As always on the return leg from Gloagburn there seems to be a headwind – and today was no exception – and it was actually rather fierce in places which slowed progress on the homeward leg. The “old git” had to really concentrate in places where it switched to a cross-wind with strong gusts which at times seemed in danger of wanting to blow my dynamic crew over!

But the bright sunshine offered long shadows which provided a great opportunity for some shadow pictures and video! Click below for a short reflective shadow footage of Team Matilda in action!

The final stretch of the route would have seen my dynamic crew tackle their personal nemesis of East Hill but we came across a local road closure just 100 yards from where it starts. There was no way thru even for bikes – so we had to retrace our pedals and ended up returning to Matildas Rest by an even steeper climb back into Auchterarder, called the Castleton! This included an interesting “bit of a hump” – a sector appropriately called “The Final Hammer” on Strava as it rises over 100 feet in just 0.4 of a mile at 4.3%! Just what you need in the last mile of a pedal … not!

So another 30 miles on our #Lockdown2 milometer – which sees the total click up to 78 miles for the 4 rides completed so far! A slow start with the number of rides being heavily curtailed due to the recent severe winter weather in these parts.

Back at Matildas Rest – with my dynamic crew both pleased at the realisation that those “rusty” legs do in fact pedal up hills – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 2 gongs – both 2nd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 29.9 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 37 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.4mph despite battling that fierce headwind! Elevation was 1,340 feet. The maximum speed was 34.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,864 calories and produce an average power output of 177 W.

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

Once again there were hugely positive endorphins from #Lockdown2 Ride 4 for my dynamic crew – underlining what fun it is being out pedalling on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

Heavy rain and storm force winds forecast for the next few days but hopefully Team Matilda will be out in tandem again soon to clock up more #lockdown miles on another fun spirit-lifting adventure!

Now where did we put those glacé cherries – as there is some “essential” flapjack to be made!

Lockdown2 Ride3 – First ride in Tandem Club snoods after long snow lay-off and enjoying Sustrans publicity focus on Team Matilda!

Bringing out our inner Audrey Hepburn in the new Tandem Club anniversary snoods!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew finally got back on my saddles after a long months enforced lay-off due to heavy snow and ice with the “old git” and “old gal” having their first outing wearing their new Tandem Club UK snoods. It also features Team Matilda enjoying being the subject of a publicity focus from Sustrans, who look after The National Cycle Network.

A whole 34 days after the second ride of #Lockdown2 the weather decided to warm up a bit and finally thawed the heavy snow and thick ice which had turned our home area in Auchterarder in south Perthshire into a permafrost winter wonderland.

The snow lay to a depth of around a foot at Team Matilda’s Auchterarder base.

Now as tandemers and cyclists know, snow and icy conditions are not remotely conducive to pedalling so my dynamic crew were stuck in doors – looking out at the snow which lay to a depth of about a foot.

The “old gal” and the “old git” did make good use of their time by embarking on a major DIY “Changing Rooms”-style project at Matildas Rest – decorating every room in the house over a four week period!

The “old gal” in “Changing Rooms” mode – wallpapering the bedroom with a zebra mural!

But despite their dedication to the DIY – and becoming “experts” at painting and wallpapering! – my dynamic crew were desperate to continue their second #lockdown adventures – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

There had been a glimmer of of hope that we would be able to get out on a romantic St Valentine’s Day pedal on our bicycle made for two – but the weather sadly decided not to play Cupid.

The “old git” and “old gal” did however have some heart-warming loved-up tandeming publicity to keep them occupied over their hot #lockdownlurve Valentine date night as Sustrans timeously decided to feature my Matildas Musings blog in a question and answer feature in a bid to give romantic inspiration to other cyclists! Naturally it focused on my dynamic crew’s story of how they met – with the headline: “Love on the National Cycle Network: how a tandem-biking blind date brought a couple together.” Click on the image to read the article!

The Sustrans feature.

The amusing feature also focused on the on-going success of my status as the UK’s only blogging tandem bike, and how our fun adventures in tandem help Team Matilda to survive lockdowns – as well as why tandeming is growing in popularity, and our favourite recommended route on The National Cycle Network of Rt 7 from Callander to Killin.

It is actually the second time in recent months that my dynamic crew have been featured by Sustrans as they made a “starring” appearance in a promotional video made to mark the 25th anniversary of The National Cycle Network #NCN25th.

Click on the video below and see if you can spot the “old git” and the “old gal” in their fleeting appearances at 36 seconds; 56 seconds; and at 1 minute 46 seconds! Blink and you will miss them!

All this publicity has been going to my head a bit – as a quiet demure and reserved “old lady” tandem!! – so back to the pedalling! My dynamic crew decided on a simple route to get their legs free from enforced inaction – a Braco loop with (whisper it!) another DIY coffee stop! You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The ride gave my dynamic crew their first opportunity to wear their new Tandem Club UK neck scarves – known as snoods or buffs – which was a welcome free gift to all members to commemorate the Club’s 50th anniversary this year in 2021.

As you can see from the picture at the top of this post the “old gal” decided on a pose that brought out my dynamic crew’s inner Audrey Hepburn – the “old git” played along although he was a tad disappointed that they had to make do with “Breakfast at Auchterarder”!

Then “the old gal” promised to take the “old git” on a fun mystery tour after pulling the snood right up over his face so he couldn’t see! At least his sunglasses matched!

The “old gal” promising to take the “old git” on a fun mystery tour!

That nutty picture session continued as that pose was reversed which left the “old gal” looking like she had been kidnapped and forced out on a ride – but she went willingly! … honestly!

The “old gal” looks like she was kidnapped and forced out on a ride! She went willingly … honestly!

Incidentally, if you are a tandem rider, and not a member of the Tandem Club UK – what are you waiting for? Membership is great value at just £15 a couple. For more details of how to join click here!

After a more sensible shot with the snoods as neck warmers it was time for the serious pedalling – with all three members of Team Matilda feeling a bit rusty. It was good to see it wasn’t just me – as an “old lady” #tandem – who was feeling the pain after our enforced lay-off!

But we almost didn’t get to ride as just before we headed off the “old git” decided to test my gears and found my chain was completely clogged up with mud and grit from our last ride – and my pedals wouldn’t turn. Seems the “old gal” had “forgotten” to give me a spruce up after my return to the garage! While the “old git” did his usual panicking routine, the “old gal” took control and in her role as Team Matilda’s chief (and only!) engineer got to work with a hearty doze of chain cleaner and a toothbrush which soon had me back in action!

We headed up thru the high street of our home base town of Auchterarder (the longest high street in Scotland by reputation!) continuing up past the back entrance to the luxury Gleneagles Resort and out towards Braco. We then turned right towards Crieff where we had a rapid (standing!) DIY coffee stop! This “not a picnic” was much required by the “old git” and “old gal” to keep warm!

A welcome cup of coffee for my dynamic crew – but obviously NOT a picnic!

The weather had promised an almost Mediterranean 11C – but there was a fairly fierce wind which meant the temperature never hit those balmy double digit high spots!

We then pedalling back towards Auchterarder – riding thru the plush grounds of the all shut up luxury five star Gleneagles resort, which sadly meant no posh afternoon tea for my dynamic crew! It was however quite sad to see the playground of the rich all closed.

The luxury five star Gleneagles Resort all closed up – so couldn’t get posh afternoon tea!

A quick photo at a flyover over the A9 revealed the trunk road linking the central belt with the Highlands was virtually deserted due to #Lockdown2.

Very quiet during #Lockdown2 on the A9 trunk road linking central belt to the Highlands.

On the final couple of miles back to Matildas Rest there was great joy for my dynamic crew with a new Team Matilda record being flashed up on a speed camera sign coming back into town – at 25 mph! Simple pleasures!

Back indoors – and after finding that my crew’s legs did in fact remember how to pedal! – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 5 gongs – including one personal best and two 2nd bests! And amazingly the other 2 gongs were for being awarded “local legend” status on two separate sectors! So I guess the legs were not that rusty! This was definitely the cause for celebration and a screen grab of Strava had to be taken to be recorded for posterity!

“Local Legend” status on Strava!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 19.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 44 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.3mph despite the fresh headwind! Elevation was 974 feet. The maximum speed was 32.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,241 calories and produce an average power output of 177 W.

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

The feel good factor from #Lockdown2 Ride 3 was a welcome feeling – reminding my dynamic crew that despite the vital Covid-19 restrictions, it’s great fun being out pedalling on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

Team Matilda is hoping the Arctic weather has now gone for the winter so they can clock up more #lockdown miles on more fun spirit-lifting adventures!

The Tandem Club neck warmers are a welcome addition to my dynamic crew’s kit!

Lockdown2 Ride2 – Avoiding snow patches on Braco loop with DIY coffee stop (which wasn’t a picnic, officer!)

Wintry skies, and even a patch of winter sunshine, with wonderful views over the A9 valley.

This blog is the slightly delayed story of my dynamic crew identifying a much needed weather window and escaped for a local #Lockdown2 ride – dodging the patches of snow pedalling on a Braco loop with (whisper it!) a DIY coffee stop.

A week after the first ride of the new #lockdown the weather suddenly turned significantly more wintry, resulting in a heavy snow fall. Now as tandemers and cyclists know, snow is not conducive to pedalling so my crew were stuck in doors. The “old git” was so bored he was forced to take a photo showing the only true measure of the depth of snow – the depth it comes up to on a prosecco bottle!

The only true measure of snow depth – where it comes up to on a prosecco bottle!

But of course under the new Scottish Government lockdown rules, my dynamic crew are not currently allowed to have one of their signature prosecco picnics anyway! So obviously it just had to be opened inside!

But the “old git” and the “old gal” were desperate for their second fun #lockdown adventure – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

Fortunately there was a bit of a thaw over the weekend which removed most of the ice, and the “old git” poured over the weather forecast and identified a weather window for Monday where the temperatures were predicted to hit a balmy 6C over midday. (As you can probably imagine – and much to the “old gal’s” chagrin, the actual temperature was nowhere near 6C!)

The “old git” did a recce by car of their planned route in the morning to check that road conditions were safe – adopting his new role as Team Matilda Health and Safety Officer! – and reported back that the roads were mainly clear of snow with none of the nasty and dangerous black ice.

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

The route was a loop up thru the high street of our Perthshire home base town of Auchterarder (the longest high street in Scotland by reputation!) continuing up past the back entrance to the luxury Gleneagles Resort and out towards Braco.

My dynamic crew had to avoid some fairly serious snow patches en route!

All was going well as we dodged the remaining snow patches – with the weather as forecast and even the added benefit of some winter sun – till about 4 miles into the ride when the sky suddenly darkened and my dynamic crew were hit by a squall.

Fortunately the rain only lasted a few minutes and the “old git” tried to make bright of the situation by pointing out the dramatic rainbows – tho I am not sure the “old gal” was equally as impressed!

A right turn on to the A822 and a pedal towards Crieff brought glorious views over the valley before an “essential” halt in an ice clad lay-by for a much needed DIY coffee and caramel cake stop – which was obviously not a picnic (officer!) as we didn’t sit down!! (It was far too chilly!!)

Essential DIY coffee stop which obviously wasn’t a picnic (officer!) – as it was too cold to sit down!

Again the views over towards the sun-kissed snow-capped hills behind Crieff were real lockdown brain food! And the coffee was essential for thawing out with the temperature on the handlebar mounted computer barely rising above freezing at 0C!

View from the icy (non picnic!) lay-by looking over to the sun-kissed snow-covered hills at Crieff.

Pedalling on before my dynamic crew turned to ice, there was a sharp right turn along a farm road to Machanay and then right again heading along the Crieff – Auchterarder road towards Gleneagles and back to Matilda’s Rest.

Great joy for my dynamic crew with new Team Matilda record being flashed up on the speed camera signs coming back into town – at 24 mph and 23 mph respectively.

Back indoors while de-icing at Matildas Rest the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 5 gongs – one personal best and four 2nd bests – which was a bonus given the somewhat “iffy” road conditions!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 16.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 27 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.4mph despite the chill factor! Elevation was 876 feet. The maximum speed was 30.4 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,077 calories and produce an average power output of 184 W.

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

The feel good factor from #Lockdown2 Ride 2 was fabulous – and most definitely helped by a reviving bowl of steaming home made ham and lentil soup!

It just continues to prove that, despite the restrictions, it’s great fun being out pedalling on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle Campaign, Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, Auchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

If only the temperature would rise a bit! Brrrr!