This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a fabulous sunny #Lockdown2 Ride11 tandem which involved a return pedal to La French Epicerie in Bridge of Allan for more mustard and la pique-nique avec fizz with good friends Anne and Alan.
Again Team Matilda struck it lucky with the weather gods who offered bright sunshine all the way for this #lockdown adventure! And with the relaxation of Covid rules here in Scotland – allowing four people from 2 households to meet up outside – we were delighted to welcome good solo cycling friends Anne and Alan on the pedal with us!
It was my dynamic crew’s first ride of astronomical Spring – so based on the forecast for sun, and little wind, my La Bouclée wine carrier made an appearance – with a bottle of fizz on board for the first of our trademark and infamous prosecco picnics of the year!
Again the visibility was sensational as we followed Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.
After “picking up” Anne and Alan as we pedaled up the high street of our home base of Auchterarder, we headed out past Gleneagles towards Braco. A left turn at the A822 this time and just before the centre of Braco headed right to Dunblane on a great gently undulating road thru Kinbuck.
Superb shadows were being created by the welcome sunshine – and the “old gal” managed to keep her balance on my back seat while filming an arty shadow effect video as we tandemed towards Dunblane – click here to view or on the image below.
There was a quick stop for breath and water at the A9 flyover just before Dunblane to check out traffic levels on the main trunk road north to Inverness – and it was still fairly quiet as many drivers continue to follow the latest #lockdown “stay local” advice.
There was also a great photo opportunity when the “old git” noticed the reflection of the riders in the “old gal’s” sunglasses and got her to stay motionless (quite a feat!) while he got that essential photo!
Tandeming on we enjoyed the drop down from Dunblane to Bridge of Allan for a return visit to the superb La French Epicerie on the high street – a wonderful new deli offering great goodies to takeaway. It’s no secret that the “old git” and “old gal” like their ‘petit peu de français’ – having toured the country by tandem on many occasions. So it was good to see owners Gregory and Corrine again – the couple who fell in love with Scotland on a family holiday from their base in Lyon in France and decided to uproot from France, and move to Scotland to set up a new business venture.
In far from ideal timing the Epicerie opened in the midst of the #lockdown but it is quickly establishing itself as a great destination for all things French! Regular readers of my blog will remember my post about our first visit at the end of February where my dynamic crew were delighted to find the deli stocked their favourite brand of mustard – Moutardes Fallot (Edmond Fallot). So needless to say the “old gal” was … yes you’ve guessed … “as keen as mustard” to buy some more jars!
And Gregory and Corrine were so happy with my blog post about their new venture that they offered Team Matilda fresh hot waffles – with some toffee sauce – as a thankyou gesture! Oh well if you insist!
Purchases made the two crews headed to the busy riverside area, and after a short wait found a suitable bench for la pique-nique avec fizz! A surreptitious popping of the prosecco cork – so as not to attract too much attention – was followed by a toast to being able to be out in the glorious sunshine with friends! And it felt soooo good for my dynamic crew!
The “old gal” enjoyed her French smoked sausage and cheese while the “old git” had a yummy baguette with ham and Comte cheese before both had a superb slice of sugar coated almond tart!
Perhaps fuelled by the prosecco the “old gal” asked Anne if she had ever been on a tandem before. Her reply was negative so naturally the “old git” offered to give her a quick taster! So to much laughter and applause from the “old gal” and Alan off they pedalled to give Anne a shot as my new stoker – albeit just a short couple of hundred yards, but with a sharp u-turn included to add to the fun!
Naturally the “old gal” was on hand to video Anne’s experience and she even said that it was “fantastic” tho I know that she found having no control being a bit nerve-wracking, as she is used to being in total control of her solo bike. But the “old git” was gentle with her as it was her first time on the back of a bicycle made for two! Click here to view the video or on the image below.
Re-fuelled after a wonderful pique-nique (avec fizz!) we set off on the return leg which involves an initial tough few miles of climbing from Bridge of Allan up thru Dunblane. It was a quick pedal back to Auchterarder with the sun beating down on the backs of my dynamic crew – who even divested themselves of their bright yellow jackets for the final series of climbs back to Gleneagles!
A quick spurt saw the “old git” and “old gal” cheer as they matched their 27mph record on the speed camera coming into town before returning to Matildas Rest having clocked another 36 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer taking the total to 255 miles from 11 rides completed so far.
Team Matilda were delighted that, carefully following the new Covid rules, Anne and Alan joined us in the garden again for some post-ride #gins and snacks – complete with social distancing. It was great to be able to do something so normal again after so many months of not being able to socialise.
While enjoying the gin(s!) the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of a most satisfyingly 37 gongs – including no less than 18 personal bests … along with 10 2nd bests; and nine 3rd bests! No “Local Legend” accolades tho!
The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 36 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 38 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 13.6 mph, probably due to the lower wind! Elevation was 1,944 feet. The maximum speed was 32.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 12,134 calories and produce an average power output of 201 W.
Once again there were hugely positive feelings from #Lockdown2 Ride11. My dynamic crew continue to feel lucky, fortunate and blessed to be able to keep healthy – mentally and physically – with our madcap #tandem adventures 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.
Here’s to more of those rides where the “old git” and “old gal” can feel the warmth of the sun on their legs! … and of course to more prosecco picnics!