Matilda meets the other ‘Tilly the tandem on a long awaited date on a wet and windy ride to Perth!

I was uber excited at finally meeting “the other ‘Tilly the tandem” and her crew Linda and Jon.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew’s superb fun ride where Matilda finally gets to meet “the other ‘Tilly the #tandem” on a long awaited date on a wet and windy ride to Perth!

Excitement had been building for weeks about my big meet up after I amazingly discovered there was another bicycle made for two called Matilda out there – tho this one is affectionately known as ‘Tilly for short by her crew of Linda and Jon Reed.

The other ‘Tilly’s crew are on “a slow pedal” to Scotland from their base near Ipswich and have pedalled over 600 miles for the big event!

You can check out the details of our (somewhat shorter!) route by clicking on the Strava map below.

I was uber excited when my dynamic crew said today was the day and we headed from our home base of Auchterarder to meet ‘Tilly at Bridge of Earn as they pedalled on their route from Kinross to Perth! Unfortunately Team Matilda was hit by a heavy squall en route, and was forced to dry out over a welcome coffee at the newly re-opened The Earn Coffee Shop while waiting.

But that was soon forgotten and the big meet happened on the Brig which spans the River Earn and there was much parping of my horn as Team ‘Tilly came into view, which the “old git” recorded on video for posterity! So click here to view or on the image below.

After the “old git” and “old gal” introduced themselves to Linda and Jon – and I said a big friendly hello to ‘Tilly – there was time for the obligatory photo opportunity showing the two tandems!

I gave the other ‘Tilly the tandem a welcome “kiss” at the Brig at Bridge of Earn!

Linda and Jon have pedalled over 600 miles from Ipswich to meet Matilda on their Viking Serengeti.

The schedule then saw the two tandem crews to have a short ride together from Bridge of Earn, pedalling on The National Cycle Network Rt 775 into Perth City Centre.

The tandem crews pedalling into Perth on The National Cycle Network Rt 775.

Once in the city centre the “old git” had organised a celebratory glass of prosecco – followed by great coffee, toasties and cake at the brilliant Artisan – Espresso & Wine Bar, while us tandems had a good catch-up and got to know each other a bit better!

The two Matilda tandem crews enjoying a glass of prosecco at Artisan Espresso and Wine Bar!

It would need to be said the other ‘Tilly is somewhat more experienced and wider travelled than me! Linda and Jon have been riding tandems for 25 years and ‘Tilly is their third one – a Viking Serengeti which has clocked up around 40,000 kms and been to no less than 48 countries.

Jon, Captain of Team ‘Tilly and “the old gal” toasting the new tandem friendship!

The “old git” and the “old gal” hit it off immediately with Linda and Jon who recounted how they suggested meeting up after reading about Team Matilda in BIKE Magazine Europe back in March where we appeared over five pages in glorious technicolour!

Linda, Stoker of Team Tilly and “the old git” toasting the Matildas meet up!

And apart from the coincidence of our tandem names, ‘Tilly also has a blog in which they recount their adventures on ‘Tilly the tandem, and “Ten Tonne Taffy” – or “FatTaf” for short – their “beast” of a motorhome … and a Stoker who doesn’t like hills!

I do however have to stress one difference, that ‘Tilly’s blog is written by her Captain Jon – unlike me who is of course the UK’s only blogging tandem!

Cheers! The two Matilda tandem crews had to drink the prosecco outside to meet Covid rules.

A couple of hours flew by in what seemed like minutes as we all swapped stories about tandem tours, trips, adventures and of course misadventures!

All too soon it was sadly time to go our separate ways – but only after some photos on the banks of the River Tay in Perth. I must say I was a tad envious that the other ‘Tilly the tandem had a rear name plate which looked just like a number plate! I may try to persuade the “old gal” I need one of those!

Here I am getting to know the other ‘Tilly the tandem on the banks of the Tay in Perth city centre!

Rear view! I must say I was a tad envious of the other ‘Tilly the tandem’s number plate!

Front view! The other ‘Tilly the tandem was heavily loaded up for touring.

A final shot of Linda and John of Team ‘Tilly before the crews had to go their separate ways.

Linda and Jon headed to the luxury of their hotel, just a few hundred yards away across the river, while the “old git” and “old gal” pedalled off – but immediately hit a brutal strong headwind which stayed against us every mile of the pedal back to Matildas Rest.

It was so energy sapping the “old git” suggested stopping at The Kirkstyle Inn for a reviving tonic (with a small measure of the amazing new house ‘Little Earl’ gin in it!!) to ensure they got home. The “old gal” thought this was one of his best suggestions while tandeming … ever! Tho it almost didn’t happen as the Kirkstyle’s new outdoor Garden Larder was really busy – but my crew enjoyed their drinks on extremely comfortable hand crafted chairs made from the wood of spirit barrels. How appropriate!

My dynamic crew had to stop for a tonic to refuel (with a small measure of gin) at the Kirkstyle Inn.

Suitably refuelled – and with clouds building and threatening another downpour – my dynamic crew battled the headwind for the final four miles back from Dunning as quickly as they could and were much relieved to get home just seconds before the rain started and so avoided another soaking.

Safely out of the wind at Matildas Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 3 gongs – quite amazing given the adverse weather conditions – one 2nd best, and two 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 35.9 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 04 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.7 mph despite the headwind on the return leg! Elevation was 1,681 feet. The maximum speed was 30.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,171 calories and produce an average power output of 176 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Shame about the wind and the rain but it was still a fabulous fun day out in tandem in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

And of course it was very special for me to finally get to meet the other ‘Tilly!! But the big question I am sure all my blog readers are wondering is … will there be a second date?!!

There is talk that Linda and Jon want to meet up again when Team Matilda are down in their home patch for the Nutty Tandemers Club 2021 Tour de Suffolk, which is planned for September. Now, if that happened, it would result in a trio of tandems!! So watch this space!!

Breakout of Lockdown2 ride on National Cycle Network Rt7 and The Coig Rt1 from Irvine to Ayr

Basking in the sun at the start of our ride at Irvine with Ailsa Craig showing just above my front saddle!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a superb Breakout of #Lockdown2 sunny tandem ride on The National Cycle Network Route 7 and The Coig Route 1 from Irvine to Ayr and back – with a small measure of gin thrown in too!

There has been just over a month of enforced inactivity for Team Matilda as the “old gal” was finally able to return to her hairdressing salon as Scotland slowly emerged from Covid #Lockdown2 and not surprisingly faced overwhelming demand from customers who have gone without haircuts since the end of last year. This meant working crazy hours of effectively 8am till 8pm six days a week, so there was no time – or energy! – for pedalling. And obviously that has meant no blogs for me to write either!

Selfie time for my dynamic crew delighted to be returning to action on a bicycle made for two!

But after five weeks, things calmed down a bit and my dynamic crew were keen to get back on my saddles for some much needed exercise on a Breakout from #lockdown adventure. With restrictions on travel across Scotland lifted, the “old git” decided the schedule would be to head to one of the “old gal’s” favourite #tandem rides – along the Ayrshire Coast Cycleway. The start point would be the Coastwatch Scotland car park in Irvine, with a picnic lunch at the turnaround point of Ayr beach.

The Ayrshire Coast Cycleway forms part of Sustrans Scotland NCN Rt7 and is also a key part of Route 1 of The Coig – which is Gaelic for five and is a new tourism initiative comprising five cycle friendly routes around Ayrshire and the Clyde islands.

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

But before we get to the pedalling, I want to tell the story of how I have been passing the period of enforced inactivity by helping the “old git” making my own blend of tandemers gin! Yes you heard that correctly! A Scottish gin called “Matilda’s Merry Mix!”

You see, my dynamic crew are partial to the occasional artisan gin and the “old gal” bought the “old git” a gin making kit. He bought a bottle of unflavoured vodka and added the juniper berries and then a few days later added the mix of botanicals.

Matilda’s Merry Mix – the very exclusive self brewed blend of tandemers gin!

After infusing for around a week, and a filtration, the result was an amazingly tasty lightly spiced gin. The “old git”, being the creative type, came up with the name ‘Matilda’s Merry Mix’ and created a suitable label for the bottle!

The gin is highly exclusive of course – a bit like me! – as the recipe created just a single bottle! It it is unlikely to last long as a collector’s item … but it sparked a bit of fun!

So to our ride … My dynamic crew were up at very early o’clock to drive to the west coast but were rewarded with a beautiful sunny morning on arrival in Irvine – allowing for some great sun-kissed photos before rolling out on our adventure.

The “old git” getting ready to roll in the stunning morning sunshine at Irvine Beach.

The “old gal” surveying the amazing vista and stunning sky before the off.

My dynamic crew were pleasantly surprised to find they were not rusted up and remembered how to pedal and set off with great gusto! A mild tail wind and pedalling along some almost motorway-smooth tarmac on long sections of the cycle path saw us quickly pass thru Troon and onto Prestwick Promenade in what seemed like no time – buoyed by the (almost warm but not quite!) sunshine. A loo stop was called by the “old gal” where she discovered that South Ayrshire Council has recently implemented a 30p charge on all public loos! Or as the “old git” quipped: “30p to have a pee!”

Time for photos with the “old gal” sitting on a bench with a fabulous view – looking towards the island of Arran, known as Scotland in miniature, in one of those colourful sea meets sky pictures – with almost unnatural shades of blue! It is worth clicking on the images to see it in a larger size!

Bench with a view! What a fab vista looking across to Arran from from Prestwick Promenade.

Ahoy there! The “old gal” looking out across the Firth of Clyde to the island of Arran.

The Ayrshire Coast Cycleway is well signposted and easy to follow – ideal for newbies to the NCN and The Coig – with dedicated painted cycle lanes on stretches along the promenades at Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. Pedalling onwards, the route took my dynamic crew into Ayr – which was hugely busy with people desperate to escape the recent lockdown and get some sea air. But it was good to see that nearly everyone was keeping to social distance rules.

With the sky turning a bit cloudier, 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 go along with the sustenance food!

Prosecco picnic time at a secluded garden spot at Ayr beach giving protection form the chilly wind.

Is it OK to leave bicycle tyre tracks too? says Matilda, asking for a friend!!

With the sun having disappeared temporarily behind heavy cloud, the “old gal” decided a coffee was required to heat up a bit – and fortunately the easing of Covid restrictions now allowed my dynamic crew to sit inside to restore body temperature.

Suitably revived, the sun started to re-appear and there was an opportunity for a couple of photos of my dynamic crew’s new dayglo orange sunglasses – which just so happen to perfectly colour coordinate with their bright shiny cycling helmets!

New dayglo orange sunglasses for my dynamic crew made their first appearance!

Smile! The future is orange! Very orange! At least my dynamic crew won’t get lost!

A quick pedal of the full length of the promenade saw the “old git” spot one of several NCN Millennium signposts dotted along the route pinpointing distances and directions.

Millennium signpost on NCN Rt7 at the far end of Ayr beach, with Arran in background.

The wind had picked up a bit so the return journey was a bit of a battle – but still highly enjoyable. The “old gal” in particular liked the stretch between Prestwick Airport and Troon where the broom was in full yellow bloom – which traditionally signals a warm summer is on the way!

Plenty of yellow on the broom – a traditional sign that summer and warmer weather is on the way!

My dynamic crew then blasted back to the start point at Irvine for a re-fuelling coffee and cake at the Small Talk Coffee and Gift Shop which looks out on to the harbour.

Back at Matildas Transport, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a superbly pleasing total of 24 gongs given my dynamic crew’s rustiness due to a lack of pedalling – made up of 5 personal bests, 9 second bests; and 10 third best times.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 36.5 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 52 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.7 mph – which given the inevitable coastal winds was perfectly acceptable – while the elevation was 550 feet due to the route mainly running along the edge of the sea. The maximum speed was 21.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,530 calories and produce an average power output of 132 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

So with Scotland on a clear route map out of restrictions, my dynamic crew’s NCN Rt7 and The Coig Rt1 pedal clocked up a final 36 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer, taking the total to 327 miles from the 14 rides completed. The “old git” and “old gal” feel this is a pretty reasonable mileage given the fairly severe winter weather around Matildas Rest which hit almost as soon as #lockdown was announced.

There were hugely positive feelings from the breakout of #Lockdown2 ride – with obvious signs that things are looking brighter on the pandemic front. My dynamic crew continue to feel lucky, fortunate and blessed that they have been able to be able to keep healthy – mentally and physically – with our madcap #tandem adventures on a bicycle made for two during the enforced restrictions! Lets just say my spokes are firmly crossed that there won’t be a #lockdown3 any time soon.

Meantime this “old lady” tandem is uber excited about my next scheduled ride when I am hopefully going to get to meet my namesake! yes amazingly there is another Matilda tandem out there – tho she is affectionately called ‘Tilly’ for short!

You will remember that Team Matilda was featured in the March issue of BIKE Magazine Europe – over 5 pages in glorious technicolour! Well it was read with interest by Linda and Jon Reed – who are based in Suffolk – who have been riding tandems for 25 years! They loved the article and reached out to say hello given the coincidence of the name! Their granddaughter shortened their Matilda to ‘Tilly!

The other ‘Tilly the Tandem crossing into Scotland with crew Linda and John.

Now ‘Tilly is a Viking Serengeti and is Linda and Jon’s third tandem – and is a bit more experienced than me! Her crew do lots of touring and ‘Tilly has notched up a staggering total of nearly 40,000 kms and been to no less than 48 countries.

Apart from the same name there are other coincidences – as ‘Tilly also has a stoker who doesn’t like hills – just like the “old gal”! And Linda and Jon also have a blog in which they recount their adventures on ‘Tilly the tandem, and “Ten Tonne Taffy” – or “FatTaf” for short – their “beast” of a motorhome.

Team ‘Tilly are currently on a Breakout from Lockdown tour – a “slow pedal north to Scotland” from their Suffolk base. And on Sunday –  as long as weather gods play along – I am getting the opportunity to meet ‘Tilly as the “old git” and “old gal” are meeting up with Linda and John as they pedal thru nearby Bridge of Earn, and ride together into Perth. The tandem crews will catch up over some food and drink while us tandems will have a good natter! How exciting is this all going to be?! I can’t wait!