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!

Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire

A signature prosecco toast from the Nutty Tandemers – one of many over the week!

This Matildas Musings is a specially extended blog post about a truly memorable week in #tandem as my dynamic crew were hosted by fellow founding (and only!) members of the self-proclaimed and highly exclusive Nutty Tandemers Club for their 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor – who have their own Travelling In Tandem blog and have the same nutty attitude to tandeming as the “old git” and “old gal” – kindly invited my dynamic crew to their home base of Redditch in Worcestershire for what will be our fifth annual Nutty Tandemers Tour.

Regular readers of my blog will remember in 2016 my dynamic Team Matilda crew became ‘best pals’ with John and Jane. Such was the level of laughing, fun and general nuttiness on our inaugural Le Tour de Perthshire du Tandem that we decided to try and do a Tour each year. So in 2017 the nutty tandem crews all enjoyed Le Tour de New Forest du Tandem, before circumstances resulted in a Mini Tour de Perthshire in 2018, and then our epic Le Tour de Hebridean Way odyssey last year.

With the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions changing almost daily it was touch-and-go as to whether the tandem teams would be able to get together for their 2020 Tour – but fortunately there were no last minute rule changes. So Team Matilda were up before dawn on a Sunday morning and driving south to the headquarters of the Southern Division of the Nutty Tandemers Club!

The “old git” and “old gal” arrived in time for a late lunch – followed by a quick tour of John and Jane’s super new house which they moved into just before Christmas. Then, so as not to waste any time, the tandem crews changed into cycling gear and headed off on a short hilly ride to get to know the local area – with the carrot of a prosecco toast at a sunny viewpoint.

NTC 2020 Day 1 – 3 mechanicals and a hilltop view with prosecco!

For the first ride of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire our hosts had scheduled a pedal up to Beacon Hill to get orientated with views of the area we were going to be tandeming around. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was meant to be a straightforward relaxed pedal – but before we even left Team Matilda was hit by the first … of what turned out to be three … mechanicals when the “old gal” noticed my pedals were out of alignment. With my dynamic crew frozen by panic, John stepped in to quickly remove the front chain, pedals reset, and we were good to go.

Half way up the climb the “old git’s” saddle clamp needed tightening as it had slipped to an unrideable angle. That problem was easily solved by the “old gal” and a trusty allen key! After two mechanicals my crew wondered if there was to be a third – but we arrived at Beacon Hill without further mishap to enjoy magnificent views over the city of Birmingham in gorgeous warm sunshine.

After much puffing and panting pedalling up to an elevation of nearly 1000 feet, the “old gal” was happy to have a rest at the highest point – Toposcope Fort which was restored in 1988 to celebrate the centenary of the surrounding country park. Meanwhile John and Jane hardly broke sweat pedalling on their amazing e-assist bright green recumbent Pino tandem – suitable named Polly!

The “old gal” having a breather in the sunshine at Toposcope Fort at Beacon Hill.

The viewpoint from Beacon Hill offered a marvelous location for the first Nutty Tandemers signature prosecco toast of the tour! As always the pop of the prosecco cork attracts interest from fellow park visitors and one kind lady offered to take some photos of all four of us to mark the occasion!

The first signature prosecco toast for the Nutty Tandemers club on Beacon Hill.

Prosecco selfie – the Nutty Tandemers enjoying the first fizz of the 2020 Tour!

It was the ideal spot for a photo shoot, which resulted in selfies galore and some arty shots, around a perfectly situated bench, for the annual Nutty Tandemers calendar!

Arty calendar shot of the “old gal” and Jane admiring the vista from Beacon Hill.

Captain’s toast! The “old git” and John say cheers to the 2020 Tour!

After some much needed catching up on news – and a refreshingly cool glass of fizz – it was time to head home. And it was a wonderful tandem as it was almost all downhill – tho there were a couple of photo stops for my dynamic crew as we passed some interesting and amusing road signs to the village of Lickey and also Twatling Road – which seemed highly appropriate for the “old git”!

The “old gal” playing up to some villages having rather strange and amusing names!

Not sure why the “old gal” said to caption this photo – “no caption necessary – the picture tells it all!”

Then about three miles from home the third mechanical hit when I suffered a P-word on my back tyre. It was an instantaneous loud pop and total deflate. Now I have a drum brake which hinders the removal of my wheel but John kept my crew calm and helped in getting my inner tube quickly replaced to get us back on the road.

When we finally were safely back at John and Jane’s home base, the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the Nutty Tandemers tandemed a distance of 15.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 30 minutes. The average speed was 10.4 mph while the elevation was 1141 feet. The maximum speed was 28.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1283 calories and produce an average power output of 213 W.

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

The first day of the Tour ended with a hearty and tasty upside-down pizza meal created by Jane. A great start to the Tour with great tandeming friends… with the usual level of nuttiness on bicycles made for two! My dynamic crew are just hoping that they have used up all their three doses of mechanical bad luck on day 1!

NTC 2020 Day 2 – I shot the sheriff … before he got Lench(ed)! … on a tandem Tour of the Lenches

Day 2 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew embark on a ride entitled: “I shot the Sheriff … before he got Lench(ed) on a #tandem pedal round the Lenches!” You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Monday morning and our fantastically hospitable hosts Jane and John had planned a route heading south and expertly guided us around a series of scenic villages known as The Lenches – and even made sure there was brilliant warm September sunshine for the Nutty Tandemers to enjoy!

The day’s pedal started with a photo stop at the picturesque wharf at the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, just a couple of miles from base.

John Jane and the “old gal” at the wharf on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Polly, the bright green recumbent Pino tandem – with me – in the sun at the wharf.

Next today’s tour provided some marvelous tandeming thru a network of beautiful quiet lanes. The first of the villages was Rous Lench with its traditional English village green.  There was quite a steep climb out of Rous Lench – with some beautiful high hedges and castle like topiary at The Court to take my dynamic crew’s mind off the climbing – on the way to the next village of Church Lench.

The “old git” and the “old gal” at the traditional village green in Rous Lench.

Phew that was a steep climb! The scenic road out of Rous Lench to Church Lench.

The next hamlet was Atch Lench which offered a stop for a comfort break – and also some views over the rolling farmlands, before the tandem crews decided it was time for the signature prosecco picnic and found a lovely sun-kissed spot at the side of a field of ready-to-be-harvested corn!

Having a rest near Atch Lench while the crew’s had a necessary comfort stop!

A gate into a corn field provided the ideal spot for a Nutty Tandemers 2020 Tour logo photo.

Premature prosecco eruption! The cork bursting out the bottle caught my crew by surprise!

Cheers! My dynamic crew toasting another great day of nutty fun on bicycles made for two!.

Refreshed and re-fuelled the Nutty Tandemers pedalled on to Sheriffs Lench – which gave the ride its convoluted title! This was too good an an opportunity for the “old git” to miss a photo opportunity at the sign to the village – complete with imaginary gun!

The “old git” pretending he was shooting the Sheriff – before he got Lench(ed)!

Sheriff’s Lench is so-called because it was held, from 1077, by Urse d’ Abitot, the Sheriff of Worcestershire, and subsequently by his heirs the Beauchamp family, who inherited the office of Sheriff. So now you know!

We pedalled on to complete a wonderful loop taking us past Vale Golf and Country Club and thru Bishampton before starting to re-join the initial route at Bradley Green. Next stop was the wonderfully named area of Bentley Pauncefoot – which again provided the ideal location for a nutty photo for the “old git” putting on his best poncey look, ideal in his pink cycling top!

The rural area of Bentley Pauncefoot saw the “old git” put on his best poncey look!

John – who was admirably in charge of finding suitable watering holes – came up trumps on the way home with a welcome re-hydrating pit stop at The Tardebigge for some cool drinks!

With temperatures rising to near 30C – the last few hilly miles were completed at a sedate pace in the Indian Summer heat, before the tandem crews enjoyed some ice cold grapefruit gin cocktails in John and Jane’s beautifully designed garden – which has two patios to enjoy the sun at any hour of the day!

A reflective moment for the Nutty Tandemers back in the sanctuary of John and Janes garden!

While supping the gin, the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 42.9 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 46 minutes. The average speed was 11.4 mph while the elevation was a lumpy 2421 feet. The maximum speed was 36.2 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2893 calories and produce an average power output of 197 W.

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

Jane again came up trumps with a wonderful re-energising and nutritious meal of fish cakes and salad followed by some yummy key lime pie – before the tandem crews watched the highlights of Le Tour de France on television. All in all another wonderful day on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour.

NTC 2020 Day 3 – Duke of Earlswood in tandem for prosecco picnic, Tanworth in Arden and Alvechurch Marina

Day 3 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew enjoying a ride called: “Duke of Earlswood for prosecco picnic plus Tanworth in Arden and Alvechurch Marina.” Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Tuesday and our super fellow founding members of the self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club, Jane and John, had again researched a superb tandem ride heading north east around some fantastic countryside in Worcestershire.

The sun was already splitting the sky as the tandem crews headed off on a lovely ride along rolling lanes to the town of Tanworth in Arden – where right in the centre proudly stands the beautiful St Mary Magdalene church which dates back to medieval times. The Nutty Tandemers spent some time exploring the churchyard and had some suitably nutty pictures looking up at the massive trees.

Admiring the trees in the churchyard.

Jane and the “old gal” take in the view looking up into the tall trees.

Pedalling on – a perfect stop had been identified for the signature Nutty Tandemers prosecco picnic which was very welcome as the temperature rose. The venue was Earlswood Lakes – which is a wonderful natural wildlife haven area which is actually made up of three 22 acre reservoirs and looked after by the  Canal and River Trust.

Captain’s pose! The “old git” and John enjoying the sun at Earlswood Lakes.

The “old gal” taking in the scenery and spotting the ducks at the natural wildlife haven.

Stokers’s united! Jane and the “old gal” at Earlswood Lakes run by the Canal and River Trust.

After lunch the route took us to a shady coffee stop near Wood End then on to the town of Alvechurch and the Alvechurch Marina – situated on the Worcester and Birmingham canal – where both tandem crews admired the canal boats.

The Marina hosts the Weighbridge Pub – that was once the old canal side weighbridge office for offloading coal barges to horse and cart for local deliveries. It has a wonderful beer garden and stocks unique beers and ciders. Naturally the Nutty Tandemers had to sample some of the offerings – and certainly gave it pass marks. Whether it was the effects of the drinks or not, mixed with the very warm sun, but there was some talk about perhaps hiring a canal boat in the future for a relaxing holiday along the canals at a very sedate pace!

The Nutty Tandemers and bikes lined up by the canal at Alvechurch Marina.

Selfie time for the tandem crews beside the canal boats at the scenic marina.

The “old git” admiring the canal boats – there was even talk of hiring one in the future!

A studious pose from the “old gal” and “old git” reflecting in John’s sunglasses!

The only downside – which was actually very much an upside – was that the steepest climb of the day was situated just as the tandem crews left the pub. But the “old git” and “old gal” slowly ground out the climb – which peaked at just over 10% – and celebrated getting to the top! Just at that stage it seemed appropriate that the “old git” and “old gal” were wearing yellow Tour de France winners jerseys!

My dynamic crew celebrating grinding out the steep climb with a smile!

Not surprisingly cooling drinks and chilling in the garden were the order of the day on return to the Nutty Tandemers base. The “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 28.3 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 38 minutes. The average speed was 10.7 mph while the elevation was a lumpy 1729 feet. The maximum speed was 40.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2173 calories and produce an average power output of 205 W.

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

An energy replenishing tasty dinner of cod with a pesto crust and a tasty Mediterranean marinated salad revived the crews who all agreed that this was another fabulous day on bicycles made for two – emphasising just what the joy of tandeming is all about.

NTC 2020 Day 4 – “To be, or not to be” tandeming to Stratford-upon-Avon via Sambourne, Alcester and Wilmcote

Day 4 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew embark on a ride called: “To be, or not to be … tandeming to Stratford-upon-Avon via Sambourne, Alcester and Wilmcote.” Check out the route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Wednesday dawned to another superbly sunny day and the Nutty Tandemers Club schedule today was a pedal for an overnight mini break stay in the William Shakespeare city of Stratford-upon-Avon.

My front panniers – packed with overnight essentials – were attached to my front carrier shelf and we were off. Once again John and Jane had researched a fabulous route heading in a south east direction along some more quiet lanes which were just perfect for tandeming.

The first stop today on our pedal as we entered the neighbouring county to Worcestershire of Warwickshire was the very English village of Sambourne – complete with its traditional village green which provided the backdrop for the first photo stop of the day.

The “old gal” enjoying the views at the typically English village of Sambourne.

John and Jane (and Polly) at the old signpost pointing out our next route destinations.

Next we encountered a ford at Coughton but instead of getting the tandem wheels wet pedalling across the slippy surface – which would more than likely have ended with a de-mount – we used the handily placed bridge to cross the river.

Jane with the “old git” and “old gal” on the bridge at the ford at Coughton.

A breather for my dynamic crew in the warm sun on the bridge at the ford.

I made an acquaintance with some overly friendly cows  at our next detour – to see the amazing 14th century Kinwarton Dovecote now owned by The National Trust.

I met some overly friendly cows at the 14th Century Kinwarton Dovecote!

Onwards for a welcome coffee stop in the beautiful Roman market town of Alcester, with time to explore the Tudor architecture and the grounds of the St Nicholas Church with its 14th Century tower.

St Nicholas Church with its 14th Century tower.

The “old gal” exploring the superb Tudor architecture of Alcester.

Refreshed the tandem crews headed next to Wilmcote to see Mary Arden’s Farm – home of Shakespeare’s mother – where the “old git” and “old gal” took some more photos.

Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote offered a perfect photo opportunity for my dynamic crew.

A close-up shot showing the “old gal” and “old git” in their AG2R La Mondiale cycling jerseys.

The “old gal” pointing out just how small the windows of the farmhouse were.

The tandem crews had hoped to pedal the scenic way into Stratford by tandeming along the tow paths of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal but sadly were thwarted by kissing gates which stopped us gaining access. So a slight detour brought us into the city with a stop for some lunch at the aptly named Pen and Parchment pub.

Time for reflection! The “old git” reflected in the “old gal’s” sunglasses

After lunch we crossed the canal basin area and a bridge over the River Avon to check-in to our superbly centrally located and luxurious Croft Guest House – with a secure garden to lock up the tandems for the night.

At the guest house there was the Nutty Tandemers signature prosecco toast – well we had to fit the obligatory bottle in some where! – while the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 24.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 23 minutes. The average speed was 10.3 mph while the elevation was 1059 feet. The maximum speed was 27.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1578 calories and produce an average power output of 165 W.

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

There was plenty of time to explore the historic centre around the canal basin before jane suggested a visit to the fascinating Tudor World Museum. Set within an historic 16th century building the Nutty Tandemers discovered what life was really like during the time of William Shakespeare, Francis Drake, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII.

There was some fun for the “old gal” when she took part in the Witches Trial where amazingly the answers to the quiz gave the verdict that she was indeed a witch (who knew?!!) while the “old git” found himself incarcerated in the stocks and had to plead to Jane get out! But only after he promised to be a good Captain!

The “old gal” took the Witches Trial only to discover she was in fact a witch!

The “old git” in the stocks at the Tudor World Museum – he had to plead to get out!

There were a couple of stops for cooling cocktails during the meander on foot, before a hearty evening meal at Cox’s Yard – including one of the biggest burgers my dynamic crew have ever tried to eat! (They failed to complete the task!) Somewhat tired the crews then retired for the night after another brilliant day of nuttiness on tour.

NTC 2020 Day 5 – Tandeming with Young Will or Will Young … that is the question … on ride from Stratford thru Thereabouts!

Day 5 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew enjoying a ride called: “Tandeming with Young Will or Will Young … that is the question … on ride back from Stratford thru Whereabouts!” Check out the route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Thursday produced another sun-kissed day and the Nutty Tandemers Club schedule today was a scenic pedal back to Redditch from the overnight mini break stay in Stratford-upon-Avon. Both tandem crews were wonderfully rested after a sleep in the luxurious Croft Guest House and were fuelled for the day ahead with a hearty home cooked breakfast.

The day started with a photo shoot in the William Shakespeare city of Stratford-upon-Avon – where my crew posed with Young Will … tho for some reason that the “old git” claimed he couldn’t comprehend, the “old gal” said she wished it had been Will Young!

Photo with Young Will (Shakespeare) in Stratford tho the “old gal” wished it was Will Young!

The big wheel had been planned for a visit last night – but had shut before the tandem crews got there. But it provided a nice backdrop for an arty sunny photo. Then there was more photos for the tandem crews taking in the views at the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal basin.

An arty shot of the big wheel at Stratford showing the strength of the sun’s morning rays!

Amazing clear blue skies for John and Jane at the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal basin.

The blue of the sky neatly matched the blue on my dynamic crew’s AG2R pro jerseys!

Pedalling out of Stratford, today’s route covering numerous rural quiet lanes – just perfect for tandeming. The first port of call was Welford-on-Avon to see the UK’s tallest maypole at 65 feet.

Me at the 65 feet high maypole at Welford-on-Avon

Each village the Nutty Tandemers pedalled thru seemed even more beautiful than the last – including the hamlet of Barton.

Me posing beside a beautiful thatched cottage complete with postbox in the hamlet of Barton.

Lunch stop today was at the attractive Hilliers Farm Shop at Dunnington – where the “old git” couldn’t resist indulging in the blue cheese and mushroom pizza in the outdoor restaurant, even tho he could only manage to eat about half of it! Ever resourceful Jane bundled the remainder up in a goody bag to be re-heated over post ride drinks later!

Next stop was the tiny chocolate box picture perfect Abbots Morton – with numerous thatched cottages – which offered the ideal backdrop for another photo shoot for the tandem crews!

The four Nutty Tandemers at the chocolate box picture perfect village of Abbots Morton.

The “old git! taking in the old and the new at picturesque Abbots Morton.

Thumbs up from the “old git” and “old gal” ready to pedal on from Abbots Morton.

Today’s Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco was a great stop at some picnic benches at the side of the road near Inkberrow, with our fizz antics causing some amusement and friendly toots on the horn from passing drivers! There was the obligatory prosecco toast photo – plus another Nutty Tandemers tradition of taking a see no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil Three Wise Monkeys picture … which this year obviously had to have a Covid-19 theme complete with masks covering the eyes, ears and mouth respectively! This tradition started back on the first Tour in 2016 and has been a feature of the annual Nutty Tandemers calendar each year since!

Cheers! The Nutty Tandemers having fun on their signature prosecco toast near Inkberrow.

The 2020 Covid-19 themed See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil Three Wise Monkeys photo!

Refreshed from the fizz, we pedalled on for at least a whole mile before John called a stop for a small libation at the beautiful Old Bull at Inkberrow – where Shakespeare reputedly held his stag night. The Old Bull’s other claim to fame is that it was the inspiration for the pub in the famous BBC Radio soap The Archers as the village of Inkberrow is said to have been the model for Ambridge, the fictional setting for the long running programme.

A small libation in the heat at The Old Bull – reputedly visited by Shakespeare on his stag night!

Jane reflecting on the fact that the Old Bull is said to be the inspiration for the pub in The Archers.

The “old gal” and “old gal” inside the historic Old Bull – photobombed by the owner!

The tandem crews decided that two drinks were required – just to let the heat disappear a bit from the baking sun! – before the final stages of the warm route home meandering thru the local lanes took us to the the wonderfully named Thereabouts!

Would you believe – there is actually a place called Thereabouts!

A last pedal thru Feckenham, before the final climb of the day for the “old git” and “old gal”. They did find that one a bit energy-sapping – but firmly rejected any suggestions it was down to the drinks stops and insisted it was down to the heat!

My crew looking slightly less than dynamic after the last climb! It was the heat!!!

Back at Nutty Tandemers Club base camp, as the sun beat down on the ‘Scottish Quadrant’ – a lovely patio complete with blue and white saltire flags to make my dynamic crew feel at home – the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 29.8 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 08 minutes. The average speed was 9.5 mph while the elevation was a lumpy 1521 feet. The maximum speed was 33.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2388 calories and produce an average power output of 189 W.

Amazingly Strava awarded Team Matilda gongs for two different sectors for being “3rd fastest in the world” and “4th fastest in the world”! I may be old – but I am still fast! Click on today’s Strava map above for more details! It is a bit bonkers, but it all adds to the fun!

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

Jane again tempted the crews taste buds and hunger levels with a tasty meal of sausage and tomato hotpot served on pasta – before relaxing with some wine and viewing the highlights of Le Tour de France on television brought to an end another special day on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour with great tandeming friends, emphasising just what the joy of tandeming is all about!

NTC 2020 Day 6 – Tandeming to lunch at Galton Arms in Himbleton and the final signature prosecco toast!

Day 6 – and sadly the final day – of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew embark on a ride called: “Tandeming to lunch at the Galton Arms in Himbleton and the final signature prosecco picnic!”

Now as you know John and Jane have been enjoying a new lease of tandeming life – flying up hills – on their new bright green e-assist Pino tandem, appropriately called Polly! It would have to be said that the “old gal” was somewhat envious of the helpful kick that the battery assist provided. So before the tandem crews headed out on the Friday itinerary, John offered the “old gal” a shot as Stoker on Polly – which she gratefully accepted!

The “old gal” enjoying a shot as Stoker with John on Polly – the e-assist Pino!

As you can see by clicking on the video clip below, the “old gal” was certainly impressed!

After deciding that an e-assist tandem is certainly on the list for a purchase in the future it was time for my dynamic crew to be expertly led round some final scenic rural lanes south west from Redditch, the base of our fantastically hospitable hosts Jane and John. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

And yet again, the tandems crews were bathed in bright sunshine as we pedalled off – underlining just how fortunate the Nutty Tandemers Tour had been with the weather this year.

After the “old gal’s” envy-inducing test stoking on the e-assist tandem, John and Jane decided to leave Polly in their garage and chose my old friend Siggy (who I built up a real rapport with on the Hebridean way last year – including a memorable night locked in a bedroom of a Stornoway hotel!) as their tandem of choice today.

More great views from the quiet rural lanes, many of which appear on the Sustrans National Cycle Network, including a quick picture at the Worcester and Birmingham canal wharf of a suitable Scottish named canal narrow boat.

Posing beside a suitably Scottish named narrow boat on the Worcester and Birmingham canal.

Next was a stop at the fabulous Jinney Ring Craft Centre for a quick spot of retail therapy. The “old git” and “old gal” watched a glassblower at work before buying a couple of garden ornaments – a snowdrop and a robin. And the “old gal” popped into a fascinating leather crafter called Paige Elizabeth and very kindly bought me a stylish mini gin flask to clip onto one of my panniers … for emergency supplies (obviously!)

he “old gal” got me a stylish leather mini gin flask – for emergency supplies, obviously!

Pedalling on we tandemed along the wonderfully named Loggerheads Lane – which provided an unmissable photo opportunity. I mean is there really any tandem crew who has never been at loggerheads with each other?!

Who said the tandemers were always at loggerheads with each other?!

Lunch stop today was the attractive 14th Century pub called The Galton Arms at Himbleton where the tandem crews enjoyed an outdoor lunch of tasty baguette sandwiches. Suitably re-fuelled (and re-freshed!) the tandem crews then had a wander round the beautiful St Mary Magdalene’s Church which dates back to Norman times.

The pretty St Mary Magdalen’s Church at Himbleton which dates back to Norman times.

Today’s Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco toast and fun photo frolics was at a perfect picnic stop by the river at Shell Ford. It offered a wonderful backdrop for the final alfressco fizz toast of the 2020 Tour. I think it was maybe because the end was in sight but today’s photos seemed to be the nuttiest of the week! Naturally there was another set-piece photo of two tandem crew’s in a salute – for the annual Nutty Tandemers Club calendar. All great fun!

Another set piece photo – the salute – for the annual Nutty Tandemers Club calendar!

Cheers! Another Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco toast at Shell Ford.

John and Jane practice their balancing skills on a branch across the river creek.

The “old git” and “old gal” posing on the bridge at Shell Ford.

The photos were at their most nuttiness to mark the end of the Tour. Spot Jane with prosecco bottle!

In the final miles there was one last lumpy hill climb – which Jane videoed just to prove the “old gal” and “old git” could make it to the top – which they did! Click on the image below to watch the video.

Back at Nutty Tandemers Club base camp, over pre-dinner refreshments, the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 30.3 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 45 minutes. The average speed was 11.0 mph while the elevation was 1065 feet. The maximum speed was 32.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2098 calories and produce an average power output of 189 W.

Because we had repeated quite a few sectors over the week, Strava that Team Matilda was worthy of a total of 24 gongs – made up of a pleasing 10 personal bests, and 8 second bests.

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

The total for the week long NTC 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire was just over 170 miles – 171.4 miles to be exact, with a total elevation of a not insubstantial 9586 feet.

The end of the week was suitably marked with a celebration dinner at the Red Lion in nearby Alvechurch hosted by the “old gal” and the “old git” to say a huge thanks to John and Jane.

This included the now traditional Nutty Tandemers Club “prizegiving” – with John receiving the award for rising above and beyond the call of duty to keep my dynamic crew calm during the mechanicals; while Jane received the award for keeping the tandem crews nutrition levels well topped up! And naturally the only way to celebrate was with the final prosecco toast of the tour!

In conclusion, on behalf of Team Matilda, it was a real pleasure to share every moment of the fantastic scenery and uphills and downhills of their local Worcestershire and Warwickshire area with Team Travelling in Tandem. It was a true privilege for the “old git” and “old gal” to be with John and Jane on another memorable and epic Tour – where they more than lived up to being fellow Nutty Tandemers and once again proved they are real kindred spirits to my dynamic crew!

It really was an utterly fabulous week – with some unexpectedly super weather – resulting in a great experience where you can honestly say that tandeming just doesn’t get much better than this! Delighted that we have created lots of new nutty images for the memory bank … and of course the annual calendar!

And Team Matilda can’t wait for the next Nutty Tandemers Tour next year in 2021! So many thanks John and Jane for your wonderful hospitality – you couldn’t have been more welcoming!

As a little tribute to the fabulous 2020 Nutty Tandemers Club Tour the “old git” has pulled together a photo montage video – set to music – to help everyone remember the fun and nuttiness we all enjoyed – so click below and sit back and relax and enjoy!

Finally, thanks to all of you for reading this special edition of my blog, focusing on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour. If this is your first time, remember if you want to know more about Matildas Musings – the UK’s only blogging tandem – then click the follow button on this webpage to sign up for regular updates!

Till our next adventure on a bicycle made for two!

Team Matilda introduces fellow Nutty Tandemers Club members John & Jane to delights of ‘overseas’ trip to ‘Costa del Millport’!

Selfie time for the Nutty Tandemers on the beach looking over to Bute.

This is a post about a truly epic day in #tandem as my dynamic crew introduces fellow founding (and only!) members of the self-proclaimed and highly exclusive Nutty Tandemers Club to the delights of an “overseas” trip to ‘Costa del Millport

Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor, who have their own Travelling In Tandem blog, have the same nutty attitude to tandeming as the “old git” and “old gal” – so what better place to go for a day tour than Millport, Isle of Cumbrae?!

Jane and John on their e-assist bright green Pino tandem – suitable named Polly!

The island – officially known as The Isle of Cumbrae – is a cyclists paradise offering a gently undulating 10 mile loop on almost traffic free roads never more than a few yards from the sea.

We even managed to chase away the early showers and the sun came out to play to show our English-based visitors Cumbrae at its glorious and stunningly beautiful best! They are now converts and fully agree with the slogan: “Millport – in a world of its own!”

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

Our day started with the early 10 minute CalMac Ferries trip from the mainland at Largs and a quick pedal into town for a welcome yummy strong morning coffee at Crocodeli Millport.

Lap one was a clockwise slow dawdle in the unwelcome rain – but provided a good opportunity to highlight the many attractions including Indian Rock and Lion Rock. Back in town naturally there was a photo stop at the iconic Crocodile Rock.

The self proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club at the iconic Crocodile Rock on Millport.

The “old git” and “old gal” enjoying a fabulous view from Millport across to Arran

Team Matilda pictured while having a photo taken near Crocodile Rock

Lap two and the tandem crews headed anti-clockwise to our fabulous “table for four with a view” overlooking the beach and over to Rothesay, situated just before Fintry Bay.

Naturally this was the site for one of the Nutty Tandemers signature prosecco picnics – which caused a bit of interest with passers by. One kind lady stopped from her walking circuit and offered to take pictures, asking what was the nature of our fizzy celebration? She was a bit bemused and just laughed when the reply was: “There isn’t one other than its Sunday! Do you need another reason for prosecco?!”

The four Nutty Tandemers enjoying a signature prosecco picnic toast!

The chilled prosecco – which had been carried on my trendy and eye-catching La Bouclée wine carrier – provided the basis for a highly memorable alfresco picnic.

Re-fuelled – and after a walk on the beach – the tandem teams completed that lap with an enjoyable stop for afternoon coffee and a sampling of the simply divine home made chocolates at Brewbaker Millport cafe and chocolate shop.

Ahoy there! Jane and John looking out to sea to glimpse the many boats enjoying a sail.

To burn off some calories the tandem crews then embarked on a pedal on the hilly Inner Circle with its two Category Four climbs. Let’s just say this was somewhat easier for John and Jane on their e-assist bright green Pino tandem – suitably called Polly! My dynamic crew were admittedly a bit slower going up!

My dynamic crew in EF Pro Cycling jerseys just after the hilly climb on the Inner Circle route!

The Nutty Tandemers stopped for another fun photo opportunity at the viewpoint which has a magnificent vista over the whole island. The heather at the viewpoint was at its best and provided a truly halcyon aroma to the photographic frolics which saw the “old gal decide she would pose for a shot on the front – just to see if anyone could spot what was “wrong” or “different” about the picture!

Spot what’s “wrong” with this photo! Answers on a postcard …. (Clue – who is on the front!)

The “old git” trying to merge in with the fabulous aromatic purple heather.

Jane with the “old gal” at the viewpoint on the hilly Inner Circle route.

The “old git” and “old gal” posing with their Tour de France EF Pro Cycling jerseys!

But amazingly Strava showed that on the descent, to my absolute delight as an “old lady” tandem, that Team Matilda was awarded gongs for two different sectors for being “9th fastest in the world” and “10th fastest in the world”! I may be old – but I am still fast!

Team Matilda heading downhill to record a 9th fastest in the world Strava gong!

The “old gal” said it must be something to do with my dynamic crew’s weight and the resulting momentum downhill! The “old git” said it was the fact that he rarely uses brakes on steep drops which always brings screams from my back seat from the “old gal” who is a bit of a scardey-cat Stoker! But that is all part of the fun!

After re-grouping back in town the crews decided on a final clockwise “speed lap”! There was an epic fail for my dynamic crew here tho as they failed to break their own lap record by just FIVE seconds! Back in April 2018 they recorded a time of 38 minutes dead, but today’s time was 38 mins and 5 seconds much to the chagrin of the “old git” who was really going for it and very keen to break Team Matilda’s existing record! He blames having to slow down for people wandering onto the road as they came down the main street in the town!

Next up was an amazing – and highly recommended – Gin High Tea at Round Island Cafe which my dynamic crew decided would be a fitting way to eat for the Nutty Tandemers!

A great way to end a Nutty Tandemers ride with the fab Gin High Tea at the Round Island Cafe

And it most certainly was! Great fun with the gin cocktails poured from a traditional china teapot and drunk from cup and saucers! And mine host Cindy provided an amazing and tasty array of savoury bites, scones and cream, and cakes and sweet treats! And great value too!

Then it was time for the final few miles pedal back to the slipway and the ferry back to Largs before a final extra mile or so along the promenade to The Pencil monument for Jane and John to record an answer to a British Cycle Quest (BCQ) clue.

Back to the cars and fond farewells. But the good news is that Team Matilda and Team Travelling in Tandem are meeting up for a week long Nutty Tandemers Club tour in John and Jane’s home territory of Redditch in Worcestershire, which will be fabulous!

Back at Matilda’s Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a total of 15 gongs – made up of 7 personal bests, 7 second bests; and 1 third best times.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 46.15 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 42 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.5 mph while the elevation was 854 feet. The maximum speed was 33.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,071 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.

As a little tribute to the fabulous Nutty Tandemers Club Tour de Costa del Millport the “old git” has pulled together a photo montage video – set to music – to help everyone remember the fun and nuttiness we all enjoyed – so click below and enjoy!

All together a truly sensational Nutty Tandemers Club day out on Millport on bicycles made for two!

Hope you enjoyed the fun and our pictures! And if you did please leave a comment as it’s always good to hear from readers of my blog.

40 tandem rides; 40 tandem photos – surviving lockdown on a bicycle made for two!

My dynamic crew feel very fortunate and blessed to have survived the Covid-19 lockdown period thanks to their exercise regime of regular fun adventures while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire.

As the UK’s only blogging tandem I decided to put together this photo timeline of Team Matilda’s life during the pandemic, with a photo from each of their 40 lockdown rides – clocking up 1000 miles on a bicycle made for two.

With many of the routes from our base in Auchterarder in Perthshire often being repeated due to the limited options, my dynamic crew’s aim was to make each ride different or memorable – living up to their own twin mottos that “its the smiles not the miles that count!” and “it’s always better when we are tandeming together!”

This blog aims to create a simple pictorial chronological record of the “old git” and the “old gal” during the three months of strict lockdown restrictions – detailing their madcap adventures which kept my dynamic crew healthy, both mentally and physically.

Click on any of the images to enlarge them, or click on the Strava link for full details of each route.

Ride 1 – Sunday, 5 April 2020
Gander to Gloagburn Farm Shop for essential provisions on exercise allowance ride
https://www.strava.com/activities/3258677893

This unusual road sign seemed to emphasise the need to look out for others during lockdown.

Ride 2 – Wednesday, 8 April 2020
Dauner to Dunblane into the headwind with a quick socially distancing picnic
https://www.strava.com/activities/3271007512

Socially isolating picnic … tho did forget to flip the timer selfie shot so everything is back to front!

Ride 3 – Friday, 10 April 2020
Good Friday flutter to Forteviot in the Easter sunshine
https://www.strava.com/activities/3280128503

First appearance of bare legs for the “old git” at Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland.

Ride 4 – Monday, 13 April 2020
Easter Monday meander to Comrie with socially distancing riverside picnic toast
https://www.strava.com/activities/3293778388

A fabulous private picnic spot on the River Earn near Comrie – bliss despite it being a tad chilly!

Ride 5 – Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Bowling along to Bridge of Earn in sunshine for essential supplies but battling headwind
https://www.strava.com/activities/3303055935

We had sharp retort to “You’re not socially distanced on a tandem” of “It’s ok, we’re sleeping together!”

Ride 6 – Friday, 17 April 2020
Hilly and windy loop taking in Gleneagles, Blackford, empty A9, Badrill and Duchally
https://www.strava.com/activities/3311888607

Friday rush hour on the A9 trunk route north to Inverness – not a car to be seen!

Ride 7 – Sunday, 19 April 2020
8th anniversary tandem ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for essential supplies
https://www.strava.com/activities/3321906884

A sunny pedal to Gloagburn Farm Shop for my dynamic crew with a toast to 8 fab years together!

Ride 8 – Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Windy dander to Duchally on hilly loop around Gleneagles, Blackford, an eerily quiet A9
https://www.strava.com/activities/3331369387

Lovely and sunny but a brutal headwind made it tough going tho added to the exercise quotient.

Ride 9 – Thursday, 23 April 2020
Sun lotion clad canter to Comrie with a socially distanced riverside picnic
https://www.strava.com/activities/3340926573

Great for my dynamic crew to feel some warmth in the sun at a perfect picnic spot in rural Perthshire.

Ride 10 – Saturday, 25 April 2020
Fabulous sunny warm tandem to Bridge of Earn on exercise ride
https://www.strava.com/activities/3351507477

Tandem perfect excercise ride to “the brig” at Bridge of Earn in warm sunshine with no headwind!

Ride 11 – Tuesday, 28 April 2020
Matilda revisits the Muthill Sportive Yellow Route loop
https://www.strava.com/activities/3365919646

Fab to see old local phone box turned into Muthill Community Larder during Covid-19 crisis.

Ride 12 –
Sunny Saturday saunter to Gloagburn Farm Shop for an essential aubergine
https://www.strava.com/activities/3385058394

Great to see Gloagburn Farm Shop remaining open – selling essential food – socially distanced of course.

Ride 13 – Monday, 4 May 2020
Post fence painting late afternoon loop around Gleneagles, Blackford, and Duchally
https://www.strava.com/activities/3397558729

No stopping nature! Uplifting to see the yellow on the broom in sunshine after fence painting day.

Ride 14 – Wednesday, 6 May 2020
Warm sunny ride to Comrie with quick socially distanced riverside picnic
https://www.strava.com/activities/3407915599

Great for lockdown body and soul to feel the heat from the sun with no wind on our ride to Comrie.

Ride 15 – Saturday, 9 May 2020
Tandem sod’s law! Actually 28.8mi but Strava operator error on warm tandem to Bridge of Earn
https://www.strava.com/activities/3424072193

My stoker practicing socially distancing while on her phone at picnic stop at Bridge of Earn!

Ride 16 – Monday, 11 May 2020
Sunny but windy tandem to Dunblane with DIY cake stop at Kinbuck
https://www.strava.com/activities/3434756821

An eerily quiet A9 at Dunblane flyover as drivers obeyed “don’t drive” lockdown guidelines.

Ride 17 – Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Midweek tandem to Gloagburn Farm Shop for fruit with detour to Tullibardine Chapel on return
https://www.strava.com/activities/3444661732

New route on way home with a detour to  the historic 15th Century Tullibardine Chapel.

Ride 18 – Friday, 15 May 2020
Team Matilda clocks up 5000th tandem mile on celebration ride with prosecco … and a puncture!
https://www.strava.com/activities/3455855137

Photographic proof of 5000th tandem miles since we started tandeming – clocked up on ride to Arbroath.

Ride 19 – Sunday, 24 May 2020
New short loop down Easthill to Tullibardine Chapel then round Gleneagles and Duchally
https://www.strava.com/activities/3476964378

No one in! The deserted luxury Gleneagles Hotel, completely closed due to Covid-19 lockdown.

Ride 20 – Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Birthday ride with a gin pit stop with friends socially distanced over the fence on way home
https://www.strava.com/activities/3482408157

Lockdown birthday gin toast with Andrew and Jane … socially distanced … over their garden fence!

Ride 21 – Thursday, 21 May 2020
Sunny loop and home to strawberry cream tea – surprise delivery from Stoker’s granddaughter Ella
https://www.strava.com/activities/3489008683

Home baking was big during lockdown. This was a surprise delivery from Stoker’s grandaughter Ella.

Ride 22 – Sunday, 24 May 2020
Blowy ride thru Machany, Tullibardine Chapel, and the deserted Gleneagles Hotel grounds
https://www.strava.com/activities/3504216007


Glneagles is the playground of the rich … but even the rich can’t play so all the golf carts are locked up.

Ride 23 – Monday, 25 May 2020
King of Mountain tandem to Gloagburn on successful quest for elusive flour for home baking!
https://www.strava.com/activities/3509373804

Mission accomplished! Ample supplies of elusive flour at Gloagburn … required for home baking!

Ride 24 – Thursday, 28 May 2020
Post repairs to broken spokes tandem to Comrie for picnic on warmest day of year (so far!)
https://www.strava.com/activities/3525895257

The Standing Stones at Comrie have stood the test of time and will be there long beyond lockdown.

Ride 25 – Sunday, 31 May 2020
Matilda sports a new shiny horn on warm sunny ride to Bridge of Earn – with divine intervention!
https://www.strava.com/activities/3541529324

The “old gal” decided to adopt a new strategy seeking divine intervention to tackle the hills!

Ride 26 – Tuesday, 2 June 2020
Local loop before the rain through the grounds of Gleneagles where golf has re-opened
https://www.strava.com/activities/3552027436

Stoker had to smile at one of the new ‘Play it Safe’ rules … “Don’t touch your opponents’ balls!”

Ride 27 – Thursday, 4 June 2020
Supposed to be regular Gleneagles loop in window between showers … but forecast was wrong! 
https://www.strava.com/activities/3562618165

Where’s the doorman for the valet tandem parking? Gleneagles Hotel doors still firmly closed.

Ride 28 – Saturday, 6 June 2020
New Matildas Musings water bottles on ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for tahini paste (as you do!)
https://www.strava.com/activities/3572569841

Shiny new water bottles for my Captain and Stoker arrived in time for today’s ride!

Ride 29 – Monday, 8 June 2020
Decadent fresh local strawberries and prosecco on fab ride featuring Muthill Sportive Yellow Route
https://www.strava.com/activities/3582726783

Lockdown treat! Decadent picnic with locally grown super sweet strawberries and prosecco!

Ride 30 – Thursday, 11 June 2020
Not just any picnic – but a M&S picnic!! … on our first ever ride to Bridge of Allan 
https://www.strava.com/activities/3598061484

Not just any picnic…but a M&S picnic ! And very yummy it was too … washed down with cocktails!

Ride 31 – Monday, 15 June 2020
Haar, haar! Hitting 800 lockdown miles on a murky ride to Bridge of Earn thru low cloud and drizzle
https://www.strava.com/activities/3618761200

My Stoker chilling after being amazed to discover we have peddled 800 miles during lockdown!

Ride 32 – Thursday, 18 June 2020
Perfect pedal to prosecco picnic … and paddle!! … at picturesque riverside spot at Comrie
https://www.strava.com/activities/3633687203

My Captain insisted it was warm enough for a paddle – it wasn’t!!!! So much for his bravado!

Ride 33 – Saturday, 20 June 2020
Harris gin martinis – recreating memorable shaken not stirred distillery ‘lock-in’ exactly a year ago
https://www.strava.com/activities/3643295065

Cheers! Harris Gin Martinis on the decking with fab memories of our epic HebWay trip a year ago.

Ride 34 – Monday, 22 June 2020
Completing our virtual lockdown JoGLE distance of 874 miles on local loop to beat the rain
https://www.strava.com/activities/3652777181

My dynamic crew completed their virtual JoGLE clocking up their  874 lockdown mile in tandem!

Ride 35 – Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Sunny pedal to Bridge of Allan to see friends Dot and Bill for a great long leisurely prosecco lunch
https://www.strava.com/activities/3665021339

Photo with Dot and Bill in their fabulous garden in gorgeous warm sunshine before the 4 hour lunch!

Ride 36 – Saturday, 27 June 2020
Early local loop around Tullibardine and Duchally finishing seconds before the rain started!
https://www.strava.com/activities/3677202619

My trusty Stoker celebrating after achieving a PB on the Tullibardine Chapel Hill climb! Phew!

Ride 37 – Thursday, 2 July 2020
Afternoon pedal to Bridge of Earn with my Captain nursing a thigh strain from about 5 miles!
https://www.strava.com/activities/3703040995

A painful pedal for my Captain who picked up a thigh strain around Forteviot that required painkillers.

Ride 38 – Monday, 6 July 2020
Freedom tandem to Gloagburn Farm Shop for an alfresco coffee and cake pitstop
https://www.strava.com/activities/3721750849

Lockdown restrictions starting to ease a bit allowing an alfresco coffee and cake in the outdoor cafe.

Ride 39 – Wednesday, 8 July 2020
Leisurely pedal thru grounds of re-opening Gleneagles Hotel and around Tullibardine 
https://www.strava.com/activities/3732264477

Perfect reflection on a mini loch within the manicured grounds of five-star Gleneagles Hotel.

Ride 40 – Saturday, 11 July 2020
Clocking up 1000th tandem lockdown mile on pedal to Arbroath for prosecco fish and chips!
https://www.strava.com/activities/3747292299

Selfie congratulations time! My Captain and Stoker celebrate clocking up 1000 miles during lockdown.

So, that is 40 tandem rides; 40 tandem photos; how Team Matilda survived lockdown restrictions while pedalling 1000 miles on a bicycle built for two in rural Perthshire.

The timing of the 1000th mile ride was perfect as the “old gal” was re-opening her Number Fifty Seven Hair Salon 💇‍♀️ in Auchterarder – under the new Scottish Government guidelines – just a few days later, as the “new normal” that is post lockdown life got underway.

For the record the calculations show that over the 40 lockdown rides, the exact total mileage was 1039 miles, with my dynamic crew spending 84 hours in my saddles. The average speed was 12.4 mph.

Total elevation was an outstanding 46,023 feet or just over 1.5 times the height of Mount Everest! That is definitely a statistic that the “old gal” – who doesn’t do hills – is going to impress her friends with!

The elevation statistics certainly prove that Team Matilda’s home base of Auchterarder has one similarity to Rome – being built on hills! All that #cyclingfromhome meant that which ever route my dynamic crew took – there was always a killer uphill section to finish!

Looking back it was a highly positive experience for the “old git” and the “old gal” and Team Matilda hope you enjoyed our pictorial chronological record of surviving lockdown on a bicycle made for two!

Please feel free to leave a comment below as it’s always good to hear from readers of my blog.

MATILDAS MUSINGS TANDEM BLOG RELAUNCH!! Clocking up 1000th tandem lockdown mile on furlough while bringing out our inner Romain Bardet of Team Ag2r on celebration pedal to Arbroath for prosecco fish and chips!

Matilda sporting her la bouclee wine carrier at Arbroath Habour – with vital celebratory prosecco!

Matildas Musings – the UK’s only blogging tandem is back … after a post lockdown relaunch!

Where have we been I hear you ask since my last blog at the end of last year? Well one minute my dynamic crew were getting over the festive period and thru the winter weather, then the next minute were slap bang in the middle of strict lockdown as a result of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

So please excuse my lack of blogging activity over these months as Team Matilda simply didn’t feel comfortable blogging about fun happy adventures in tandem on a bicycle made for two when there were far more serious issues to contemplate, while at the same time trying to stay safe.

But that’s not to say that there was no tandeming as my dynamic crew decided early on to use their initial exercise allowance to regularly get out pedalling in a bid to stay healthy while on furlough from work. And as those weeks turned into months Team Matilda targeted – and hit – their lockdown milestone of 1000 miles while maintaining Cycling UK Scotland‘s mantra of #cyclingfromhome.

So why a relaunch? Well as the world slowly tries to get back to some sort of normality – while following all essential social distancing safety rules – my dynamic crew thought the time was about right to get back to some light hearted humorous blog writing.

A quick precis if you are new to this blog (or if you have forgotten!): Matildas Musings is a blog written by Matilda, the “old lady” classic Jack Taylor tandem – and her Musings about her adventures, trials and tribulations with her “dynamic crew” – the “old git” and Captain, aka Colin, and the “old gal” and Stoker (as well as Chief Engineer) aka Diane.

Blogging tandem Matilda writes Musings about her adventures on the road on a bicycle made for two, focusing on tourism and food & drink experiences en route in Scotland and abroad!

So if this is your first time, Team Matilda sincerely hope you find the adventures of the UK’s only blogging tandem entertaining – and that our self-deprecating humour makes you smile – while finding something that you (as non-professional non-lycra-clad fun-loving fellow tandemers) can relate to!

And if you like the blog use the sign up feature to get regular updates, and you may want to follow our zany tandem adventures on my Matildas Musings FacebookTwitter or Youtube feeds.

So for the first new blog after the relaunch, the focus is on my dynamic crew clocking up their 1000th #tandem lockdown mile while bringing out their inner Romain Bardet of the Ag2r professional cycling team on a celebration pedal to Arbroath for prosecco fish and chips. And for the record this was after lockdown restrictions and rules on travelling for exercise had been eased in Scotland.

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

For the celebration ride my crew chose one of their favourite routes from the Tay Road Bridge at Dundee to Arbroath on Sustrans Scotland #NCN Rt1.

It was a perfect tandeming day out to hit my dynamic crew’s lockdown 1000th mile mark – and I still don’t think my Stoker can quite believe that Team Matilda has tandemed that total mileage over the past three months or so!

And the milestone pedal saw my dynamic crew decked out in new replica jerseys of the Equipe Cycliste Ag2r La Mondiale Team! Naturally there had to be a few photos to try and get my Captain and Stoker to look like their star rider Romain Bardet! Do you think they achieved the look?!

The “old git” bringing out his inner Romain Bardet of Team Ag2r … he wishes!

The man himself – Romain Bardet – looking a bit younger and slimmer than the “old git” and “old gal”!

The “old gal” bringing out her inner Romain Bardet of Team Ag2r … she wishes!

The route is idyllic, with the dedicated cycle path hugging the scenic east coast from Dundee – through the port area and along to Broughty Ferry before reaching Carnoustie and on to Arbroath. And the sun was bursting through the blue sky showing off Arbroath Harbour at its very best! In fact the “old git” said the sun gave it an almost Mediterranean feel. Almost!

The “old git” against a backdrop of lobster creels and amazing sky at Arbroath Harbour.

Selfie congratulations time! My dynamic crew celebrating clocking up 1000 miles during lockdown.

Now when in Arbroath there was clearly a requirement to do as locals do and have the authentic local delicacy of an Arbroath Smokie for lunch. But my dynamic crew went one step better and enjoyed a fabulous alfresco fish and chips Arbroath style!

The fish part of this was a yummy Arbroath Smokie straight off the smoker at the wonderfully named C Lyons Fresh Fish !! Add a portion of chips from the local chippie and a some chilled prosecco which was carried on my La Bouclée wine carrier – and it was a memorable alfresco picnic to toast the 1000 lockdown miles!

Fish and chips Arbroath stye! Arbroath Smokie and chips – washed down with prosecco!

The wonderfully named fish shop where the Arbroath Smokie came straight off the smoker.

The “old gal” enjoying the views at scenic Arbroath Harbour.

Team Matilda had time to explore around the scenic harbour area before it was time to head back to Dundee – with my dynamic crew battling a fierce headwind all the way.

Back in Dundee it was great for the “old git” to meet up with his former work mate Athur Hayburn for a brief catch-up. There was time to pose for a quick photo on the waterfront area, with Arthur taking up my Stoker’s position against a backdrop of the Tay Rail Bridge.

The “old git” had an all too brief meet up with his pal Arthur – with Tay Rail Bridge behind.

The last part of our 1000 mile celebration ride was the “uphill” crossing of the Tay Road Bridge – which always seems a bit of a grind. Today however for some reason it was a canter for my dynamic crew with even the “old gal” commenting that it was “easy”! There has obviously been a positive lockdown furlough effect on Team Matilda’s fitness and performance.

Back at Matilda Transport in the Tay Bridge Car Park, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than a very creditable 41 gongs! The total was made up of an amazing tally of 26 personal bests, 7 second bests; and 8 third best times.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 40 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 10 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.6 mph while the elevation was a relatively flattish 411 feet. The maximum speed was 32.4 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,706 calories and produce an average power output of 134 W.

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

The timing of the 1000th mile ride was perfect as the “old gal” was re-opening her Number Fifty Seven Hair Salon 💇‍♀️ in Auchterarder – under the new Scottish Government guidelines – just a few days later. And with a full appointment book – from clients desperate to have their hair done after 16 weeks of lockdown – opportunities for pedals are going to be few and far between!

For the record the calculations show that over the 40 lockdown rides, the total mileage was 1039 with my dynamic crew spending 84 hours in my saddles. The average speed works out at 12.4 mph.

Total elevation was an outstanding 46,023 feet or just over 1.5 times the height of Mount Everest! That is definitely a statistic that the “old gal” – who doesn’t do hills – is going to impress her friends with!

I think that proves that our home base of Auchterarder has one similarity to Rome – being built on hills! All that #cyclingfromhome meant that which ever route my dynamic crew took – there was always a killer uphill section to finish!

Looking back it was a highly positive experience for the “old git” and the “old gal” and helped keep them healthy – both mentally and physically. And my dynamic crew feel so blessed and fortunate that they have been able to be out and about enjoying trips on a bicycle made for two during lockdown.

So now that my Matildas Musings blog is back in action – look out for more updates soon which will include some of our other landmark furlough rides – including my dynamic crew clocking up their 5000th mile in tandem on my saddles; the “old git” enjoying a pedal on his birthday; and the “old gal” being utterly amazed as Team Matilda completed a virtual JoGLE – John o’ Groats to Land’s End. There’s also a plan for a photo special with some of the best (and worst) images of my lockdown rides!

It’s good to be back! … and underlines that it’s always better when we are blogging about tandeming together! Do please feel free to leave a comment as it’s always good to hear from readers of my blog. Until the next time!

Christmas greetings to fellow tandemers who know its always better together!

Jingle bells, jingle bells
jingle all the way!
Oh what fun
it is to ride
On a tandem made for two …. !!! 

With the big day fast approaching and thoughts turning to turkey and tinsel and mistletoe and wine this “old lady” decided it was time to wish readers of my Matildas Musings blog, and fellow tandemers everywhere, (and even solo cyclists!) a very Merry Christmas on behalf of Team Matilda.

The “old git” being a huge fan of the Christmas period is in a festive frenzy – while the “old gal” is enjoying the festive spirit (and wine!) while trying (and failing!) to exert a calming influence!

My dynamic crew – the “old git” aka my Captain and the “old gal” aka my Stoker – would like to thank you all for reading my Matildas Musings this year and following our adventures in #tandem, naturally!

And thanks for all your messages of support – whether that be a comment on my blog, or on my Matildas Musings FacebookTwitter or Youtube feeds.

Team Matilda sincerely hope you continue to find the adventures of the UK’s only blogging tandem entertaining – and that it makes you smile – while finding something that you (as non-professional non-lycra-clad fun-loving fellow tandemers) can relate to!For a number of reasons there were not as many blog posts this year as previously. But with a bit of luck – and no major mechanicals concerning my ageing frame; or the fitness of my dynamic crew – there will be many more rides, and Musings, during the first year of a new decade in 2020.

The big event in 2019 was the annual tour of the self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club – which was an epic odyssey taking on the Hebridean Way Challenge – tandem cycling “on the edge” of Scotland, while taking in the views of some of the world’s best beaches.

Now the “old gal” really enjoys a little fun recreational island hopping – and scenic beaches – but this was something different! A true adventure on Sustrans Scotland NCN Rt 780 across the Outer Hebrides, starting at the southernmost point on Vatersay and ending on the northernmost point at the Butt of Lewis, covering 185 miles, 10 islands, six causeways and two ferry crossings!

And my dynamic crew were truly honoured to have fellow founding members of The Nutty Tandemers Club – John and Jane, who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – with us every pedal of the way! So special festive greetings to them and thanks again for their magnificent company and encouragement to help us all reach the finishing point together. Roll on the Nutty 2020 tour!

Naturally I wrote a blog about our adventures, titled: “Hebridean Way – the definitive guide to tandeming ‘on the edge’ with the Nutty Tandemers Club. The epic post gives lots of advice on how to do the 10 island odyssey route as an independently booked, self-guided, end-to-end pedal. It is also offers a refreshingly unfiltered honest reflection – highlighting the highs and lows; uphills and downhills of 5 days tandeming “on the edge” of Scotland.

Lets just say that if the 185 mile Hebridean Way is on your bucket list of #tandem or cycle rides – then this is the blog for you! So grab a cuppa and click on this link to enjoy a chuckle or two as you flick thru the blog which is full of useful tips, advice and recommendations of places to stay, eat, and replenish (prosecco!) picnic supplies along the #HebWay – along with some to avoid! It also highlights the best tips in The Offcomers guide book and the bike transfer service provided by HebShuttle.

For anyone wondering, the Christmas card front image at the top of this blog post is an artificially snow-sprinkled image of me and my dynamic crew from that unforgettable Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way Challenge back in June – featuring the dramatic Callanish Standing Stones where we spent a magical evening of the summer solstice.

As a Christmas treat here’s another chance to see Team Matilda’s musical montage of images from that unforgettable tandem trip. Just click on the image below to watch:

So here’s to a wonderful festive season to all. And on behalf of all captains and stokers everywhere – lets hope Santa fills your Christmas stockings with all the things you have put on your present list!

Mind you, that does make an assumption that you are on the “good tandemers” list rather than the “naughty tandemers” list!

And remember: It truly is always better when you’re together on a tandem”!!

So have a “twice the fun” Merry Christmas – from Matilda, Colin and Diane!

Ho! ho! ho!

 

Road-testing the new Tighnavon Glamping Pods enterprise at wilderness Loch Rannoch

Team Matilda ready to road-test the new Tighnavon Glamping Pods venture at Kinloch Rannoch.

Day 1 – Spectacular Friday arriving at Tighnavon Glamping Pods with sunset experience!

Great excitement at Matildas Rest! It was Friday and the start of Team Matilda’s annual holidays and we had been invited to road-test a new development of glamping pods – specifically targetted at cyclists and outdoor types! And the fact that the luxury en-suite pods are based on the edge of wilderness Loch Rannoch – one of my crew’s favourite spots on earth – made it even more magical.

With Matilda Transport packed we headed off to Kinloch Rannoch in Highland Perthshire for our back to nature weekend of relaxation and tandeming – is there a better way to spend a romantic break?!

The Tighnavon Glamping Pods venture has only been open for three months and aims to provide a grown up version of camping – without having to put your tent up – for people who like their creature comforts but still want to get away from it all and re-connect with nature. Just perfect for my dynamic crew who don’t do camping under canvas under any circumstances!

The Tighnavon Glamping Pods are ideally situated in the village of Kinloch Rannoch.

The new tourism business of four wooden cabins, which sleep up to four people, are ideally situated nestling in some of Scotland’s most atmospheric and picturesque scenery to attract cyclists – as well as walkers and fishermen – who don’t want to be tied to a full week’s accommodation in one place.

Team Matilda was staying in the pod called Stag and although it may look bijou from the outside, my dynamic crew found it like a tardis inside – complete with everything they could need, including a nice touch of the bed already made up! And as the “old gal” quickly found a choice of sockets to plug in her hairdryer she said: “Glamping is clearly my kind of camping!”

As the Tighnavon Glamping Pods website says: “Our pods are equipped to a high standard – each has a double bed and a fold down double sofa bed and can comfortably sleep up to four people. There is a fully accessible wet-room with overhead shower and a small kitchenette equipped with kettle, toaster, microwave, twin hob, mini oven and fridge. Bedding, crockery, and pans are all provided – even tea, coffee and biscuits!” All you are asked to bring is your own towels.

A nice touch on arrival at the pods is that the bed already made up!

The pods are amazingly good value – and the prices refreshingly don’t change with the seasons. Each pod is priced at only £50 a night Sunday to Thursday and £80 on a Friday and Saturday night. There is a minimum stay of 2 nights and no additional costs for electricity or dogs.

Everything about the pods reflects the aim of the glamping concept providing a comfy and dry home-from-home experience – but still with that feeling of being out in the country!

There’s lots more about the “old gal” and “old git’s” experience of glamping later in this blog – including a walk-thru video of the facilities on offer and a video chat with the ultra friendly and hospitable co-owners Ian Philp and Sheona Glenville-Sutherland about “fulfilling their dream” and opening the pods.

The luxury en-suite pods offer a really comfy home-from-home experience!

The plan was for an early evening tandem ride around Loch Rannoch – hopefully timing it to arrive back at the beach at the top of the loch for a prosecco toast to enjoy the sunset. As my dynamic crew had arrived at the pods in good time they firstly explored the village of Kinloch Rannoch – firstly calling in to the friendly Riverbank Cafe to enjoy yummy home-made cake and coffee.

Next the “old gal” and “old git” were attracted to a sign for The Shed Gallery based in the Old Smiddy just off the village square which houses the modern gallery and workspace of photographer Ian Biggs. Ian’s stunning work draws its inspiration from the dynamic and evocative landscape of the Rannoch glen. Finally the Country Store and Post Office offered the chance for Team Matilda to stock up with a few last minute provisions from their impressive range for a village shop.

Tighnavon Ride 1 – Once in a lifetime spectacular sunset Loch Rannoch Loop

The “old gal” looking relaxing in the sunshine before our Loch Rannoch loop!

It was time to get my pedals moving and amazingly for late September the sun was beating down and my dynamic crew were really looking forward to a loop round the sun-kissed loch. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Leaving the pods behind we set off thru the village square and headed down the north side of the loch on the B846. It is an area Team Matilda know well and the route is mostly gently undulating – and given the absence of any noticeable wind it was a true joy to be out tandeming.

The “old gal” decided a quick stop was required at the wild camping area about a third of the way down the loch – which offers a perfect viewpoint for pictures with the majesty of the perfectly conical shape of Schiehallion – one of Scotland’s most recognisable mountains – in the background. This area provides easy access to a small rocky beach area, and the loch which was looking stunning with the blue sky creating a deep blue colour on the water.

Rock with a sun-kissed view! The “old gal” with the iconic Schiehallion behind her!

You simply wouldn’t think it was September with these shades of blue!

Naturally there had to be a Team Matilda selfie! – showing the conical shape of Schiehallion.

Me and the “old gal” enjoying the rays of the sun at the wild camping site on the north side of the loch.

On we pedalled with the “old git” and “old gal” exhilarated by their progress down the loch. It was all too easy and then, just after Killichonan, we hit the steep hill at the saw mill! Let’s just say both my dynamic crew were breathing somewhat rapidly when we got to the top.

The reward is a rapid downhill to Bridge of Gaur, turning left at the end of the loch before crossing the bridge over the River Gaur. Next up was a steady – but more manageable – steep uphill climb for about half a mile. But the climb is worth it with views across the whole length and breadth of the loch.

The folly on a small island in Loch Rannoch dates from the 19th century.

A point of interest is Eilean Nam Faoileag – a small island which was occupied from the middle of the 15th century until the middle of the 17th century and now is home to a tower which is a 19th-century folly. You also can’t miss the impressive Rannoch Power Station – part of the Tummel Valley hydro scheme – on the opposite bank which has been in operation since 1930.

The route on the quieter south side of the loch is amazingly scenic – even more so than the (slightly) busier north shore road. The B-class single track road never seems to be more than a couple of yards from the loch itself and there is always lots to catch the eye.

This “old lady” was happy that we were whizzing along as it is always good to get a bit of speed going. Then one of our regular stops at an iconic tree which offers a fabulous view right up the loch.

The “old gal” at one of our regular stops on the south side at a tree with a view right up the loch.

This tree always brings a hearty laugh from the “old gal” as it was the place for an amusing photo where the “old git” didn’t realise that the “old gal” was taking the mickey and misbehaving by sticking her tongue out when he was adopting his serious tandemer pose for a team selfie! Ironically it turned out to be one of my dynamic crew’s best ever photos as it completely sums up what a Team Matilda adventure on a bicycle made for two is all about! No words are needed!

What happens when my Stoker takes the mickey when my Captain adopts his serious photo mode!

The wilderness factor was underlined as the narrow road winds its way through the magical Black Wood of Rannoch – more detail of which can be found in Sunday’s section below. Credit to the “old git” but he had timed the ride to perfection and my dynamic crew arrived at the beach area at the Kinloch Rannoch end just as the sun was starting to sink in the sky for their prosecco toast!

The added bonus was that neither the “old git” or the “old gal” had realised that the sun was going to be setting behind the mountains at the far end of the loch creating some magical light patterns, across the sky and then across the loch. It was a perfect spot to capture some amazing sunset shots, including one which had the effect of looking like the beach and sand dunes were on fire, giving everything it touched a healthy glow!

As the sun started to set it created a wonderful healthy glow on my dynamic crew’s faces!

My dynamic crew then had some fun positioning themselves to get the angle just right to get a selfie catching the fantastic sunset going directly in to their bottle of prosecco!

The “old git” got the angle just right to catch the fabulous sunset in the prosecco bottle!

What a magnificent way to spend a Friday evening! It really was one of those once in a lifetime experiences and the “old gal” and “old git” felt so lucky to be there. A true back to nature feeling!

The “old gal’s” head in the sun! It was a true privilege to see the sunset dancing on the loch!

Back in the comfort of the glamping pod, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as showing that my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 22.9 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 49 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.5 mph given the undulating terrain, and the overall elevation was 820 feet. The maximum speed was 31.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1242 calories and produce an average power output of 169 W. Almost by accident my dynamic crew recorded 2 gongs along the route – with 2 second bests.

A tasty home-cooked meal was served up by the “old gal” – using the pod’s ample cooking facilities – followed by some chill time, before sleep beckoned with my dynamic crew dreaming of their spectacular ‘money can’t buy’ wilderness sunset experience.

Sleep beckoned dreaming of the once in a lifetime sunset experience at Loch Rannoch!

Day 2 – Energetic Saturday tandem ride in glorious Highland Perthshire sunshine!

Our sun-kissed Tighnavon Glamping Pod as we opened the curtains on Saturday morning!

Saturday dawned with the sun rising into a cloudless bright blue sky as Team Matilda wakened re-invigorated from a very deep and relaxing sleep courtesy of an extremely comfortable bed in the glamping pod. Buoyed by last night’s spectacular sunset over Loch Rannoch my dynamic crew were in good spirits and it was clearly going to be a good day!

The “old git” had scheduled a tandem loop of Loch Tummel for today – complete with one of the “old gal’s” signature prosecco picnics. And as this new route is set to be fairly hilly, and also takes in a short 0.75 mile section of the A9 main trunk road to Inverness, it could be just what my stoker will need!

My dynamic crew – who don’t do camping under canvas under any circumstances – have been most impressed with everything about the glamping pods. So much so that the “old gal” decided that she would record her thoughts on the Tighnavon development by filming a walk-thru of our en-suite pod – which is named Stag – to show the facilities on offer. You can watch the video here:

So after a healthy breakfast I was packed into Matilda Transport for the short 7 mile drive to our start point at Tummel Bridge, the village at the head of Loch Tummel.

Tighnavon Ride 2 – Hilly Loch Tummel loop including a stretch on the A9!

Loch Tummel is home to two of the nine hydro electric power stations which make up the impressive Tummel Valley scheme which was constructed in the1930s. Team Matilda parked opposite the grandeur of Tummel Bridge Power Station – which is now a listed building.

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

After kitting out in what was to be highly appropriate red polka dot King of the Mountain jerseys, the “old gal” showed her creative streak with a reflective shot of Team Matilda departing on the ride – captured in a mirror at the car park and transformed into a black and white image! Clever eh?!

The “old gal” showed her creative talent to capture this reflective image of Team Matilda!

The initial route almost saw us pedal to a standstill within a couple of minutes as we tackled the steep inclines of the B846 for the first two miles. The “old gal” was somewhat relieved when the route took a left turn onto the Foss Road to drop down to hug the banks of the loch. The sun was streaming thru the dense array of trees as we passed the edge of Frenich Wood, part of the Tay Forest Park, creating spectacular shadows and light patterns.

The “old gal” at the edge of the dense Frenich Wood, part of the Tay Forest Park.

The “old git” against the fabulous strong blue colours of the loch and sky.

The quiet single track road along the loch had a nice smooth surface, but it was fairly undulating and required a good bit of pedalling. But the views over the loch – with the strong blue colours of the loch and the sky – were truly spectacular. We stopped regularly to take in the scenery, including a fabulous natural view point from a rocky promontory jutting out over the loch – which was the perfect spot for a Team Matilda selfie!

Selfie time at a rocky promontory – giving a view along the full length of Loch Tummel.

It was a great day to be out tandeming – and along with the hills there were lots of smiles as we clocked off the miles! Next stop however was the thought-provoking entrance to Clunie Power Station and the eye-catching Clunie Memorial Arch.

Clunie dam holds back the waters of Loch Tummel. A tunnel from the loch feeds Clunie power station, which then discharges into Loch Faskally. The dramatic arch at Clunie honours the men who died in the late 1940s while digging the tunnel. The self-styled ‘Tunnel Tigers’ – named because of their cavalier approach to working conditions in the days before health and safety in their quest to earn huge bonuses – removed about 400,000 tons of rock for the Clunie pipeline. The arch measures 6.9 m across – the same dimensions as the tunnel.  This remains one of the largest water tunnels in the UK.

The “old gal” is dwarfed by the Clunie Memorial Arch built to the same dimensions as the tunnel.

Moving on, as we approached Pitlochry the only visible option to get across to the road down the opposite side of Loch Tummel was for Team Matilda to cut up on to the busy A9 trunk road. Naturally this was rather alarming due to the fast moving traffic and heavy lorries using the main route between the central belt and the Highlands. The “old git” not surprisingly opted for the safe option of walking along the grass verge for 0.75 of a mile – as tandeming would have been extremely ill-advised – until the exit route off for the road back towards Tummel Bridge.

The “old git” wisely decided that pushing along the grass verge of the busy A9 was the safest option!

Team Matilda were happy to leave the dangers of the A9 behind and got back on my saddles riding along the B8019 at Faskally Caravan Park where suddenly out of nowhere – and as if by magic – signs for Sustrans Scotland National Cycle Network Rt 7 appeared! Just as quickly as they appeared they disappeared again – obviously heading further north! Our route crossed a bridge high over the River Gary – providing another must-do photo stop looking down into the deep valley below.

The bridge over River Gary crosses a scenic deep valley below!

After the trauma of having to engage with the A9, and the unseasonably warm sunshine, my dynamic crew were a little frazzled – so the “old gal” made a good shout for a time-out for lunch after finding a suitable spot off the busy B8019 road.

It is at moments like this that the meticulous forward planning which goes into a Team Matilda tandem ride – which can sometime seem a bit overdone – really pay off. The “old gal” and the “old git” enjoyed a luxury picnic with glasses of cold prosecco – kept cool by my trendy La Bouclee french-designed wine carrier – washing down croissants filled with smoked ham and chilli cream cheese. To follow, a fresh fruit salad and some much needed energy replenishment in the form of some chocolate! Heaven!

The fizz for the signature prosecco picnic was kept cool in my trendy la bouclee wine carrier!

The “old gal” enjoying a re-fuelling prosecco picnic in the sunshine!

Refuelled and refreshed by the food and fizz my dynamic crew pedalled on for a tough 3 miles till they came to their next scheduled stop at the Queens View Visitor Centre offering Highland Perthshire’s most iconic view over Loch Tummel and further down to Loch Rannoch.

Queens View Visitor Centre offers Highland Perthshire’s most iconic viewpoint.

It is the area’s most popular visitor attraction and naturally Team Matilda sparked more than a bit of attention from the throngs of bus parties who were visiting as I was pushed up to the viewpoint to get a good look from high over the loch!

The story goes that when Queen Victoria visited in 1866, she assumed that the sweeping view west along Loch Tummel was named after her – but she was wrong. Local history says that the view was really named after Isabella, the first wife of Robert the Bruce, who lived more than 500 years earlier. But that hasn’t stopped the visitor centre and cafe cashing in on the royal connection!

The bench says ‘reserved for royalty’ so naturally I presumed it was for this “old lady” to lean against!

Great image of me with Queen Victoria and her loyal servant John Brown at the post box!

After a loo stop and managing to get a coffee and a piece of caramel shortcake from the cafe – which looked like it had been hit by a plague of locusts in the shape of bus visitors! – the “old gal” was almost delirious to see that she was now getting the benefit of all the uphill climbs with the remainder of the route a highly enjoyable long descent down the side of the loch back to Tummel Bridge.

The “old git” on the original Tummel Bridge built by General Wade in 1733

The village takes its name from the old bridge which crosses the River Tummel which was built by General Wade in 1733. The old bridge still stands, although it is only open to pedestrians and cyclists, with a much more boring structure carrying the road alongside.

I was packed back in Matilda Transport and after a short drive we were back at our ultra-comfortable pod – enjoying a much needed refreshment to celebrate an epic day on a bicycle made for two!

Back at Tighnavon Glamping Pods – after an epic sun-kissed day of tandeming!

Over a very welcome, and relaxing gin on the decking of the glamping pod, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing that my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 26.3 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 59 minutes. The average speed was 8.8 mph given the hot temperature and the overall elevation of 1756 feet. The maximum speed was 39.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1958 calories and produce an average power output of 163 W. No gongs recorded, however, as this was our first time doing this ride.

Team Matilda enjoying sitting on the decking of the pod which was bathed in the early evening sun.

The sun – or the exertions of the pedalling, or perhaps both! -obviously got to the “old gal” as after a quick change out of her cycling gear she was soon found to have dozed off for a quick 40 winks on the decking! Needless to say, the “old git” – ever one to capture an opportunity – managed to stay awake and take a surprise photo of her in her relaxed state!

Only a one word caption required: spangled!

After a bit of necessary relaxation my dynamic crew headed out for what was supposed to be a dinner treat at Edina’s Kitchen – the restaurant in the new Dunalastair Hotel Suites, literally just round the corner in the square at Kinloch Rannoch. The “old git” and “old gal” were full of anticipation at a culinary delight to come as the new hotel claims to offer “award winning 5-star” food and service with “a range of dishes to suit every taste prepared by Michelin and Rosette trained chefs.”

The reality was sadly completely different and was a major disappointment. From the moment we arrived the restaurant was a chaotic scene with seemingly untrained staff not having a clue. To be told twice within two minutes of entering the bar area – by two different people – that “You shouldn’t be here – we are fully booked tonight” is quite simply unacceptable at any eaterie, far less one which sets out its stall as such a prestigious venue. Oh and that was despite the “old git” telling both members of staff that we had in fact booked a week ago, and confirmed the booking just a couple of hours earlier.

Dunalastair Hotel Suites failed by a long way to live up to its ‘award winning 5-star’ reputation.

We were allowed to stay after the confusion was sorted out – although amazingly no apology was forthcoming. But it might have been better had we been turned away – as the food was a major let down. The “old gal’s” main course, as an example, was some rather dry duck with two carrot sticks and one mange tout along with a spoonful of beetroot mash!

Two unexciting courses later – they would even have been disappointing if had been served in a pub – and a moderate bottle of wine saw Team Matilda’s wallet around £100 lighter and leaving with an overwhelming feeling of anti-climax. It really was such a shame as it should have been the ideal venue for a nice evening out from the pods.

Walking back the “old gal” and the “old git” enjoyed looking at the very clear sky which offered a wonderful view of the stars – without the usual light pollution. The Tighnavon Glamping Pods site looked perfectly cosy and romantic under the stars! With the temperature dropping, my dynamic crew both commented that they were happy that they were not in fact sleeping under the stars under canvas in the great outdoors – but in the comfort of a proper bed inside the heated pod i

The Tighnavon Glamping Pod site looked perfectly cosy and romantic under the stars!

Day 3 – Relaxing Sunday as tandeming abandoned due to heavy rain!

Opening the pod doors on Sunday, the weather had changed – so tandeming abandoned!

Sunday morning and the “old git” threw open the doors of our pod to discover that the glorious sunshine had suddenly disappeared overnight – with the weather changing to rain. A quick check of his “go-to” weather forecast – BBC Weather – confirmed that it was going to be heavy rain all day. So a quick discussion amongst my dynamic crew decided that tandeming was abandoned for the day.

The “old git” harrumphed as he was a bit frustrated as he had planned another loop of Loch Rannoch – but I must say here that he “old gal” was actually quietly rather pleased after the fairly arduous day in my saddles yesterday on the ride around Loch Tummel!

So the change of plan involved a much more relaxing morning – followed by a leisurely drive around our planned tandeming route to allow us to still pay a visit to the famous Rannoch Station Tearoom

The rain was nothing short of torrential as my dynamic crew drove the 11 miles from Tighnavon to the end of Loch Rannoch at Bridge of Gaur. The “old gal” was feeling rather smug – and cosy – sitting in Matilda Transport knowing that the alternative would have been a serious drooking from the rain!

They then headed on for final six miles of the scenic but secluded B846 road – which must be one of the world’s longest cul-de-sacs! But the reward at the end of the journey is the wonderfully remote Rannoch railway station where there is a favourite coffee and cake spot for the “old git” and the “old gal” – the amazing Rannoch Station Tearoom.

It really is a truly fabulous hidden gem – and must get the vote for being not only the most remote tearoom in Scotland – but the most welcoming and friendly. Run by the uber-hospitable Bill and Jenny Anderson it offers cyclists, walkers and railway passengers an amazing oasis of home made tasty coffees, cakes and light meals. You can even have a wine or a beer while sitting on the station platform watching the live theatre that is the natural wilderness of Rannoch Moor.

The uber hospitable Bill and Jenny who take service standards to new highs at Rannoch Station Tearoom.

The duo’s customer service ethic has no bounds – and even runs to delivering phone orders of bacon butties to train passengers travelling up and down the Glasgow to Fort William route. In my dynamic crew’s case it extended to a hugely warm welcome – impressively remembering names and our tandeming adventures! So it was a delicious serving of home made fruit scones with clotted cream and jam followed by gigantic slices of seriously yummy carrot cake washed down with a cafetiere of wonderfully strong freshly brewed coffee.

According to my dynamic crew the tearoom more than lived up to its five star Trip Advisor certificate of excellence award. And if the look of satisfaction on the “old gal’s” face as she sampled the goodies was anything to go by, I think if she could have awarded six stars, it would have been more than earned!

Bill and Jenny and their Rannoch Station Tearoom were featured recently on the Channel 4 show The World’s Most Beautiful Railway – which is well worth a look!

More than replete – stuffed is the word that comes to mind! – my dynamic crew drove back to Kinloch Rannoch on the quieter road on the south side of the loch. Fortunately the rain had more or less gone off for a bit as the “old gal” fancied doing a bit of photography to try and capture the magical qualities of the Black Wood of Rannoch – one of the largest areas of ancient pine forest left in Scotland.

The “old gal” tried a spot of photography to capture the magical qualities of the Black Wood of Rannoch

It certainly lives up to its Forestry and Land Scotland billing as “a living growing monument with some trees thought to be about 400 years old, and is home to a wonderful variety of plants and wildlife, including deer, pine martens and red squirrel.” It is little wonder that it is designated a Special Area of Conservation and was looking dramatically magnificent even in the wet conditions. It was truly a wonderful wilderness spot, and the “old gal” and the “old git” felt privileged to be there.

The Black Wood of Rannoch is home to “granny pines” some of which are up to 400 years old.

Inspired by the natural beauty of one of the “jewels” of Rannoch, Team Matilda drove back to the comfort of our luxury pod for some chill time – with even the “old git” now conceding that tandeming in the heavy rain they experienced would have been awful! Music to the “old gal’s” ears!

Later in the afternoon, Ian Philp and Sheona Glenville-Sutherland – the co-owners of Tighnavon – dropped by to hear my dynamic crew’s thoughts and comments on their new luxury en-suite glamping pods. Since it was wine o’clock, the “old gal” popped a cork on a bottle of wine and all had a most hospitable chat about the new tourism venture, and why it was badly needed in the area.

The “old git” filmed an interview with Sheona about the concept behind the new Tighnavon Glamping Pods at Kinloch Rannoch, which you can watch the video here:

After their media commitments, Team Matilda enjoyed another fabulous meal before more relaxation and an amazingly sound sleep. Next morning, sadly, it was time to leave the comfort of Tighnavon and head back to Matildas Rest – thoroughly refreshed after a great mini-break in what is one of the “old gal” and “old git’s” favourite places on earth.

So, my dynamic crew’s overall verdict: If you like the idea of getting back to nature – but without the canvas tent, then this is definitely for you. The new wooden en-suite glamping pods offer the ideal opportunity to enjoy luxury away-from-it-all accommodation, where you can do exactly as you please – while enjoying some exhilarating cycling and stunning scenery pedalling in the beautiful wilderness area of Loch Rannoch. As the “old git” said: “What’s not to like?!”

Team Matilda toasting Tighnavon Glamping Pods – what’s not to like?!

Thanks to Sheona and Ian at Tighnavon Glamping Pods at Kinloch Rannoch for their help, accommodation, and hospitality offered to Team Matilda on their mini-break. All opinions are that of Team Matilda!