Lockdown2 Ride11 – Return pedal to La French Epicerie in Bridge of Allan for more mustard and la pique-nique avec fizz with Anne and Alan

La pique-nique avec fizz in the sun at Bridge of Allan with Anne and Alan.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a fabulous sunny #Lockdown2 Ride11 tandem which involved a return pedal to La French Epicerie in Bridge of Allan for more mustard and la pique-nique avec fizz with good friends Anne and Alan.

Again Team Matilda struck it lucky with the weather gods who offered bright sunshine all the way for this #lockdown adventure! And with the relaxation of Covid rules here in Scotland – allowing four people from 2 households to meet up outside – we were delighted to welcome good solo cycling friends Anne and Alan on the pedal with us!

It was my dynamic crew’s first ride of astronomical Spring – so based on the forecast for sun, and little wind,  my La Bouclée wine carrier made an appearance – with a bottle of fizz on board for the first of our trademark and infamous prosecco picnics of the year!

Again the visibility was sensational as we followed Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

After “picking up” Anne and Alan as we pedaled up the high street of our home base of Auchterarder, we headed out past Gleneagles towards Braco. A left turn at the A822 this time and just before the centre of Braco headed right to Dunblane on a great gently undulating road thru Kinbuck.

Superb shadows were being created by the welcome sunshine – and the “old gal” managed to keep her balance on my back seat while filming an arty shadow effect video as we tandemed towards Dunblane – click here to view or on the image below.

There was a quick stop for breath and water at the A9 flyover just before Dunblane to check out traffic levels on the main trunk road north to Inverness – and it was still fairly quiet as many drivers continue to follow the latest #lockdown “stay local” advice.

The “old gal” checking out #lockdown traffic levels on the A9 at the Dunblane flyover

There was also a great photo opportunity when the “old git” noticed the reflection of the riders in the “old gal’s” sunglasses and got her to stay motionless (quite a feat!) while he got that essential photo!

Reflective moment ! The “old git” Anne and Alan reflected in the “old gal’s” sunglasses!

Tandeming on we enjoyed the drop down from Dunblane to Bridge of Allan for a return visit to the superb La French Epicerie on the high street – a wonderful new deli offering great goodies to takeaway. It’s no secret that the “old git” and “old gal” like their ‘petit peu de français’ – having toured the country by tandem on many occasions. So it was good to see owners Gregory and Corrine again – the couple who fell in love with Scotland on a family holiday from their base in Lyon in France and decided to uproot from France, and move to Scotland to set up a new business venture.

In far from ideal timing the Epicerie opened in the midst of the #lockdown but it is quickly establishing itself as a great destination for all things French! Regular readers of my blog will remember my post about our first visit at the end of February where my dynamic crew were delighted to find the deli stocked their favourite brand of mustard – Moutardes Fallot (Edmond Fallot). So needless to say the “old gal” was … yes you’ve guessed … “as keen as mustard” to buy some more jars!

And Gregory and Corrine were so happy with my blog post about their new venture that they offered Team Matilda fresh hot waffles – with some toffee sauce – as a thankyou gesture! Oh well if you insist!

Purchases made the two crews headed to the busy riverside area, and after a short wait found a suitable bench for la pique-nique avec fizz! A surreptitious popping of the prosecco cork – so as not to attract too much attention – was followed by a toast to being able to be out in the glorious sunshine with friends! And it felt soooo good for my dynamic crew!

Cheers! Fab sunny prosecco picnic for the cycling crews at Bridge of Allan

The “old gal” enjoyed her French smoked sausage and cheese while the “old git” had a yummy baguette with ham and Comte cheese before both had a superb slice of sugar coated almond tart!

Perhaps fuelled by the prosecco the “old gal” asked Anne if she had ever been on a tandem before. Her reply was negative so naturally the “old git” offered to give her a quick taster! So to much laughter and applause from the “old gal” and Alan off they pedalled to give Anne a shot as my new stoker – albeit just a short couple of hundred yards, but with a sharp u-turn included to add to the fun!

New Stoker for Matilda! Anne takes a shot on my back seat … and enjoyed it!

Naturally the “old gal” was on hand to video Anne’s experience and she even said that it was “fantastic” tho I know that she found having no control being a bit nerve-wracking, as she is used to being in total control of her solo bike. But the “old git” was gentle with her as it was her first time on the back of a bicycle made for two! Click here to view the video or on the image below. 

Re-fuelled after a wonderful pique-nique (avec fizz!) we set off on the return leg which involves an initial tough few miles of climbing from Bridge of Allan up thru Dunblane. It was a quick pedal back to Auchterarder with the sun beating down on the backs of my dynamic crew – who even divested themselves of their bright yellow jackets for the final series of climbs back to Gleneagles!

A quick spurt saw the “old git” and “old gal” cheer as they matched their 27mph record on the speed camera coming into town before returning to Matildas Rest having clocked another 36 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer taking the total to 255 miles from 11 rides completed so far.

The sun was warm enough to dispense with the bright yellow Team Matilda jackets!

Team Matilda were delighted that, carefully following the new Covid rules, Anne and Alan joined us in the garden again for some post-ride #gins and snacks – complete with social distancing. It was great to be able to do something so normal again after so many months of not being able to socialise.

While enjoying the gin(s!) the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of a most satisfyingly 37 gongs – including no less than 18 personal bests … along with 10 2nd bests; and nine 3rd bests! No “Local Legend” accolades tho!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 36 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 38 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 13.6 mph, probably due to the lower wind! Elevation was 1,944 feet. The maximum speed was 32.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 12,134 calories and produce an average power output of 201 W.

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

Once again there were hugely positive feelings from #Lockdown2 Ride11. My dynamic crew continue to feel lucky, fortunate and blessed to be able to keep healthy – mentally and physically – with our madcap #tandem adventures on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

Here’s to more of those rides where the “old git” and “old gal” can feel the warmth of the sun on their legs! … and of course to more prosecco picnics!

Lockdown2 Ride10 – Sunny pedal with friends Anne and Alan as rules start to be relaxed on Muthill loop – and Susan Calman tv feature.

Fab to be out in the great Perthshire outdoors with friend again – selfie smiles with Anne and Alan!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a spectacular #Lockdown2 Ride10 #tandem with friends Anne and Alan as rules start to be relaxed on a Mill of Drummond and Muthill loop. There’s also news of this “old lady” tandem attracting more media fame by amazingly featuring on Susan Calman’s new tv show #HappySpace on the BBC Scotland channel!

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem taking advantage of some sunny conditions for their 10th fun #lockdown adventure – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

And what a joy to feel the warm sunshine that was forecast – indeed it was the warmest day of the year so far! Mind you the “old gal” did sarcastically say: “That wouldn’t be hard!” after the many days of harsh winter weather we have experienced since #lockdown began!

And with Covid rules having just been relaxed in Scotland – allowing four people from two households to meet outside – we were delighted to welcome good solo cycling friends Ann and Alan on the ride with us. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

But before we get to the pedalling, I want to tell the story of how delighted this “old lady” tandem was to make an appearance – albeit a fleeting blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance! – on Susan Calman’s #HappySpace programme on the BBC Scotland channel.

The show features what people have been doing during #lockdown to stay happy! And researchers got in touch with my dynamic crew after seeing the recent media coverage of Team Matilda getting thru #lockdown on a bicycle made for two on the Sustrans website and in the in the March issue of BIKE Magazine Europe.

The “old git” was asked to send in a video showing some tandeming action which was then used in a short section featuring people spending time in their #HappySpace in the great outdoors! Watch the short 26 second clip from the show by clicking here to view or on the image below.

You know I am quite enjoying all this publicity – in fact I am picking up a nickname of being a bit of a media tart! So much so that the “old git” thought about making a sign for my ageing frame proudly pronouncing “Matilda the tandem – as seen on BBC Scotland tv!” … but then thought better of it. Well, truth be told, the “old gal” put her foot down and said no!

So to our ride – which offered quite sensational clear visibility in the bright sunshine. We “collected” Anne and Alan as we cycled up the high street of our home base of Auchterarder, cycling out of town past the still deserted luxury Gleneagles resort and on towards Braco. The wind had dropped – allowing a much more pleasant pedal – and certainly a massive difference from just a few days ago when when the “old git” and “old gal” were being battered by an icy gale!

At the junction with the A822 we all turned right cycling to the highest point of the ride for some “essential” group photos! It was a great feeling to be out in the great outdoors with friends again! And the views across the valley towards the A9 trunk road and the Ochil hills beyond was awe-inspiring.

The “old gal” with Anne and Alan enjoying the sun and views at the highest point of the ride.

We turned left at the Mill of Drummond signpost and enjoyed the fabulous 4.5 mile route which weaves thru local farms on an impressively surfaced road. Anne and Alan hadn’t been on this particular loop before – and were duly impressed at the route which forms part of the Muthill Sportive  –  although in the opposite direction!

Anne and Alan agreed that the undulations create an adrenalin-inducing roller-coaster style pedal with some enjoyably steep downhills … the best of which is the drop down past the local golf club. The “old git” was told to be on his best behavior tho by the “old gal” as we were leading the ride, and it would have been rude to lose our guests! And he obeyed which meant my dynamic crew did not beat their previous 38.7 mph speed on that section. But as the “old git” thought – there is always another day for that! Just don’t tell the “old gal” or his ears will be pierced by the screaming from the back of my frame!

There was time for a scheduled DIY coffee and cake stop in the centre of the village of Muthill at the fascinating Muthill Old Church and Tower– which dates back to the 1100s and is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. The churchyard offered a secluded and wind-free spot – ideal for the coffee break and a (socially distanced!) chat! And of course the opportunity for more photos!

All matching! – the “old git” and “old gal” enjoying the sunshine for the DIY coffee stop at Muthill.

Anne and Alan enjoying the warmth of the sun at Muthill – Anne even took her jacket off!

The “old gal” and Anne enjoying a bit of catching up on gossip -socially distanced style!

The quiet backroad return from Muthill was a speedy affair – with an amazingly quick ascent of the steep Machany ridge sector – before pedalling back to Auchterarder.

Fantastic endorphins buzzing thro my dynamic crew’s bodies on returning to Matildas Rest from the pedal – which clocked another 22 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer, taking the total to 219 miles from the 10 rides completed so far.

Carefully following the new rules, Anne and Alan joined us in the garden for a post-ride #gin – complete with social distancing! It was a real pleasure to be able to do such a “normal” activity again – and have a “real” ‘Gin Lounge’ meeting (albeit outside) rather than a virtual one over Zoom! And the weather played along offering some warm sunshine to enjoy the drinks!

Cheers! The crew’s enjoying a welcome post ride gin in the garden – as rules now allow!

While enjoying the gin the “old git” checked Strava to discover that my dynamic crew had been awarded no less than SEVEN new “Local Legend” accolades! This was the subject of much humour – as “Local Legend” riders the “old git” and the “old gal” are not! But it was obviously a good excuse for a celebratory gin toast! After all – a “Local Legend” accolade is an accolade not to be sniffed at!

Strava officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a very pleasing 21 gongs – which after the 7 “Local Legends” left 14 made up of a spectacular nine personal bests; one 2nd best; and four 3rd bests. And the best bit for the “old gal” was that one of the PBs was on her personal nemesis of Easthill! As the “old git” quipped: “So no more excuses now!” Tho she did retort that it was probably due to the warm sunshine and a lack of wind. And she probably has a valid point there!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 22.0 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 44 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.8 mph despite the ever present wind! Elevation was 1,282 feet. The maximum speed was 35.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,442 calories and produce an average power output of 207 W.

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

Once again there was a hugely positive feelgood factor from #Lockdown2 Ride10 for my dynamic crew – underlining what fun it is being out pedalling on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

So here’s to more sunshine – allowing the “old git” and “old gal” to get some sun on those legs! And of course, don’t forget to wave if you recognise us from our appearance on television! Lol!