The alarm shrilled early on Sunday morning as the weather forecast had predicted a fine dry day with temperatures dancing just below 10C – ideal for a late November #tandem ride.
But when the “old git” took a quick look out of the blinds at Matildas Rest it revealed that the forecast was wrong – badly wrong! The reality was that the temperature had plummeted and the cars were showing there had been a hard frost. So plan B was hatched for a delayed start to let the frost lift – so back to bed for an extra hour or so!
Take 2 saw the sun up and breaking thru the clouds to melt the frost. So after a breakfast to provide fuel for the pedalling, my dynamic crew ventured outside to be hit by an icy blast of rather cold air.
The frost may have thawed a bit but clearly the temperature hadn’t risen much! But my intrepid crew decided to set off on their planned route to … in the words of the “old git” … to see what happens!
You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.
Let’s just say the “old gal” wasn’t showing the same level of enthusiasm – but went along with it as my crew badly needed some fresh air … it would just have been much better if it hadn’t been freezing cold fresh air!
The route was intended to be a quick blast over some quiet rural backroads to Braco – for a warming coffee pitstop – before coming back a new route out towards Crieff then doubling back to Auchterarder.
The first part of the route saw my crew pedal up the long high street in their home town of Auchterader, before more uphill towards Gleneagles and a nice easy and speedy downhill past the world-renowned golf courses.
Despite the cold temperatures the sun kept managing to blast its way thru those clouds which produced some interesting long shadow effects. It would just have been nice if the sun had also produced some warmth! It was however a beautiful winter’s morning!
There were quite a few other cyclists about – although no other tandems! – and the usual exchanges were peppered with the words cold and freezing! If you are in any doubt, just look at the pictures and you can almost feel or touch the cold temperatures! Brrr!
To be honest, the outward leg to Braco was borderline for tandeming as we encountered a few areas of black ice in the dips where the sun hadn’t been able to do its job – which saw my back wheel slip and lose traction on a couple of occasions. Naturally this caused a bit of alarm in the “old gal” who needs her hands to be in good working order for her hairdressing role.
After dismounting to push past one particularly treacherous spot, my dynamic crew gingerly pedaled on and reached their half way point destination of Braco Coffee – a superb bike-friendly coffee shop. Sensibly the “old git” had done his organisational duties and messaged ahead to book a table – pretty much essential in the current Covid climate to ensure a seat inside. Not sure the “old gal” would have been too happy sitting outside with a takeaway coffee!
We walked in to a great socially distanced and safe environment – with the table reserved for us – complete with a cycle drawing on it, which was a really thoughtful touch! And naturally it had all been sanitised.
A welcome strong coffee was the order of the day, with a yummy home made cherry scone – the “old git” added some clotted cream and jam! – and a shared piece of caramel shortcake, which was a delicious treat.
Just as the “old gal’s” toes were starting to thaw out it was time to leave and head back. Fortunately the sun was now quite bright in the sky and the temperature had risen by a whole degree!!
We pedalled out of Braco, passing the turning to Auchterarder and headed out on the Crieff road for our “new” route home. This was a superb part of the trip with a long gentle rise, followed by an enjoyable equally long downhill stretch. And because it was a main A-class road, the A822 to be exact, the surface was well gritted and less frosty and icy and felt much safer.
The scenic views across the valleys towards both Crieff and Auchterarder provided food to the brain – with low lying fog hugging the valleys creating an interesting atmospheric effect known as cloud inversion.
A right turn took us back along a quieter farm road for about three quarters of a mile before we joined the A823 back towards home base. This section was actually very misty – creating a bit of a spooky aura – but after a mile as the elevation rose we climbed out of the foggy conditions.
My crew – feeling just a little festive (as well as cold!) decided to take a quick detour into the grounds of the luxury five-star Gleneagles Hotel to see the huge Christmas tree. Sadly, due to the Covid restrictions, the resort has been forced to close its doors right thru the usually busy and lucrative festive period, and thru to the beginning of February.
But the resort last week decided to go ahead with the installation of its massive Christmas tree as a gesture to give local residents a festive feeling.
After a quick couple of photos my dynamic crew enjoyed the gentle downhill pedal back to base – with the simple pleasures of recording 22 mph figures on two different speed camera signs!
With the temperatures plunging again, and the fog descending once more, my dynamic crew were happy to be back in the warmth of Matilda Rest!
After thawing out – with warm showers – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no gongs – which given the somewhat treacherous conditions at times was no great surprise!
The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 19.2 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 43 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.1 mph given the ever changing weather conditions. Elevation was a creditable 1025 feet. The maximum speed was 28.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1270 calories and produce an average power output of 184 W.
As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.
The tandem ride left my dynamic crew feeling extremely virtuous – with that feel-good feeling that only comes after doing some exercise in the fabulous Perthshire countryside on a bitterly cold and foggy winter’s day … but now being back safe and cosy indoors!
But as the “old gal” pleaded: “Can we have a little bit of heat next time, please!”