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 Ride6 – Keen as (french) mustard on pedal to La French Epicerie in Bridge of Allan with la pique-nique (shh!) – and BIKE Magazine feature.

The recently opened La French Epicerie – a fab deli with lots of goodies to takeaway!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew enjoyed #Lockdown2 Ride6 with a keen as (French!) mustard #tandem to La French Epicerie in Bridge of Allan with la pique-nique! Shhh! There’s also news of a feature on Team Matilda in BIKE Magazine.

It’s no secret that the “old git” and “old gal” like their ‘petit peu de français’ – with Team Matilda having toured the country by tandem on many occasions. So when the “old git” heard about a new highly recommended French deli having opened in Bridge of Allan – there was only one destination for this pedal! And fortunately conditions were dry, but cloudy and relatively calm for their sixth 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.

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

But before we get to the pedalling there was more welcome publicity for Team Matilda as we were featured in the March issue of BIKE Magazine Europe – over 5 pages in glorious technicolour!

The article – which was written by the “old git” – focuses on surviving #lockdown on a bicycle made for two, and the increasing popularity of my blog. It also highlights the growing Tandem Club UK membership numbers, showing the rapidly rising popularity of riding a #tandem!

The magazine is an on-line publication so click on the screen grabs of the feature below, and expand to read! Or you can click here and flick to page 62! (Subscription may be required.)

Bike Magazine feature – pages 62 and 63

Bike Magazine feature – pages 64 and 65

Bike Magazine feature – page 66.

So to our ride – we headed out of our home base town of Auchterarder past Gleneagles and out towards Braco. We then headed to Dunblane – stopping at the A9 flyover which showed the main trunk road was still fairly quiet as a result of drivers following #lockdown rules.

A9 Flyover at Dunblane – still fairly quiet due to #Lockdown2

Pedalling on we dropped down to Bridge of Allan and quickly found La French Epicerie on the high street – a recently opened deli with lots of authentic French culinary goodies on offer.

In fact this “old lady” tandem was ‘as keen as mustard’ to show our purchases, including Team Matilda’s favourite brand of French mustard – Edmond Fallot including a much sought after cassis moutarde! Team Matilda first discovered this ‘real’ French mustard in its home manufacturing town of Beaune during their Tour de Burgundy.

As keen as mustard to show our purchase of our favourite brand of Edmond Fallot mustard.

Gregory, the French owner, came on holiday to Scotland from Lyon with his wife Corrine – and they fell in love with the country and decided to uproot from France and set up in business here. Fabulous story and a great way to start a business! You need to pay a visit!

I was quite overawed at this man with a French accent, and this “old lady” tandem quickly became ‘Gregory’s Girl’ and took quite a shine to Gregory .. or maybe it was his sugar coated almond tarts!

Gregory’s Girl – I took quite a shine to Gregory – or maybe it was his almond tarts!!!!

Purchases made Team Matilda found a “non-picnic” bench to have la pique-nique! (which is obviously ok as it is the French version!)

Luckily we found a ‘non picnic’ bench to have la pique-nique!

The “old gal” was delighted with her selection of French smoked sausage and cheese, while the “old git” had a traditional baguette with ham and Comte cheese – while both had some of that yummy sugar coated almond tart with strong coffee!

The “old gal” happy with the French goodies purchased for la pique-nique.

But what was in their glass! Shhhh … you know what?! Clue: It was Team Matilda’s favourite “tonic”! Just don’t tell Nicola! (But for the avoidance of doubt … this is all tongue-in-cheek!)

But what’s in the glass?! Shhh … you know what?! Clue: Team Matilda’s “tonic”!

A superb selection for la pique-nique – and the good news is that La French Epicerie is planning to add French cheese and wine to their range soon … and knowing my dynamic crew’s penchant for le fromage et le vin, there is no doubt Team Matilda will be making a return visit!

Re-fuelled we set off on the return leg enjoying the ease at which we climbed some of the hills – a direct and noticeable benefit for Team Matilda’s combined 4 stone weight loss.

The “old gal” – who you’ll remember “doesn’t do hills” was even heard to say that this was so much easier! Maybe my dynamic crew do do hills now!

On the way back the results of la pique-nique required a loo stop – and the only place that was open with a loo was the M&S Foodhall in Dunblane … so, to coin a phrase from their adverts, “it wasn’t just any loo stop” – obviously!

To coin a phrase from their adverts, “it wasn’t just any loo stop” – obviously!

There was even the joy of breaking Team Matilda’s speed camera records on two cameras coming back into Auchterarder – setting new high’s of 26 mph (on the downhill one) and 24 mph (on the flat!) As we always say – simple pleasures!

There was a real feelgood factor when we returned to Matildas Rest – having clocked another 36 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer – which now sits at 134 miles for the 6 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest – with a huge feelgood factor after a fantastic outing – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of an amazing 31 gongs – including four personal bests; 15 2nd bests; and 10 3rd bests! And incredibly once again the other 2 gongs were for being awarded “local legend” status on a sector – this time in both directions!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 36.0 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 53 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.5 mph despite the always present wind! Elevation was 1,950 feet. The maximum speed was 30.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,326 calories and produce an average power output of 193 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 Ride6. 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.

Roll on the next fun spirit-lifting #tandem pedal!