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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lockdown2 Ride7 – Spring has sprung so first appearance of la bouclèe … but only with tonic – not prosecco! – on ride to Bridge of Earn.

Spring is in the air! Lots of snowdrops adding a splash of colour just outside Dunning.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew enjoyed a fun #Lockdown2 Ride7 #tandem adventure where Spring has sprung, so the first appearance of La Bouclée … but only with tonic water – not prosecco! – on a ride to Bridge of Earn.

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem taking advantage of calmer conditions for their seventh 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.

It was Team Matilda’s first ride of meteorological Spring so the “old git” dutifully looked out my la bouclée wine carrier to give it its first appearance of the year. But only to carry a bottle of tonic water – not our favoured prosecco due to adhering to #lockdown restrictions.

First ride of meteorological Spring so my trendy la bouclèe French wine carrier makes an appearance …

… but only to carry tonic water … not our favoured prosecco… due to #Lockdown2 restrictions.

Hopefully my dynamic crew will be able to enjoy their infamous and trademark prosecco picnics again before too long.

Hopefully time for our prosecco picnics again soon!

The “old git” decided the “old gal” needed a change of scenery – he is very thoughtful that way, you know! So we headed in the opposite direction to recent rides, heading out of our home base town of Auchterarder on a ride to Bridge of Earn, some 13 hilly miles away!

It was all part of the “old git’s” masterplan to show the “old gal” the benefits of their combined 4 stone weight loss on their tandeming exploits. And I am pleased to report she was impressed as we fair whizzed along – and those hills which previously caused difficulties hardly seemed to exist! The difference is profound – especially this early in the tandeming year!

We pedalled on fabulous rural country roads firstly to Dunning, then on to Forteviot – famous for being an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland. Spring may have officially been in the air – but the sun stayed stubbornly behind the cloud on the outward leg. That made the DIY coffee and cake stop at Bridge of Earn, very welcome … if not essential. And once again it obviously was not a picnic!

The coffee helped revive the “old gal” after a chilly pedal on the outward leg.

The coffee stop at Bridge of Earn was a DIY affair … rather than a picnic!

Fortunately the sun broke thru the clouds on the return pedal which made the ride considerably more enjoyable. It was a real joy to be tandeming into bright sunshine the whole way home – with sunglasses actually a necessity rather than a fashion statement!

With the sun out there was time to enjoy the signs that Spring has sprung into bloom with beautiful carpets of snowdrops adding a splash of colour at the side of our route. The “old gal” called a photo halt to get some pictures of the snowdrops at both Forteviot and outside Dunning.

Basking in the bright sun and enjoying the backdrop of a carpet of snowdrops at Forteviot.

The “old gal” even spotted some ‘Yellow on the Broom’ which is a sure sign of the weather improving here in Scotland. In just a few days it will be in full bloom – which will match my dynamic crew’s jackets!

Yellow on the Broom! Definite signs that Spring is springing into bloom! And the sun appeared!

There was a real feelgood factor when we returned to Matildas Rest – having clocked another 26 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer – which now sits at 160 miles for the 7 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest – with a real boost and optimistic feeling from seeing the first signs of Spring – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 5 gongs – one 2nd best and four 3rd bests – which is pleasing at this early stage in the year for a well travelled route for Team Matilda.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 26.7 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 04 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.9 mph despite the always present wind! Elevation was 1,301 feet. The maximum speed was 33.8 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,580 calories and produce an average power output of 190 W.

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

So, once again there were hugely positive feelings and great exercise from #Lockdown2 Ride7. 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.

Let’s hope for more Spring weather – combined with seeing the green shoots of Spring on the next fun spirit-lifting #tandem pedal!

Naughty Matilda jumps on train to Dundee to ride to champagne afternoon tea and Aqua Vitae at Lindores Abbey Distillery

Waiting on a deserted station platform full of anticipation about my first ever train ride!

The Latin phrase ‘aqua vitae’ literally means the water of life! And today my dynamic crew decided to embark on a ride to enjoy a glass of their own water of life in the form of a champagne afternoon tea at a distillery. And the fact that Lindores Abbey Distillery produces its own unique brand of Aqua Vitae – while waiting on its whisky to mature – meant it was a ‘must visit’ destination!

But before enjoying the delights of the afternoon tea treats, my dynamic crew had to pedal there – and the “old git” decided that it would be a great tandem trip to ride from Dundee back to Matildas Rest – with a perfectly situated half-way stop at the distillery.

Brill idea – except that plan involved a slightly naughty adventure of getting me on a train! That doesn’t seem too difficult I hear you say. But given that tandems are officially not allowed on trains – and the “old git’s” dogged desire to beat the system – it added a bit of an edge to the day!

Is anyone watching us?! – me and the “old git” waiting on the train pictured from the station bridge!

The sun was already rising in a blue sky as my dynamic crew set off for the local Gleneagles railway station situated on the main line to Aberdeen and Inverness.  My dynamic crew were well aware that ScotRail’s official policy is to welcome cycles on all its trains but the small print states: “We don’t allow tandems, tricycles and non-folding cycle trailers as they take up too much space.”

But that wasn’t going to stop Team Matilda’s plan! The “old git” had booked two single tickets and two bike places online for the service to Dundee. My dynamic crew waited a tad nervously for the train to arrive – expecting a loudspeaker announcement if they had been spotted on CCTV on the platform.

Waiting a little nervously for the train on the platform at the impressive Gleneagles station.

The train arrived, the guard looked at all three of us for a moment and asked if we had booked. The “old git” showed the tickets and the guard said: “Ok on you go!” It would need to be said that it was an older train with a guards van storage section just behind the diesel engine – but we were on! And once the train moved off we knew there was no going back! I was securely stacked in a spacious bike rack beside four other sleek looking touring bikes – and there was plenty of room for me to fit in.

We’re on! The “old git” ensuirng I am safely secured on the bike rack!

Naturally my dynamic crew were somewhat chuffed that they had managed to get me on board. The “old git” – keeping with his reputation for planning – did have a Plan B in place should I have been refused entry to the train, which would have been tandeming to the distillery and then retracing our steps to pedal home again. But it just shows that bluffing it can pay off! In just over half an hour the train pulled in to Dundee station and in seconds I was out of the train and on the platform! I felt just a tad mischievous, but it was mission accomplished! And the station has been revamped recently, with the addition of a tandem-friendly lift which took Team Matilda up to street level. Easy!

Dundee station has a tandem-friendly lift to get me to street level!

After the excitement of actually getting on the train, the “old gal” was in need of a caffeine fix and there was a quick pit stop for morning coffee and a scone at the pleasant RSS Discovery cafe opposite the station. Before heading away on our ride there was a quick photo opportunity at two of the life-size figurines situated at Discovery Point – beside the new V&A Dundee design museum – which were part of the Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail, which claims to be Scotland’s first ever national public art trail.

The “old gal” – who has a likeing for a strong coffee – naturally had to have her photo taken at the ‘Full O’ Beans’ installation, while the “old git” had to pose as Oor Wullie at the ‘Dazzle Wullie’ artwork!

The “old gal” and me causing a stir at the ‘Full O’ Beans’ installation.

The “old git” trying his best to pose as Oor Wullie at the ‘Dazzle Wullie’ artwork!

My dynamic crew headed for the lift to get up on to the pedestrian and bicycle deck of the Tay Road Bridge to start our ride by crossing the River Tay on Sustrans Scotland National Cycle Network Route 1. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Ready to roll! Handlebars view of the cycle deck on the Tay Road Bridge.

After crossing the bridge in unusually benign conditions of a magnificent blue sky with not a cloud on the horizon, our route took us on NCN Rt 1 through the pretty town of Newport on Tay – which offered some spectacular views out across the river and the Tay Rail Bridge.

Bench with a view! Newport on Tay offers spectacular views across the river.

It was a great day to be out tandeming and Team Matilda pedalled on joinging NCN Rt 777 to Newburgh – thru Wormit and just before Gauldry the signposted cycle route directed us off the B995 towards the village of Balmerino. All of a sudden there was a shock to my dynamic crew’s relaxed demeanor when suddenly out of nowhere a monster hill appeared!

Much puffing and panting later the “old git” and “old gal” finally emerged at the top of the category 4 climb (and a wee bit of a push!) – and a quick look at the map fortunately revealed that was the worst of the hills! The sun was high in the sky and the “old gal” was actually heard to say that it was a bit hot – and for someone who is often cold that is quite a statement!

The “old gal” enjoying the amazing views over the fields to the sun-kissed Tay.

The views over the sun-kissed Tay were nothing short of amazing – making it a memorable tandem ride. With the temperature continuing to rise, the “old git” was glad to stop in the shade for some water, overlooking the impressive ruins of the 14th Century tower house Ballinbreich Castle.

Some much needed shade for the “old git” overlooking Ballinbreich Castle.

A quick downhill and we were tandeming into Newburgh where we were to find our wonderful oasis of Lindores Abbey Distillery – which was to be the venue for our stylish champagne afternoon tea treat.

The distillery is a relatively new visitor attraction – with whisky starting to be produced in December 2017. But Lindores is actually the historic seat of whisky making in Scotland – with distilling taking place on the site at least as early as 1494, although it was most probably happening long before that.

This is known because of the earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky (or Aqua Vitae, as it was then known), which appears in the Exchequer Roll of the same year. It mentioned a Brother John Cor, a Lindores monk, who was commissioned by King James IV to turn 8 bolls of malt into Aqua Vitae.

Here I am striking a pose at the entrance to the stylish Lindores Abbey Distillery.

The “old git” had pre-booked – as advised on the website – but my dynamic crew were non-the-less ultra impressed to be personally welcomed as we arrived at the entrance by Jane Clark, one of the managers at Lindores. And the staff made a great fuss of me, calling me a “celebrity visitor!” – and insisting I be pushed thru the shop area into a courtyard complete with a cycle rack.

A juxtaposition of an old matured tandem with an old matured whisky barrel!

As I had a rest the “old gal” and “old git” were escorted upstairs into the fabulous trendy glass surrounded Legacy Bar – which offered a wonderfully sophisticated and air conditioned atmosphere for their afternoon tea treat.

My dynamic crew were presented with a chilled glass of champagne – where they toasted the joys of tandeming – before enjoying a veritable feast of delicious finger sandwiches, savoury pastries, scones with cream and jam, delicate small cakes, and a perfectly formed cheesecake mouse. Apart from the champagne this is washed down with a choice of fragrant teas or speciality coffees – and one of the delights of this culinary experience is that all the produce is freshly home made and locally sourced.

Cheers! The “old gal” and “old git” having a champagne toast before their afternoon tea!

This was all wonderful value at £25 a head, and enjoyed looking out onto the unbelievably blue skies to the Tay Estuary beyond. My dynamic crew were introduced to Helen McKenzie Smith part of the husband and wife owners team, who describe themselves as ‘custodians of Lindores.’ Helen was charming and patiently answered all the “old git’s” questions about their project to revive whisky making on the ancient site – after a break of over 500 years!

For spirit to be officially called whisky it has to be matured for a minimum of three years and a day, so Lindores is looking forward to being able to market its first batch in December 2020.

Interestingly Lindores has decided not to go down the traditional route of many Scotch distilleries in producing gin while waiting on the maturing process. Instead – given the history – the distillery is producing its own handcrafted botanical spirit which it has branded Aqua Vitae.

The “old gal” enjoying a sample of Lindores own pre-whisky Aqua Vitae botanical spirit!

As previously mentioned, the earliest Aqua Vitae was made at Lindores as long ago as 1494, and the distillery staff have authentically recreated that recipe and reimagined it as ‘an inquisitively versatile spirit’. It is distilled in pot stills and then infused with a blend of spices and herbs, including cleavers, and sweet cicely, which grow in the gardens, amidst the grounds of the ancient Abbey, and is entirely natural, with no added sugars. Naturally the “old gal” and the “old git” were treated to a sample – which they both pronounced as being delicious!

After a most enjoyable time at the distillery, my dynamic crew explored the fascinating remains of Lindores Abbey itself. Known as the ‘Church by the Water’, it was founded in 1191 by David Earl of Huntingdon, on land overlooking the River Tay Estuary, given to him by his brother King William I. It was built with local red sandstone, and covered a very large area – the extent of which is still clearly visible today. Particularly well preserved is a section which was the eastern entrance to the Abbey.

The “old gal” and me could feel the history at the eastern entrance of Lindores Abbey.

This artist impression – created by examining the remains – shows the Abbey’s impressive size.

It was time to head away from Newburgh and start the not insignificant task of a 21 mile pedal back to base. I am sure I detected more than a bit of a champagne-fuelled wobble over the first mile or so before the “old gal” and “old git” got back into their pattern of synchronicity!

The “old gal” bracing herself on leaving Newburgh for the 21 mile pedal home!

The route home took us thru Abernethy – the one the biscuits are name after! – and then the hamlet of Aberargie before joining the rather busy A912 for just over a mile to Bridge of Earn where we rejoined quieter more enjoyable country roads to Forteviot.

And then it happened, my dynamic crew suddenly became somewhat less dynamic as they bonked – the cycling definition of hitting the wall thru a lack of energy – on the section from Forteviot to Dunning! The “old gal” was convinced the hot temperature had a part to play – but the “old git” quietly thought that the stoker’s performance had been hit by the after effects of the fizz!

An urgent reviving pit stop was called for at Dunning and Team Matilda had a long ice cold soft drink at the friendly The Kirkstyle Inn – along with one of their “emergency” energy gels – to restore factory settings! The effect was instant as when my crew set off again for what they expected to be a hard slog of the last five miles home, it amazingly turned into an easy canter with the miles flying as my crew seemed turbo-charged – which resulted in Strava recording two personal bests along the way!

We rolled back into Matildas Rest with the sun still blazing in the sky. Over a relaxing coffee on the decking, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing that my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 38.2 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 16 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.7 mph given the hot temperature and the overall elevation of 2088 feet. The maximum speed was 35.8 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2422 calories and produce an average power output of 184 W.

And there was at least 38 smiles to match the miles – with the added advantage of bluffing our way on to a train for the first time – which for the “old git” and the “old gal” is the mark of another great day out in tandem! After all, the laugh really is my dynamic crew’s unique recipe for their own Aqua Vitae!

A Musings Special on mini Tour de Perthshire with Team Travelling in Tandem

Cheers! The Nutty Tandemers Club having one of their signature prosecco re-fuelling stops!

Early in June we were scheduled to be taking part in our self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way challenge. But sadly personal circumstances resulted in that adventure having to be postponed.

But my dynamic crew did manage to meet up with good tandeming friends John and Jane – who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – for a couple of days for a mini Tour de Perthshire.

John and Jane – dubbed Team JayJay for the trip – kindly re-organised their holiday schedule in light of the postponement of the HebWay trip. Plan B saw them book a few nights at a local caravan park in Perth to allow us to meet up again for a couple of rides.

The two tandem teams had previously enjoyed two memorable previous trips – the inaugural Le Tour de Perthshire du Tandem in 2016 and Le Tour de New Forest du Tandem last year.

The Nutty Tandemers label came about from John and Jane having similar views as my dynamic crew on not taking tandeming too seriously and having lots of fun on a bicycle made for two!

Day 1 – Nutty Tandemers Club sunny fun ride around Tibbermore Kinkell Bridge and Trinity Gask

The Nutty Tandemers Club line-up for a group photo near Kinkell Bridge.

Great excitement as Team Matilda were heading to meet up with John and Jane – aka Team JayJay – for the first of two planned rides. And for this “old lady” there was the excitement of teaming up with Siggy, the attractive gent of a tandem belonging to Team JayJay’s stable of no less than three tandems – which also includes the vintage Henry and their original Pino semi-recumbent Bluebird.  Whisper it, but I hear Siggy is a bit of a charmer of a gentleman tandem … with an eye for the older ladies!

We all met up at Noah’s Ark Caravan Park in Perth – and after warm greetings we pedalled off on a route which would take Team JayJay round some of our favourite local spots.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

After negotiating our way down from the caravan park and enduring a busy junction of the A85 over the A9 we were glad to turn off onto a much quieter road towards Tibbermore. The sun was shining and we managed to pedal a whole four miles before stopping for tea and cake and a much needed catch-up at Gloagburn Farm Shop!

Recharged we tandemed onwards thru the picturesque village of St Davids before a nice descent to our first point of interest – the historic Kinkell Bridge which is a grand four-arched bridge over the River Earn and dates from 1793. It gives great views over one of Perthshire’s top salmon beats and provided a suitable venue for the first Nutty Tandemers photo stop! After all we only had two days to get 12 good photos for next year’s calendar!

John and Jane – making up Team JayJay – taking in the views at scenic Kinkell Bridge

Kinkell Bridge is just 3 miles from the “old git” and “old gal’s” home base.

Give way! The Nutty Tandemers ready for more pedalling at Kinkell Bridge

After Kinkell Bridge we started the climb away from the River Earn in an area known as Gask Ridge Frontier  which was the earliest Roman land frontier in Britain – built in the 70’s or 80’s AD, 40 years before Hadrian’s Wall and 60 years before the Antonine Wall.

Up we went past Trinity Gask Parish Church which traces its history back to 1770 before it was time for one of the Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco re-hydrating stops! And naturally I had helpfully carried the bottle of fizz in my trendy la bouclee French-wine carrier!

Time for one of the Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco re-fuelling stops!

Jane making sure the “old gal” doesn’t spill a drop of the obligatory prosecco!

Group selfie time! Prosecco cheers for Team Matilda and Team JayJay!

Time for a breather – and a welcome refreshment – for my dynamic crew!

Refreshed we continued to climb before re-emerging on to the Tibbermore road where my dynamic crew decided to show Team JayJay the fascinating historic Tibbermore Church which is now in the care of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust. Dating back to 1632 the characterful building ceased being a parish church in 1986 before being transferred to the trust in 2001.

Apart from being worthy of a visit in its own right due to its unusual layout, and its history, the church has another more recent claim to fame – which sees it visited by people from all over the world – as a recognised stop in the VisitScotland tour of Outlander filming locations.

Now it needs to be said that John and Jane – like the “old git” and the “old gal”- are one of the few people on the planet who have never watched an episode of the popular hit show Outlander. But clearly the mystical and spellbinding series has caught the imagination and is a ratings winner in around 40 different countries. The series, filmed in Scotland, is particularly popular in America and Europe and is now seen as a goldmine for attracting tourists by Scotland’s tourism agency.

John Jane and the “old gal” at the archway entrance to Tibbermore Church.

The church was used as a film set for the infamous witches trial – series 1 episode 11 called ‘The Devil’s Mark’. Over 10 days in June 2014 Tibbermore Church was the focal point for 120 crew and 200 extras involved in the production – transformed into the fictional Cranesmuir Church.

For the many fans of Outlander, the witches trial is one of the most memorable. The plot line sees Claire and Geillis Duncan accused of being witches – for which the punishment is being burned at the stake. The design of the building particularly lent itself to the key trial scene with the pulpit serving as the dock. Despite a spirited defence things don’t go well for Claire and Geillis – and in an attempt to save Claire, Geillis confesses to witchcraft. The “old gal” and Jane bravely shunned any superstitions and stood in the pulpit – which doubled as the dock – to recreate that scene!

The “old gal” and Jane recreate the infamous witches trial scene!

Escaping that drama it was an easy pedal back before a final uphill stretch back to the caravan park. Me and Siggy were safely locked up before the tandem crews had a quick change before heading to the nearby Glover Arms for a very welcome bar meal and a hospitable and entertaining evening.

On arrival at the Glovers Arms – while having a celebratory refreshment and perusing the menus – there was time for the “old git” to check Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 9 gongs – 5 personal bests; 2 second bests; and 3 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew – accompanied by Team JayJay – tandemed a distance of 28.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 21 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.2 mph given the hilly terrain while the elevation was 1015 feet. The maximum speed was 31.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1498 calories and produce an average power output of  159 W.

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

Day 2 – Nutty Tandemers Club windy ride to Forteviot Bridge of Earn and Dunning

John and Jane – Team JayJay – at Bridge of Earn prior to Storm Hector arriving.

For the second ride of the Nutty Tandemers Club mini tour Team Jay arrived at Matildas Rest by car for another local route favoured by my dynamic crew – to Forteviot and Bridge of Earn.

The weather had sadly deteriorated from the day before – being a bit colder, breezy and also a bit of drizzle, but not bad enough to stop the ride.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

With a nice tail wind we were soon approaching Dunning and had our first stop and a piece of local history at the monument to Maggie Wall. This is an eerie stone cross with a hand painted date of 1657 and it is said to be a memorial to the last witch in Scotland to be burned at the stake.

The “old git” decided this was a suitable venue for what has become a tradition of the Nutty Tandemers Club tours – a recreation of the three wise monkeys ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ scene. During the 2016 tour it was at the side of Loch Katrine and last year it was on the Isle of Wight.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – The Three Wise Monkeys 2018 version!

The new version captured by a photo we rode on thru Dunning and on to our next history lesson at Forteviot. The open roads allowed Jane to capture the “old git” and “old gal” in action, wearing their newly branded Team Matilda hi-vis rain jackets, especially purchased for the HebWay.

An shot of Team Matilda in action – with newly branded rain jackets – taken by Jane.

Despite the lack of sunshine it felt good to be out on the quiet scenic country roads of Perthshire – which are great for tandeming and cycling. Soon we all tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

The tandem teams had a stop at the fabulous new centrepiece to the village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross. The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot.

Thumbs up from the Nutty Tandemers at the new centrepiece stone at Forteviot.

The eye-catching stone carving – called ‘Set in Stone – the Birth of Alba’ – is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project run by the Tay Landscape Partnership to provide the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

Back on the road and with both crews enjoying their usual doze of fun and laughs the miles seemed to whizz past. Even a fairly tough twin-peaked climb out of Forteviot – didn’t phase them as they battled on to the top. The reward for that climb is an enjoyable long downhill stretch in to Bridge of Earn where we had a suitably nutty photo shoot at the bridge over the Earn.

Time for a Nutty Tandemers photo shoot at the bridge at Bridge of Earn.

The “old gal” and “old git” having a laugh despite the less than perfect weather.

Back views can often be better! But a good shot of my dynamic crew in their new jackets!

The road out of Bridge of Earn is a bit of a tough one at the best of times – a long slow grind of a tandem – but the fact that we were now battling a pretty fierce head wind rendered some of the comments coming from my Stoker’s position unrepeatable in what is after all a family blog!

Approaching Dunning the “old git” made a call for a stop at my dynamic crew’s favourite friendly country pub, The Kirkstyle Inn. One of its appeals is its range of artisan Scottish gins and this offered the ideal opportunity for a small libation to fuel up for the final miles home! After all it would have been rude not to!

The Kirkstyle Inn at Dunning was a perfect spot for a reviving gin for the Nutty Tandemers!

During our gin stop the weather took a further turn with conditions becoming both a bit wetter and a lot windier as Storm Hector gave us an indication of what was in store the next day. This made the final few miles back to Matildas Rest pretty tough going – but it was still a good ride.

Out of the rain and wind the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 21 gongs – 8 personal bests; 7 second bests; and 6 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed both crews tandemed a distance of 27.1 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 22 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.4 mph given the hilly terrain and the weather conditions, while the elevation was 1256 feet. The maximum speed was 29.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1590 calories and produce an average power output of  167 W.

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

After being a bit battered by the weather the “old gal” produced a welcome pasta dish which was naturally washed down with some prosecco during a jolly evening of suitable nuttiness!

It was really a great mini break for my dynamic crew to be able to spend a bit of time enjoying the company of  John and Jane – who yet again proved to be real kindred spirits to my dynamic crew!

Regrettably it was not the grand adventure that was originally planned, but plans are already underway to to reschedule the Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way challenge for next year. And I for one can’t wait!

Sunny tandem to Bridge of Earn for carrot cake on HebWay warm-up ride

Carrot cake and coffee in warm sunshine – de rigueur for happy tandemers!

Sunday lunchtime and right on cue the weather offered idyllic conditions for tandeming – bright warm sunshine and little wind. Which was just as well as the “old git” had decreed today would be a ride on a lumpy hilly route as training for Team Matilda’s forthcoming  Hebridean Way adventure. And he had a special carrot to tempt the “old gal” with – the promise of some tasty carrot cake at the half way point. Oh the sweet talker – he certainly knows how to get the best out my Stoker you know!

More about the HebWay later – including a photo shoot of my dynamic crew in the tour t-shirts – but first a run to Bridge of Earn. We weren’t able to start from Matilda’s Rest as our usual route across the A9 was closed due to a major police incident – so we started from the next village at Aberuthven.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

First stage was an easy canter towards the village of Dunning, then on to Forteviot. The synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” was working well with all three of us on Team Matilda perfectly in tune! It was a great day to be out and feel the warm air between my spokes on the quiet country roads of Perthshire – which are great for tandeming and cycling, as shown by the number of bikes we saw while out on our ride.

“This is the kind of tandeming I like” exclaimed the “old gal” as my dynamic crew pedalled along feeling very pleased with themselves. In what seemed like no time at all we tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

A quick stop at the fabulous new centrepiece to the village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross. The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot.

Lovely warm sunshine means t-shirts and shorts at the new Pictish stone in Forteviot …

… in contrast to our last visit in February when my dynamic crew needed coffee to keep warm!

What a difference in weather conditions since our last visit in February when it was barely above freezing the day before the Beast fae the East blew in. No warming coffee required today for my dynamic crew as they admired the ‘Set in Stone – the Birth of Alba’ artwork.

The eye-catching stone carving – which is sensitively floodlit at night – is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project run by the Tay Landscape Partnership to provide the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

The carved stone in Forteviot is inspired by its Pictish history as an ancient capital of Scotland.

Back on the road and my dynamic crew were enjoying their usual doze of fun and laughs on my saddles as the miles seemed to whizz past in idyllic conditions. Even a fairly tough twin-peaked climb out of Forteviot – didn’t phase them as they battled on to the top.

The reward for that climb is an enjoyable long downhill stretch in to Bridge of Earn, with the “old git” reveling in his role as Captain – revealing that we were hitting the 30 mph mark at times! As we turned into the Brig Farm Shop and cafe my dynamic crew were amazed and impressed to find they had arrived in record time of just 57 minutes. There’s obviously life in this “old lady” yet! I must admit I do like it when we are whizzing along as it makes me feel like a young thing! Mind you, I guess it probably also has something to do with my crew’s weight loss – now totalling 50lbs – and improved fitness!

The Brig Farm Shop & Cafe was Team Matilda’s half way point on the ride.

Talking of weight loss … it was clearly time for a well-earned coffee and cake! Given the sunshine my crew decided an alfresco refuelling was required on the colourful decking area overlooking the farmland and ordered some carrot cake – de rigueur for many tandemers and in particular the “old gal” and the “old git”! And very yummy it was, or so they tell me! In fact so scummy that the “old git” nearly had his hand bitten off trying to get a photo before the “old gal” demolished her portion!

The “old git” just managed to get this photo before the “old gal” demolished her carrot cake!

After a nice relaxing time it was time to head on the return journey. My dynamic crew were in buoyant mood after such a good first half of today’s route – but unbeknown to them, while they were indulging their taste buds, the wind got up. Now as all tandemers know to their cost – when there is wind it is always blowing in an unhelpful direction! It was still pretty warm, but the “old gal” and the “old git” had to battle against a fierce head wind.

The road out of Bridge of Earn is a bit of a tough one at the best of times – a long slow grind of a tandem – but the head wind rendered some of the comments coming from my Stoker’s position unrepeatable in what is after all a family blog! Let’s just say that the average speed we achieved on the way to the cafe was not being achieved on the way back – much to the chagrin of my Captain! But Team Matilda gamely battled on (well truthfully there was no alternative!) tandeming back thru Forteviot and on to Dunning before arriving back at the A9 and Aberuthven.

Back at Matildas Rest, and in a welcome break from the head wind, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 17 gongs – 12 personal bests; 3 second bests; and 2 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 24.0 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 56 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.4 mph given the hilly terrain and thanks to my new gears – while the elevation was 1091 feet. Actually I am quite chuffed to report that the average speed was 2.2 mph faster than the 10.2 mph when my dynamic crew last tandemed to Bridge of Earn in June last year. The maximum speed was 32.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1361 calories and produce an average power output of 175 W.

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

With the strong wind and the hilly terrain it was more good training for our Hebridean Way challenge in early June. Just 3 weeks to go now before me and my dynamic crew meet up with good tandeming friends John and Jane – who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – for our self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club tour and the not insubstantial task of covering 185 miles over five days tandeming!

In the protected garden the “old git” decided Team Matilda needed to take a couple of pictures in the bright sunshine to unveil the newly arrived HebWay t-shirts – complete with our snazzy tour logo.

The “old git” and “old gal” sporting the new Nutty Tandemers Club HebWay tour t-shirts.

As always our t-shirts are produced by Sprinterz – a local digital print and embroidery specialist firm run by a good friend of the “old gal” called Gill and her husband Kevin. The highly professional team at Sprinterz produced stunning eye-catching t-shirts made of lightweight Cooltex material.

My dynamic crew are hoping for some warm sunny days tandeming the Hebridean Way.

To personalise things the arms of the tour t-shirts have the team names printed on the sleeves – Team Matilda obviously, and Team JayJay named after the initials of John and Jane!

The sleeves of the t-shirts list the crews of Team Matilda and Team JayJay.

This will be the third tour of the two tandem teams following two memorable previous trips – the inaugural Le Tour de Perthshire du Tandem in 2016 and Le Tour de New Forest du Tandem last year. Both produced some fabulous sun-kissed tandeming so my spokes are crossed the weather gods are on our side again for the third time pedalling!

Team JayJay – John and Jane – in action on board their tandem Siggy.

Jane and John certainly seemed to have lots in common with my dynamic duo – such as not enjoying hills and definitely enjoying prosecco! In fact both Team Matilda and Team JayJay seem to have the same views on not taking tandeming too seriously – which is nuttily summed up in the tour logo!

The tour logo in detail.

As for me, I am looking forward to teaming up with Siggy, the attractive gent of a tandem belonging to Team JayJay’s stable of no less than three tandems – which also includes the vintage Henry and their original Pino semi-recumbent Bluebird. Whisper it, but I hear Siggy is a bit of a charmer of a gentleman tandem … with an eye for the older ladies! So you never know he and I may just have a little bit of a HebWay holiday tandem romance!

Siggy is also very clever and he has couplings which allow him to be separated into three sections – making it much easier to transport to the Outer Hebrides. Mind you that shouldn’t be too much of a problem as John and Jane flew to India with Siggy for an amazing tandem adventure back in February!

The “old gal” smiling in the sunshine as she looks ahead to lots of laughs on the HebWay.

So in a nutshell the Nutty Tandemers HebWay tour involves two fun-loving couples on two tandem bikes cycling 185 miles “on the edge” on the Outer Hebrides from the start on Vatersay to the end at Isle of Lewis – covering 10 islands, 6 causeways and 2 ferries. I mean what could possibly go wrong?!

My dynamic crew just need some ideas for prosecco and carrot cake stops now before departure!

Bridge of Earn ride in warm sunshine and strong winds as practice for TdNF

A classic model with a classic model! The “old gal” with the magnificent Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

So Sunday morning dawned and my dynamic crew opened the blinds to what seemed like idyllic weather conditions for tandeming – bright sunshine and little wind. Which was just as well on two counts – one being that the “old gal” doesn’t like the wind at all … mind you the “old git” is not too keen on it either as it always seems to be a head wind – and as my Captain, he seems to take the brunt of it! And secondly, the “old git” had decreed today would be a longish run, in training for Team Matilda’s forthcoming Tour de New Forest – now known as TdNF – but more of that later in this blog.

Just after 10am we headed off towards Bridge of Earn – a scenic 14 mile undulating run across roads in rural Perthshire. You can check out the details of our route on Strava below – and don’t forget to click on the map image to be transferred to Strava to get the full data and statistics! 

First stage was an easy canter towards the village of Dunning, then on to Forteviot. My crew were enjoying their usual doze of fun and laughs on my saddles as the miles seemed to whizz past in idyllic conditions. Even a fairly tough climb out of Forteviot – featuring several hills – didn’t phase them as they battled on to the top.

The reward for that climb is a great long downhill stretch in to the town of Bridge of Earn itself, with the “old git” reveling in his role as Captain – revealing that we were hitting the 30mph mark at several parts. As we turned into the Brig Farm Shop and cafe at Bridge of Earn, my dynamic crew were both amazed and impressed to find they had arrived in record time of 1 hour 02 minutes – marking an average speed of just shy of 14mph! There’s obviously life in this “old lady” yet! I must admit I do like it when we are whizzing along as it makes me feel like a young thing!

Time for a celebration scone and cake … but sitting in the car park was a beautiful classic car, a white Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. It seemed only natural for me, as a classic bike, to be pictured beside such a classic car! After all, we have similar sleek lines!

Seems the car was part of The Round Britain Tour 2017, which is is a joint celebration of two important Rolls-Royce events. Firstly, it celebrates the remarkable achievements, 110 years ago, of the original Silver Ghost, AX201, in establishing a new world record of running without involuntary stops for a distance of 14,371 miles, almost twice that previously set by a motorcar.

Spot the similar sleek lines! Here I am lined up beside the Silver Ghost.

The other reason for the tour was to celebrate another occasion 60 years ago, when a few Rolls-Royce enthusiasts decided it would be a good idea to form a club. Formed in 1957, the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club has resulted in a worldwide organisation, now in its Diamond Jubilee year.

The “old git” trying (and failing) to look cool beside one of the coolest cars on the road!

My crew then decided an alfresco refuelling was required and ordered up a spread of ice cold ginger beer, apple scone, and some carrot cake – the favourite of tandemers and in particular the “old gal” and the “old git”. All of which was yummy and consumed on the colourful decking area.

Alfresco apple scone, carrot cake, and ginger beer. Perfect refreshment for tandemers!

After a nice relaxing time in the warm sunshine it was time to head on the return journey. My dynamic crew were in happy mood after such a good first half of today’s route – but unfortunately, while they were indulging their taste buds – the wind decided to start blowing. And as we know, when there is wind, it is always blowing in an unhelpful direction. It was still pretty warm, but the “old gal” and the “old git” were now battling against a fierce head wind.

Now the road out of Bridge of Earn is a bit of a tough one at the best of times – a long slow grind of a cycle – but the head wind rendered some of the comments coming from my stoker’s position unrepeatable in what is after all a family blog! Let’s just say that the speed we achieved on the way to the cafe was not being achieved on the way back – and in fact at some stages we were lucky if we were hitting half of that speed.

But they gamely battled on (well truthfully there was no alternative!) but the ride home only got more frustrating for my crew when we had a mechanical after the turning to Forteviot on the stretch to Dunning. My chain slipped off my cog and got jammed in my metalwork. More interesting words from my stoker – but top marks to her as in her role as chief engineer she soon had the chain problem sorted – but only after I had to be turned upside down, in an ungainly manner for an “old lady”.

When we finally cycled in to the village of Dunning the temperature was rising and my crew were wilting a bit with the relentless pedalling again the wind. The “old git” had a brainwave moment and decided a brief detour into the garden area of the Kirkstyle Inn would be a good idea! I mean, he said it would have been rude to pass by without stopping!

It would have been rude to pass the Kirkstyle Inn without a stop for a tonic (with gin!)

It would need to be said that the “old gal” thought this was one of the “old git’s” better ideas – it seems he does have a few! – and immediately ordered my Captain to go to the bar and order two tonics (with a good splash of gin in them!) to recharge my dynamic crew for the last five miles of the trip.

The warm sunshine in the garden area belied the strength of the wind and lulled my crew into a false sense of security, So much so that when they got back on my saddles it was a really hard slog to get going and make any forward progress! At times it almost seemed Team Matilda was standing still – and it wasn’t for the lack of effort and power going into my pedals!

After finally returning to Matildas Rest the “old git” had to take a couple of pictures in the bright sunshine of my snazzy new name decals – well to be strictly honest … its the names of my dynamic crew which are now emblazoned on my shiny steelwork! Don’t know why they couldn’t have got a Team Matilda one … but no, its obviously all about them! But whisper it … I do actually quite like them! And one thing is for certain – no one will need to ask my crew’s names again!

The “old gal’s” name emblazoned on the Stoker’s section of my frame ….

… and the “old git’s” name on the Captain’s section. Spot the snazzy saltire flags!

A check of Strava revealed Team Matilda had registered seven personal bests along the way and eight second bests – much to the delight of the “old gal” and the “old git”. Perhaps not surprisingly all the PBs were on the outward bound half of the ride – before the wind got up!

Strava officially recorded the ride as a distance of 27.7 miles at an average speed of 10.2 mph, with a top speed of 32.0 mph. The traveling time was 2 hours 42 minutes and the elevation covered was a not insubstantial 1,276 feet. We managed to burn up 1,554 calories, and produced an estimated average power output of 143 W.

As always the Strava statistics and our route are brought to life in our Relive 3D video – so take a look below. (Remember if you are reading this on email, you need to click on the blog first – via the link at the bottom of the email – to view the video.)

So an ideal training run for Le Tour de New Forest – what’s the TdNF I hear you ask? Well I am getting uber excited as I am ticking off the days before Team Matilda are heading off to near Southampton in Hampshire to meet up again with my “best pal” – a tandem called Bluebird!

Regular readers of my blog will remember last August my dynamic crew welcomed Team Bluebird to Perthshire. Team Bluebird are Jane and John Taylor who brought their unusual Pino semi-recumbent tandem north of the border for a fabulous week of tandeming which was called Le Tour de Perthshire.

Me and Bluebird had a great time and we have quite a bit in common as she also has her own mini blog called ‘Travels with Bluebird’. Both tandems had a wonderful week, with lots of chats and fun!

This pic sums up the Tour de Perthshire – fingers crossed for fab weather for Tour de New Forest.

And the crews certainly seemed to have lots of fun and laughs too – in bright sunshine. Jane and John certainly seemed to have lots in common with my dynamic duo – such as not enjoying hills and definitely enjoying wine! In fact both Team Bluebird and Team Matilda seemed to have the same views on not taking tandeming too seriously.

To emphasise that point the four crew members all decided they would become self-proclaimed founding members of the Nutty Tandemers Club! And that definitely set the tone for the week – and gave us all a crazy reputation to live up to! And I can say that over the week all four tandemers more than passed the test to be life long members of the Nutty Tandemers Club! Check out my blog of the week’s fun and frolics to see what kind of things we got up to!

I feel confident there will be one or two prosecco toasts during the Tour!

This included my dynamic crew playing a key role in helping Team Bluebird develop a likeing for prosecco, and indeed Team Matilda’s infamous prosecco picnics! So I am sure my la bouclee wine carrier will always have a bottle in it during the TdNF!

And to make the trip even more exciting John and Jane have added not one, but two tandems to their stable of bikes since last year. They have added a vintage tandem called Henry and a tandem that easily comes apart for travelling called Siggy – so it promises to be an interesting week.

Whisper it, but I am told that Henry is a bit of a charmer of a gentleman tandem … with an eye for the ladies of similar vintage! So you never know he and I may just have a little bit of a holiday tandem romance! But I will have a good chat with Bluebird to make sure she approves!

Matilda’s marathon rehearsal!

A beautiful sunny Sunday - perfect for a tandem ride for Team Matilda!

A beautiful sunny Sunday – perfect for a tandem ride for Team Matilda!

Sunday was dedicated marathon rehearsal day!  Yes you heard correctly – marathon! The simple task was to tandem the standard marathon distance of just over 26 miles in a respectable time of under 3 hours.

Why I hear you ask? Well the “old git” has gone and entered Team Matilda into a Charity Cycle Marathon Challenge being organised by the local Auchterarder Rotary Club this Sunday.

Now long standing readers of my blog will remember that the “old git” caused a bit of a ‘minor domestic’ with the “old gal” when he signed us up for this event last year. You can read all about it here.

Last year we managed (just!) to complete the course in a time of 3 hours and 17 minutes. This year the challenge is on to smash that time. And even the “old gal” agrees they should easily beat last year’s target due to my dynamic duo’s new found fitness and weight loss programme which has seen them lose a combined 63 pounds between them in 15 weeks.

So the idea was to do a similar 26 mile distance – and see how the time went – in preparation for the charity event. The “old gal” came up with a local route which would take us on what seemed like a gently undulating route to Bridge of Earn, handily placed at a distance of just over 13 miles away.

As it turned out – gently undulating turned out to be the highest elevation we had covered since we started recording the rides on Strava – with an elevation of 954 feet! Now you know what the “old gal” thinks about hills … so more of that to come.

You can check out the location and route of my marathon rehearsal on Strava below – don’t forget to click on the map to get the full data and statistics! 

MMR - Strava mapFortunately it was a gorgeous sunny day that was just perfect for a tandem ride. Lots of sunshine and next to no wind to hold us back! But it also turned out to be the warmest recorded run so far, with the temperature  hitting 25 C.

Selfie smiles in the warm and bright sunshine as we headed off for our marathon rehearsal!

Selfie smiles in the warm and bright sunshine as we headed off for our marathon rehearsal

So after the obligatory selfie – just to prove how sunny it was – we headed off.I have to say all three of us felt rather blessed at how beautiful a day it was!

In buoyant spirits we soon picked up speed – clicking through the gears – and the “old gal” and the “old git” got that all important synchronicity factor which ensured we were tandeming with ease along the quiet country roads of Perthshire.

The planned itinerary started by taking us along one of our regular routes to the nearby village of Dunning – and in what seemed like no time we were thru the village heading along the rural road to Bridge of Earn.

Even a couple of hills – including one with a nasty hidden double peak – didn’t phase my dynamic duo. I was truly impressed – as was the “old gal” – as these were hills that previously would have seen them both out the saddle and taking me for a walk! But they took them in their stride!

And amazingly we tandemed into Bridge of Earn with the distance reading just over 13 miles in a time of just 1 hour and 6 minutes!

Now obviously next Sunday on the charity event we are going to have to immediately turn round at the half way point and cycle back. But today we had more time and we had been invited by one of the “old gal’s” hairdressing clients, called Evelyn, to call in to say hello.

So we pulled up at Evelyn’s house to find her sitting out in her beautifully planted garden – where we joined her for a cup of coffee and a chat in the warm sunshine. The garden is nothing short of sublime and there are no less than three sets of tables and chairs in the secluded garden – which all get the sun at different points in the day.

The "old gal" and me enjoying the sun at Evelyn's sublime garden.

The “old gal” and me enjoying the sun at Evelyn’s sublime garden.

Fortunately I was parked up in a nice shady part as it really was rather warm, as the “old git’s” sunburned face which appeared later in the day will testify to!

Evelyn recommended we should drop in at the nearby Brig Farm Shop, so back on the saddles we tandemed along through Bridge of Earn, over the bridge which gives the small town its name, and into the countryside. Within half a mile we spotted the farm shop. “Scone?” asked the “old git”. I have to say it seemed a somewhat rhetorical question as the “old gal” had already dismounted and was walking into the premises! So that’ll be a “yes” then!

Now one of the great joys of tandeming is a stop for coffee and a scone – and this was a bit of a classic. They had a lovely decking area which was basking in sunshine and soon the “old git” and the “old gal” were both enjoying a tasty warm scone baked on the premises, accompanied by home made raspberry jam, and washed down with a nice strong espresso. Bliss!

A coffee and scone is one of the great joys of tandeming - and this was a classic!

A stop for a coffee and scone is one of the great joys of tandeming!

Back on the road and it was time to do the second half marathon – back to Matilda’s Rest. And a good workout it turned out to be for all three of us, as there were quite a few longer, slower, uphill stretches on the return journey. Even the “old git” – who normally doesn’t admit to seeing any inclines – agreed there was much more uphill on the way back!

But tandeming through the rich and fertile Perthshire farmland  was a joy on such a warm day – giving the “old git” and “old gal” some real fresh country air and a feeling of well being!

The "old git" taking in the views over the wonderful Perthshire countryside.

The “old git” taking in the views over the wonderful Perthshire countryside.

The "old gal" sprouting some of the colourful yellow broom from behind her ears!

The “old gal” sprouting some of the colourful yellow broom from behind her ears!

Soon we were tandeming back through Dunning before the final stretch back to Auchterarder. More plaudits for my Team Matilda crew coming up here because when we return from Dunning we face a steep hill at the bottom of Abbey Road. On every previous ride, this has required my dynamic duo to dismount and walk up the steepest part. But not today! The “old git” moved us into the lowest gear in good time and we cycled up the hill! Slowly albeit – but we did it! Another small victory!

So we arrived back at Matilda’s Rest full of excitement at that achievement – with the “old gal” elated and heard to say:  “That felt good!”

Marathon distance achieved as Strava officially recorded the ride at a distance of 27.8 miles, covering an elevation of 954 feet – the biggest elevation covered since my dynamic duo started using the Strava gizmo. So the “old git’s” comment about tandeming uphill were justified!

The moving time was 2 hours 44 minutes, with an average speed of 10.2 mph. Top speed was 30.2 mph. And particularly pleasing was that Team Matilda managed to clock up 3 personal records on the route!  See I knew the weight loss of my dynamic duo would boost our stamina and speed!

My team even managed to burn up 1,565 calories! So that scone was allowed after all!

Now there’s just the requirement to do it all again on Sunday – but without a two hour stop this time – to beat that time of last year of 3 hours and 17 minutes. Should be a easy, eh?!! What could possibly go wrong?!! To be continued  ….

In the meantime, if you like my tandem blog then – if you haven’t already found it – you will undoubtedly enjoy another tandem blog I have been reading! It is the EuroTandem Tour blog – which recounts the adventures of Mick and Louise, a couple from Jersey who are on a six month self professed “mid life crisis tour of Europe” on their tandem called Claud.

The EuroTandem Blog logo.

The EuroTandem Blog logo.

I won’t spoil the fun – but suffice to say things aren’t quite going according to the grand plan at present and I am sure both Mick and Louise would agree that their theme tune at present would be: “Things can only get better!”

If you get a moment have a look at their blog site – it really is entertainingly written, in amusing tongue-in-cheek style. All told it is a great read – even if this “old lady” tandem is muttering under her chain … “There but for the grace of god …. !”

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