Lockdown2 Ride4 – Sunny but windy ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for “essential” balsamic dressing and glacé cherries (as you do!)

The sun created a reflective Team Matilda image as we battled a fierce headwind on the return leg!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew crew took advantage of milder weather for #Lockdown2 Ride4 and enjoyed a sunny but windy ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for “essential” balsamic dressing and glacé cherries (as you do!)

The “old git” and “old gal” woke to bright sunshine seeping thru the blind at Matildas Rest so were keen to get out for just their fourth 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.

Team Matilda needed some “essential” food shopping items – so decided on a fabulously scenic, but fairly hilly, route to visit Gloagburn – which also had the added attraction of offering take-away coffee and cake! You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was a joy to be out in rural Perthshire with magnificent visibility over the valleys – even if Team Matilda were still feeling a bit rusty … and that wasn’t just this “old lady” #tandem!

But the only way of getting back into fitness is to grind out the miles and that’s exactly what my dynamic crew did on the Gask climb! They did however find it a good bit easier than expected – and really enjoyed the benefits from being a combined 4 stone lighter! There was much less heavy breathing! And of course the dramatic vista at the top made it all worthwhile!

Gorgeous sunshine and a perfect view at the top of the Gask climb made it a joy to be out!

Interesting to pass a cute home made sign which read “Please kill your speed – not the locals” designed to help protect the local wildlife … in particular red squirrels! Dutifully the “old git” followed the local rule and applied my brakes – tho I am sure any self-respecting red squirrel could easily outpace us!

Always good to adhere to local rules! The “old git” applied my brakes to help protect red squirrels!

Here I am resting in the glorious winter sunshine at Gloagburn Farm Shop!

On arrival at Gloagburn Farm Shop – which was basking in the winter sun – it was quickly mission accomplished as the “essential” purchases of balsamic dressing and glacé cherries were made by the “old gal”! The glacé cherries will be used in some home-made flapjack, so it truly was essential!

Mission accomplished- the “essential” purchases of balsamic dressing and glacé cherries!

The farm shop was offering takeaway coffees, scones and cakes so it would have been rude not to support a local business – and some further purchases were made! These were consumed on a socially distanced bench in the grounds of the farm in almost warm sunshine. But if you think this was a picnic – think again! Your eyes are obviously deceiving you! But the coffee and goodies were absolutely delicious and a most welcome tandeming treat!

This is most definitely NOT a picnic! You’re eyes are deceiving you! Nice alfresco coffee and scones tho!

As always on the return leg from Gloagburn there seems to be a headwind – and today was no exception – and it was actually rather fierce in places which slowed progress on the homeward leg. The “old git” had to really concentrate in places where it switched to a cross-wind with strong gusts which at times seemed in danger of wanting to blow my dynamic crew over!

But the bright sunshine offered long shadows which provided a great opportunity for some shadow pictures and video! Click below for a short reflective shadow footage of Team Matilda in action!

The final stretch of the route would have seen my dynamic crew tackle their personal nemesis of East Hill but we came across a local road closure just 100 yards from where it starts. There was no way thru even for bikes – so we had to retrace our pedals and ended up returning to Matildas Rest by an even steeper climb back into Auchterarder, called the Castleton! This included an interesting “bit of a hump” – a sector appropriately called “The Final Hammer” on Strava as it rises over 100 feet in just 0.4 of a mile at 4.3%! Just what you need in the last mile of a pedal … not!

So another 30 miles on our #Lockdown2 milometer – which sees the total click up to 78 miles for the 4 rides completed so far! A slow start with the number of rides being heavily curtailed due to the recent severe winter weather in these parts.

Back at Matildas Rest – with my dynamic crew both pleased at the realisation that those “rusty” legs do in fact pedal up hills – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 2 gongs – both 2nd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 29.9 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 37 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.4mph despite battling that fierce headwind! Elevation was 1,340 feet. The maximum speed was 34.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,864 calories and produce an average power output of 177 W.

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

Once again there were hugely positive endorphins from #Lockdown2 Ride 4 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.

Heavy rain and storm force winds forecast for the next few days but hopefully Team Matilda will be out in tandem again soon to clock up more #lockdown miles on another fun spirit-lifting adventure!

Now where did we put those glacé cherries – as there is some “essential” flapjack to be made!

Lockdown2 Ride3 – First ride in Tandem Club snoods after long snow lay-off and enjoying Sustrans publicity focus on Team Matilda!

Bringing out our inner Audrey Hepburn in the new Tandem Club anniversary snoods!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew finally got back on my saddles after a long months enforced lay-off due to heavy snow and ice with the “old git” and “old gal” having their first outing wearing their new Tandem Club UK snoods. It also features Team Matilda enjoying being the subject of a publicity focus from Sustrans, who look after The National Cycle Network.

A whole 34 days after the second ride of #Lockdown2 the weather decided to warm up a bit and finally thawed the heavy snow and thick ice which had turned our home area in Auchterarder in south Perthshire into a permafrost winter wonderland.

The snow lay to a depth of around a foot at Team Matilda’s Auchterarder base.

Now as tandemers and cyclists know, snow and icy conditions are not remotely conducive to pedalling so my dynamic crew were stuck in doors – looking out at the snow which lay to a depth of about a foot.

The “old gal” and the “old git” did make good use of their time by embarking on a major DIY “Changing Rooms”-style project at Matildas Rest – decorating every room in the house over a four week period!

The “old gal” in “Changing Rooms” mode – wallpapering the bedroom with a zebra mural!

But despite their dedication to the DIY – and becoming “experts” at painting and wallpapering! – my dynamic crew were desperate to continue their second #lockdown adventures – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

There had been a glimmer of of hope that we would be able to get out on a romantic St Valentine’s Day pedal on our bicycle made for two – but the weather sadly decided not to play Cupid.

The “old git” and “old gal” did however have some heart-warming loved-up tandeming publicity to keep them occupied over their hot #lockdownlurve Valentine date night as Sustrans timeously decided to feature my Matildas Musings blog in a question and answer feature in a bid to give romantic inspiration to other cyclists! Naturally it focused on my dynamic crew’s story of how they met – with the headline: “Love on the National Cycle Network: how a tandem-biking blind date brought a couple together.” Click on the image to read the article!

The Sustrans feature.

The amusing feature also focused on the on-going success of my status as the UK’s only blogging tandem bike, and how our fun adventures in tandem help Team Matilda to survive lockdowns – as well as why tandeming is growing in popularity, and our favourite recommended route on The National Cycle Network of Rt 7 from Callander to Killin.

It is actually the second time in recent months that my dynamic crew have been featured by Sustrans as they made a “starring” appearance in a promotional video made to mark the 25th anniversary of The National Cycle Network #NCN25th.

Click on the video below and see if you can spot the “old git” and the “old gal” in their fleeting appearances at 36 seconds; 56 seconds; and at 1 minute 46 seconds! Blink and you will miss them!

All this publicity has been going to my head a bit – as a quiet demure and reserved “old lady” tandem!! – so back to the pedalling! My dynamic crew decided on a simple route to get their legs free from enforced inaction – a Braco loop with (whisper it!) another DIY coffee stop! You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The ride gave my dynamic crew their first opportunity to wear their new Tandem Club UK neck scarves – known as snoods or buffs – which was a welcome free gift to all members to commemorate the Club’s 50th anniversary this year in 2021.

As you can see from the picture at the top of this post the “old gal” decided on a pose that brought out my dynamic crew’s inner Audrey Hepburn – the “old git” played along although he was a tad disappointed that they had to make do with “Breakfast at Auchterarder”!

Then “the old gal” promised to take the “old git” on a fun mystery tour after pulling the snood right up over his face so he couldn’t see! At least his sunglasses matched!

The “old gal” promising to take the “old git” on a fun mystery tour!

That nutty picture session continued as that pose was reversed which left the “old gal” looking like she had been kidnapped and forced out on a ride – but she went willingly! … honestly!

The “old gal” looks like she was kidnapped and forced out on a ride! She went willingly … honestly!

Incidentally, if you are a tandem rider, and not a member of the Tandem Club UK – what are you waiting for? Membership is great value at just £15 a couple. For more details of how to join click here!

After a more sensible shot with the snoods as neck warmers it was time for the serious pedalling – with all three members of Team Matilda feeling a bit rusty. It was good to see it wasn’t just me – as an “old lady” #tandem – who was feeling the pain after our enforced lay-off!

But we almost didn’t get to ride as just before we headed off the “old git” decided to test my gears and found my chain was completely clogged up with mud and grit from our last ride – and my pedals wouldn’t turn. Seems the “old gal” had “forgotten” to give me a spruce up after my return to the garage! While the “old git” did his usual panicking routine, the “old gal” took control and in her role as Team Matilda’s chief (and only!) engineer got to work with a hearty doze of chain cleaner and a toothbrush which soon had me back in action!

We headed up thru the high street of our home base town of Auchterarder (the longest high street in Scotland by reputation!) continuing up past the back entrance to the luxury Gleneagles Resort and out towards Braco. We then turned right towards Crieff where we had a rapid (standing!) DIY coffee stop! This “not a picnic” was much required by the “old git” and “old gal” to keep warm!

A welcome cup of coffee for my dynamic crew – but obviously NOT a picnic!

The weather had promised an almost Mediterranean 11C – but there was a fairly fierce wind which meant the temperature never hit those balmy double digit high spots!

We then pedalling back towards Auchterarder – riding thru the plush grounds of the all shut up luxury five star Gleneagles resort, which sadly meant no posh afternoon tea for my dynamic crew! It was however quite sad to see the playground of the rich all closed.

The luxury five star Gleneagles Resort all closed up – so couldn’t get posh afternoon tea!

A quick photo at a flyover over the A9 revealed the trunk road linking the central belt with the Highlands was virtually deserted due to #Lockdown2.

Very quiet during #Lockdown2 on the A9 trunk road linking central belt to the Highlands.

On the final couple of miles back to Matildas Rest there was great joy for my dynamic crew with a new Team Matilda record being flashed up on a speed camera sign coming back into town – at 25 mph! Simple pleasures!

Back indoors – and after finding that my crew’s legs did in fact remember how to pedal! – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 5 gongs – including one personal best and two 2nd bests! And amazingly the other 2 gongs were for being awarded “local legend” status on two separate sectors! So I guess the legs were not that rusty! This was definitely the cause for celebration and a screen grab of Strava had to be taken to be recorded for posterity!

“Local Legend” status on Strava!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 19.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 44 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.3mph despite the fresh headwind! Elevation was 974 feet. The maximum speed was 32.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,241 calories and produce an average power output of 177 W.

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

The feel good factor from #Lockdown2 Ride 3 was a welcome feeling – reminding my dynamic crew that despite the vital Covid-19 restrictions, it’s great fun 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.

Team Matilda is hoping the Arctic weather has now gone for the winter so they can clock up more #lockdown miles on more fun spirit-lifting adventures!

The Tandem Club neck warmers are a welcome addition to my dynamic crew’s kit!

Lockdown2 Ride2 – Avoiding snow patches on Braco loop with DIY coffee stop (which wasn’t a picnic, officer!)

Wintry skies, and even a patch of winter sunshine, with wonderful views over the A9 valley.

This blog is the slightly delayed story of my dynamic crew identifying a much needed weather window and escaped for a local #Lockdown2 ride – dodging the patches of snow pedalling on a Braco loop with (whisper it!) a DIY coffee stop.

A week after the first ride of the new #lockdown the weather suddenly turned significantly more wintry, resulting in a heavy snow fall. Now as tandemers and cyclists know, snow is not conducive to pedalling so my crew were stuck in doors. The “old git” was so bored he was forced to take a photo showing the only true measure of the depth of snow – the depth it comes up to on a prosecco bottle!

The only true measure of snow depth – where it comes up to on a prosecco bottle!

But of course under the new Scottish Government lockdown rules, my dynamic crew are not currently allowed to have one of their signature prosecco picnics anyway! So obviously it just had to be opened inside!

But the “old git” and the “old gal” were desperate for their second 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.

Fortunately there was a bit of a thaw over the weekend which removed most of the ice, and the “old git” poured over the weather forecast and identified a weather window for Monday where the temperatures were predicted to hit a balmy 6C over midday. (As you can probably imagine – and much to the “old gal’s” chagrin, the actual temperature was nowhere near 6C!)

The “old git” did a recce by car of their planned route in the morning to check that road conditions were safe – adopting his new role as Team Matilda Health and Safety Officer! – and reported back that the roads were mainly clear of snow with none of the nasty and dangerous black ice.

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

The route was a loop up thru the high street of our Perthshire home base town of Auchterarder (the longest high street in Scotland by reputation!) continuing up past the back entrance to the luxury Gleneagles Resort and out towards Braco.

My dynamic crew had to avoid some fairly serious snow patches en route!

All was going well as we dodged the remaining snow patches – with the weather as forecast and even the added benefit of some winter sun – till about 4 miles into the ride when the sky suddenly darkened and my dynamic crew were hit by a squall.

Fortunately the rain only lasted a few minutes and the “old git” tried to make bright of the situation by pointing out the dramatic rainbows – tho I am not sure the “old gal” was equally as impressed!

A right turn on to the A822 and a pedal towards Crieff brought glorious views over the valley before an “essential” halt in an ice clad lay-by for a much needed DIY coffee and caramel cake stop – which was obviously not a picnic (officer!) as we didn’t sit down!! (It was far too chilly!!)

Essential DIY coffee stop which obviously wasn’t a picnic (officer!) – as it was too cold to sit down!

Again the views over towards the sun-kissed snow-capped hills behind Crieff were real lockdown brain food! And the coffee was essential for thawing out with the temperature on the handlebar mounted computer barely rising above freezing at 0C!

View from the icy (non picnic!) lay-by looking over to the sun-kissed snow-covered hills at Crieff.

Pedalling on before my dynamic crew turned to ice, there was a sharp right turn along a farm road to Machanay and then right again heading along the Crieff – Auchterarder road towards Gleneagles and back to Matilda’s Rest.

Great joy for my dynamic crew with new Team Matilda record being flashed up on the speed camera signs coming back into town – at 24 mph and 23 mph respectively.

Back indoors while de-icing at Matildas Rest the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 5 gongs – one personal best and four 2nd bests – which was a bonus given the somewhat “iffy” road conditions!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 16.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 27 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.4mph despite the chill factor! Elevation was 876 feet. The maximum speed was 30.4 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,077 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 feel good factor from #Lockdown2 Ride 2 was fabulous – and most definitely helped by a reviving bowl of steaming home made ham and lentil soup!

It just continues to prove that, despite the restrictions, it’s great fun being out pedalling on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle Campaign, Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, Auchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

If only the temperature would rise a bit! Brrrr!

Lockdown2 Ride1 – First 2021 outing for Team Matilda minus 4 stones with new orange jerseys!

My dynamic crew starting 2021 fitter and healthier having lost 4 stones on Keto diet plan.

So here we go again! The start of 2021 and back exactly where we were at the end of March last year – in #lockdown!

My dynamic crew felt very fortunate and blessed to have survived the first 3-month Covid-19 lockdown period thanks to their exercise regime of regular fun adventures while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

Regular readers will know that as the UK’s only blogging tandem I decided to put together a photo timeline of Team Matilda’s life during #lockdown1 – which you can see here – with a photo from each of their 40 lockdown rides as we clocked up 1000 miles on a bicycle made for two.

The simple aim was to detail our madcap adventures which kept my dynamic crew healthy, both mentally and physically. Amazingly this blog caught the attention of the local Perthshire Advertiser and Team Matilda were featured – in colour and on page 3 no less! You can read the article by clicking on the photo below of the framed cutting which has pride of place in the “old git’s” office or here.

The Perthshire Advertiser article on Team Matilda in Lockdown 1.

So as we embark on our second period of lockdown the “old git” and “old gal” – like everyone else – have no idea how long this one will last, although the signs are that it will be months not weeks.

My dynamic crew have therefore vowed to try to make each ride different or memorable by living up to Team Matilda’s twin mottos that “its the smiles not the miles that count!” and “it’s always better when we are tandeming together!” We hope you enjoy our #lockdown 2 journey in #tandem with us!

But before detailing our first ride of 2021 I have some big news to reveal! I am delighted to say that my dynamic crew are starting the new year much healthier and fitter, having lost a total of 4 stones between them!

For the last few months they have been following the Keto diet plan to lose some excess weight. The basis of the Keto eating plan is that it limits your net carb intake so that your body metabolizes fat creating energy and ketones. And my ageing tandem frame is delighted to report that Team Matilda have found it easy to follow, with spectacular results!

The “old git” and the “old gal” are feeling good after losing exactly 2 stones each!

The “old gal” and the “old git” have each lost 2 stones, or 12.5 kg – which is the equivalent weight of 12 x 1 litre bottles of water! The joint weight loss of my dynamic crew is 4 stones, or 25 kg. Quite an achievement – and worthy of a little bit of self congratulations I think! This “old lady” tandem is certainly looking forward to feeling the effects of a lighter, fitter and healthier crew as we pedal along! Naturally the “old git” had to stage a few fun photos to show just the extent of the weight loss!

Emphasising the weight loss! 2 stone is 12.5kg which is 12 x 1 litre bottles of water!

The “old gal” certainly doesn’t fancy carrying 12 litres of water around all day!

There had been some pretty severe wintry weather around our Matildas Rest base – of snow and hard ice – which meant it was unsafe to get out pedalling over the festive period and restricted any exercise to a scenic walk on a local snow covered golf course.

The winter wonderland view from Matildas Rest – very scenic but not safe for tandeming!

Lockdown exercise was restricted to a walk over the snow covered local golf course.

Not surprisingly the “old git” had been climbing the walls to get back on my saddles for the first outing of 2021 and to get my milometer rolling. A bit of a thaw produced a short window of opportunity – accompanied by some bright winter sunshine.

The “old git” did a recce by car of their planned route out towards Braco and back on the Crieff road – but there was still big patches of black ice on the quieter rural farm roads. My dynamic crew therefore decided to stay safe and stick to roads which had been gritted.

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

Regular blog readers will know the “old gal” and “old git” like their bright colours and have a preference for orange – as per their helmets and shoes! So what could be better than the jersey of the CCC pro-cycling team – whose team colours just happen to be bright orange!

New orange cycling jerseys to match the helmets! The CCC pro-cycling team colours!

They certainly won’t go unnoticed in those! And the “old git” was particularly pleased as his real name is Colin and has changed the meaning of the CCC initials emblazed on the front to advertise their Polish shoe chain sponsors, to be Colin’s Cycling Club! Naturally he immediately invited the “old gal” to be the only other member of his club!

The “old git” – aka Colin – has changed the CCC initials on the front to mean Colin’s Cycling Club!

When my dynamic crew did get pedalling after the fun photo session, they enjoyed some wonderful clear blue skies, great visibility and some much needed winter sunshine which produced some lovely long shadow effects!

Clear blue skies, bright sunshine and long shadows! But it was bitterly cold!

It certainly helped lift the #lockdown spirits to be out – creating that feel-good factor, despite the bitter cold! We pedalled out of Auchterarder up towards Gleneagles and headed out the Crieff road, with stunning views of the hills.

Visibility was brilliant in the cloudless skies with this view towards Crieff.

With the object of the ride simply to get out and get my wheels turning, the “old git” and “old gal” turned round at the next main junction and cycled back – enjoying the feeling of it being considerably easier pedalling up any hills due to their lighter weight and new found fitness!

My dynamic crew pedalled past the closed Gleneagles resort to a flyover across the A9 trunk road to survey traffic levels on the normally very busy route which links central Scotland with the Highlands. It was relatively quiet – but lots more cars and not nearly as quiet as during #lockdown 1.

The “old git” surveying fairly quiet traffic levels on the A9 trunk road – but not as quiet as lockdown 1.

With the temperature plunging rapidly as the sun dropped in the sky my dynamic due quickly headed for Matildas Rest enjoying the gentle downhill pedal back to base – with the simple pleasures of recording 22 mph figures on two different speed camera signs!

Back in the warmth the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 3 gongs – all 2nd bests – which given the somewhat treacherous conditions was a bonus!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 14.1 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 12 minutes on their first outing of 2021. The average speed was a healthy 11.6 mph – showing the effects of my dynamic crew’s weight loss, despite the bitter cold! Elevation was 521 feet. The maximum speed was 23.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 720 calories and produce an average power output of 148 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 great feel-good feeling that only comes after doing some exercise in the fabulous Perthshire countryside on a bitterly cold sunny day … but now being back safe and cosy indoors with a hot coffee!

All in all a great way to start the miles ticking over for 2021 – and indeed #Lockdown 2! Who knows when it will end?

A coffee table book of my Musings, lots of tandeming Christmas gifts, and Happy New Year wishes for 2021!!

My new Matildas Musings blog book recounts the fun on the 2020 Nutty Tandemers Club Tour!

Excitement reached fever pitch at Matilda’s Rest when Christmas Day finally arrived! The “old git” – who should really be re-named Santa over the festive period! – made sure everyone had their ‘ho! ho! ho!’ on, whether they wanted to or not!

On Christmas Eve the “old gal” even put on her Christmas jumper to signal she was in the mood for Santa’s arrival! She had whispered to me that there were probably going to be a tandeming related present or two so I was hardly able to contain myself!

And I knew the “old git” had been planning something with my blog as a present for the “old gal” so it was an exciting time! I could hardly sleep and I am sure I heard Santa’s jingle bells as he and Rudolph delivered his presents around rural Perthshire …. naturally in #tandem!

The “old git” was up early on Christmas morning making sure that Santa had arrived – and he certainly delivered … filling the “old gal’s” stockings to overflowing … and he even dropped a few presents in the “old git’s” stockings too! (Yes he does have some …. weird or what!)

Then it was time for my dynamic duo to tear open their presents. The thing the “old git” had been secretly scheming away about was turning all my Musings about our brilliant 2020 Le Tour de Worcs and Warks with the Nutty Tandemers Club into a beautiful hard-back glossy coffee table-style book.

My Musings of our brilliant Nutty Tandemers Club trip turned into a glossy coffee table book.

I must say even I was impressed at the what the “old git” had achieved – and you know I’m not easily impressed! … and as for the “old gal” well she thought it was brilliant! There was even a wee tear in her eye as she read the “old git’s” soppy dedication at the front of the book! Awh shucks!

Each page is in glossy colour and the book is essentially a full record of each day of my blog – including all the photos – as they appeared in my on-line blog! A great permanent record of a fabulous trip! And great fun to flick through and bring back those memories of my dynamic duo’s days in my saddles … oh and not forgetting those amazing prosecco picnics!

And as a special festive season treat for readers of my blog you can take a look at the complete book (in a pdf version) by clicking on the title of the book here or on the photo above: Le Tour de Worcs and Warks with the Nutty Tandemers Club.

I do hope you enjoy re-reading it all again, as much as me and the “old gal” did!

The Nutty Tandemers Club annual calendar on the left and Team Matilda’s on the right.

The Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire was a truly memorable week in #tandem as my dynamic crew were hosted by Jane and John as fellow founding (and only!) members of the self-proclaimed and highly exclusive Nutty Tandemers Club.

Jane and John  – who have their own Travelling In Tandem blog – have the same nutty attitude to tandeming as the “old git” and “old gal” and for what was the fifth annual tour Team Matilda were fortunate to be invited to their new home base of Redditch in Worcestershire in September. Fortunately a relaxation of Covid rules allowed the crews to enjoy a fabulous fun-filled sun-kissed week of tandeming, with plenty of prosecco thrown in purely for hydration purposes!

So naturally my dynamic crew organised a present on my behalf for John and Jane – and designed a personalised Nutty Tandemers Club 2021calendar – with each month having a great memory from our wonderful week together. And, of course, plenty of dates for the 2021 tour!

This multi photo frame contains the best images of our NTC 2020 tour!

There were plenty of #tandem related gifts for my dynamic crew to open too! The “old git” had pulled together the best images of our Nutty Tandemers 2020 tour in a multi photo frame for the “old gal.”

And there was the joint present of new cycling jerseys for my dynamic crew. Regular blog readers will know the “old gal” and “old git” like their bright colours and have a preference for orange – as per their helmets and shoes! So what could be better than the jersey of the CCC pro-cycling team – whose team colours just happen to be bright orange!

They certainly won’t go unnoticed in those! And the “old git” was particularly pleased as his real name is Colin and has changed the meaning of the CCC initials emblazed on the front to advertise a Polish shoe chain, to be Colin’s Cycling Club! Naturally he immediately invited the “old gal” to be the only other member of his club! And she accepted!

The last present was Primrose – the cycling duck! The wooden decorative duck, part of the dcuk collection, was a present from one of the “old gal’s” friends and came complete with helmet and pink jersey! How thoughtful!

Primrose – the cycling duck! Complete with helmet and pink jersey! How thoughtful!

As the year comes to a close my dynamic crew are feeling quite chuffed with themselves after looking over the detailed results from their #tandem efforts revealed by Strava’s 2020 #YearInSport.

Clearly there was a Covid lockdown effect in the figures – but my Captain and Stoker covered 1738 miles in 2020 – which would have taken us as far as Marrakech in Morocco or Istanbul in Turkey if we had kept pedalling in a straight line from our Perthshire base!

The mileage is up a healthy 46% on 2019’s 1190 miles – mainly due to the number of rides jumping 86% to 65, up from 35. Most of the extra rides were during the lockdown period from April to June.

The elevation gain was 71,933 feet – which is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 2.5 times! This is something my Stoker is particularly proud of – and the elevation was up (literally up and up!) an amazing 52% on 2019’s total of 47,372 feet.

2.5 times Mount Everest!

Total time pedalling was 146.3 hours – or 6 full days in the saddles – up 22% on 120 hours the year before. The average speed over 2020 was 11.9 mph – which marked a significant 20% boost on 9.9 mph in 2019.

Huge number of sMiles along with all those miles for my dynamic crew, showing that is always the smiles not the miles that count! However I do think they will be having a glass of their signature #prosecco to celebrate these figures!

6 full days in my saddles!

This blog is of course great fun to write and I am delighted to report that over the year, according to host WordPress, although my Matildas Musings blog has published just 13 new posts – mainly due to the Covid effect – it has still attracted a record total of nearly 7,700 views from over 60 different countries around the globe.

Matildas Musings blog feed.

The most popular countries are the UK, followed by the USA, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands. But my worldwide appeal sees my blogs being red as far afield as Australia, the Philippines, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, China, Chile, and Malaysia.

So, to everyone who has read a blog post – a huge thank you!

And thanks for all your messages of support – whether that be a comment on my blog, or on my Matildas Musings FacebookTwitter Youtube or Strava feeds. If you want to follow me on any of my social media feeds, simply hit any of the images below to access my pages, and then hit follow or subscribe.

Matildas Musings Facebook feed.

Matildas Musings Twitter feed.

Matildas Musings YouTube feed.

Matildas Musings Strava feed.

Team Matildas Musings sincerely hope you continue to find the adventures of the UK’s only blogging tandem entertaining – and that it makes you smile – while finding something that you (as fellow non-professional fun-loving fellow tandemers) can relate to!

And as we approach the bells to mark the end of 2020 – on behalf of my dynamic crew – let me wish you all the best for 2021 … and a safe and better year ahead  … as well as many happy tandeming miles together for you and your team!

Here’s to more fun and nutty adventures in 2021 for Team Matildas Musings as “it’s always better when we’re tandeming together!”

Cheers!

Exploding prosecco! Cheers for a better – and safe – 2021 from Team Matilda!

Christmas greetings to our fellow tandemers who know its always better together! 🎅🏻🤶🏻🎄🎄🚴‍♂️🚴‍♂️

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

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

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

My dynamic crew – the “old git” aka my Captain and the “old gal” aka my Stoker – would like to thank you all for reading Matildas Musings and following our fun-filled and nutty adventures in #tandem on a bicycle made for two! It really is the sMiles and not the miles that count for us as we pedal along quiet country roads – many of which are part of the Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network.

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

Team Matilda sincerely hope you continue to find the adventures of the UK’s only blogging tandem entertaining – and that it makes you smile – while finding something that you (as fellow non-professional non-lycra-clad fun-loving fellow tandemers) can relate to!

And what a year 2020 has been with the Covid pandemic. Who could possibly have predicted this time last year what the next 12 months have been like?

My dynamic crew feel very fortunate and blessed to have survived the Covid lockdown period of April to early July thanks to their exercise regime of regular fun adventures while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire – and naturally wearing their specially designed tandem face masks when not actually pedalling!

As the UK’s only blogging tandem I decided to pull together a photo timeline of Team Matilda’s life during the pandemic, with a photo from each of their 40 lockdown rides.

The blog post – simply called ‘40 tandem rides; 40 tandem photos; surviving the lockdown on a bicycle made for two‘ – aimed to create a simple pictorial chronological record of the “old git” and the “old gal” during the three months of strict lockdown restrictions – detailing their madcap adventures which kept my dynamic crew healthy, both mentally and physically.

Amazingly this blog caught the attention of the local Perthshire Advertiser and Team Matilda were featured in the newspaper – in colour and on page 3 no less! You can read the article by clicking on the photo below of the framed cutting which has pride of place in the “old git’s” office or here.

The big event later in the year was The Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire. It was truly memorable week in #tandem as my dynamic crew were hosted by Jane and John as fellow founding (and only!) members of the self-proclaimed and highly exclusive Nutty Tandemers Club.

Jane and John  – who have their own Travelling In Tandem blog – have the same nutty attitude to tandeming as the “old git” and “old gal” and for what was the fifth annual tour Team Matilda were fortunate to be invited to their new home base of Redditch in Worcestershire in September. With the Covid pandemic restrictions changing almost daily it was touch-and-go as to whether the tandem teams would be able to get together – but fortunately there were no last minute rule changes and the crews enjoyed a fabulous fun-filled sun-kissed week of tandeming, with plenty of prosecco thrown in purely for hydration purposes!

Naturally I wrote a blog post about our adventures, titled: ‘Nutty Tandemers Club for their 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire‘ which recounts the tour which included an overnight mini break in the William Shakespeare city of Stratford-upon-Avon.

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

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

So special festive greetings to our fellow Nutty Tandemers and thanks again to John and Jane for your wonderful hospitality – you certainly couldn’t have been more welcoming! Roll on the 2021 tour!

As a Christmas treat here’s another chance to see Team Matilda’s musical montage of images from that unforgettable week of tandeming with the Nutty Tandemers Club. Just click on the image below.

So here’s to a wonderful festive season to all from the “old git”, the “old gal” and me, “the old lady” Matilda – the star of our show!

And on behalf of all tandem Captains and Stokers everywhere – lets hope Santa fills your Christmas stockings with all the cycling things you have put on your present list!

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

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

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

Ho! ho! ho!  🎅🏻🤶🏻🎄🎄🚴‍♂️🚴‍♂️

Sunny icy foggy frosty misty ride to socially distanced pitstop at Braco Coffee and return past Gleneagles to see Christmas tree 🎄

You can almost feel or touch the icy cold temperature! Brr!

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!

Gorgeous sunshine produced amazing long shadows – but not warmth!

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!

It was a beautiful winter’s morning – with great visibility in parts of the ride.

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!

My dynamic crew reflected in the right window at Braco 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.

Great safe socially distanced service at Braco Coffee! Spot the friendly table reservation!

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.

It was the table which had been sanitised – not the “old gal”! – tho she had her own supply!

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.

Low lying fog in the valleys towards Crieff creating an 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.

The fab Christmass tree at Gleneagles – which has been sadly forced to close till next year.

Selfie time at the massive Christmas tree at Gleneagles.

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!”

Squeezing in a windy pedal to ancient Pictish capital of Alba – Forteviot – with Anne and Alan debuting new bikes

My dynamic crew with Team AA – Alan and Anne – ready to roll from Matildas Rest.

A short blog post which recounts my dynamic crew managing to squeeze in a windy #tandem to the ancient Pictish capital of Alba – Forteviot – on a ride with solo cyclist friends Alan Ince and Anne Connell – Team AA!

While not an official National Cycle Network route, the ride from Auchterarder to Forteviot in southern Perthshire is all on quiet back roads and is a joy to pedal.

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

The “old gal” was delighted to see a bright object rising in the sky – otherwise known as the sun! – as my dynamic crew fuelled up with a healthy breakfast. But it was going to be chilly so the next task was kitting up in multiple layers of winter cycling gear.

Next the “old gal” – in her role as “chief mechanic” – lovingly gave me the once over to check all my bits were in working order, and that my tyres were rock hard.

The reason time was of the essence was that my dynamic crew were making an essential drive to see the “old git’s” Mum in Ayrshire later in the day.

Team AA arrived bang on schedule, and after the compulsory photo we all headed off from Matildas Rest on the planned pedal around Pictish Perthshire – heading towards the historic nearby village of Forteviot – pedalling thru Dunning – covering a distance of just under 16 miles.

There was a lovely tailwind on the outward journey which saw my dynamic crew clock up four personal bests on the stretch to Dunning as the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” kicked in and they quickly picked up speed, with all three of us perfectly in tune! But Team Matilda paid for it on the return … as they always seem to do!

The crews were really enjoying the conditions in the glorious Perthshire countryside – and the sunshine appeared right on cue for the ride to give everything and everyone a healthy glow!

It was great to see so many cyclists out – and in what seemed like no time we covered the 8 miles and pedalled into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

There we saw the amazing Cradle of Scotland- A Stone for Forteviot which is a proud centrepiece to the small village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross.

My dynamic crew with Team AA at the Cradle of Scotland – A Stone for Forteviot.

The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot. It is now housed in the nearby St Serf’s Church in Dunning – which we passed – and is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

The Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project has provided the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

Alan and Anne having purchased two new bikes – a Liv and a Giant – from our trusty bike doctors Richards Cycles in Perth – and this was their debut ride. And very pleased they were with their new steeds it seems!

Anne and Alan give the thumbs up to their shiny new Liv and Giant bikes!

The crews enjoyed a socially-distanced “DIY Costa Coffee” stop at the bus shelter at Forteviot – coffee from a flask with the first mince pie of the season!

DIY Costa Coffee-style stop at Forteviot bus shelter – with first mince pie of the season!

The new eco-friendly bus shelter was created as part of the Tay Landscape Partnership funding for the area by local forester Jim Thomson who runs his own Woodland Craft business. The shelter also houses a brilliant information board giving lots more detail about the deep history of the area.

The brilliant information board in the eco-friendly bus shelter details the history of Forteviot.

The Forteviot village “square” (or green to be exact!) provided an ideal sun-kissed stop – with its quaint houses which were rebuilt for workers of the Dupplin Estate in 1927 and create a beautiful focal point for the village.

The sun created some great long shadows at the picturesque Forteviot village green.

Re-freshed by the DIY coffee stop, it was time to pedal back into the now fierce headwind!  As the “old gal” said: “Why is there always a headwind on the way home?!” Let’s just say it just shows what a difference 180 degrees can make!

The crews had a stop for a breather as they cycled back thru Dunning – a village which is also rich in history having been burned to the ground during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. But sadly, due to Covid, no opportunity for a reviving libation at the great friendly country pub called The Kirkstyle Inn – which my dynamic crew have been known to visit from time to time!

The last notable historic landmark the crews pedalled past – but didn’t stop at – was 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 to be burned at the stake.

Not surprisingly there were no personal bests on the return leg but my dynamic crew and Team AA battled on to arrive back at Matildas Rest.

After bidding farewell to Alan and Anne, with a Covid-friendly fist pump, and safely out of the wind the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a healthy total of 5 gongs – made up of 4 personal bests and 1 second best times. Amazingly one of those was nearly a minute – 56 seconds to be exact! – quicker than our previous best! It couldn’t all have been the tailwind … could it?! Must be something to do with my dynamic crew’s fitness … surely!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 15.7 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 13 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.8 mph – which given the headwind on the return leg was perfectly acceptable! Elevation was 711 feet. The maximum speed was 31.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 923 calories and produce an average power output of 187 W.

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

All in all a super way to get some much needed rays of the sun and exercise while pedalling with friends – a great way to start a Sunday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only a one word caption required: spangled!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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