Lockdown2 Ride13 – Trying (and failing!) to beat rain to Forteviot but welcome stop at new Garden Larder at Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning

The Kirkstyle Inn adapting to the Covid restrictions with a new business venture – the Garden Larder.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a fun #Lockdown2 Ride13 tandem trying (and failing!!) to beat the rain to Forteviot, but had a welcome stop at the new Garden Larder at The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning.

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem to get some much needed exercise for their 13th #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.

The weather had turned a bit unseasonal of late – but there appeared to be a brief weather window on Wednesday morning where the “old git” felt Team Matilda might squeeze in a flutter to Forteviot before the rain which was forecast for just before lunchtime. But guess what – the rain arrived early!

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

The wind had abated and it was relatively mild, so my dynamic crew decided to risk baring their legs for today’s ride. Even the “old gal” wasn’t cold so it must have been quite mild!

So we headed off from Matildas Rest and out of our home town of Auchterarder in a different direction to most of our recent rides. We pedalled on fabulous gently undulating quiet country roads towards Dunning and then on to Forteviot.

With little wind I am delighted to say that Team Matilda fair whizzed along as the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” kicked into gear, and we arrived in Forteviot in what seemed like no time at all.

Synchronicity kicked in to gear and we soon arrived at Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland.

Forteviot is steeped in Scotland’s medieval history as it was an ancient Pictish capital of Alba – 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 village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the the historic Dupplin Cross.

The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot. 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 “old gal” at the Pictish stone carving at Forteviot to mark the area’s role in the birth of medieval Alba.

The carving forms a vivid centrepiece to the village green and the quaint houses formerly occupied by the workers on the Dupplin estate, which were built in 1927. 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.

There was time for a nutty picture opportunity at the superbly hand crafted village bus stop – where the “old gal” tried to thumb a lift – more in hope than expectation!

The “old gal” thumbing a lift (more in hope than expectation!) at the bust stop in Forteviot.

The 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.

Meanwhile the “old git” was keen to show off his bare legs – posing in front of the historic Forteviot Village Hall!

The “old git” at Forteviot Village Hall, bravely baring his legs to the elements!

The village is really beautiful and worthy of a visit – including the Aberdalgie Forteviot Church of Scotland with some very historic headstones in its graveyard.

The “old git” at the AberdalgieForteviot Church of Scotland – just as the first spots of rain fell.

Just as my dynamic crew decided to start their return journey the first spots of rain started to fall so it was heads down and pedal to cover the miles back home. There was 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.

Great to see that the friendly country pub called The Kirkstyle Inn – which my dynamic crew have been known to visit from time to time for a small libation! – has just opened a new venture called The Garden Larder offering a superb takeaway service of coffees, cakes and sandwiches to help it survive the current Covid restrictions.

There is also an intriguing sign – saying ‘Practice Pheasant Crossing’ – to encourage drivers to slow their speed driving thru the village! Naturally that was too good a photo opportunity to ignore!

Intriguing sign to encourage drivers to slow their speed at The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning!

The Garden Larder also offers a small range of locally sourced deli items like artisan bread and herbs as well as a range of gifts from local artists.

The “old gal” and “old git” treated themselves to a perfectly brewed strong coffee and a yummy home made fruit scone with a slice of delicious caramel shortcake. And if my dynamic crew’s licking of their lips at the tasty treats is anything to go by, then Jamie – mine host at The Kirkstyle Inn – is on to a winner!

The newly opened Garden Larder offers a great takeaway service of cake coffee and sandwiches.

With the rain now falling a good deal harder, it was a quick blast back from Dunning for my dynamic crew – with the “old gal” in particular giving an extra push in her duties as my stoker as she doesn’t like pedalling in the rain!

Despite the rain arriving earlier than forecast, it was good to be out getting some exercise and the ride clocked another 15 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer, taking the total to 291 miles from the 13 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being amazingly worthy of 3 gongs given the weather – two personal bests; and one 2nd best.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 15.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 05 minutes. The average speed was a very healthy 14.3 mph despite – or perhaps because of – the rain! Elevation was 709 feet. The maximum speed was 25.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 892 calories and produce an average power output of 203 W.

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

Shame about the rain but there were still hugely positive feelings from #Lockdown2 Ride12. My dynamic crew continue to feel lucky, fortunate and blessed to be able to keep healthy – mentally and physically – with our madcap #tandem adventures on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

The flutter to Forteviot was certaily good fun – my dynamic crew just want a more accurate weather forecast for the next pedal … and perhaps some of that much warmer weather that Englandshire is currently experiencing!

As for me, this “old lady” tandem needs a rub down with an oily cloth to keep my bits lubricated!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lockdown2 Ride8 – Retro Ag2r jersey-clad reprise of Mill of Drummond loop with arty DIY coffee stop at Muthill and Matilda discovers another ‘Tilly!

The retro AG2R Team jerseys made a (brief) appearance from under the hi-vis jackets at Muthill!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew enjoyed a fun #Lockdown2 Ride8 #tandem adventure with a retro Ag2R Citroen Team Le Tour de France jersey-clad reprise of Mill of Drummond loop with an arty DIY coffee stop and photoshoot at Muthill. There’s also news of this “old lady” tandem amazingly discovering another tandem called ‘Tilly!

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem taking advantage of calmer conditions and a break from the recent dreich weather for their eighth fun #lockdown adventure – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

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

But before we get to the pedalling, I want to tell the story of how delighted this “old lady” tandem was when I got a message on my Facebook feed saying: “I’d like to say hi to my namesake and look forward to following your blog!” Amazingly there is another Matilda tandem out there – tho she is affectionately called ‘Tilly for short!

You will remember that Team Matilda was featured in the March issue of BIKE Magazine Europe – over 5 pages in glorious technicolour! Well it was read with interest by a couple called Linda and Jon Reed – who are based in Norwich – who have been riding tandems for 25 years!

Linda said they loved the article in the magazine and wanted to reach out to say hello given the coincidence of the name! Their granddaughter shortened their Matilda to ‘Tilly!

She added: “‘Tilly is a Viking Serengeti and is our 3rd tandem. Over the years we have modified her with lots of bits and pieces, bespoke built wheels and a Rolhof hub – which have been great for touring. In normal times, pre Covid, we normally tour 2 or 3 times a year and ‘Tilly has notched up 39,000 kms and been to no less than 48 countries.

The “other” ‘Tilly the tandem – enjoying a more exotic climate than Scotland!

Linda continued: “Until we get back to more normal times, like you we’re out and about as often as we can making use of roads a bit closer to home … but in our part of the world it’s a bit flatter than where you are! And this is another stoker who doesn’t like hills!”

The remarkable number of coincidences continue as Linda and Jon also have a blog in which they recount their adventures on ‘Tilly the tandem, and “Ten Tonne Taffy” – or “FatTaf” for short – their “beast” of a motorhome.

Tilly’s blog ident!

And this social media shout-out may lead to me meeting “the other” Matilda as Linda and Jon are currently planning and mapping their next tour, a post Covid “slow pedal north to Scotland.” If they get near our area – they are keen to link up with the “old git” and the “old gal” to give the two Matildas the chance to meet up! How exciting would that be?! I can’t wait!

The “other” ‘Tilly is a Viking Serengeti and weighs about 22kg naked and unloaded!

So to our ride – it was a real joy to be out on beautiful rolling countryside on quiet farm roads. And the best part of the trip was that despite a rather iffy weather forecast, Team Matilda successfully managed to dodge the showers. Fortunately not a spot fell on my dynamic crew – despite the evidence of rather wet roads on the last few miles, showing that there had been heavy showers.

It was fairly cloudy as we set off from our home base town of Auchterarder, tandeming out of town past Gleneagles and on towards Braco. At the junction with the A822 we turned right pedalling to the highest point of the ride – where a quick stop for a breather saw us capture (just) a huge flock of geese which decided to descend as the “old git” took a photo of the “old gal!”

Spot the geese! A huge flock of geese decided to descend as the “old gal” posed for a photo!

Beautiful rolling rural Perthshire countryside… and even a spot of blue sky!

Then a left turn at the Mill of Drummond signpost and a reprise of a wonderful 4.5 mile route thru local farms on amazingly well surfaced rural roads. This is part of the route used for the Muthill Sportive– but in reverse!

It is quite undulating but also quite adrenalin-inducing in a roller-coaster kind of way with some steep downhills – especially hurtling down past Muthill Golf Course before having to brake before re-joining the main road! The “old git” managed to get the Strava speedometer to register 38.7mph … despite the loud screams from the back! So obviously the target the next time on this route is to hit the 40mph barrier … but shhhh! Don’t tell the “old gal” just yet!

My dynamic crew stopped in the centre of the village of Muthill for an arty DIY coffee stop at the fascinating Muthill Old Church and Tower– which dates back to the 1100s and is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. Here the “old git” decided to express his inner artist and get a shot thru one of the ruined arches to a carpet of snowdrops.

An arty shot at Muthill Old Church and Tower … spot the snowdrops!

There were also some fun photos of Team Matilida where they (briefly!) removed their hi-vis jackets to reveal their retro Ag2r Tour de France cycling jerseys!

It’s always better when we’re tandeming together! Ag2r photoshooot laughs!

It’s the smiles not the miles that count for Team Matilda! More Ag2r photoshoot fun!

Photo shoot over it was jackets back on quickly to keep out the cold chill – and enjoy the welcome DIY coffee and cake! Then a breeze of a tandem cycle back to Auchterarder – including the masochistic pleasure of recording a personal best at the steep Machany Bridge sector. My dynamic crew also took 21 seconds off our time from our last effort on our personal nemesis of Easthill. Just another 20 seconds to go for a new PB there!

Great feelgood factor on returning to Matildas Rest from the exercise – which clocked another 22 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer taking the total to 181 miles from the 8 rides completed so far.

And the day got even better when the “old git” checked Strava to discover that my dynamic crew have been awarded the “Local Legend” accolade for no fewer than FOUR different sectors on the route! This causes the “old git” and the “old gal” much amusement given the fact that they are so very far from “local legend” status cyclists!

But a “Local Legend” accolade is an accolade no matter what – and they are quietly chuffed at the same time. Naturally their combined 4 stone weight loss is obviously a contributory factor – but probably more so is the fact that the roads they were pedalling on are clearly “roads less travelled” by local cyclists as the accolade is given for the most efforts on a particular segment over the last 90 days.

Strava officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 13 gongs – five personal bests; four 2nd bests; and the four “local legends”! The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 22.0 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 44 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.6 mph despite the ever present wind! Elevation was 1,285 feet. The maximum speed was 38.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,431 calories and produce an average power output of 204 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 8 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.

Roll on the next fun spirit-lifting #tandem pedal! And of course roll on that potential meet-up with the “other” ‘Tilly!

Team Matilda clocks up 6000 miles in tandem on a flood-hit weekend Tour de Arbroath mini break

I am a tandem – not Noah’s Ark! Looks like I have found the ability to cycle on a canal on NCN Rt1!

Saturday afternoon saw Team Matilda drive to Arbroath in Visit Angus for a weekend break with good solo cyclist friends Alan Ince and Anne Connell – Team AA!

We arrived late afternoon during a period of torrential rain with a severe weather warning for flooding. However the “old git” remained his usual optimistic self about a change in the weather as we all checked in to the very welcoming and luxurious Harbour Nights bed and breakfast wonderfully situated overlooking the harbour and marina.

The luxury Harbour Nights b+b sits on the waterfront.

The view from the brand new luxury sea view suite – across the marina and harbour

Everyone else thought he was mad (what’s new there!) as the “old git” said he was confident the rain would relent in time for the planned Sunday ride which would see my dynamic crew clock up their 6000th mile in tandem!

To take the minds off the by now biblical rain a gin and prosecco bar was quickly set up by the cycling teams in the brand new luxury sea view suite – with magnificent views across the marina and harbour – and naturally the crews had to sample a few of the offerings!

Team Matilda and Team AA enjoy the first prosecco toast of the Tour de Arbroath!

A gin and prosecco bar was quickly set up in the suite to take the minds off the biblical rain!

Waterproofs on we walked the short distance for a great Greek style evening meal at Andreou’s Bistro – which if it wasn’t for the constant rain battering the windows would have felt like the crews had arrived somewhere in the Mediterranean!

After a nightcap – of a sumptuous new dark red Shiraz flavoured gin brought by Anne and Alan – the crew’s went to bed with my Captain still bravely predicting that the storm would blow thru by the morning, as the weather forecast predicted. Everyone else just smiled along to keep him happy!

Ride 1 – Team Matilda hits 6000 miles in tandem on pedal where Noah’s Ark would have struggled on Arbroath – Dundee route with Anne and Alan

Sunday dawned – and believe it or not – the sun was out and the rain had subsided! So after a hearty home cooked tasty breakfast at the b+b, the crews got kitted up and we headed out of Arbroath on the pre-planned route heading for Dundee on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network  #NCN Rt 1. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Team Matilda’s dynamic crew and Anne and Alan of Team AA ready to roll at Arbroath marina.

A bracing pedal down the promenade – which was being hit by amazing waves – took us to the start of the coastal cycle path. After a couple of miles we suddenly hit a large area of water. Somewhat inadvisably the crews thought they could pedal thru, not being able to tell the depth. But when the flood water came up over my pedals after about 60 yards it was time to stop!

With fairly fast flowing water from a heavily flooded burn now lapping at the shins of the crews the next decision was whether to push the bikes on for a couple of hundred yards or reverse and seek a detour. The decision was made in no uncertain terms when a solo cyclist coming the other way decided to walk his bike thru and ended up with it over his shoulder and waist high in water!

So the “old git” bravely battled to turn me in the water and Team Matilda and Team AA waded back to dry land! But the stalwart crews simply decided to ring out their socks and shoes and squelch off to continue the ride by retracing our pedals back into Arbroath and finding the alternative cycle path which runs along the route of the A92.

Feet wet! At the edge of the waist high flooding on NCN Rt1 just after leaving Arbroath.

Drying out by the side of the cycle path as the crews rung out their shoes and socks!

The wind helped dry out the feet of the crews(!!) and we were soon turning back down a quiet rural road to the village of East Haven – where we saw a beached fishing boat! But this wasn’t the result of the severe floods but was in fact part of a beautiful community garden display!

Despite the flooding this boat is meant to be beached in a lovely garden at East Haven.

Back on the planned #NCN Rt1 the next stop was at Carnoustie, where there was time for photos while admiring the raw power of the high breakers pounding the seafront.

The pounding waves and bracing fresh sea air at Carnoustie enjoyed by Team Matilda and Team AA..

Alan and Anne of Team AA admiring the raw power of the sea.

The “old gal” and the “old git” take in some salty sea air at Carnoustie.

Pedalling on, the cycle path is wonderfully flat going past the Barry Buddon tank training range – with its dire warnings of potential death to trespassers if the flags are flying. The sun was shining brightly and Broughty Castle and the small harbour at Broughty Ferry offered the perfect backdrop for another photo opportunity.

Don’t jump! Broughty Ferry harbour looking down to the Tay Estuary towards the Tay bridges.

My dynamic crew enjoying the sunshine and the backdrop of Broughty Castle.

The path then continues along the scenic seafront before a new section along Dundee Docks brought us into Dundee at the revamped waterfront area incorporating the impressive V&A Dundee, which is built to look like a large ship. The cafe at Discovery Point and RRS Discovery offered a perfect stop for re-fuelling scones, cakes and coffee.

Selfie time at Discovery Point and RRS Discovery in Dundee with the V&A Dundee in the background.

My dynamic crew now had just a few miles to go till they hit their 6000th mile in tandem landmark and with much checking of my milometer on my handlebars – and the “old git” doing a countdown – it finally clicked over at Broughty Ferry sea front right beside a bench with a great view down the Tay Estuary.

Photo proof of the 6000th mile clocked up in tandem for my dynamic crew!

Naturally this was deemed a perfect spot to pop the cork on the signature #prosecco celebration with Anne and Alan who had helpfully packed a hip flask with some sloe gin which turned the fizz into a very appealing pink #ginsecco! Not surprisingly this popping of the cork and subsequent fairly loud celebrations caused a bit of interest on a very busy sunny Sunday afternoon at the sea front! But I think that hitting 6000 miles – with just as many smiles! – on a bicycle made for two is good justification for a celebration!

Popping the cork with a bang to celebrate the 6000th mile.

My dynamic crew were basking in their personal glory – fuelled as a quick bit of Google research revealed that a 6000 mile circumference as the crow flies from their home base of Auchterarder would have seen them pedal as far as Johannesburg in South Africa; Bangkok in Thailand; Sao Paulo in Brazil; or Hong Kong! Quite an achievement and as the “old gal” quipped: “See what a blind date on a tandem can sign you up for!”

A signature prosecco toast for my dynamic crew to mark the big moment at Broughty Ferry!

We even had a quick impromptu video call to our close tandeming pals Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor to share the fizz moment as we had been with our Travelling In Tandem blog friends in person as Team Matilda hit 3000 miles on our Nutty Tandemers Club Tour de New Forest and then again for 4000 miles on the fabulous Tour de Hebridean Way last year. We just had to share the prosecco with them virtually as Team Matilda fell just a few miles short of hitting the 6000 mark on our recent Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

A virtual toast with our tandeming pals John and Jane of Travelling in Tandem blog!

There was also a toast to my trusty bike doctor John at Richards Cycles in Perth for keeping me on the road! Team Matilda is acutely aware we couldn’t have hit this landmark without you! Cheers!

The 6000th mile brought back memories of our 5000 mile landmark – which was achieved strangely enough just along the cycle path at Monifieth Beach back in May this year. Now that was during the Covid-19 lockdown and I decided it wasn’t really the mood to write a blog about it at the time, but my dynamic crew did record a couple of videos that day to record the 5000 miles for posterity!

So I decided to include them in this blog! The first one was a little celebratory tandem song – with profuse apologies to The Proclaimers! Click on the video to watch!

The second one saw the “old git” doing a toast in tribute to the “old gal” – my trusty Stoker (and Chief Engineer!) who has been a stalwart for every one of those miles! Again click below to watch!

Celebrations over, the crews pedalled back to Carnoustie where the flooding was worse than earlier, which seemed to turn the cycle path into a canal at some points. Then there was the amazing sight of the Open Championship Carnoustie Golf Links at the Carnoustie Golf Hotel and Spa looking more like a fast flowing river than its carefully manicured fairways.

Don’t put your feet down! My dynamic crew pedalling thru the floods near Carnoustie.

Looks like a river to the right of the “old gal” – but it’s the waterlogged Open Championship golf course!

Now as if the flooding wasn’t enough drama for one day, unfortunately Alan punctured around East Haven. For what ever reason noone noticed he had fallen behind and the others all pedalled on oblivious to his plight on the steep climb out of the village. A ping on Anne’s phone alerted us to the problem and we went back to find him just as he had completed a quick change of his inner tube.

It was just starting to get dark as the now tired crews pedalled back into Arbroath. Safely ensconced back at the warmth and comfort of the Harbour Nights b+b, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing Team Matilda had been awarded 20 gongs – made up of 7 personal bests; six second bests; and 7 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 44.6 miles with a moving time of 4 hours 14 minutes. The average speed was 10.5 mph – which given the windy conditions and flooding detours was pretty respectable – while the elevation was just 601 feet. The maximum speed was 24.8 mph and the “old git” and “old gal” managed to burn up 2,322 calories and produce an average power output of 136 W.

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

After welcome reviving showers, a brilliant day was completed with some tasty fish and chips for re-fuelling from Marco’s On The Shore – superbly situated right next door to our wonderful bed and breakfast – which was naturally washed down with another couple of tastings from the gin bar!

A great full-on tandeming day out – with a second route planned for Monday, which hopefully will be a little less eventful! But who can tell! After all, I I do need something to write about in my Matildas Musings and these adventures just seem to happen naturally!

Ride 2 – Arbroath to Lunan Bay – take 2 … after a snapped rear gear cable was fixed within 20 minutes as a hero at a local bike shop saved the day!

Monday morning and my dynamic crew and solo cyclist friends Anne and Alan (Team AA) woke after a restful nights sleep at the charming and highly recommended Harbour Nights bed and breakfast for the second ride of their Tour de Arbroath mini break.

After the drama of tandeming thru the floods on Sunday both crews were hoping for a less eventful pedal. But – as always – our rides never seem to be straightforward, and this one turned into another adventure full of drama! Firstly it was blowing a hoolie – as they say in Scotland when the wind is pretty blustery. But despite a few sharp squalls while the crews enjoyed a tasty breakfast – including the local delicacy of an Arbroath Smokie – it had dried up when we pedalled off. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The bracing head wind along the sea front towards the cliffs on Sustrans Scotland The National Cycle Network  #NCN Rt 1 made progress interesting!

Then disaster struck with less than 2 miles on the clock as my dynamic crew tackled the first hill climbing away from the sea. There was a resounding twang as the “old git” changed down gear and this “old lady” tandem ground to a halt.

Closer inspection revealed I had a snapped rear gear cable at the handlebars end, and I was stuck in a low gear. Just as it looked like the ride was going to have to be abandoned a helpful local walked past and suggested calling in at the bike shop in the town.

A quick downhill pedal took us back to Arbroath and easily found the Angus Bike Chain shop. The “old gal” disappeared inside more in hope than anything – but after a quick chat with the fantastically helpful ‘Biker Steve’ who owned the shop, she gave a thumbs up and I was wheeled inside.

The business more than lived up to its reputation of being “the best bike shop in Angus”. Not only did it have the longer gear cable required for my lengthy frame in stock – but within 20 minutes the new cable was carefully fitted and I was fully tested and repaired – and all for a very modest payment. Great service!

“Biker Steve” at the fab Angus Bike Chain shop soon had a new rear gear cable attached and tested.

The Angus Bike Chain certainly lived up to its reputation of the best bike shop in Angus!

Then it was Take 2 – as the crew’s retraced their steps and enjoyed a great ride on undulating quiet roads to the wild and beautiful Lunan Bay Beach and its attractive red-coloured sand.

The wild and beautiful Lunan Bay Beach was our scenic destination.

Leaving the bike’s at the boardwalk entrance to the beach the crew’s admired the views of nearby Red Castle which overlooks the beach.. History says that both Robert the Bruce and William the Lionheart used the castle, which now is sadly in a serious state of disrepair.

The viewpoint overlooked the rugged sand dunes offered a perfect spot for some pictures of Team Matilda and Team AA before the signature #prosecco toast overlooking the blustery beach.

The “old gal” with Anne – one half of solo cycling Team AA!

Selfie time for Team Matilda and Team AA showing the wide open red coloured beach.

Another view of Lunan Bay Beach from the viewpoint in the sand dunes.

Cheers! My dynamic crew share their signature #prosecco toast overlooking the beach.

Blowing a hoolie! Prosecco toast at a blustery – but beautiful – Lunan Bay Beach.

After taking in the sea air the crews pedalled back to Arbroath but on the return leg we had a P-word incident as Alan had the misfortune to puncture for the second time on his rear wheel in two days.

The crews tried a quick fix with the instant spray sealer foam but the tube must have been too badly damaged as it didn’t work. So as we were just 3 miles from the finish, Alan decided that the rest should all head back into Arbroath, with the “old git” then collecting him by car to avoid having to do the full wheel removal puncture repair.

Don’t mention the P-word! Alan Ince suffered his second puncture in two days.

Safely back in the town the crew’s enjoyed a reviving coffee scone and cake at The Old Boatyard – while recounting another typical drama-filled Matildas Musings adventure!

The “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing that despite all the trauma of the day Team Matilda had amazingly been awarded a gong for being “8th fastest in the world” for a downhill stretch known as “Flat out to the fire station” coming back into Arbroath!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 18.2 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 39 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.1 mph given the blustery conditions, while the elevation was 924 feet. The maximum speed was 28.9 mph and the “old git” and “old gal” managed to burn up 1,188 calories and produce an average power output of 179 W.

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

My dynamic crew bid fond farewell to Alan and Anne – with the promise of a repeat weekend trip in the future – probably in the Spring!

Before heading home to Matildas Rest, Team Matilda decided to enjoy the last of the early evening sunshine with a brief walk round the exterior impressive sandstone ruins of Arbroath Abbey, which dates back to 1178 and is now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

The “old gal” dwarfed by the magnificent sandstone ruins of Arbroath Abbey.

A celestial moment as the sun broke thru the cloud above Arbroath Abbey

It is currently closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions but the Abbey is most famous for being the base for the Declaration of Arbroath when Scotland’s nobles swore their independence from England in a letter to the Pope sent from the Abbey 700 years ago in 1320.

A bit of history in the Arbroath sunshine to end a fabulous weekend of tandeming adventures!

Finally, As a little tribute to the unforgettable Tour de Arbroath the “old git” has pulled together a photo montage video – set to music – to help everyone remember the madcap fun  we all enjoyed – so click below and enjoy!

Matilda goes carol singing – in dulci jubilo in the winter sun!

Tra la la! All together now! Make sure the carol singing is in #tandem!

Away on a tandem 
To Tullibardine
To sing carols for Christmas
On a cold winter’s day …. !!! 

With only a week to go till Christmas Day the “old git” – who is something of a Christmas zealot – was encouraging everyone to get into full festive spirit mode! As the “old gal” quipped – “it might be more likely if there was some festive spirit flowing!” … but he was trying – very trying, as the “old gal” said in that droll you-can’t-be-certain-if-she-is-joking-or-not way she has!

Now there is a tradition on the Sunday before Christmas near Matilda’s Rest when the local churches in Auchterarder come together to hold a carol service at Tullibardine Chapel – which dates back to the 15th century, and is now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland. My dynamic crew make a point of going – as it is all quite atmospheric as there is no power in the remote chapel and it is all done by torch light.

In a reprise of last couple of years the “old git” persuaded the “old gal” that it would be a bit of a festive frolic if my crew arrived at the carols by tandem – complete with Santa hats and Christmas jumpers! And I even got to join in the fun by having an extra addition this year of sporting a pair of eye-catching Rudolph reindeer antlers!

Spot my eye-catching Rudolph reindeer antlers making me feel very festive!

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view!) the weather was quite mild so there was much excitement when we woke to get ready for our trip. And to add to the anticipation, this was going to be just the third time ever that this “old lady” had been to a carol service!

So after an early lunch I was pulled out of the garage to get a few photos at Matildas Rest before we headed off on the short 3 mile ride to Tullibardine. The “old gal” had done some sterling work transforming my duo’s crash helmets into huge Santa hats – courtesy of linking together a couple of Santa hats from the local pound shop!

Ready to roll! The “old gal” in full Christmas jumper and Santa cycling hats gear!

We headed off and it was fun tandeming up the high street which was busy with families doing some last minute shopping! It would need to be said we got more than a few funny looks from adults (but as the “old git” said that was the point of the exercise!) while loads of children gave us excited waves and I tooted my horn back in appreciation! They particularly liked my Rudolph adornments!

We then headed out of town onto the rural Perthshire roads which took us to Tullibardine Chapel – and I must admit it was great fun to be out as we all enjoyed the unseasonably bright sunshine.

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

Team Matilda were in good spirits – so much so that I wasn’t sure if there had been any actual spirits partaken before they departed! But the “old gal” and the “old git” are finely tuned athletes (or so they claim!) … so I am sure it was just my imagination!

In what seemed like no time we were approaching the chapel and the “old git” decided that we needed to arrive in style – singing our very own song, dubbed Away on a Tandem, which was a stunning rearrangement of that famous carol Away in a Manger!

The beautiful and atmospheric Tullibardine Chapel dates back to the 15th Century.

Not surprisingly this ensured Team Christmas Matilda got noticed!  The “old git” and the “old gal” definitely more than lived up to their status as founding members of the Nutty Tandemers Club with their vocal arrival!

Tullibardine Chapel is now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

So before the carols there was time to explore the history and my dynamic crew discovered that Tullibardine Chapel was founded in 1446 by Sir David Murray of Dumbarton, an ancestor of the Dukes of Atholl. The Murray family home was at Tullibardine Castle. This stood on a site a short distance to the north of the chapel, though nothing now remains of it.

The chapel occupies a scenic tranquil spot in the rural Perthshire countryside,

The chapel stands almost unchanged since an extension in about 1500 – and is one of the few medieval churches to have survived the Reformation unaltered.

My dynamic crew had a brief warm-up of their vocal chords before the service!

Just before the carol service proper started my dynamic duo warmed up their voices with a few verses outside, admired by one of the organisers Allan Perera – a well known local artist and member of the Our Lady of the Perpetual Succour host church – who on his guitar led the musical accompaniment and the choir. Alan’s wife Sheila led the service itself.

The choir and musical accompaniment which led the carol singing at Tullibardine.

So after the practice – and attracting lots of attention from people arriving, with lots of “there’s a double bike” comments – it was time for my duo to go inside the chapel for the carol service. They tell me they thoroughly enjoyed the whole event – a nice mix of Christmas carols, festive songs and readings. And encouragingly, it was busy – with a good crowd in the chapel.

It was a real Christmassy atmosphere singing carols by torchlight!

It was a real Christmassy atmosphere and after the carols my dynamic tandem crew emerged back outside to find that Team Matilda had been somewhat upstaged by someone who had arrived on horseback – as you do in the middle of the Perthshire countryside!

Upstaged by a horse who wanted to join in the carols – only in rural Perthshire!

After the service my dynamic crew pedalled off quickly in a  bid to warm up as the winter sun was setting and the temperature had dropped quickly. With the cold air the tough Easthill hill climb back to Auchterarder seemed tougher than usual!

But we were not heading directly home. My dynamic crew had an important stop off in Auchterarder with an invite to pop-in and say hello at a 90th birthday party for Betty Connell – one of the “old gal’s” long standing clients at her hairdressing salon.

Betty’s daughter Anne – a keen “half-bike” cyclist – had been told the “old git” and “old gal” would be arriving en-route home from the carol service but were told that didn’t matter! However two mad cyclists arriving wearing Santa crash helmets and Christmas jumpers certainly caused a bit of a stir – and upset the otherwise glamorous dress code just a bit! But with impeccable timing my crew arrived just as the champagne was being poured for the toast and the cake cutting! I am told that both were very tasty!

Darkness had fallen while we spend an hour or so at the birthday party, so the last mile was completed with all my lights on! It made for an interesting high speed downhill dash!

Safely back at Matildas Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing we had tandemed a distance of just 6.15 miles with a moving time of 37 minutes – but as always it is the smiles not the miles that count. The average speed was 10 mph while the elevation was a modest 322 feet. The maximum speed was 21.3 mph given the relatively flat terrain and Team Matilda managed to burn up 347 calories and produce an average power output of 141 W.

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

All three of us on Team Christmas Matilda had great fun – and felt it was a great way to crank up the festive spirit! Talking of which I have just heard  a shout of “Where’s my Christmas gin spirit” from the “old gal” as she relaxed in her post-ride bath!

Team Matilda certainly had fun getting into the Christmas spirit – in #tandem of course!

Look out for my Matildas Musings “Merry Christmas” blog post coming soon! In the meantime I need to go and wrap a few presents and write my final cards! Oh and pour that gin!…