Lockdown2 Ride12 – Pre Tandem Club AGM cold and windy ride where snoods essential but new top speed record on Mill of Drummond loop.

Tandem Club snoods were essential on a cold windy tandem ride prior to the club’s AGM later!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew enjoyed a fun #Lockdown2 Ride12 – a pre Tandem Club AGM cold and windy #tandem where the Club’s snoods were essential, but hit a new top record speed on a Mill of Drummond loop.

It was Tandem Club UK AGM day on Saturday, so what better way to spend the morning than out on a bicycle made for two – although the weather had taken a sharp turn for the worse from last week’s warmish sunshine.

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem to get some much needed exercise for their 12th #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.

The strong winds of around 15mph created a “feels-like” temperature of just 3C which meant that the new Tandem Club snoods were an essential item of kit!

The aim was to have a quick blast round the Mill of Drummond/Muthill loop – and hopefully set a few PBs – but it was obvious when cycling out of our home town of Auchterarder that this was going to be a ride of gritty endurance rather than one of speed!

It was hard going tandeming into the fierce headwind all the way out past Gleneagles towards Braco. Turning left at the junction with the A8222 did little to ease the windy conditions and we pedalled bravely on to the highest point for the briefest of stops for a quick photo.

Great views from the highest point on the ride – but it was a day of gritty endurance!

We then turned left at the Mill of Drummond signpost and had fun on the great 4.5 mile section which weaves thru local farms on an impressively surfaced road – albeit a narrow country road, with passing places! This route is part of the Muthill Sportive routes – tho usually used in the opposite direction – but my dynamic crew enjoyed the adrenalin-inducing roller-coaster style undulations.

This section ends with a great steep downhill section past Muthill Golf Course – which includes a 9% decline – and the “old git” was determined to get the speedometer over the 40mph barrier!

So it was heads down and pedal fast! The speed picked up … in line with the high pitched screams from my rear saddle from the “old gal” … and just as Team Matilda “flew” over the last hump my handlebar speedometer went past the 40 mph mark … just in time for a sharp bit of braking before joining the main road again!

But as all cyclists know … it is only really an “official” record when it comes up on Strava to be recorded for posterity. And there was much joy from the “old git” when Strava did indeed record a top speed of 41.2 mph on that section! And that is in fact a new Team Matilda speed record! Woooo!

Strava confirmed Team Matilda’s new 41.2 mph top record speed!

A quick stop for a DIY coffee at Muthill allowed my crew to return to normal status – the “old git” coming down from his euphoric high while the “old gal” came back up from her state of shock!

As we left Muthill on the backroads there was a light shower, but fortunately it dried up by the time we reached Tullibardine – before the final section of the Easthill climb! Don’t think the “old gal” would have been too happy doing that … into the wind … and the rain! As it was the wind was hard enough!

Despite the poor weather, it was good to be out and the ride clocked another 21 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer, taking the total to 276 miles from the 12 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being amazingly worthy of 7 gongs given the weather – over and above the new Team Matilda top speed record – three personal bests; two 2nd bests; and three 3rd bests! No “Local Legend” accolades tho!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 21.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 42 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.7 mph despite the ever present wind! Elevation was 1,286 feet. The maximum speed was that new record of 41.2 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,463 calories and produce an average power output of 214 W.

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

So after all the drama of breaking that speed record, it was time later in the afternoon for my dynamic crew to “attend” their first AGM of The Tandem Club – albeit by Zoom!

It was great to see people – even if on an electronic screen due to the current Covid restrictions – and put some faces to some names! There was even a nice thankyou for the “old git’s” social media activities on behalf of the Club.

But in an epic fail the “old git” forgot to take a photo of the AGM in action on the Zoom screen – so sadly there is no image! Aaaagh!

But despite the far from ideal conditions for tandeming, there were 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.

With the ride and Zooming in on the AGM, all in all it was a great day in #tandem! Can we just have the warmer weather back please?!

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!

Lockdown2 Ride5 – Muc-Off clean up and fab new route to Mill of Drummond before our nemesis of Easthill!

Muc-Off works wonders leaving this “old lady” shining bright after the ignominy of a bath!

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a fun Friday with a Muc-Off outside bath clean up (for me!) followed by a sunny #tandem pedal on a fab new route to Mill of Drummond and Muthill before tackling our psychological nemesis of Easthill.

The “old git” and “old gal” decided to take advantage of sunny calm conditions for their fifth 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 decided to have a pedal on some new (to us!) quiet rural farm roads. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

But before the pedalling, the day started with this “old lady” having the ignominy of having a bath (actually a cold water shower!) in the back garden at Matildas Rest! My dynamic crew even had to protect my saddles from the hose using their waterproof seat covers!

Truth be told I was badly in need of a spruce up as I had become a rather mucky tandem! The sun was out so it wasn’t too bad and I have to say that this Muc-Off stuff certainly worked wonders, showing that – despite my age – that I can still scrub up rather well! I was well chuffed with the results – sporting a gleaming frame again!

My dynamic crew had to protect the saddles from the hose tho! But this “old lady” scrubs up well!

Then after lunch – which allowed me to dry off and warm up! – Team Matilda pedalled off in glorious sunshine. The first part of the ride saw us head out of our home base town of Auchterarder on a familiar route past Gleneagles and out towards Braco.

A right turn took us on to the A822 – with a brief stop to take in the stunning views across the valley towards the A9 trunk road. Then Team Matilda decided to explore a left turning signposted to Mill of Drummond.

The magnificent views across the valley towards the A9 trunk road.

Left turn before enjoyed fab scenic countryside on well surfaced farm roads thru Mill of Drummond.

This was a sensational route on beautifully smooth surfaced roads thru fab scenic farming countryside – and is highly recommended. After Mill of Drummond the road drops down past Muthill golf course into the village of Muthill itself.

A long straight stretch, about a mile long, tree-lined all the way. Highly recommended!

My dynamic crew had done this section a couple of times – but in the opposite direction when taking part in the Muthill Sportive. Pedalling in this direction certainly involved a whole lot less climbing! Incidentally due to the current Covid restrictions the 2021 Sportive – which is usually held in June is now planned to be on Saturday 4 September. Organisers say the registration link will go live after the Easter holidays. One for Team Matilda’s diary I hope!

Causing a diversion – the “old gal” trying to divert attention from the DIY outside coffee!

In Muthill my dynamic crew tried to cause a diversion – by sitting behind huge yellow roadwork diversion signs! – to try to divert attention away from a brief DIY coffee and cake stop. This was partaken on a lovely bench outside Muthill Old Church and Tower – which dates back to the 1100s.

Lovely bench outside the historic Muthill Old Church and Tower which dates back to the 1100s.

Pedalling back from Muthill was a joy – and Team Matilda even found a way thru the closed section of road – due to roadworks – at Tullibardine … thanks to two friendly road workers who happily lifted this old lady over the barriers! They were healthy strapping lads! And whisper it but I am sure I saw the “old gal” look on enviously! They even offered to help when she got temporarily stuck trying to get her leg over the barrier! Let’s just say her face was as bright red as my newly cleaned frame! Sadly – and most unusually – the “old git” failed to capture a picture of this!

After that bit of drama it was time for my dynamic crew to tackle their personal psychological nemesis of Easthill … but I am glad to report that they found it much easier than expected … indeed recording their 5th ever fastest time on that sector! Which given the rustiness caused by the recent snow lay-off was more than a little pleasing. Me thinks the fact that they have jointly lost 4 stone between them may just have been a bit of a helpful factor too! Maybe they are actually getting the hang of this tandeming lark after all!

There was a real feelgood factor when we returned to Matildas Rest – having clocked another 20 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer – which now sits at 99 miles for the 5 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest – with a huge feelgood factor after a spectacular outing – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as as being worthy of 7 gongs – including no less than four personal bests and one 3rd best! And amazingly, again the other 2 gongs were for being awarded “local legend” status on two separate sectors! So I guess my dynamic crew are getting that bit fitter as they grind out the miles! This was definitely the cause for celebration and a screen grab of Strava was again taken to be recorded for posterity!

Local legend status again on Strava!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 22.0 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 50 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.0 mph despite the presence of the wind! Elevation was 1,283 feet. The maximum speed was 32.2 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,477 calories and produce an average power output of 200 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 5 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.

Another slightly longer route is planned in the next day or so to allow Team Matilda to be out in tandem to clock up more #lockdown miles on another fun spirit-lifting adventure!

Sun-kissed tandeming at Muthill Sportive 2018 – yellow route

Team Matilda – kitted out in eye-catching King of Mountain gear – at the Muthill Sportive.

There was much excitement at Matildas Rest on a recent Saturday as it was a big day for this “old lady” – I was taking part in a real official competitive bike event – the Muthill Sportive 2018. This would only be my second ever Sportive and I was all geared up for the big event as the “old git” had told me that not only was I going to have an official participant number but that I was going to have a timing chip. Serious stuff!

Those of you with good memories may remember my Sportive debut a year ago when the “old git’s” son Niall took up a role as substitute stoker as the “old gal” was working. Team Matilda hadn’t planned to be taking part this year as the date was scheduled to be the penultimate day of our Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way Challenge. But sadly personal circumstances resulted in that adventure having to be postponed. So my dynamic crew decided on a last minute entry.

The Muthill cycling event has the reputation for being Scotland’s friendliest Sportive and that was immediately apparent from the warm welcome my crew received at the registration desk – which was basking in bright sunshine, in stark contrast to heavy rain of last year.

The idea of the Sportive is to raise funds for the Muthill to Crieff Cyclepath project which will create a safe route along the 4 miles to the Strath capital, avoiding the busy A822 road. Phase 1 of the project is complete – a 1 mile off-road route from Muthill to Templemill, which links with other core paths and quiet country walking and cycling friendly roads. Just over two years ago when it was opened, I was the first tandem to ride the new cycle path. You can read more about the project in my blog of that ride.

Ready for the off- with my official ‘158’ sportive competitor number!

Team Matilda was taking part in the Yellow Route – an 18 mile cycle around quiet local Strathearn roads. I had my start number of 158 firmly attached to my handlebars and the “old gal” volunteered to attach my snazzy timer chip to her ankle – even tho it did look like she was wearing an electronic monitoring tag!

No comments about the “old gal” being used to wearing a tag! This is the official timing chip!

Then it was time for the off and we lined up with just under 30 other bikes. I was proud to be the only tandem on the start line and I am glad to say I got quite a few “nice bike” and “special machine” compliments. A quick safety briefing, and the horn was blown and we were underway!

At the start line – ready for the hooter!

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

The “old git” and the “old gal” set off at good pace along Muthill’s main street before starting a long slow climb up past the local golf course. This turned out to be a bit of a “killer hill” so soon in the route – which is perhaps no surprise as a later check measured the incline at 10.3%.

I think the joke turned out to be on my dynamic crew who thought that wearing their King of the Mountain cycling shirts would be a big joke! But after a bit of a push (literally!) we reached the plateau and then the rest of the ride was much more enjoyable and we soon picked up speed again.

The ride was well signposted with big yellow arrows marking directions at every possible junction to ensure we couldn’t get lost – and there were marshalls at any intersections with busier roads. The route developed into a gently undulating ride, along well maintained farm roads before briefly emerging on to the Crieff to Braco road for a short section, turning into another maze of farm roads.

We crossed the Auchterarder to Crieff road before the route took us along the roads around Tullibardine and then along in front of Strathallan Airfield.

Tantalisinly there were signs for Muthill but we were directed away from the direct road for another loop round country roads – just as my crew were starting to feel their fuel tanks getting low on energy.

Fortunately there was a nice downhill stretch before the last section which made use of the completed first section of the Muthill to Crieff cycle path. Only difficulty was that this was uphill creating a Tour de France-style finish at the top of a climb! Well almost … but obviously just a tad less steep!

As we turned into Muthill church yard Team Matilda had that euphoric feeling of knowing they had actually completed a sportive as they crossed the finishing line. A quick glance at the electronic timer clock revealed that we had finished in a fairly respectable time of  just under 1 hour 31 minutes.

Hi-fives at the end – the “old git” and “old gal” happy at the end!

The friendly nature of the Muthill Sportive was underlined by the amazing hospitality on offer back in the church hall. An army of volunteers had been busy and yummy home made soup was on offer, along with tasty filled rolls, followed by a fantastic selection of home baked cakes. The fact that they even had gluten free cakes was quite literally the icing on the … well you know what I mean!

So after some much needed re-fuelling it was time to head back to Matildas Rest where the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 15 gongs – 5 personal bests; 8 second bests; and 2 third bests.

Amazingly Strava also gave my dynamic crew another 3rd best ever gong – meaning that our time of 6 mins 49 secs is now down in history as the 3rd fastest time ever recorded on the 2.3 mile section ‘Machanay Road only’. Well to be totally honest, it was the 3rd fastest time ever recorded by a female as I am officially registered as a female by Strava – but a gong is a gong! And there was also an 9th best ever time too! Phew – quite a day!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 18.3 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 31 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.1 mph given the hilly terrain while the elevation was 1036 feet. The maximum speed was 31.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1229 calories and produce an average power output of  202 W.

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

My dynamic crew both agreed that The Muthill Sportive was a great event and fun to be part of! Apart from living up to its reputation of being one of Scotland’s friendliest sportives, it certainly offered a great opportunity to promote cycling and the benefits of off-road cycle paths in the beautiful Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust and Perth and Kinross Council area near Perth City Centre.

Lets hope the event raised lots of money for the Muthill to Crieff Cyclepath project and that I will soon be blogging about new developments and an extension to the existing first stage of the route – including a large span bridge to cross the River Earn at Crieff.

Team Matilda is certainly planning on being on the starting line next year!

Team Matilda are already planning to join Scotland’s friendliest sportive in 2019!

Matilda’s maiden trip on new Muthill cycle path

At the start of the new Muthill cycle path in brilliant Perthshire sunshine.

At the start of the new Muthill cycle path in brilliant Perthshire sunshine.

Much excitement at Matildas Rest on Sunday! Not only was the sun shining, and a ride out beckoned, but I had been invited to be the first tandem to ride the newly opened cycle path at the nearby village of Muthill. And the local volunteers who raised all the money for the project wanted me to blog about my experience! The “old gal” is even talking about a video! Fame indeed!

I mean it’s going to be quite a week – what with my maiden trip on the cycle path and then at the end of the week the awards ceremony for the UK Blog Awards. And you’ll remember that I am the only Scottish blog to reach the finals – listed in the Most Innovative category! It’s soooo exciting!

My dynamic duo promised to take a picture of me with my invitation on our return from the trip, so more about the blog awards later.

But firstly there was the big weigh in with the “old git” and the “old gal” in the middle of their Hay Plan weight loss regime that they have been embracing. And I am so impressed as they have now lost a combined total of 49 pounds in 10 weeks!

So I am expecting big things on the ride out today – hoping for an improvement in our average speed – as they tell me that they are feeling much healthier and fitter. I mean my ageing frame is now carrying almost 50 pounds less that it was! What a relief!

After a healthy breakfast we headed off from Auchterarder in brilliant sunshine on the quiet back roads heading to Muthill. And we were all in good spirits being out in the fresh air, and my four pedals were soon spinning along at a fair rate!

Check out the route of my maiden trip on the new Muthill cycle path on Strava below – don’t forget to click on the map to get the full data and statistics!

MCP - strava map

In what seemed like no time we tandemed into Muthill and turned down past the primary school towards Strageath to the banner sign which marks the start of the new path about half a mile from the village on a nice quiet road.

The start of the path is next to the sewage works, but fortunately it is nicely hidden by large trees! And there is no smell – honest!

Selfie time for the "old git" and the "old gal" at the sign at the start of the new Muthill cycle path.

Selfie time for the “old git” and the “old gal” at the sign at the start of the new Muthill cycle path.

The path was officially opened on Friday and marks the first stage of a bigger project to have a user-friendly Muthill to Crieff cycle path running the 4 miles to the Strath capital.

The ambitious project has been driven forward by community development group Muthill Village Trust. Phase 1 is now open and stretches about a mile from Muthill to Templehill.

The cyclepath is funded from a variety of sources including The Gannochy Trust, Sustrans, Big Lottery Fund Scotland and the Perth and Kinross Community Environment Challenge Fund.

The "old gal" at the start of the smooth new path surrounded by Perthshire countryside.

The “old gal” at the start of the smooth new path surrounded by Perthshire countryside.

So after a few pictures it was time for my maiden trip on the new path. And what a joy it is to ride on. They really have done a fantastic job. We were soon whizzing along on a wonderfully smooth tarmacadam path which takes you right across wonderful Perthshire farming countryside with stunning views in all directions.

There are a couple of 90 degree bends, and because I am a “long vehicle” the “old git” needed to pay a bit of attention to steer round, but as the “old gal” commented, they are perfectly tandem friendly!

To make up for the tight bends there are a couple of long straight stretches, with only gentle undulations – which were a delight to tandem on.

The new path has several long straight stretches where you can admire the views.

The new path has several long straight stretches where you can admire the views.

There is a slightly steeper downhill stretch where we picked up speed, leading to another 90 degree bend before a bridge across a stream. The “old git” applied my brakes just before the turn (and just before the “old gal” screamed!) and it was perfectly manageable.

Up a slight incline and we were soon at the end of the first stage at Templemill – which is marked with a cycle path and walkers bollard.

The end of phase 1 - with cyclists and walkers bollard - looking towards Crieff.

The end of phase 1 – with cyclists and walkers bollard – looking towards Crieff.

Eventually the path will go all the way to Crieff, incorporating quiet country roads, off-road paths and a new bridge over the River Earn.

In all there are four phases to the project with phase 1 just opened. Phase 2 will upgrade the track beyond Templemill down to the River Earn. There will then be a bridge built across the river, before the final stage of a path leading to the Strathearn Community Campus.

The use of the land is under the agreement of the local Drummond Foundation, who actively support the project.

You can see the overall route on the map below (Click on map if you need to see it larger.)

The plan showing the route of the remaining stages of the Muthill to Crieff cycle path.

The plan showing the route of the remaining stages of the Muthill to Crieff cycle path.

Time for the return journey and although it is slightly more of a climb going from Templemill to Muthill was equally enjoyable for my dynamic duo. And as an “old lady” classic tandem, the smooth surface is a real treat to my tyres and my suspension!

It really is a great project and good to see the local community coming together to get it off the ground.

Lindsay Lennie of the Muthill Village Trust says the path was identified as a key project the local community wanted in the Muthill Community Action Plan 2011-16. Not surprisingly, it has been many years in the making – with community consultations, local fundraising, grant applications and landowner negotiations.

The main focus of the path is to allow purposeful journeys between the village and Crieff – particularly focusing on children cycling to school.

But there is also a leisure side to it – with the track  attracting local cyclists, as well as forming part of the proposed Three Saints Way walking route from Killin to St Andrews.

So after completing the return journey in just a few minutes, it was time for a quick coffee stop at the Muthill end before setting off in the original direction again – with the “old gal” in charge of the video camera!

You can get a good impression of the path – and the scenic views – by clicking on the video below – complete with commentary from the “old gal” and the “old git” who clearly have missed out on their vocations as tour guides! (Remember if you are reading this on email, you need to click onto the actual blog first via the link at the bottom of the email to view the video.)

So after being honoured to be the first tandem to try out the new path I have to offer my hearty congratulations to all those involved in the project. It is well worth a visit to Muthill to try the path out – and you can easily combine it with any other routes through the area. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

MCP - sportive logoYou may also want to sign up for the third annual Muthill Sportive which is being held on Saturday June 11th to raise funds for the next stage of the cycle path. There are three routes appealing to all grades of cyclists. And you better to be quick to sign up (via Entry Central) as already a third of the available places are now taken with less than two months to go. Every penny raised goes to making the cycle path project a reality.

As for our Sunday ride out, we left the new cycle path – promising to return soon – and took a circular route back from Templemill back to Muthill, before heading to Tullibardine and then homeward.

And I was amazed, no make that I was flabbergasted, at the new found fitness of my dynamic duo when we managed to tandem up a very steep hill just after Machanay Bridge for the first time ever! This has always been a hill too far and ended up with me being “taken for a walk” and pushed up that stretch. But I was mega impressed!

And so was the “old gal” who – as regular readers of my Musings know only too well – doesn’t do hills. The “old git” was a happy chappy and of course claimed it was all down to his clever use of my gears! Aye right!

Buoyed by that success we easily managed to nail the long – but gentler – climb at Easthill before the nice fast downhill stretch back to Matildas Rest. Time for a well deserved coffee for my crew, while sitting out on the decking enjoying the Spring sunshine while checking out the details of the ride.

A welcome coffee as a treat on the decking back at Matildas Rest!

A welcome coffee as a treat on the decking back at Matildas Rest!

Strava officially recorded the ride at a distance of 20.8 miles, covering an elevation of 872 feet, with a moving time of 2 hours 17 minutes. The average speed was 9.1 mph and we reached a thrilling (well for this “old lady” anyway) maximum speed of 30.2 mph!

The most pleasing thing was that Team Matilda managed to clock up no less than 8 personal records on the route!  See I told you the weight loss of my dynamic duo would boost our stamina and speed!

Before I was returned to my comfortable garage there was the important job of the “old gal” taking my picture with my official invite for the glitzy UK Blog Awards 2016 awards ceremony which takes place at the Park Plaza Hotel at Westminster in London this Friday, April 29.

Happily posing with my invite to the UK Blog Awards 2016 awards ceremony.

Happily posing with my invite to the UK Blog Awards 2016 awards ceremony.

I was one very happy tandem posing with my invite! After all as the author of this blog, who did the “old git” think it would be sent to?! Just a reminder that my Matildas Musings blog is not only a finalist in the Most Innovative category but it is the only Scottish blog to reach the finals.

Given that it was me who got the invite, the question is does that make my dynamic duo my “plus one” – or should that be my “plus two”?!

If I am being honest, I don’t think I will win – especially when you see the other blogs who are finalists in the Most Innovative category.

But if the judges are looking for something really original – what can be more original than a witty blog written by a classic Jack Taylor tandem?

My spokes are firmly crossed and I know you will cross your fingers and toes and anything else you can for me.

UKBA finalist_twitter