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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.5 times Mount Everest!

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

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

6 full days in my saddles!

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

Matildas Musings blog feed.

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

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

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

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Matildas Musings Twitter feed.

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Matildas Musings Strava feed.

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

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

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


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

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

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

The alarm shrilled early on Sunday morning as the weather forecast had predicted a fine dry day with temperatures dancing just below 10C – ideal for a late November #tandem ride.

But when the “old git” took a quick look out of the blinds at Matildas Rest it revealed that the forecast was wrong – badly wrong! The reality was that the temperature had plummeted and the cars were showing there had been a hard frost. So plan B was hatched for a delayed start to let the frost lift – so back to bed for an extra hour or so!

Take 2 saw the sun up and breaking thru the clouds to melt the frost. So after a breakfast to provide fuel for the pedalling, my dynamic crew ventured outside to be hit by an icy blast of rather cold air.

The frost may have thawed a bit but clearly the temperature hadn’t risen much! But my intrepid crew decided to set off on their planned route to … in the words of the “old git” … to see what happens!

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

Let’s just say the “old gal” wasn’t showing the same level of enthusiasm – but went along with it as my crew badly needed some fresh air … it would just have been much better if it hadn’t been freezing cold fresh air!

The route was intended to be a quick blast over some quiet rural backroads to Braco – for a warming coffee pitstop – before coming back a new route out towards Crieff then doubling back to Auchterarder.

The first part of the route saw my crew pedal up the long high street in their home town of Auchterader, before more uphill towards Gleneagles and a nice easy and speedy downhill past the world-renowned golf courses.

Despite the cold temperatures the sun kept managing to blast its way thru those clouds which produced some interesting long shadow effects. It would just have been nice if the sun had also produced some warmth! It was however a beautiful winter’s morning!

Gorgeous sunshine produced amazing long shadows – but not warmth!

There were quite a few other cyclists about – although no other tandems! – and the usual exchanges were peppered with the words cold and freezing! If you are in any doubt, just look at the pictures and you can almost feel or touch the cold temperatures! Brrr!

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

To be honest, the outward leg to Braco was borderline for tandeming as we encountered a few areas of black ice in the dips where the sun hadn’t been able to do its job – which saw my back wheel slip and lose traction on a couple of occasions. Naturally this caused a bit of alarm in the “old gal” who needs her hands to be in good working order for her hairdressing role.

After dismounting to push past one particularly treacherous spot, my dynamic crew gingerly pedaled on and reached their half way point destination of Braco Coffee – a superb bike-friendly coffee shop. Sensibly the “old git” had done his organisational duties and messaged ahead to book a table – pretty much essential in the current Covid climate to ensure a seat inside. Not sure the “old gal” would have been too happy sitting outside with a takeaway coffee!

My dynamic crew reflected in the right window at Braco Coffee.

We walked in to a great socially distanced and safe environment – with the table reserved for us – complete with a cycle drawing on it, which was a really thoughtful touch! And naturally it had all been sanitised.

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

A welcome strong coffee was the order of the day, with a yummy home made cherry scone – the “old git” added some clotted cream and jam! – and a shared piece of caramel shortcake, which was a delicious treat.

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

Just as the “old gal’s” toes were starting to thaw out it was time to leave and head back. Fortunately the sun was now quite bright in the sky and the temperature had risen by a whole degree!!

We pedalled out of Braco, passing the turning to Auchterarder and headed out on the Crieff road for our “new” route home. This was a superb part of the trip with a long gentle rise, followed by an enjoyable equally long downhill stretch. And because it was a main A-class road, the A822 to be exact, the surface was well gritted and less frosty and icy and felt much safer.

The scenic views across the valleys towards both Crieff and Auchterarder provided food to the brain – with low lying fog hugging the valleys creating an interesting atmospheric effect known as cloud inversion.

Low lying fog in the valleys towards Crieff creating an effect known as cloud inversion.

A right turn took us back along a quieter farm road for about three quarters of a mile before we joined the A823 back towards home base. This section was actually very misty – creating a bit of a spooky aura – but after a mile as the elevation rose we climbed out of the foggy conditions.

My crew – feeling just a little festive (as well as cold!) decided to take a quick detour into the grounds of the luxury five-star Gleneagles Hotel  to see the huge Christmas tree. Sadly, due to the Covid restrictions, the resort has been forced to close its doors right thru the usually busy and lucrative festive period, and thru to the beginning of February.

But the resort last week decided to go ahead with the installation of its massive Christmas tree as a gesture to give local residents a festive feeling.

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

Selfie time at the massive Christmas tree at Gleneagles.

After a quick couple of photos my dynamic crew enjoyed the gentle downhill pedal back to base – with the simple pleasures of recording 22 mph figures on two different speed camera signs!

With the temperatures plunging again, and the fog descending once more, my dynamic crew were happy to be back in the warmth of Matilda Rest!

After thawing out – with warm showers – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no gongs – which given the somewhat treacherous conditions at times was no great surprise!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 19.2 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 43 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.1 mph given the ever changing weather conditions. Elevation was a creditable 1025 feet. The maximum speed was 28.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1270 calories and produce an average power output of 184 W.

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

The tandem ride left my dynamic crew feeling extremely virtuous – with that feel-good feeling that only comes after doing some exercise in the fabulous Perthshire countryside on a bitterly cold and foggy winter’s day … but now being back safe and cosy indoors!

But as the “old gal” pleaded: “Can we have a little bit of heat next time, please!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ride 1 – Sunday, 5 April 2020
Gander to Gloagburn Farm Shop for essential provisions on exercise allowance ride

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

Ride 2 – Wednesday, 8 April 2020
Dauner to Dunblane into the headwind with a quick socially distancing picnic

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

Ride 3 – Friday, 10 April 2020
Good Friday flutter to Forteviot in the Easter sunshine

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

Ride 4 – Monday, 13 April 2020
Easter Monday meander to Comrie with socially distancing riverside picnic toast

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

Ride 5 – Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Bowling along to Bridge of Earn in sunshine for essential supplies but battling headwind

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

Ride 6 – Friday, 17 April 2020
Hilly and windy loop taking in Gleneagles, Blackford, empty A9, Badrill and Duchally

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

Ride 7 – Sunday, 19 April 2020
8th anniversary tandem ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for essential supplies

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

Ride 8 – Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Windy dander to Duchally on hilly loop around Gleneagles, Blackford, an eerily quiet A9

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

Ride 9 – Thursday, 23 April 2020
Sun lotion clad canter to Comrie with a socially distanced riverside picnic

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

Ride 10 – Saturday, 25 April 2020
Fabulous sunny warm tandem to Bridge of Earn on exercise ride

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

Ride 11 – Tuesday, 28 April 2020
Matilda revisits the Muthill Sportive Yellow Route loop

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

Ride 12 –
Sunny Saturday saunter to Gloagburn Farm Shop for an essential aubergine

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

Ride 13 – Monday, 4 May 2020
Post fence painting late afternoon loop around Gleneagles, Blackford, and Duchally

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

Ride 14 – Wednesday, 6 May 2020
Warm sunny ride to Comrie with quick socially distanced riverside picnic

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

Ride 15 – Saturday, 9 May 2020
Tandem sod’s law! Actually 28.8mi but Strava operator error on warm tandem to Bridge of Earn

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

Ride 16 – Monday, 11 May 2020
Sunny but windy tandem to Dunblane with DIY cake stop at Kinbuck

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

Ride 17 – Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Midweek tandem to Gloagburn Farm Shop for fruit with detour to Tullibardine Chapel on return

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

Ride 18 – Friday, 15 May 2020
Team Matilda clocks up 5000th tandem mile on celebration ride with prosecco … and a puncture!

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

Ride 19 – Sunday, 24 May 2020
New short loop down Easthill to Tullibardine Chapel then round Gleneagles and Duchally

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

Ride 20 – Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Birthday ride with a gin pit stop with friends socially distanced over the fence on way home

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

Ride 21 – Thursday, 21 May 2020
Sunny loop and home to strawberry cream tea – surprise delivery from Stoker’s granddaughter Ella

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

Ride 22 – Sunday, 24 May 2020
Blowy ride thru Machany, Tullibardine Chapel, and the deserted Gleneagles Hotel grounds

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

Ride 23 – Monday, 25 May 2020
King of Mountain tandem to Gloagburn on successful quest for elusive flour for home baking!

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

Ride 24 – Thursday, 28 May 2020
Post repairs to broken spokes tandem to Comrie for picnic on warmest day of year (so far!)

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

Ride 25 – Sunday, 31 May 2020
Matilda sports a new shiny horn on warm sunny ride to Bridge of Earn – with divine intervention!

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

Ride 26 – Tuesday, 2 June 2020
Local loop before the rain through the grounds of Gleneagles where golf has re-opened

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

Ride 27 – Thursday, 4 June 2020
Supposed to be regular Gleneagles loop in window between showers … but forecast was wrong! 

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

Ride 28 – Saturday, 6 June 2020
New Matildas Musings water bottles on ride to Gloagburn Farm Shop for tahini paste (as you do!)

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

Ride 29 – Monday, 8 June 2020
Decadent fresh local strawberries and prosecco on fab ride featuring Muthill Sportive Yellow Route

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

Ride 30 – Thursday, 11 June 2020
Not just any picnic – but a M&S picnic!! … on our first ever ride to Bridge of Allan 

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

Ride 31 – Monday, 15 June 2020
Haar, haar! Hitting 800 lockdown miles on a murky ride to Bridge of Earn thru low cloud and drizzle

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

Ride 32 – Thursday, 18 June 2020
Perfect pedal to prosecco picnic … and paddle!! … at picturesque riverside spot at Comrie

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

Ride 33 – Saturday, 20 June 2020
Harris gin martinis – recreating memorable shaken not stirred distillery ‘lock-in’ exactly a year ago

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

Ride 34 – Monday, 22 June 2020
Completing our virtual lockdown JoGLE distance of 874 miles on local loop to beat the rain

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

Ride 35 – Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Sunny pedal to Bridge of Allan to see friends Dot and Bill for a great long leisurely prosecco lunch

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

Ride 36 – Saturday, 27 June 2020
Early local loop around Tullibardine and Duchally finishing seconds before the rain started!

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

Ride 37 – Thursday, 2 July 2020
Afternoon pedal to Bridge of Earn with my Captain nursing a thigh strain from about 5 miles!

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

Ride 38 – Monday, 6 July 2020
Freedom tandem to Gloagburn Farm Shop for an alfresco coffee and cake pitstop

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

Ride 39 – Wednesday, 8 July 2020
Leisurely pedal thru grounds of re-opening Gleneagles Hotel and around Tullibardine 

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

Ride 40 – Saturday, 11 July 2020
Clocking up 1000th tandem lockdown mile on pedal to Arbroath for prosecco fish and chips!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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