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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sustrans feature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Local Legend” status on Strava!

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

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

The feel good factor from #Lockdown2 Ride 3 was a welcome feeling – reminding my dynamic crew that despite the vital Covid-19 restrictions, it’s great fun being out pedalling on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

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

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

Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire

A signature prosecco toast from the Nutty Tandemers – one of many over the week!

This Matildas Musings is a specially extended blog post about a truly memorable week in #tandem as my dynamic crew were hosted by fellow founding (and only!) members of the self-proclaimed and highly exclusive Nutty Tandemers Club for their 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Jane Termini Taylor and John Taylor – who have their own Travelling In Tandem blog and have the same nutty attitude to tandeming as the “old git” and “old gal” – kindly invited my dynamic crew to their home base of Redditch in Worcestershire for what will be our fifth annual Nutty Tandemers Tour.

Regular readers of my blog will remember in 2016 my dynamic Team Matilda crew became ‘best pals’ with John and Jane. Such was the level of laughing, fun and general nuttiness on our inaugural Le Tour de Perthshire du Tandem that we decided to try and do a Tour each year. So in 2017 the nutty tandem crews all enjoyed Le Tour de New Forest du Tandem, before circumstances resulted in a Mini Tour de Perthshire in 2018, and then our epic Le Tour de Hebridean Way odyssey last year.

With the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions changing almost daily it was touch-and-go as to whether the tandem teams would be able to get together for their 2020 Tour – but fortunately there were no last minute rule changes. So Team Matilda were up before dawn on a Sunday morning and driving south to the headquarters of the Southern Division of the Nutty Tandemers Club!

The “old git” and “old gal” arrived in time for a late lunch – followed by a quick tour of John and Jane’s super new house which they moved into just before Christmas. Then, so as not to waste any time, the tandem crews changed into cycling gear and headed off on a short hilly ride to get to know the local area – with the carrot of a prosecco toast at a sunny viewpoint.

NTC 2020 Day 1 – 3 mechanicals and a hilltop view with prosecco!

For the first ride of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire our hosts had scheduled a pedal up to Beacon Hill to get orientated with views of the area we were going to be tandeming around. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was meant to be a straightforward relaxed pedal – but before we even left Team Matilda was hit by the first … of what turned out to be three … mechanicals when the “old gal” noticed my pedals were out of alignment. With my dynamic crew frozen by panic, John stepped in to quickly remove the front chain, pedals reset, and we were good to go.

Half way up the climb the “old git’s” saddle clamp needed tightening as it had slipped to an unrideable angle. That problem was easily solved by the “old gal” and a trusty allen key! After two mechanicals my crew wondered if there was to be a third – but we arrived at Beacon Hill without further mishap to enjoy magnificent views over the city of Birmingham in gorgeous warm sunshine.

After much puffing and panting pedalling up to an elevation of nearly 1000 feet, the “old gal” was happy to have a rest at the highest point – Toposcope Fort which was restored in 1988 to celebrate the centenary of the surrounding country park. Meanwhile John and Jane hardly broke sweat pedalling on their amazing e-assist bright green recumbent Pino tandem – suitable named Polly!

The “old gal” having a breather in the sunshine at Toposcope Fort at Beacon Hill.

The viewpoint from Beacon Hill offered a marvelous location for the first Nutty Tandemers signature prosecco toast of the tour! As always the pop of the prosecco cork attracts interest from fellow park visitors and one kind lady offered to take some photos of all four of us to mark the occasion!

The first signature prosecco toast for the Nutty Tandemers club on Beacon Hill.

Prosecco selfie – the Nutty Tandemers enjoying the first fizz of the 2020 Tour!

It was the ideal spot for a photo shoot, which resulted in selfies galore and some arty shots, around a perfectly situated bench, for the annual Nutty Tandemers calendar!

Arty calendar shot of the “old gal” and Jane admiring the vista from Beacon Hill.

Captain’s toast! The “old git” and John say cheers to the 2020 Tour!

After some much needed catching up on news – and a refreshingly cool glass of fizz – it was time to head home. And it was a wonderful tandem as it was almost all downhill – tho there were a couple of photo stops for my dynamic crew as we passed some interesting and amusing road signs to the village of Lickey and also Twatling Road – which seemed highly appropriate for the “old git”!

The “old gal” playing up to some villages having rather strange and amusing names!

Not sure why the “old gal” said to caption this photo – “no caption necessary – the picture tells it all!”

Then about three miles from home the third mechanical hit when I suffered a P-word on my back tyre. It was an instantaneous loud pop and total deflate. Now I have a drum brake which hinders the removal of my wheel but John kept my crew calm and helped in getting my inner tube quickly replaced to get us back on the road.

When we finally were safely back at John and Jane’s home base, the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the Nutty Tandemers tandemed a distance of 15.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 30 minutes. The average speed was 10.4 mph while the elevation was 1141 feet. The maximum speed was 28.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1283 calories and produce an average power output of 213 W.

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

The first day of the Tour ended with a hearty and tasty upside-down pizza meal created by Jane. A great start to the Tour with great tandeming friends… with the usual level of nuttiness on bicycles made for two! My dynamic crew are just hoping that they have used up all their three doses of mechanical bad luck on day 1!

NTC 2020 Day 2 – I shot the sheriff … before he got Lench(ed)! … on a tandem Tour of the Lenches

Day 2 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew embark on a ride entitled: “I shot the Sheriff … before he got Lench(ed) on a #tandem pedal round the Lenches!” You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Monday morning and our fantastically hospitable hosts Jane and John had planned a route heading south and expertly guided us around a series of scenic villages known as The Lenches – and even made sure there was brilliant warm September sunshine for the Nutty Tandemers to enjoy!

The day’s pedal started with a photo stop at the picturesque wharf at the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, just a couple of miles from base.

John Jane and the “old gal” at the wharf on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Polly, the bright green recumbent Pino tandem – with me – in the sun at the wharf.

Next today’s tour provided some marvelous tandeming thru a network of beautiful quiet lanes. The first of the villages was Rous Lench with its traditional English village green.  There was quite a steep climb out of Rous Lench – with some beautiful high hedges and castle like topiary at The Court to take my dynamic crew’s mind off the climbing – on the way to the next village of Church Lench.

The “old git” and the “old gal” at the traditional village green in Rous Lench.

Phew that was a steep climb! The scenic road out of Rous Lench to Church Lench.

The next hamlet was Atch Lench which offered a stop for a comfort break – and also some views over the rolling farmlands, before the tandem crews decided it was time for the signature prosecco picnic and found a lovely sun-kissed spot at the side of a field of ready-to-be-harvested corn!

Having a rest near Atch Lench while the crew’s had a necessary comfort stop!

A gate into a corn field provided the ideal spot for a Nutty Tandemers 2020 Tour logo photo.

Premature prosecco eruption! The cork bursting out the bottle caught my crew by surprise!

Cheers! My dynamic crew toasting another great day of nutty fun on bicycles made for two!.

Refreshed and re-fuelled the Nutty Tandemers pedalled on to Sheriffs Lench – which gave the ride its convoluted title! This was too good an an opportunity for the “old git” to miss a photo opportunity at the sign to the village – complete with imaginary gun!

The “old git” pretending he was shooting the Sheriff – before he got Lench(ed)!

Sheriff’s Lench is so-called because it was held, from 1077, by Urse d’ Abitot, the Sheriff of Worcestershire, and subsequently by his heirs the Beauchamp family, who inherited the office of Sheriff. So now you know!

We pedalled on to complete a wonderful loop taking us past Vale Golf and Country Club and thru Bishampton before starting to re-join the initial route at Bradley Green. Next stop was the wonderfully named area of Bentley Pauncefoot – which again provided the ideal location for a nutty photo for the “old git” putting on his best poncey look, ideal in his pink cycling top!

The rural area of Bentley Pauncefoot saw the “old git” put on his best poncey look!

John – who was admirably in charge of finding suitable watering holes – came up trumps on the way home with a welcome re-hydrating pit stop at The Tardebigge for some cool drinks!

With temperatures rising to near 30C – the last few hilly miles were completed at a sedate pace in the Indian Summer heat, before the tandem crews enjoyed some ice cold grapefruit gin cocktails in John and Jane’s beautifully designed garden – which has two patios to enjoy the sun at any hour of the day!

A reflective moment for the Nutty Tandemers back in the sanctuary of John and Janes garden!

While supping the gin, the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 42.9 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 46 minutes. The average speed was 11.4 mph while the elevation was a lumpy 2421 feet. The maximum speed was 36.2 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2893 calories and produce an average power output of 197 W.

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

Jane again came up trumps with a wonderful re-energising and nutritious meal of fish cakes and salad followed by some yummy key lime pie – before the tandem crews watched the highlights of Le Tour de France on television. All in all another wonderful day on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour.

NTC 2020 Day 3 – Duke of Earlswood in tandem for prosecco picnic, Tanworth in Arden and Alvechurch Marina

Day 3 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew enjoying a ride called: “Duke of Earlswood for prosecco picnic plus Tanworth in Arden and Alvechurch Marina.” Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Tuesday and our super fellow founding members of the self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club, Jane and John, had again researched a superb tandem ride heading north east around some fantastic countryside in Worcestershire.

The sun was already splitting the sky as the tandem crews headed off on a lovely ride along rolling lanes to the town of Tanworth in Arden – where right in the centre proudly stands the beautiful St Mary Magdalene church which dates back to medieval times. The Nutty Tandemers spent some time exploring the churchyard and had some suitably nutty pictures looking up at the massive trees.

Admiring the trees in the churchyard.

Jane and the “old gal” take in the view looking up into the tall trees.

Pedalling on – a perfect stop had been identified for the signature Nutty Tandemers prosecco picnic which was very welcome as the temperature rose. The venue was Earlswood Lakes – which is a wonderful natural wildlife haven area which is actually made up of three 22 acre reservoirs and looked after by the  Canal and River Trust.

Captain’s pose! The “old git” and John enjoying the sun at Earlswood Lakes.

The “old gal” taking in the scenery and spotting the ducks at the natural wildlife haven.

Stokers’s united! Jane and the “old gal” at Earlswood Lakes run by the Canal and River Trust.

After lunch the route took us to a shady coffee stop near Wood End then on to the town of Alvechurch and the Alvechurch Marina – situated on the Worcester and Birmingham canal – where both tandem crews admired the canal boats.

The Marina hosts the Weighbridge Pub – that was once the old canal side weighbridge office for offloading coal barges to horse and cart for local deliveries. It has a wonderful beer garden and stocks unique beers and ciders. Naturally the Nutty Tandemers had to sample some of the offerings – and certainly gave it pass marks. Whether it was the effects of the drinks or not, mixed with the very warm sun, but there was some talk about perhaps hiring a canal boat in the future for a relaxing holiday along the canals at a very sedate pace!

The Nutty Tandemers and bikes lined up by the canal at Alvechurch Marina.

Selfie time for the tandem crews beside the canal boats at the scenic marina.

The “old git” admiring the canal boats – there was even talk of hiring one in the future!

A studious pose from the “old gal” and “old git” reflecting in John’s sunglasses!

The only downside – which was actually very much an upside – was that the steepest climb of the day was situated just as the tandem crews left the pub. But the “old git” and “old gal” slowly ground out the climb – which peaked at just over 10% – and celebrated getting to the top! Just at that stage it seemed appropriate that the “old git” and “old gal” were wearing yellow Tour de France winners jerseys!

My dynamic crew celebrating grinding out the steep climb with a smile!

Not surprisingly cooling drinks and chilling in the garden were the order of the day on return to the Nutty Tandemers base. The “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 28.3 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 38 minutes. The average speed was 10.7 mph while the elevation was a lumpy 1729 feet. The maximum speed was 40.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2173 calories and produce an average power output of 205 W.

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

An energy replenishing tasty dinner of cod with a pesto crust and a tasty Mediterranean marinated salad revived the crews who all agreed that this was another fabulous day on bicycles made for two – emphasising just what the joy of tandeming is all about.

NTC 2020 Day 4 – “To be, or not to be” tandeming to Stratford-upon-Avon via Sambourne, Alcester and Wilmcote

Day 4 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew embark on a ride called: “To be, or not to be … tandeming to Stratford-upon-Avon via Sambourne, Alcester and Wilmcote.” Check out the route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Wednesday dawned to another superbly sunny day and the Nutty Tandemers Club schedule today was a pedal for an overnight mini break stay in the William Shakespeare city of Stratford-upon-Avon.

My front panniers – packed with overnight essentials – were attached to my front carrier shelf and we were off. Once again John and Jane had researched a fabulous route heading in a south east direction along some more quiet lanes which were just perfect for tandeming.

The first stop today on our pedal as we entered the neighbouring county to Worcestershire of Warwickshire was the very English village of Sambourne – complete with its traditional village green which provided the backdrop for the first photo stop of the day.

The “old gal” enjoying the views at the typically English village of Sambourne.

John and Jane (and Polly) at the old signpost pointing out our next route destinations.

Next we encountered a ford at Coughton but instead of getting the tandem wheels wet pedalling across the slippy surface – which would more than likely have ended with a de-mount – we used the handily placed bridge to cross the river.

Jane with the “old git” and “old gal” on the bridge at the ford at Coughton.

A breather for my dynamic crew in the warm sun on the bridge at the ford.

I made an acquaintance with some overly friendly cows  at our next detour – to see the amazing 14th century Kinwarton Dovecote now owned by The National Trust.

I met some overly friendly cows at the 14th Century Kinwarton Dovecote!

Onwards for a welcome coffee stop in the beautiful Roman market town of Alcester, with time to explore the Tudor architecture and the grounds of the St Nicholas Church with its 14th Century tower.

St Nicholas Church with its 14th Century tower.

The “old gal” exploring the superb Tudor architecture of Alcester.

Refreshed the tandem crews headed next to Wilmcote to see Mary Arden’s Farm – home of Shakespeare’s mother – where the “old git” and “old gal” took some more photos.

Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote offered a perfect photo opportunity for my dynamic crew.

A close-up shot showing the “old gal” and “old git” in their AG2R La Mondiale cycling jerseys.

The “old gal” pointing out just how small the windows of the farmhouse were.

The tandem crews had hoped to pedal the scenic way into Stratford by tandeming along the tow paths of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal but sadly were thwarted by kissing gates which stopped us gaining access. So a slight detour brought us into the city with a stop for some lunch at the aptly named Pen and Parchment pub.

Time for reflection! The “old git” reflected in the “old gal’s” sunglasses

After lunch we crossed the canal basin area and a bridge over the River Avon to check-in to our superbly centrally located and luxurious Croft Guest House – with a secure garden to lock up the tandems for the night.

At the guest house there was the Nutty Tandemers signature prosecco toast – well we had to fit the obligatory bottle in some where! – while the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 24.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 23 minutes. The average speed was 10.3 mph while the elevation was 1059 feet. The maximum speed was 27.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1578 calories and produce an average power output of 165 W.

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

There was plenty of time to explore the historic centre around the canal basin before jane suggested a visit to the fascinating Tudor World Museum. Set within an historic 16th century building the Nutty Tandemers discovered what life was really like during the time of William Shakespeare, Francis Drake, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII.

There was some fun for the “old gal” when she took part in the Witches Trial where amazingly the answers to the quiz gave the verdict that she was indeed a witch (who knew?!!) while the “old git” found himself incarcerated in the stocks and had to plead to Jane get out! But only after he promised to be a good Captain!

The “old gal” took the Witches Trial only to discover she was in fact a witch!

The “old git” in the stocks at the Tudor World Museum – he had to plead to get out!

There were a couple of stops for cooling cocktails during the meander on foot, before a hearty evening meal at Cox’s Yard – including one of the biggest burgers my dynamic crew have ever tried to eat! (They failed to complete the task!) Somewhat tired the crews then retired for the night after another brilliant day of nuttiness on tour.

NTC 2020 Day 5 – Tandeming with Young Will or Will Young … that is the question … on ride from Stratford thru Thereabouts!

Day 5 of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew enjoying a ride called: “Tandeming with Young Will or Will Young … that is the question … on ride back from Stratford thru Whereabouts!” Check out the route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Thursday produced another sun-kissed day and the Nutty Tandemers Club schedule today was a scenic pedal back to Redditch from the overnight mini break stay in Stratford-upon-Avon. Both tandem crews were wonderfully rested after a sleep in the luxurious Croft Guest House and were fuelled for the day ahead with a hearty home cooked breakfast.

The day started with a photo shoot in the William Shakespeare city of Stratford-upon-Avon – where my crew posed with Young Will … tho for some reason that the “old git” claimed he couldn’t comprehend, the “old gal” said she wished it had been Will Young!

Photo with Young Will (Shakespeare) in Stratford tho the “old gal” wished it was Will Young!

The big wheel had been planned for a visit last night – but had shut before the tandem crews got there. But it provided a nice backdrop for an arty sunny photo. Then there was more photos for the tandem crews taking in the views at the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal basin.

An arty shot of the big wheel at Stratford showing the strength of the sun’s morning rays!

Amazing clear blue skies for John and Jane at the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal basin.

The blue of the sky neatly matched the blue on my dynamic crew’s AG2R pro jerseys!

Pedalling out of Stratford, today’s route covering numerous rural quiet lanes – just perfect for tandeming. The first port of call was Welford-on-Avon to see the UK’s tallest maypole at 65 feet.

Me at the 65 feet high maypole at Welford-on-Avon

Each village the Nutty Tandemers pedalled thru seemed even more beautiful than the last – including the hamlet of Barton.

Me posing beside a beautiful thatched cottage complete with postbox in the hamlet of Barton.

Lunch stop today was at the attractive Hilliers Farm Shop at Dunnington – where the “old git” couldn’t resist indulging in the blue cheese and mushroom pizza in the outdoor restaurant, even tho he could only manage to eat about half of it! Ever resourceful Jane bundled the remainder up in a goody bag to be re-heated over post ride drinks later!

Next stop was the tiny chocolate box picture perfect Abbots Morton – with numerous thatched cottages – which offered the ideal backdrop for another photo shoot for the tandem crews!

The four Nutty Tandemers at the chocolate box picture perfect village of Abbots Morton.

The “old git! taking in the old and the new at picturesque Abbots Morton.

Thumbs up from the “old git” and “old gal” ready to pedal on from Abbots Morton.

Today’s Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco was a great stop at some picnic benches at the side of the road near Inkberrow, with our fizz antics causing some amusement and friendly toots on the horn from passing drivers! There was the obligatory prosecco toast photo – plus another Nutty Tandemers tradition of taking a see no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil Three Wise Monkeys picture … which this year obviously had to have a Covid-19 theme complete with masks covering the eyes, ears and mouth respectively! This tradition started back on the first Tour in 2016 and has been a feature of the annual Nutty Tandemers calendar each year since!

Cheers! The Nutty Tandemers having fun on their signature prosecco toast near Inkberrow.

The 2020 Covid-19 themed See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil Three Wise Monkeys photo!

Refreshed from the fizz, we pedalled on for at least a whole mile before John called a stop for a small libation at the beautiful Old Bull at Inkberrow – where Shakespeare reputedly held his stag night. The Old Bull’s other claim to fame is that it was the inspiration for the pub in the famous BBC Radio soap The Archers as the village of Inkberrow is said to have been the model for Ambridge, the fictional setting for the long running programme.

A small libation in the heat at The Old Bull – reputedly visited by Shakespeare on his stag night!

Jane reflecting on the fact that the Old Bull is said to be the inspiration for the pub in The Archers.

The “old gal” and “old gal” inside the historic Old Bull – photobombed by the owner!

The tandem crews decided that two drinks were required – just to let the heat disappear a bit from the baking sun! – before the final stages of the warm route home meandering thru the local lanes took us to the the wonderfully named Thereabouts!

Would you believe – there is actually a place called Thereabouts!

A last pedal thru Feckenham, before the final climb of the day for the “old git” and “old gal”. They did find that one a bit energy-sapping – but firmly rejected any suggestions it was down to the drinks stops and insisted it was down to the heat!

My crew looking slightly less than dynamic after the last climb! It was the heat!!!

Back at Nutty Tandemers Club base camp, as the sun beat down on the ‘Scottish Quadrant’ – a lovely patio complete with blue and white saltire flags to make my dynamic crew feel at home – the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 29.8 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 08 minutes. The average speed was 9.5 mph while the elevation was a lumpy 1521 feet. The maximum speed was 33.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2388 calories and produce an average power output of 189 W.

Amazingly Strava awarded Team Matilda gongs for two different sectors for being “3rd fastest in the world” and “4th fastest in the world”! I may be old – but I am still fast! Click on today’s Strava map above for more details! It is a bit bonkers, but it all adds to the fun!

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

Jane again tempted the crews taste buds and hunger levels with a tasty meal of sausage and tomato hotpot served on pasta – before relaxing with some wine and viewing the highlights of Le Tour de France on television brought to an end another special day on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour with great tandeming friends, emphasising just what the joy of tandeming is all about!

NTC 2020 Day 6 – Tandeming to lunch at Galton Arms in Himbleton and the final signature prosecco toast!

Day 6 – and sadly the final day – of the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire saw my dynamic crew embark on a ride called: “Tandeming to lunch at the Galton Arms in Himbleton and the final signature prosecco picnic!”

Now as you know John and Jane have been enjoying a new lease of tandeming life – flying up hills – on their new bright green e-assist Pino tandem, appropriately called Polly! It would have to be said that the “old gal” was somewhat envious of the helpful kick that the battery assist provided. So before the tandem crews headed out on the Friday itinerary, John offered the “old gal” a shot as Stoker on Polly – which she gratefully accepted!

The “old gal” enjoying a shot as Stoker with John on Polly – the e-assist Pino!

As you can see by clicking on the video clip below, the “old gal” was certainly impressed!

After deciding that an e-assist tandem is certainly on the list for a purchase in the future it was time for my dynamic crew to be expertly led round some final scenic rural lanes south west from Redditch, the base of our fantastically hospitable hosts Jane and John. Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

And yet again, the tandems crews were bathed in bright sunshine as we pedalled off – underlining just how fortunate the Nutty Tandemers Tour had been with the weather this year.

After the “old gal’s” envy-inducing test stoking on the e-assist tandem, John and Jane decided to leave Polly in their garage and chose my old friend Siggy (who I built up a real rapport with on the Hebridean way last year – including a memorable night locked in a bedroom of a Stornoway hotel!) as their tandem of choice today.

More great views from the quiet rural lanes, many of which appear on the Sustrans National Cycle Network, including a quick picture at the Worcester and Birmingham canal wharf of a suitable Scottish named canal narrow boat.

Posing beside a suitably Scottish named narrow boat on the Worcester and Birmingham canal.

Next was a stop at the fabulous Jinney Ring Craft Centre for a quick spot of retail therapy. The “old git” and “old gal” watched a glassblower at work before buying a couple of garden ornaments – a snowdrop and a robin. And the “old gal” popped into a fascinating leather crafter called Paige Elizabeth and very kindly bought me a stylish mini gin flask to clip onto one of my panniers … for emergency supplies (obviously!)

he “old gal” got me a stylish leather mini gin flask – for emergency supplies, obviously!

Pedalling on we tandemed along the wonderfully named Loggerheads Lane – which provided an unmissable photo opportunity. I mean is there really any tandem crew who has never been at loggerheads with each other?!

Who said the tandemers were always at loggerheads with each other?!

Lunch stop today was the attractive 14th Century pub called The Galton Arms at Himbleton where the tandem crews enjoyed an outdoor lunch of tasty baguette sandwiches. Suitably re-fuelled (and re-freshed!) the tandem crews then had a wander round the beautiful St Mary Magdalene’s Church which dates back to Norman times.

The pretty St Mary Magdalen’s Church at Himbleton which dates back to Norman times.

Today’s Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco toast and fun photo frolics was at a perfect picnic stop by the river at Shell Ford. It offered a wonderful backdrop for the final alfressco fizz toast of the 2020 Tour. I think it was maybe because the end was in sight but today’s photos seemed to be the nuttiest of the week! Naturally there was another set-piece photo of two tandem crew’s in a salute – for the annual Nutty Tandemers Club calendar. All great fun!

Another set piece photo – the salute – for the annual Nutty Tandemers Club calendar!

Cheers! Another Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco toast at Shell Ford.

John and Jane practice their balancing skills on a branch across the river creek.

The “old git” and “old gal” posing on the bridge at Shell Ford.

The photos were at their most nuttiness to mark the end of the Tour. Spot Jane with prosecco bottle!

In the final miles there was one last lumpy hill climb – which Jane videoed just to prove the “old gal” and “old git” could make it to the top – which they did! Click on the image below to watch the video.

Back at Nutty Tandemers Club base camp, over pre-dinner refreshments, the “old git” checked Strava which officially showed the tandem teams pedalled a distance of 30.3 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 45 minutes. The average speed was 11.0 mph while the elevation was 1065 feet. The maximum speed was 32.0 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2098 calories and produce an average power output of 189 W.

Because we had repeated quite a few sectors over the week, Strava that Team Matilda was worthy of a total of 24 gongs – made up of a pleasing 10 personal bests, and 8 second bests.

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

The total for the week long NTC 2020 Tour de Worcestershire and Warwickshire was just over 170 miles – 171.4 miles to be exact, with a total elevation of a not insubstantial 9586 feet.

The end of the week was suitably marked with a celebration dinner at the Red Lion in nearby Alvechurch hosted by the “old gal” and the “old git” to say a huge thanks to John and Jane.

This included the now traditional Nutty Tandemers Club “prizegiving” – with John receiving the award for rising above and beyond the call of duty to keep my dynamic crew calm during the mechanicals; while Jane received the award for keeping the tandem crews nutrition levels well topped up! And naturally the only way to celebrate was with the final prosecco toast of the tour!

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

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

And Team Matilda can’t wait for the next Nutty Tandemers Tour next year in 2021! So many thanks John and Jane for your wonderful hospitality – you couldn’t have been more welcoming!

As a little tribute to the fabulous 2020 Nutty Tandemers Club Tour the “old git” has pulled together a photo montage video – set to music – to help everyone remember the fun and nuttiness we all enjoyed – so click below and sit back and relax and enjoy!

Finally, thanks to all of you for reading this special edition of my blog, focusing on the Nutty Tandemers Club 2020 Tour. If this is your first time, remember if you want to know more about Matildas Musings – the UK’s only blogging tandem – then click the follow button on this webpage to sign up for regular updates!

Till our next adventure on a bicycle made for two!