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

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

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

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

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

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

The Perthshire Advertiser article on Team Matilda in Lockdown 1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 14.1 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 12 minutes on their first outing of 2021. The average speed was a healthy 11.6 mph – showing the effects of my dynamic crew’s weight loss, despite the bitter cold! Elevation was 521 feet. The maximum speed was 23.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 720 calories and produce an average power output of 148 W.

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

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

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

Co(w)rraling the Cowches in C(ow)rieff!

The vibrant and eye-catching Crieff Cowches trail provided a fun sun-kissed trail for Team Matilda!

The imaginative Crieff Cowches art trail has come to an end – which reminded me to write a blog about my dynamic crew’s great great tandem trip round all 11 of the installations on a sun-kissed evening in August – where Team Matilda saw Crieff looking at its glorious best.

The cleverly decorated Cowches will be seen together for a final horn blowing hurrah on October 9, where they will be sold off at a charity auction.  So with the fundraiser fast approaching I decided it was time to post my blog – which recounts our attempts at Co(w)rralling the Cowches in C(ow)rieff!

Firstly a short bit of background. The Highland cow benches – or cowches for short – made up a unique art trail which succeeded in its aim of bringing huge numbers of visitors into Crieff during the summer. Each cowch had been individually decorated by local artists – who were given carte blanche to let their imagination run riot!

Why use Highland cows as the basis for this unique cultural trail? Well because Crieff occupies a key position between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, the town became the cattle-droving crossroads of Scotland in the 1700s – with up to 30,000 of the beasts arriving for market each year.

The Crieff Cowches trail was organised by Crieff Succeeds – the town’s Business Improvement District programme, which aims to promote Crieff as a vibrant, attractive and safe place to work, shop, visit and live. The trail has been actively promoted by the VisitCrieff tourism internet and social media sites.

So with deep blue skies and warm sunshine my dynamic crew decided to pedal round the art trail on a fun early evening ride – which would include a picnic tea at one of the Cowches! You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

We pedalled away from Matildas Rest in Auchterarder and firstly tandemed along the quiet country roads to The Library of Innerpeffray – which is Scotland’s first ever free lending library dating back to 1680. The gardens of the historic building – including St Mary’s Chapel with its fascinating graveyard, offered an inspirational spot for the “old git” and “old gal” to tick off their first Cowch, and number 11 on the trail map. This one was simply known as Innerpeffray Cowch and was created by June McEwan.

Cowch 11 – Innerpeffray Cowch by June McEwan

A few more miles and my dynamic crew arrived in Crieff itself, crossing Crieff Bridge to find the cleverly named Emoojis Cowch by local schoolgirl Sinead O’Malley – which is a cow covered in emojis, the smiley faces used in electronic messages.

Cowch 6 – Emoojis by Sinead O’Malley

Next Team Matilda decided to tandem around the town to Glenturret Distillery – recognised as Scotland’s oldest working whisky distillery after being established in 1775. Here the “old git” was happy to pose beside the Cowch named On Watch by Chelsea Rodger.

Cowch 10 – On Watch by Chelsea Rodger

The next stop saw us tandem downhill from the distillery to Turretbank where the “old gal” took the opportunity for a quick rest on the Cowch called Polly, created by Donna Connelly.

Cowch 7 – Polly by Donna Connelly

Tandeming into Macrosty Park my dynamic crew found the bandstand – and were able to tick off seeing Bloomin Flora by Liz Paterson. The “old gal” decided that she would enjoy a few minutes basking in the bright sun on this Cowch!

Cowch 9 – Bloomin Flora by Liz Paterson

Into the town of Crieff itself and Team Matilda tandemed up the High Street, stopping at the town hall after spotting the Sweet Annie Cowch, created by mosaic artist Katy Galbraith.

Cowch 1 – Sweetie Annie by Katy Galbraith

My dynamic crew had now ticked off more than half of the Crieff Cowches, but nearly missed the next one as it was placed in the grounds of Old St Michael’s Churchyard which we found difficult to find for a moment or two. But it was worth the hunt to discover Midnight Meadow by Ceri White.

Cowch 4 – Midnight Meadow by Ceri White

With the warm sunshine, the “old gal” decided it was time for a much needed refreshment which was enjoyed at the welcoming Quaich Bar on Crieff’s High Street. Revitalised, the next stop was at the Crieff Highland Gathering Cowch in James Square, the second on the trail to be created by June McEwen.

Cowch 2 – Crieff Highland Gathering Cowch by June McEwan

Crieff’s central James Square was where Drovers Coo was to be found – created by Hamish Bigg to pay homage to the town’s historic links to the cattle drovers.

Cowch 3 – Drovers Coo by Hamish Bigg

Just a few yards away, Kings Street was the site for my dynamic crew to tick off A Heilan Cooch, created by Catherine Redgate. It was great to see so many families having fun walking round in the evening sunshine, ticking off the Cowches from the trail map, creating a real buzz in the town

Cowch 8 – A Heilan Cooch by Catherine Redgate

The 11th and final Crieff Cowch on Team Matildas art trail was the amusingly named Military Coo by artist Gail Robertson which was situated in the grassy gardens of the town’s medical centre.

Cowch 5 – A Military Coo by Gail Robertson

Now the “old gal” is a friend of Gail Robertson, and knows she has a sense of humour, so knew she would not be even slightly offended that my dynamic crew used Military Coo as a perfect bench on which to set up a picnic tea! Our alfresco meal attracted a bit of attention from locals in a nearby pub – who all agreed that it was a good way to use one of the Cowches!

The Military Coo installation made a perfect picnic for my dynamic crew’s picnic!

After a tasty picnic – and having seen all the installations on the art trail – it was time for Team Matilda to pedal back home to Matildas Rest. Check out the full data from the ride at the end of the blog.

Meanwhile the artworks are set to be sold off at the Crieff Cowches Auction – a ‘dress-to-impress’ gala dinner at Crieff Hydro on Wednesday October 9. My dynamic crew hope the auction raises lots of money to help support Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

For those that like to study the figures, this was certainly one of our Team Matilda’s fun and relaxed pedals and Strava officially recorded the ride as showing that my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 27.5 miles with a moving time (or should that be moooving time given the subject of this ride!) of 2 hours 45 minutes. The average speed was 10.0 mph and the overall elevation was 1296 feet. The maximum speed was 34.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1725 calories and produce an average power output of 156 W. Almost by accident my dynamic crew recorded 11 gongs along the route – with 3 personal bests; 4 second bests; and 3 third bests.

Altogether a very pleasant cultural tandem ride Co(w)rralling the Cowches in C(ow)rieff!