Tuesday, 4 October 2022

The Bike

When I am foolish enough to think about it, I remember that my presence has registered in eight decades of our Common Era. Which horrifies me. However, that slap of harsh reality is eased by the knowledge that I have also been a cyclist in seven of them. Which makes me smile.

It wasn't always two wheels. A present from grandparents, I would imagine this Rolls Royce of trikes must have cost relative mega-bucks in the early 1960s. Note the capacious boot. Brilliant for the retrieval of interesting roadkill.

In my adult years cycling has been a means of pleasure and fitness of course, but latterly a sense of vulnerability has eroded my confidence when it comes to riding on the road. So much so that I have sold all my road bikes. The last one went today. But, when one door closes...etc...

In February last year I received a surprising invitation. Would I like to write an essay for a forthcoming book on low-carbon birding? Short answer: yes. It has recently been published, and two or three weeks back my complimentary copy arrived. I am a slow reader, and easily distracted, but have managed a number of chapters now. They have made me think, as I knew they would. At some point I shall write some words about this book and shape them into an opinionated NQS post, but for now I shall just say: why not buy a copy, and read it? This is what it looks like...


Anyway, some of the contributors use bikes for their birding. This is something I have long wanted to do but felt was out of reach. My usual haunts are a little too far for comfort, and reached via roads which are absolutely no fun to ride. Also, skinny, lightweight road bikes with drop bars and a million gears never felt like the right kind of tool for such a task.

Enter number two son.

Baz and family moved from London to Lyme Regis in February 2021. Languishing in their garage ever since has been his old single-speed bicycle. You cannot cycle ten feet in Lyme without going seriously uphill. It is no place for a single-speed. So last week Barry's bike found a new home...

It needs a bit of fettling, but this Charge Plug - my colourful new friend - looks quite at home in the West Bay shelter this afternoon.

The bike's arrival could not have been better timed. Slowly, slowly, I am realising that my birding needs have become far less demanding of the scarce and unusual, and more easily satisfied by simple, everyday stuff, and the occasional quirky 'project'. So I intend to focus increasingly on the Bridport recording area, much of which I would feel comfortable doing by bike.

The Plug is equipped with a 16-tooth rear sprocket, which gives a gearing slightly too high for my knackered old legs, especially when faced with an incline, so an 18-tooth replacement is on order. Plus I need to work out a way to fit my scope and tripod securely...

Yes, already I can sense a renewed zeal for the game. Watch this space...

The view from West Bay's prime seawatching spot.

As I sat there this afternoon, 40+ Med Gulls flew west in under five minutes. The sea was lively enough to look interesting, and I promised myself another visit in the morning. With a scope. The forecast is predicting strong wind, and rain quite early.

Despite the big talk, on this occasion the bike will be staying at home.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Gav

    Slightly distressed to read of your shedding of bikes but I guess you have to go with how you feel. Glad to hear you've a new SS - my brother -in-law has one and thinks they are really good! Here's to many birding adventures on two wheels!

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    1. Ah, thanks Col, really appreciate your good wishes. Yep, it was hard to part with them, and a bit depressing to realise exactly how I had come to feel about riding on the road. But the SS has given me a good reason to push pedals again, and I am looking forward to it... 😊

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