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.


  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!

    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... 😊