pedestrians do not feature large on my horizon. the village main street is not a lengthy one, and the only period of care and attention required is on turning from shore street into main street on a return journey to the croft. at that point, pedestrians with tunnel vision are often making their way to the average market and paying less than credible attention to speeding bicycles. other than that, i am living the rural idyll, pedalling my way to joy and happiness. but that's not to say that there are not obstacles periodically in my way.
live moving obstacles that populate the cyclocross idiom.
i may have mentioned on previous occasions that saturday is cyclocross day, when the lime green ibis needs little by way of persuasion to be released from the bikeshed for a morning of scuttering about the labyrinth that is bridgend woods. saturday morning is also dog walking morning or even just walking morning for everybody else. hit the trails at the wrong time, and speed will not feature often in relation to velocipedinal activity.
on my two previous weekends of inhabiting the innards of the woods, i have come upon red deer casually standing by the edge of the trail, less keen to run away and more on figuring out whether lime green is really my colour. distant deer are not only cute, but something of a reminder that i ride far from city streets. however, whizzing round a blind leafy corner to narrowly miss a deer crossing from one side to the other has the potential to render us both less than cute.
the word is obstacle.
i was once informed by a member of islay's farming community that sheep are remarkably short-sighted. so when they stand motionless in apparent scrutiny of the incoming carbon-fibre and rubber, it is to discern whether i might too be of the woolly fraternity. at the point when it becomes clear that wool does not have fsa cantilever brakes, they scatter, and rarely in a single direction.
sheep are, as i have attested in the argyll and bute council cycling on islay leaflet, predictably the most unpredictable animals in christendom. no matter the side of road on which you encounter sheep, they will always think the opposite side the safer of the two. on single track roads, that becomes a problem.
cows, on the other hand are at the cutting edge of immoveable objects. i have no information regarding their eyesight or cognitive functionality, but more often than not, they will simply stand in your way and hope to stare you out, relying principally on their bulk and size to infer superiority. that is, up until the very last moment, when they become as unpredictable as sheep. beef and carbon fibre are less than complementary bedfellows.
the second part of my cyclocross outings incorporate the grass between road and beach on uiskentuie strand. since this stretch of a couple of kilometres is periodic grazing ground for both sheep and cattle, i have yet again to contend with moving obstacles. shouting is often the only means of clearing the way ahead, but if i were happily chewing my lunchtime cud only to be shouted at by a guy in a yellow helmet, i'd be inclined to become a shade testy and unpredictable. aggressive even.
perhaps the ideal method of warning any livestock that may be standing in my path, or contemplating egress from the undergrowth would be a bell that pings gracefully, sonorously and loudly.
the heavily bearded scientist, inventor and engineer, alexander graham bell died in 1922, but not before he'd been credited with inventing the first practical telephone. this invention was perhaps predicated by his mother's profound deafness, prompting bell to speak in clear audible tones into her forehead, that she might better understand him. this preoccupation led him to study acoustics.
while experimenting with a phonautograph which drew sound waves on smoked glass, he thought it likely that a skoosh of metal reeds tuned to different frequencies might be capable of converting electrial currents back into sound. on june 2nd 1875, his assistant, thomas watson, plucked one of these reeds connected to a wire, at the other end of which was graham bell. he heard the reed's overtones and the rest is not only history, but currently an overweening factor in contemporary life.
i wonder if alexander ever considered adding a camera?
but i digress, for up until alexander graham bell interrupted proceedings, we were discussing not the iniquities of pedestrians, but the unpredictability of farm and wild animals and how such perceived dangers might be ameliorated by use of a bicycle bell. in the uk it is illegal apparently, to sell a new bicycle without a bell; whether you subsequently make use of it is neither here nor there. right up there with offering hand signals when turning corners, the bicycle bell has more recently emulated the extinction of the dodo. you hardly ever see one about nowadays.
this, i might venture, has a great deal to do with the uselessness of many that accompany new bicycles. several thousand pounds worth of carbon fibre as ridden by your favourite world tour team is perceived to be sullied considerably by the affixation of a naff bicycle bell, not only through naffness of its design, but by temerity of sound. quite frankly, it looks ridiculous, particularly when bolted to the top of a pair of carbon bars. and this is where alexander graham bell makes a second appearance.
for this is the name given to the pingingly clear brass offering from portland design works, a bicycle bell that offers an ingenious method of affixation. supremely ideal for that cyclocross bicycle as it happens. the bracket, rather than a variation on the clamp of regularity, is a spacer to fit the steerer of a 1.125" headset. this sites it comfortably inboard of the bars out of harms way, yet easily accessible should a deer, cow or sheep inadvertantly stray into your path.
i'm ready for them.
pdw's 'alexander graham bell' costs a rather impressive £18 and is joined by the bar-mounted 'king of ding' for three pounds less.
sunday 28th september 2013