May 5, 2016 by welshcyclist
There is no doubt I am a slow coach as a cyclist. Very often, I decide to make a real effort to pick up the pace and get home or to work that bit faster. Yes, I’ve got some of the gear, a Garmin vivoactive watch, that helps me record all sorts of data about my trips, including the dismal 11.4 mph average speed, by the way, that’s one of the higher readings. But there is so much going on as I travel up and down this beautiful Neath valley, especially now that spring has sprung.
Last Monday, I was in the frame of mind to push those pedals towards home, after my night shift, trying for a quicker time than usual. However, the sun was coming up and approximately three quarters of the way home, it was splitting the trees when I heard the rat tat tat of a woodpecker in the trees alongside the road. I hear these tappings quite regularly at this time of year, as the male woodpeckers declare their territories, but usually the sound comes from off in the woods, with no chance of seeing the woodpeckers. This was right next to the road, in a set of dead trees alongside a filled in canal bed. So I just had to stop, turn around, and gently creep toward the source of the sound. Hoping to see a woodpecker hammering the dead tree trunk, I was of course disappointed as the woodpecker saw my approach and high tailed it across the road deep into the woods. But I did see him, a lesser spotted woodpecker, quite a small bird to make all that racket.
Then further along the road, I noticed a large shadow cross over my head, looking up I saw an old friend, my black buzzard gliding across the road effortlessly. He is a chap I have been seeing for a few years now, he is very distinctive, almost black all over. When I first saw him I believed I had spotted an exotic visitor of some sort. No, just another buzzard, but what a beauty?
If it had been tootlepedal on this trip, no doubt, he’d have pictures to show for these two meetings, but my mobile phone camera is wrapped up in two layers of plastic sandwich bags to protect it from any deluge, so I hadn’t even tried to get it out and into action. All I have is the visual memory of these crossing of paths. What a thrill, though, to have the pleasure of seeing such things as I cycle up and down this beautiful Neath valley.
Safe to say my speed was hindered to a very great extent. My usual 11.4 mph dropped to 8.7 mph., but how does one cycle on and ignore such sights and opportunities, I just can’t do it! Or am I just looking for the chance to slow down, stop even, struggling with my breath, heavy legs? I’ll leave that for you to decide, my faithful reader.