The Magpie and Sputnik
Another helmet theme …
The magpie is a most illustrious bird
Dwells in the diamond tree
One brought sorrow, one brought joy,
Sorrow and joy for me
Sorrow and joy for me ...(Donovan)
Here’s the world war I flying ace flying his Sopwith Camel over the fields of northern France. He is thinking of the pretty little maid who served root beer last night. Suddenly there is a shadow behind him. Smoke is coming out of his engine. Curse you Red Baron!!
The magpie may well be illustrious, and may well be “a most royal bird”. But for two months of the year it is vicious. In September I moved to Canberra. I was commuting along Arthur Circle when I was first “swooped”. The bird came from behind so I couldn’t see which side he was coming from. The crack of its beak was like two rocks smashed together in my ear. If that bird found me it would draw blood – lots of it.
I changed my route.
A couple of weeks later I was provisioning, riding on Newcastle Crescent. A “maggie” came from behind, and he was nasty, nasty, nasty. I decided to change routes and fashion.
Local riders sport cable ties on their helmets. Supposedly they deter attacks. Well, why not? I went whole hog for “Sputnik fashion”.
Next weekend I was on Newcastle Crescent again. I changed my route as best I could to avoid my “friend”. Halfway up a climb (of course) I saw him coming at me from ten o’clock, beak down and beady eyes straight on me. He was gunning for me. Left side, right side, right side again. He punched me on the shoulder four times, all while I was trying to keep control in traffic.
They win. The cable ties are off. I simply avoid those places now. I’ll give the magpies 6 to 8 weeks to nest and raise their young’uns. Then I’m sure they will once again be “the gentle magpie bird”.