Ragtime Cyclist column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.

I’m reminded regularly that it’s by bike that you truly get a feel for a place; you see, hear, and smell things that you probably wouldn’t through the windscreen of a car.

Over time, I have come to associate particular places – towns, villages, rivers, hills, junctions, bumps in the road – with certain sights and sounds.

So, if I think about riding out towards Pilling and Eagland Hill I’m reminded of geese honking above in V formation, Scorton brings to mind wandering visitors eating ice-creams and stepping out into the road unannounced, and if I ride out towards Kirkby Lonsdale I can feel the air vibrate with the primal roar of a dozen motorbikes shooting past me.

One of my favourites though, has to be Dunsop Bridge, where the peace is only broken by weekend walkers, cyclists, oh, and a village green which is inhabited by approximately seven million ducks.

Ok, maybe not quite seven million, but enough to disorientate your average cyclist and make a head count all but impossible.

As you enter the village you hear their cacophony well before you see them; if such a thing as a carpet of ducks exists, then this is it.

These ducks are always there. Always. And so even as you semi-shout over their incessant quacking to make your voice heard to your riding companion, or you idly feed them the final crumbs from whatever mid-ride snack you’re nibbling on, they are so ever-present that before long you barely register their presence.

And then one day as you enter the village you think, ‘strange, seems quiet today, where are the ducks?’ And the village green is just that: green, and duck free.

In a strange and forlorn way you miss them, perhaps because it seems sinister; how can seven million ducks disappear?

That is a lot of ducks to conceal.

If they were simply out for a swim in the river the water would be a teeming mass of duck.

But it isn’t. So where are they? On a menu somewhere?

And then you return to Dunsop Bridge a few weeks later to find seven million ducks – surely the same seven million – very much present and correct and jockeying for position on that cramped and crowded village green. It’s a mystery.