Swan Song to the Eden-birds


Up at 4 my last day here. Thinking about birds, bonding & bikes.

Had to explore as much Eden as possible in this last seventeen and a half hour stretch of daylight. On board the Dreich-cycle, I cover 30 miles divided into three rides, and probably had about five hours’ saddle time. Never went more than about ten mph, usually more like five…

Seven a.m. I rode the last of the city’s unridden Hills (the ones allowed): Arthur’s Seat and the volcanic crags of Holyrood Park.

Got in via a tiny hole in the stone wall at St. Leonard’s, and dropt down a staircase into the Queen’s lands. Went ‘anti-clockwise’ for a bit, then swerved over to the green hunter’s bog with the gravelly red footpath. All around me the shiny green grass swirled in spirals and waves in time with the howling wind, and the sun played hide-and-seek with the racing clouds.

I knew I was breaking a law or two (about riding off-road): this adds to the experience.

To the boundary-challenged, transgression is the spice of life.

Happily, none of the three people up that early in the park stabbed me with Gloomy Glares. They seemed as thrilled to be alive this early in the morning as I. Maybe they were playing hooky, abandoning their tour busses, or poaching rabbits.

Dashed home again to swap sandals–rotten choice on any day in Scotland–for hiking boots. (a word of praise to our sponsor...) How grateful I am that Helen F. has opened her charming flat to me, allowing mid-day clothing changes.

At ten am I caught TryCycling‘s mellow Sunday ride. A couple of dozen people milled around the Bicycle Workshop in Arrgghyle St: students, visitors, German residents, old time Edinburghers….The fact wasn’t lost on me that the riders Maggie has nurtured over the years have bonded with her (and she them) during their critical stage of bicycle development..and how poetic, perfect to see this fact made visible during our ride out to …er, beyond Spylaw Park. There are clearly regulars and I hope to heck they morph into co-leaders and relieve a bit of the pressure on Mags.

Took the Union Canal, threading our way through the iron barriers featuring fish and birds…past the family of swans with the five cygnets that have double or trebled in size since that ride I did four weeks ago with Colin Shearer…the young ones are still gray and downy and so adorable at this point. The older ones have that scary combo of elegance, menace and purity as they glide around being photogenic.

At the midway point I sold an A-Zedinburgh to a young spanish woman, Ines Villa…within the usual sixty second sorting period I realized I was in the presence of another “dervish” (open-hearted ecstatic)

She had taught herself to ride at 23, and gotten away from cycling because city riding was so scary….this ride was her re-acquaintance with that old friend, the machine she had to learn as a die hard Wuelta fan.

As I shared some of my riding tips I asked her if she’d heard of Konrad Lorenz? Yes, she said… but why?

I told her about the birds, and how very permanent that crucial early bond is and why I like following a certain shape of person. It can’t be rationalized, it’s just nature. You bond.

But Dr Lorenz says it so much more eloquently.

However, he IS talking about birds.

Well, I’m a featherbrain…

The last ride was the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR!) a global action intended to draw attention to the vulnerability of cyclists while affirming the native whimsy, childlike glee and dazzling diversity you get when …you take away your ‘uniform’.

We had our very own police escort, a single perspicacious pedaling photographer, and much merriment.

Proper report will have to wait until I get home because I have to pack and unpack three more times…find my passport…

and wish you all a guid day.

~ by jacquiephelan on June 30, 2008.

3 Responses to “Swan Song to the Eden-birds”

  1. hi jacquie
    it’s amy gardiner here remember me ?
    how are you doing hope you had fun on the wnbr lokked like it judging by the photos
    where are you now have you moved on from edinburgh? thankyou for the black bead necklace i treasure it well
    hope you write back soon
    amy g x

  2. Stumbled on this site… The naked bike ride seems like a neat idea, whereabouts is it happening really? Maybe I should organize one here in my town.

  3. honey, from the neck up you look just like Al Jolson
    Lynne B.C.

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