Culture //

Love spring; hold the magpies

Luke Dassaklis ducks for cover.

Photo: Bruce Magilton/Herald Sun
Photo: Bruce Magilton/Herald Sun

I love spring. It consists of beautifully warm, but not excessively hot sunny days, followed by cold, sleep-able nights. You could assume spring is universally appreciated. It is, however, spoiled for cyclists by one phenomenon.

There I was, casually riding my bicycle, enjoying the view of the city lazily creeping up over the horizon when I suddenly heard the unmistakable dry rapping of a beak next to my left ear. One strategic swerve later, I found myself staring at a magpie. He was sitting on his perch, waiting for me to look away. I stared at him, not daring to look away lest he return to his swoop.

My heart sank as I considered the gravity of the situation. Literally four days into spring and the magpies had resumed their war with the greater cycling population.

I have a moderate amount of sympathy for the magpie. In the springtime, their testicles swell up to approximately ten times their normal, non-spring size. Given the fact that nothing else expands, I can understand why they are so cranky – there’s a lot of pressure building up.

Despite this empathy, however, my anger was still on the rise. The magpie has left the humble cyclist with several options for not getting assaulted. Taping eyes to the back of your helmet is an option; however magpies are incredibly clever creatures who do not always fall for this, and indeed did not the following two days when attempted it myself. The alternative was to strap cable ties to the top of my helmet, leaving the excess length so that I looked like some sort of spider-echidna hybrid.

Somehow I mustered the strength to cast aside my vanity, and rode to university feeling like some sort of cheap Christmas ornament under the pretence that I was safe from aerial bombardment. I was wrong.

As I rounded the corner to the battlefield, I could see the birds nest in a lone gum-tree, with an ominous silhouette of a bird on the end of a branch. He took off, and I sped up, like some sort of medieval joust. A few beak snaps later and I worked out that there was only one viable method to beating this magpie. One I wasn’t super keen on… manning up.

Magpie 1, cyclist, 0. I love spring.