What do you hear?

Heading down from the Col du Galibier to Lauteret just before overtaking

Heading down from the Col du Galibier to Lauteret just before overtaking

Think this could be a theme coming on, wandering around the senses?

I was very conscious of the sound of my tyres on the road the other day. It was quite windy & I was freewheeling down hill with the wind behind. The tarmac was fairly smooth and a delightful hum came from the front wheel, with no other sound. It set me thinking.

Normal bike sounds, the usual sound of the freewheel, usually fairly quiet on my Shimano set up. The clunk of the gear change or horrendous crunch if, as I occasionally do, get it wrong. The rasp of the tyres in an occasional skid to stop or over-egging it, the squelch through a puddle or ford, the crunch through gravel, the click over the local train level crossing (which is far from level) or the thud over lumps of tractor mud.  The different noises from the brakes – a gentle rub of pads on the rim, a short squeal if there is dust around or a foul crunching if a wet day has thrown gravel onto the rim. The chatter of cycling companions around or beside you usually entertains you. Then there is the explosion of an inner-tube blowing or the hiss of it leaking.

Then there’s the traffic. The quiet hum of cars, or noisier deep throated rumble of a diesel vehicle, coming up behind. The click of a bike gear change that lets you know a fellow cyclist has teamed up. The roar of a boy racer’s car (not usually women) as it violently accelerates past you. The disturbing hoot of a horn sounding from an impatient motorist behind. There’s also the shout of an irate motorist from beside you, often for no reason, ah the joys of pathetic road rage. The sounds of trains running on nearby railway tracks or tractors working in the fields.

Then there are nature’s sounds surrounding you. The different wind noises is almost always a variable constant, sometimes the patter of rain, the crunch of hail or the crack of thunder. There is also the cries of birds and the flurry of wings as they fly towards or away from you. The sparking of the hooves of deer or sheep as they scamper out of your way, hopefully.  Dogs often bark, or sometimes growl as you ride past, sometimes giving you a doppler effect. Horses in fields or ridden along the road give a whole variety of snorts, whimpers coughs etc, with riders often shouting out a cheery greeting, or a quick ‘thanks’.

Also the welcome salutations of friends, other pedestrians or cyclists are an ever welcome part of the soundscape.

But, the worst is the sound of a fall or crash and the groans of the one who has come to grief, such a compendium of grating noises – hopefully hardly ever heard.

And the strangest thing of all, the fact that for those of us lucky enough to have hearing, we mostly just take all of this for granted.

So . . . . . . . . what do you hear?

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5 thoughts on “What do you hear?

  1. dodgysurfer

    The buzzing hum of tread on Tarmac, the crunch as ride on gravel, the pop of a stone pinging off as the edge of the tyre squeezes it out.
    Occasional dings or clunks as a rock hits the rim or the frame or the crank, sticky slurps as mud sucks at the tyres, or pops and crackles as I pass over nuts and husks and twigs and leaves. Then it’s the laughing ducks in the distance, the flap and cries of startled flocks of geese panicking as I pass, or the craak of the wise heron as he sees me coming.
    Squirrels rustling through the undergrowth and nesting birds flapping loudly through the trees.
    Seems like I disturb a fair bit on my ride, but stop and listen out in the woods and you hear these things near and far.

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  2. dodgysurfer

    I don’t know if you have read Tim Krabbe ‘The Rider’? I think you’d like it. You can almost hear the rhythmic puffing of the opposition sitting on your wheel as you read it.

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  3. dagowop

    I’ll tell you what I hear far too many of where I am – the sound of the useless road rage you speak of. Now, I know it’s not my fault – I’m a good law-abiding cyclist!

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  4. Chyrel Gomez

    I always hear angry drivers and cars honking. Always. It makes me want to piss them off some more. Haha. Nice read, btw. Haven’t been blog walking so don’t be surprised if one day, I spam your blog with comments. Lol. 🙊

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