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This Canadian was dive-bombed by a magpie while cycling out west of Brisbane in July 2006 (Australian winter).

While we have lots of magpies (at least a bird we call the magpie) here on the Prairies, the birds in Queensland were a lot smaller and a whole lot more aggresive.  This one little fellow must have followed me almost a km. and made half a dozen close "swoops".  Hmm, talk about riding distracted ... me riding on what to me was the "wrong" side of the road, turning around and flapping my arms to ward him off.  Fortunately no contact made and no damage done.

At the time I had heard of wearing a neck protector like the kids do in minor hockey.  Ouch!  Talk about H-O-T.


I was dive-bombed by a bluejay in Jackson, MS one time while walking along the street (I have no idea why). That's the ONLY time I've ever been attacked by a bird, and I certainly hope to keep it that way.  I'm certainly glad the buzzards that are in abundance in the South are not prone to the same behavior!


In North America we have red-winged blackbirds: maybe not as aggressive as magpies, but many a cyclist has been dive-bombed when riding alongside a field, a marsh, a woods. A bit like dogs, I find I can usually outrun them (or outrun their territory, more likelly!)


I am originally from the State of Wyoming.  So, when I saw the article about the Dive boming Australian Magpie, it piqued my interest.  When I was growing up in Wyoming, there were a lot of magpies in the area of the State where I grew up.  However, they certainly didn't 'dive-bomb' us when we were out on our bikes.  That being said, however, we would be surveyed by them, usually in pairs, but they wouldn't attack us.  The magpies in Wyoming are the Black billed Magpie:  There are several videos on You Tube about the Wyoming magpie.  They do feed upon carrion as well as just about anything that they can get to eat. One interesting thing is that the magpie can be somewhat domesticated and actually can be taught to talk, or mimic much like parakeets.  They will challenge other animals for food, too.The Aussie magpie is much different than the Black Billed magpie that is in Wyoming.  The one in Wyoming if more like the Eurasian Magpie with more white plumage on the chest instead of black like the Australian magpie.The European magpie is a member of the family Corvidae, while the Australian magpie is a member of the family  Artamidae (loosely still a "corvid"). It is most interesting to look at the images of the birds and also the differences in the 9 sub-species of aussie magpies.  I'm glad the Black-billed magpies aren't so aggressive.  John Marsh and I went on the Tour de Wyoming this past July, and I know I observed many black billed magpies during the ride, but was never attacked by any of them, in fact they seemed to want to keep their distance. 

High-Speed Cornering

While I have used and liked the described cornering technique for some years now after having seen it in a cycling handbook, the noun "countersteering" seems inaccurate.  Countersteering refers to a technique for initiating a turn by steering in a direction opposite ("counter") to the intended turn.  So, to turn left, jerk the handlebars to the right, and the bike reacts by leaning left, thus initiating the turn.  Many of us already do this instinctively.  A good article on countersteering can be found at:, where it underscores how important this skill is for quickly changing course when confronted by an emergency situation.

More Ways To Outsmart Bike Thieves

I've recommend for years on cycling forums that if a person rides a bike in a potentially high crime area and need to park it out of sight, or go to college campuses etc, they need to buy a junker bike for under $200 instead of buying upwards of $200 in locks, then simply use a cheap lock (not a cable lock) to keep is secured.  Any lock, no matter of the cost, can be defeated and defeated quickly; with the advent of battery powered angle grinders a person can make fast work of any lock.  And even if a person locks up his bike well enough to deter a thief from taking the bike they'll simply remove components instead.  I ride my good bikes and park at stores sometimes without a lock at all, but I keep the bike in sight and I simply move my rear gear lever to misalign the gears to slow down a snatch and grab person before I can get there.


From a business partner and fellow cyclist in Melbourne:

I always dread this time of the year. Just imagine having a relaxing ride on a beautiful spring day and someone unexpectedly punches you in the back of the head or shoulder, not once but several times. 

This happens for about 6 weeks during the nesting period. There are various methods used by cyclists to avoid being hit by magpies such as covering your helmet with cable ties so it resembles a porcupine or sticking cut out eyes to the back of your helmet to deter an attack. There is even a website dedicated to this problem:

I saw one cyclist that had constructed a scaffolding barrier made of thin fibreglass rods attached to his bike just behind the saddle, such is the fear created by the swooping magpie! I have eyes on the back of my helmet made from a table tennis ball cut in two. They still attack but tend not to make actual contact.


Magpies, a.k.a. "Bloody Maggies" and/or "You B.....d" are aggresively territorial in Spring, when their natural instinct is to protect their young.  And they will frequently return to the same area in successive breeding seasons.

Preventing attacks is not an exact science.  They attack from behind, so sunglasses on the back of the helmet when riding through a known attack area can work, but is not guaranteed. Riding in the middle of the pack is often effective, but also not guaranteed. (Nor well received when you should have been taking your turn to pull).

Newspapers create webpages to show attach zones and reader comment, e.g.

The upside - it's only a short breeding season, and you can always choose a different route tomorrow.





Here in Ontario, I've been attacked by the dreaded red winged black birds several times, usually Spring time.
They have actually made contact with my helmet, scares the crap out of you! As soon as you sprint out of their territory they'll leave you alone.


In Sydney Australia northern suburb, my local magpie doesn't realise I've got eyes on the back of my helmet - I'm still attached in Spring - cable ties keep them away, but they still attack but see  click the add button to get rid of the ad.  Seems that no helmet (wearing a helmet is compulsory here)


Here in Ontario, I've been attacked by the dreaded red winged black birds several times, usually Spring time.
They have actually made contact with my helmet, scares the crap out of you! As soon as you sprint out of their territory they'll leave you alone.


Here in Ontario, I've been attacked by the dreaded red winged black birds several times, usually Spring time.
They have actually made contact with my helmet, scares the crap out of you! As soon as you sprint out of their territory they'll leave you alone.


Never been attacked by a magpie, the real danger here on the front range of Colorado is the Red Winged Blackbirds.  One banged my helmet in nesting season, and down I went....hard.

Embarassing, yes, but a great story after a few frosty beverages


We have the "maggies" in country Queensland which swoop, but a couple of things I have noticed:

- They usually only attack a loner - either pedestrian or cyclist

- They don't attack if you have made a habit of passing through 'their' territory in a non-intimidatory way. I have both a regular warm-up cycle path and a regular lunch-time walking path, each pass through magpie territories and, in the season, I don't get swooped, but others do. They also don't attack around our home, and often walk very close to us.

- When they do attack on the road I ride one-handed - the other hand resting on my helmet, or waving above my head. The attack ends when you leave their territory.

- In the normal season they are a beautiful bird with wonderful warbling songs and calls.


This is just a fact of life in Australia for 6-8 weeks.  You often see people walking with long stick over their shoulder (like a soldier carries their weapon).  I had my grand daughter draw and tape some eyes on the top of my helmet.  This works pretty well as like all animals maggies don't like being looked at.  Sunglasses seem to work well.  The swooping season is just about over I generally know when I stop hearing the babies squaking for food meaning they can fend for their self.  Now it is just the burning sun and afternoon storms where I live that makes riding uncomfortable.

Warwick Durrant

Salamander Bay NSW


I have a lot of experience with magpies where I ride in Australia. My advice is to condition yourself to ignore them. Most birds swoop but don't actually make any contact. Either that or try and avoid them if they are particularly nasty. Worse than magpies are plovers, aka the masked lapwing (Vanellus miles) - almost gauranteed to hit you in the head repeatedly. Fortunately I don't see too many of them.

Andrew S

Cyclist and bird lover

Masked Lapwing

Their is a family living in my street and find they attack and I mean attack when I go the the letterbox.  Funny thing is when I ride past the letterbox or other places where I see bing attacked when walking they never bother me at all on the bike.  I really hope this is not FAMOUS LAST WORDS!!

Warwick Durrant

Salamander Bay  NSW

chain lube

Here is what I have done for the last four decades.  I remove the chain and clean it.  While it is drying, I prepare a metal pie pan with a mixture of paraphin and 90 weight gear oil.  I have experimented with the percentage of each item, and a 50-50 mix works best.  Too much paraphin and the coating chips off, and too much gear oil won't stay put as well.  Carefully (that is the salient word in this sentence) I heat the paraphin block until it is liquid.  I add the gear oil and the chain and let it soak for a few minutes.  If you wait too long, the paraphin returns to a solid and makes a mess. I pull the chain out, carefully, since the mixture is hot, and hang the chain up on a nail so that it has time to dry.  In about half hour, I have a chain that looks like it came out of the wrapper.

Bike Theft

On the theory that most bike theft involves riding off on it, my riding friends and I secure our helmet straps around stays/rims to create a rudimentary "lock".  This is probably enough to foul up the escape attempt, or at least to buy the owner enough time to realize what is going on. 

The Birds

Haven't yet experienced the wrath of Magpies. But common black birds here in NA, during their nesting season will definitely come after you if they feel you're too close. A cyclist is usually moving fast enough that you'll only get one attacking pass. Walkers aren't so lucky. Black birds will also attack cats, crows and hawks, which reminds one of WWII fighter plans making straifing passes at a slow flying bomber.

No Problem - Painless LT Training

Thanks for the tips!  Yes, "cross-training" by making it fun is important.  To break things up my kids competitive swim team used to play water polo...and when it was nice outside would go out and play Utlimate Frisbee.  The high school cross country coach would take the runner to the pool and have them run "laps" in the pool.  For me, I get out and cut the grass for my yard and next door neighbor's.  I don't use the self-propelled drive of the mower...push that puppy at a high rate, up and down hills, etc.  Gets heart rate up for extended period, works on the legs.  

Yes, try to find new and different ways to break up the training. 

theft protection

parking garages also work, lots of nooks and crannies where the levels and ramps and stairs go up and down, also pipes, rails, conduits to lock to

under stairs inside a building

behind a dumpster or loading dock

behind shrubbery

it all depends on who is watching, what traffic your hiding site will have while you are gone, how long you will be gone, how  much a thief would expect bikes to be where you are hiding, on and on and on



Good tips

Thanks for those nice tips "Wle" Here, parking garages can be high-crime areas, so I would caution to stay out of any like that.


In the Chicagoland area we have red winged black birds that are territorial. I've been trail riding and been dive bombed by one. Just glad I had a helmet. Others on the trail were not so lucky.

Salt Intake

Thank you for the article on increasing salt intake.  I do need some infromation on how much salt to take and how best to take it.  Thanks

Bike theft

  Isn't this what cops are supposed to do? Often there is a very small number of bad guys, and if they were dealt with, the problem would go away. Since the cops don't seem to care, they continue to make a living stealing.

  How often have you had the same experience as me? I report a theft, the cops fill out a form, then nothing else happens.

  The cops have to get back to the business at hand, writing speeding tickets, etc. They have no interest in pursuing criminals. Unlike traffic enforcement, it pays nothing and bad guys are more dangerous than soccer moms.


  Riders down under have my sympathy with the magpies.

  We have a bird here in the southeastern US that is very territorial during the spring, which has dive bombed me, but not near as aggressive as your stories would indicate. It's the mockingbird.

  They tend to nest in busy areas, so bring it on themselves. I recently had an experience with one that had a nest in one of the few trees in the parking lot at my dentist's office. It would swoop on anyone coming and going to the office.

  Note that in the US we have a way to solve this problem if it gets serious enough. We vigorously maintain our gun rights here, so we have the option of completely eliminating the problem.


Regarding our down under compatriots being attacked by magpies, we have a comparable though less threatening situation in the USA.  The western magpie range in the US is from the great plains through the Rockies and Cascades and I've only seen them skiing in the winter so I don't know if they attack cyclists during nesting season.

However we do have the red winged blackbird, whose range is the entire US and much of Canada and Central America.  And they attack bicyclsts.  Every year here in Michigan it starts with them perching on power lines along the roadside in April, and about mid-May through mid-July they go into protection mode.  They squawk, they bluster, they buzz you, and sometimes they hit you.  And yes occaisonaly our local government puts up signs along a bike trail when a particularly aggressive bird is about.  I've been hit on the helmet repeatedly. 

Fortunately red winged blackbirds are signifcantly smaller than magpies so the threat is less.  But the behavior is pretty much the same.


Magpie Attack

Not just Australia.  A friend of mine was attacked by a falcon while riding near the Lancaster PA airport.  The bird made several diving attacks and struck his helmet once.  Fortunately my friend managed was not injured.  Being somewhat less than sympathetic to my friend, I told him that bird must have somehow known he was a diehard Eagles fan.  

$12K bikes

Strongly suggest there's a high percentage of guys (likely rather fewer women) who spend that much for the bragging rights and one-upsmanship with riders and acquaintences. They're just showing off their wealth like guys who by crazy-expensive watches and other toys.

Weight loss

Great seeing another expert de-bunking the spot weight loss myth. It's not rocket science, just rather simple math - healthy calories in, exercize calories out and sticking with it.

Which Exercises Will Get Rid of My Gut?

coach Fred gave some good advice, but here is my 2 cents. I stumbled onto a blog by a guy who had lost a lot of weight, and had used his engineering /science background, and hefty hobby budget, to try to do his own research. I thought a lot of it was crackpot half science, but I came away with one good idea. We eat out of habit and comfort. The six meals a day thing plays into that. This guy recommends cutting way back, and teaching yourself that "hunger" is not a controlling factor, and that you can live and function just as well while your body thinks it is "hungry."  very few Americans are ever, really, hungry.  It took me several weeks to adapt, and I occasionally find myself just eating anything I can grab quickly, kind of binging. BUT that might be more Paleo than a lot of what is tagged paleo.  We evolved living binge and fast.  I have gotten pretty comfortable with this now.  I eat small meals, I enjoy feeling a little hungry - it keeps me more alert and I have a mental satisfaction. There was a PBS show "Eat, Fast, Live Longer" (or something close to that) that got me started thinking and experimenting and primed for the nutcase's article.  I am 60 and started about 25 pounds over my "racing weight" of my 40s, and have knocked off about 10 of those.  

I also think Fall is the time to lose weight, if you haven't been able to over the summer. Big summer goals require being healthy and fueled, so do the long/hard miles of winter / spring. Now is the to time cut calories because you can ride without worrying about optimum performance.

possible cardio-workout

    Hi Fred,

             You stole one of my workouts that I made up over the years( I'm 70). I started racing late

                 41 years ago. I do one set say of bench presses hope on the trainer  and do 135-140% of

                 FTP for 20 sec, this allows me to get back to the next set within 90 sec. I usually do 6-7

                  exercises, which is about 400 sec@ anaerobic. If I'm doing 2-3 min trainer intervals I do

                   them at 121% of FTP between the wt. sets.

Bike security

Two other thoughts, both related to Strava:

1. Be sure to set a privacy zone so that people viewing your Strava account can't see where you live.

2. Within your Strava account, label your bikes "Road" or "Mountain," not "Specialized Venge" or "Ibis Mojo."

Bike theft

I endorse fully your comments regarding what more could be done by bicycle manufacturers. But I'm not sure that the use of pejoratives such as "jerk", "scumbag" & "parasite" are helpful when discussing social problems.

Which Exercises Will Get Rid of My Gut

Michael,  STOP doing the situps and leglifts.  Getting rid of a gut at any age is difficult.  Your program needs to be comprehensive, meaning well rounded.  Core, cardio, and especially strength.  Try to find an experienced personal trainer with knowledge in those areas and consult and learn how to maintain a healthy body for the rest of your life. 

Expensive Bikes

I'd like to add a practical note to the discussion about expensive bikes. I recently had the opportunity to ride an Argon 18 Gallium Pro, MSRP ~$8,000. I and another rider with whom I compared notes afterwards came away with the same inescapable conclusion: speed can be bought. We each thought the Gallium Pro rode about 3 km/hr faster than our current carbon bikes. Whether or not the incremental difference in speed is worth the added cost is, of course, a personal decision.

Bike Builder: What Makes a $12,000 Bike Worth the Cost?

I have to disagree with Jim Kish's response, no offense against him, just a personal opinion, but here's why.   I can buy a brand new KTM 1290 Super Duke R, (a racing motorcycle) for under $17,000 (look it up on the internet if you're not sure what this motorcycle is all about), not to mention a slew of other motorcycles for even less, and somehow you're telling me that the technology of a $17,000 bicycle with electronic shifting has more technology in it than that KTM?   The list of such absurdities goes on in cycling, look at tires, with the average road tire costing $50 and an average tread life of 6,000 miles...if this were true with our car tires we would have to spend $500 per tire for the average car tire that last 50,000 miles.  I tried to buy a pair of barend end caps made of shiny painted chrome plastic from an LBS, they wanted $13 for the pair, yet in the same store I can get a vacuum insulated stainless steel 24 ounce bottle for $12...which of those two should cost more due to technology?  By the way, I didn't buy the caps!   So no Mr Kish this cycling hobby of ours is all about attacking our disposable income.  Of course like you Mr Kish I don't buy such expensive bikes, the most expensive one I bought was last year for $2,800 for a fully equipped new Titanium ride.  I think the point is clear however that a 5 digit priced bicycle doesn't even come close to the technology you'll find in a 5 digit motorcycle.

Theft prevention solution

Checkout TiGr titanium bow locks - excellent security, innovative design, beautifully made, surprisingly light, easy to carrry, and top-notch customer relations.  

If you must leave a bike locked, this is a great solution for a carryable high-security lock.

Theft prevention

When transporting your bike, Try removing the seat post and front wheel to minimize the space ytour bike takes.  By this method you can nearly always fit your bike into the backseat or trunk of a normal car.  Removing the seat post is the key, just mark your post with some clear pack tape and it is fast and easy to remove and reset.

I can fit two medium size road bikes in the back seat of my Ford Taurus and put the wheels in the trunk.  In my smaller SUV I can fit in 3 medium road bikes vertically side by side with wheels by putting one half of the rear seat in the down position. and use an old blanket to protest your car fromthe dirt/grease.

This is one of those, "try it" things; you will be suprised how fast and easy it is to protect your beautiful ride.

$15K bicycles

  Personally I would not consider spending more than perhaps $5K for a bike.

  But having said that, I can see a thread here.

  It seems that a person who spends a lot of time with something prefers to have one that is high end. The more time they spend with it, the more high end they desire it to be. This only makes sense. You only get out what you put in.

  So, for instance someone that rides 5000 miles a year would be spending much time on their bike and thus would get more utility from an expensive model than someone like myself who only rides 2000 miles a year.

  You see this with any sport, profession, passtime. A person that loves to cook and spends a lot of time in the kitchen would probably have more expensive cooking equipment and would get more use out of it, would appreciate the value of it.

  I spend a lot of time fishing and have some reasonably expensive fishing equipment. I also have some nice tools since I like to tinker on cars and such.

  A bike is the same. I wouldn't bother to spend much on a bike if I only rode it with the kids at the park. If I rode competitively, I'd feel good about spending a buttload on the finest bike I could afford.


Dummy Hub

Looks like a tool all of us should have on hand for cleaning, and maybe for trikers, something to carry along with you for when you flat on the rear tire, too.

My LBS is a Park Dealer, so I'll be for having one of these handy gadgets.


Brake Upgrades

There are times I wished for better brakes on long downhills. Since I am cheap and the front brake does most of the work in hard breaking I have pondered just buying a disc front fork for my road bike and keeping the rear rim brake and derailleur. This way I would not have to replace the righthand shifter/brake hardware but would have to get a new front wheel. Has anyone tried this?

Perhaps a fork with intergrated brakes would be a better solution as the fork would be the only component to change. Look forward to hearing more on this.

Night Riding - Reflective tires

In addition to your great tips for night riding, I'd add that a few tire manufacturers (including Schwalbe and Continental) make versions of popular tires with 3M reflective strips on the sidewalls.  These are incredibly visible in low light conditions, including fog, drizzle and rain, as well as at night.  And, bonus -- you don't have to turn them on and off :)


Rear lights

I've been wondering for months now just why the rear lights are always sold as RED with no other options.  Yes, I understand that RED is the standard color for a tail light on cars.

BUT...isn't BLINKING AMBER the color for "slow moving vehicles"?  Why then doesn't someone make a 3-light triangle cluster of bright AMBER tail lights for bicycles and trikes?  we are, afterall really slow moving vehicles are we not?

Just sayin'....and wonderin'....

Tom D.

Review the Fly6

cool The Fly6 is a new product, (I am not associated with Fly6 in any way), that combines a rechargeable taillight with a video camera.  It has several modes for the taillight; records video and stores it on a micro SD card, and is rechargeable via a USB cable.  Only $150.

We Already Did!

Well, duh...


I miss one issue and a product that I think is pretty cool is reviewed...alas, you win some and you lose some...thanks, John!  cool

Wide tires? OK, now for the next step.

Now that Coach Fred is a convert to wider tires, it's time to take the final plunge and really reduce your tire pressures. At 173#, I find that I can ride 72/82 psi front/rear with 25mm tires. Any lower and they'll start to feel mushy when I get out of the saddle on climbs (that's how I gauge correct pressures). I haven't spent any time on 32mm tires, but I recently did a combination pavement/dirt road ride on 38s and found that 50/55 front/rear worked great. I have had zero pinch flats at these pressures, despite riding on crappy New England roads. Ride comfort with stiff carbon frames is dramatically improved, there is no indication of extra roliing resistance and cornering traction is excellent. Give it a try! I'll bet you'll be surprised.

wide tires

I have been riding Grand Bois [Compass] 700/28 tires at about 80-85 psi on my Specialized Roubaix and have been very happy with the ride and performance, expecially cornering downhill.

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