They had varying degrees of success. Some were making progress, and had managed to achieve a sedate putter.
Others had mastered the art, and were zooming around the river at top speed.
Yet others were still having trouble with the concept.
One duck decided to go off by himself to experiment. He was convinced he could go faster than anybody if only he could practice a little on his own first.
He waited until he was sure nobody was watching.
Then he took a deep breath . . .
. . . revved a bit . . .
And he was off! He was amazing.
He got up to an extraordinary speed.
This caused some confusion when he passed other ducks too closely.
After a while he braked. . .
. . . executed an almost perfect 'tumble turn' . . .
And headed back the way he'd come.
I don't know what happened next. I missed it. In fact, he was going so fast everybody missed it. We only saw the aftermath.
I guess he wiped out.
It was horrifying.
For a while we thought the worst.
It seemed unbelievable that he could have survived. Things looked grim.
But then he recovered. He managed to right himself again.
And although he suffered a slight loss of feather, he was otherwise fine.
As I cycled off to work I overheard him extolling the benefits of the contemplative life.
"We ducks are not made for life in the fast lane!" he was shouting. "Give it up now!"
But I don't think anybody was listening.