Monday, May 9, 2011

Things Jon Hates: Swarms of Flies

The thing about city bike trails is that they're only built where they are convenient to build. In Denver, 90% of the bike trails are along rivers or along major roads. Rivers are handy because whenever a road has to cross the river a bridge is built. If you just send a bike trail underneath that bridge, then you've hit 2 birds with one stone. Same thing for bike trails along highways.

I typically don't have a problem with the placement of bike trails. I shy away from the ones next to highways just because they aren't that interesting and it's loud, but the ones next to creeks are very nice trails with pretty trees and water 'n' stuff. So, I like the bike trails in Denver.

The one thing I really don't like about the creek trails is the swarms of flies. You'll be riding along at 15 mph and all of a sudden you see a swarm of flies heading straight for you. If you're going 15mph and you happen to have a head wind of 10mph, then those flies smack into your face at a relative 25 mph. Ouch. Occasionally this will happen with the bigger loner flies that run into your face and those hurt. It's like somebody walked up and just flicked you right in the cheek.

But the swarms are much worse than the loner flies. There's got to be at least a hundred flies per swarm and they're tiny little things. You have to be careful that they don't get into any of your openings (mouth, nose, eyes, ears). If you have a fast reaction time you can think to hold your breath and close your eyes right before you run into the flies. If you fail to do so, you find yourself spitting constantly, trying to get all the flies out of your mouth and blinking like there's no tomorrow, trying to get the flies out of your eyes. Sometimes you have to come to a stop and use your fingernails to pry the flies out of your eyes. And there is nothing that freaks you out more than having a little fly, stuck in your ear, buzzing loudly as it tries to get out. All this is horribly unpleasant.

Thank God we have brains and can plan ahead of time and I'll do my best to relay some good advice. I noticed that flies tend to get in my mouth more often than they get in my nose. This made sense. I was breathing through my mouth and it was just acting like a big ole fishing net in a salmon fishery. I won't get into the details, but the nose is designed to not let little things get into your lungs. There are lots of "obstacles" in the way and it's typically pointed downward. So I resolved to breathe through my nose as much as possible to help with this. It helped some.

I also realized that sunglasses work well as eye shields. Although they are not quite as cool as the Red-Eyed Tree Frog's eye shields. Those things are legit! No wonder they're so happy when they find themselves in swarms of flies.

Ear-trapping of flies happens so rarely, I have not found the motivation to find a way to prevent that. I'm sure ear-muffs would do the trick.

The flies also like getting in your hair, even when it's as short as mine, so don't forget your Alaska cycling cap.

I have yet to try this, but I've seen seen several people wearing bandannas over their mouth to keep the files out of their mouth and nose.

Once you have followed every bit of advice I've given, you should look like this:

Swarm of Flies: Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?
Prepared Cyclist: I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee. 

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