DEET + Eyes = Temporary Blindness - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

June 2, 2014

DEET + Eyes = Temporary Blindness

Great River Bluffs State Park, MN

On day two of my quest for fun, I left the campground in fog and gray skies.  After an hour in the Lake City Public Library, it unexpectedly transformed into a mostly sunny sky for the rest of the day.

The upper Mississippi River will continue to be my companion for the next few days and it occurred to me that approximately 70% of my life has been spent in various places within 25 miles of the river.  In my planning stages I considered escaping my past and heading straight east.  I'm glad I didn't.  It is likely that this stretch along the river will be the most scenic part of my route until I reach New York.

All day the road coursed through a broad valley with 300' bluffs covered in hardwood forests, with the river in view most of the time.  For my money, there is no better drive in America for viewing autumn leaves--with all due respect to Vermont, Colorado, Michigan, Tennessee and any other state that makes similar claims.

Alas, it is not autumn.  It is barely springtime around here and the trees have only recently gotten their full complement of leaves.

The Great River Road with bluffs on the right and the Mississippi River on the left.
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I got groceries in Winona and dreaded going back out into the hot sun and the humidity for my last 15 miles.  I did it though, and I felt strangely strong.  I rode at an amazing pace.  What's going on?

At this time I would like to state, for the record, that I am not involved in any way with the doping scandal that has plagued the bicycling world.  I am riding without the aid of any banned performance-enhancing drugs or blood exchanges, and I have never failed a random drug test.  Thank you.  I have  a feeling that this afternoon's performance-enhancement is the best one of all--a shift in wind direction.

Minnesota is a bike-friendly state.  That's why I was so excited to get to Great River Bluffs State Park, which maintains five bicycle-only campsites.  Well, "maintains" is too generous of a word.  It would be more accurate to say they BUILT the sites and never went near them again.  There is no sign of maintenance here.  The sites are about 50 feet from the busy four-lane highway, trains rumble by on the other side of the highway every half-hour, there is no potable water and the pump for that non-potable water is broken, and the mosquitoes are as thick as cars in a Minneapolis traffic jam.  I might as well be wild camping.

The unmaintained campsite with its one redeeming feature: a convenient branch for drying out my rainfly from last night's storm.
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But here's the thing, after a little wine all is forgiven and I kind of like it here.  At least I can see the river and directly behind me is a bluff so high and so steep that I couldn't even THINK about climbing it.

As for the mosquitoes, I have a little surprise for them.  I whipped out my vial of 100% DEET and yelled out, "Say hello to my leetle friend."  Seriously, no insect would want to mess with that shit.  Just don't get it in your eyes.

(If anybody makes the accusation that on BOTH of my first two nights, the DEET  bounced off of my arm and into my eyes, sending me blindly searching for my bandana and some water, and then wiping my eyeballs frantically, I will deny it.)

Today's ride: 63 miles (101 km)
Total: 108 miles (174 km)

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