Cuddly Mosquitoes, Dragonflies, and Horseflies - The Man Who Biked To Canada (With No Complaints) - CycleBlaze

June 9, 2016

Cuddly Mosquitoes, Dragonflies, and Horseflies

International Falls, Minnesota

Waking up to this bike tourist's daily disaster area.
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As soon as I emerged from my tent on this beautiful morning the mosquitoes moved in quickly.  Before I could even get to my 100% DEET, a couple of the hungry little fellows had already stung me.  One of them got me on my lower lip and I could feel that swollen lip for the next couple of hours.  I could feel it, but unfortunately I couldn't see it because I don't have a mirror.  It must have looked pretty funny, but I'll never know for sure.

Another mosquito somehow got into my mouth and I could feel him in the back of my throat.  I probably breathed him in while pulling up my tent stakes.  It took about 15 seconds of hacking and choking and gagging to spit him out.

One last look at Pfeiffer Lake before heading out.
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I'm hesitant to write about the riding conditions today because I feel like I should downplay the positive things in the same way as I have glossed over the negative things.  You know--keep everything on an even emotional plane.  Something like this:  "There was a tailwind today.  It was nice."

Ah hell, DAMN THE TORPEDOS!  The tailwinds pushed me to an 84-mile day and it was awesome!  The road had leveled out and sometimes it hardly felt like I was working at all!  I got to use sun-screen for the first time on this trip!  The rivers and lakes were bluer!  The trees were greener!  The shoulders along the road were wider!  The air was filled with the scent of pine and I didn't even have one of those pinetree-shaped air fresheners!  I LOVE the north country!

Big shoulders and another billion trees on U.S. Highway 53.
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I'm a sucker for giant fiberglass statues, though I did pass up what might have been the world's largest fishing bobber. This enormous bluegill is in the town of Orr, which seems to exist for no other purpose than to serve fishermen.
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A neverending train.
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A few miles past Orr, I started getting many visitors of the dragonfly and horsefly variety.  The dragonflies were clumsy and they had a hard time getting out of my way.  The horseflies were a different story.  They were amazing.  They could not only keep up with me at my wind-assisted 20-miles-per-hour pace, but they could swirl around my head constantly and they could occasionally latch onto my back and take a bite through my shirt.

I'm not complaining.  With a little imagination, I was able to think of the mosquitoes, dragonflies and horseflies as my loyal pets--like a few thousand friendly little puppies--all wanting to snuggle with me at the same time.  Puppies are so cute when they try to nibble at you and lick your face.  So are horseflies and mosquitoes.


Later, I was flying down one of the few decent hills of the day when I saw a couple of loaded bicyclists struggling upward on that same hill--into the wind.  We waved at each other but they didn't seem too happy.  Wait until they meet up with the horseflies.

So far, the only thing more ubiquitous than the horseflies on Highway 53 are the pickup trucks towing fishing boats.  Truly, this is big time fishing country. 

Voyageurs National Park is one of the least visited of America's national parks. G-2 and I are one of the many, many non-visitors, but we got the shameless photo-op. "Hey! My fans can hardly see me," cried G-2.
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"That's better."
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I made it to International Falls and there aren't too many places in the country that are further north than I am right now.  Alaska, yes.  Maybe Maine?  Tomorrow I will be in a foreign nation--Canada.

Today's ride: 84 miles (135 km)
Total: 434 miles (698 km)

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