Short Stories
Entry No. 4 June 18, 2004

Damn Flies

Today was my fifth day of riding. I'd have covered around 250 miles by the end of today. I was feeling good and since I had gotten out of seedy Tok and was a few miles ahead of the game, I decided that I would stop at the Northway Junction for some supplies and work on my outdoor cooking recipes. Then, on to Yarger Lake Campground. It was a gorgeous day and I was actually awakened at 7:30am by the sun streaming in my tent. Even my night goggles couldn't keep that sun, or heat, out. It was good to get up and get an early start- well, 9:30. So I was feeling grand, sun was out, not a cloud in the sky - a great day for biking. I lathered on the sunscreen, put my latest and most stylish idea of covering my nose with a piece of the Milepost to the test, smirked at my hairless knuckles, and was on my way.

Today, I didn't really count the miles, but I knew it was in the 60 range. I have also found that the first 30 miles go so quickly that I get frustrated if the other 30 don't go as fast.

So, it was a perfect day, right? But isn't there always something?

As I was cruising up and down these hills with the Wrangell Range in the distance to my right, I noticed this buzzzzzzz. It was a fly and he was maintaining speed with me! Just kind of hanging there next to me. I thought this is my companion, a good omen, like in The Alchemist. Silly idealistic tour biker - little did I know.

He kind of got annoying after a bit, kind of crisscrossing in my face and he brought some pals along. And for awhile there, I thought it was the same fly too because as I cruised downhill and picked up some speed, I thought I'd escaped - he'd never find me. Then all of the sudden, buzzzzzzzzzz. Then, he'd get more aggressive and play tag. Some were even Kamikazes and went head on into my sunglasses. I started to get frustrated as he and his cronies would return just towards the end of each downhill and into the uphill. Oh how I cursed these things - companions??? Agh! I was trying so hard to kill one and bike at the same time. I then figured that they must have a network - when one gets tired, another comes in and takes over or maybe on the down hills they draft me - I should get the best Domestique(1) award. I cursed more, and tried to get them to leave me alone, which looked like I was waving to the oncoming RVs. They all waved back.

I was finally closing in on Northway, but there was some construction. As I waited for our turn, I began talking with the worker holding the stop/slow sign - by the way - no flies to be found. We started talking and within a few minutes I learned of his anxiety disorder and how he was even taken in an ambulance for it. We talked about what might cause it and some ways to be calm and then I told him a bit about my trip and gave him a clifbar pamphlet about eating Organic. And I was worried about shallow conversations.

As it was my turn to use the road by the construction, the flies came back. I ignored them and got to Northway for some supplies and then to Yarger Lake. As I arrived at the campground, the flies were forgotten and new and interesting people were found along with a gratifying Spaghettios and turkey dinner compliments of Kathy and Richie of State College, PA was served. As we talked, two more bikers arrived, which made four bikers, and flies were mentioned. The German said in his thick accent, "they're fast, no!" and I wholeheartedly agreed with a laugh, thinking how angry I was at those things! As well, the other biker, who has traveled all over the world, advised us to not bike in the Outback of Australia. The flies were horrendous! I made a mental note of it.
(1) Domestique - He's the guy in the Tour de France that Lance will draft behind to save his energy to sprint ahead when it's go time.

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