Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lotsa Bugs

I rode to church tonight. We had a Communications meeting at 7:00 and I set off from home at 5:30 or so. Down Hoyt, through the State Fairgrounds, but I had to go around the University as roads are blocked off for parking lot paving. On to Como Avenue, which is passable even on the Atlantis with 700C X 28 tires, then across the Mississippi and to the Hub Bike Coop. There is a good chance I'll head out on a short bike tour Friday (more on this later) and I wanted to pick up an Ortlieb handlebar bag. They had one; it even had a sale sticker inadvertently on it, so I bought it and installed it. This should have taken me about five minutes; it instead took two of us about twenty. The Ortliebs wrap this cable around the handlebar four times, hook it into a little unit, then screw the bag mount to the unit, which also tensions the cable. The only way we could get it in the end was to slide the mount over so the cable was wrapped around the thinner part of the handlebar where it's meant to be wrapped (my bars are still bare as I fiddle with brake lever positioning, change stems, etc.), then scooching it back where it belongs.

I finally got this done, paid, and zoomed off, now bound to be late. I rode down beside the light rail tracks, cut across Hiawatha and got on the new Midtown Greenway trail that cuts right across town on some old railroad tracks, and went off down there. These tracks were sunken into the ground and go between bunches of warehouses, factories, etc. There were people riding, running and even picking berries. I was clocking along at about 16mph, a decent pace for me, and some little guy nuzzled in behind and drafted me. There is an "exit" to Bryant, and I took that, then rode down Bryant to 46th, which is where the church is.

Meeting over, a little after 9:00, I decided to take the Minnehaha pathway to the river, then up the west side, etc. In the fading light, this turns out to be Bug City. It was especially bad around Lake Nokomis/Hiawatha, where a beautiful view of the Minneapolis skyline against the colors of dusk reflected out of the placid waters of Lake Hiawatha seduced me into stopping to take a picture. Well, the pictures sucked, in part because I couldn't hold still long enough because I was being attacked by swarms of mosquitoes. Slap! Slap! There used to be an ad for (I think) Deep Woods Off! where this actor would spray it on his arm and cheerfully stick it in a glass box full of mosquitoes who would shy away. I think they were paid professional mosquitoes. The mosquitoes at 9:30 on a calm summers night are enthusiastic amateurs and I was one heavy CO2-emitting unit so they were very excited! Little mosquito dinner gongs must have been going off. I high-tailed it out of there with a couple of blurry shots and raced away.

The air was thick with bugs. I couldn't breathe through my mouth for fear of eating a crunchy snack (mmm, with a liquid center!). At one point the trail crosses a street and a couple of cars stopped since it was a pedestrian crossing and let me go and there were swarms of insects backlit by their headlights. Yech!

I stopped at Dairy Queen by the park (I hadn't had dinner) and after that the ride was away from the creek and the light faded to night so maybe the bugs would have gone away anyway, but next time I'm coming home from church at night I'll have to consider whether to do the bug-o-rama along the creek, the vaguely threatening Midtown Greenway (I think it would feel vaguely threatening after dark), or some other route.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. The nickel-metal hydride batteries for the Vistalite Nightstick seemed to work fine. The 10W bulb I have in there seemed a bit diffuse; I bought two, so may try the other one to see what its light pattern is like. The new Ortlieb bag worked fine. I got home late and had a beer and some chips and now it's off to bed. Sadly, my Nashbar box came and the Lake MX-60 shoes I ordered on the cheap don't fit--they're 48s, as big as Lake makes, and I'm going to need 49s it looks like. Bummer.


The Donut Guy said...

First time reading your blog.

Good stuff.

Those Vistalite bulbs come in two versions...frosted and clear.

The frosted are more diffuse and the clear have a sharper light cut-off.

Matt said...

Thanks for the comment. I actually didn't buy Vistalite bulbs, I got three standard MR-11s from a lighting supplier, two different 6V/10Ws and a 6V/5W. My Vistalight is a 5W unit but in May I replaced the original badly degraded 2000 mAH Nicad batteries with some 3000 mAH Nimhs. The added battery power ought to let me run 10W bulbs, and that's what I'm trying out.