Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Road Krill

Several of my regular rides take me along the South Platte River.  There's a nice multi-use trail that follows the river through the city.  It's a nice trail as such things go.  It's wide enough, smooth and scenic.  There are squirrels, deer, herons, eagles, ducks, geese, cormorants, numerous songbirds and, of course, all sorts of different people.  There are people on bikes - Roadies, Hipsters, Cruisers, people on tandems, recumbents, mountain bikes, hybrids, fitness and even the occasional handcycle.  There are people walking, jogging, pushing strollers, with dogs, children and so on.  Quite a menagerie, actually.  All things considered, it's a wonderful trail system.

Except for the Road Krill.

Yes.  Road Krill.

Road Krill
Road Krill is the name I give to the evil clouds of minute insects - midges, gnats, mayflies and so on - that form along the river at various times during the year.  They swarm over the trail in their thousands and are often invisible until the split second before you ride right through them. 

And they are nasty, nasty little fuckers.

All by themselves they are harmless enough.  They don't seem to bite, or anything.  In some cases they don't even have mouth parts (don't ask me why I know this).  In fact, I think the only reason they swarm at all is for mating purposes.

I'll not begrudge them their right to procreate.  I do wish they'd get a room or something.

What makes a Road Krill Encounter so nasty is that you get covered by the little shits.  They get in your hair, they go up your nose, in your ears and in your mouth.  They'll get behind your glasses and fly around and get in your eyes.  It's a fucking nightmare.  You run though a swarm of these evil, nasty, little bastards and you'll want to stop and tear off your own skin with your bare hands.

Some people try to protect themselves - an effort in futility.  One fellow I see regularly, rides along with a bandanna covering his mouth and nose.  In the winter a balaclava can offer a forlorn sense of protection.  Such measures may offer some protection to the mouth and nose, but does nothing to save the rest of your body and bike from being thoroughly pelted with those ............... insects.  They're going nuts, trapped behind your glasses, unable to escape.  They're in you ears, wings buzzing at unnatural volume.  They're trapped in the hair on your arms, legs and head.  Some of them go down into your jersey.

And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.


Most sane people avoid the river altogether.

Our friends, the Velominati, those who abide by The Rules, will quickly and correctly invoke Rule 5:  Harden The Fuck Up.  Forget about the discomfort, the good vs. evil duality and the stomach-churning revulsion.  Put on your Big Boy Pants, grow a pair, put your head down, just ride through and don't be such a fucking pussy about it.

My good friend and sometime cycling partner, Mr. Ected, says it best ...

All you can do is just open your mouth and take in the protein.