Friday, July 18, 2008

Cyclotourist musings: on bugs, blueberries, and biodiversity; and on packing light

On my July 2008 cycling trip, the mosquitos were really quite bad. Mosquitos seem to like to land on my socks to bite through the fabric to my ankles... or on my spandex bike shorts to bite my posterior (sneaky buggers). At one stop, I watched a mosquito land on my spandex and try to bite the sensitive male... er... anterior. "Oh no you don't!" and I shooed it away. This led me to a later musing: biodiversity is important, but would the world really be worse off if we could just get rid of four kinds of flies: mosquitos, horseflies, deerflies, and blackflies? Apparently it might. I was told that blueberries rely on blackflies for pollination. Egads! This may be false, and if it's true then what's with apiarists marketing blueberry honey, but nonetheless, a world without blueberries would be sad indeed.

My luggage for this trip weighed just over 50lbs, including panniers, but not including the bike. Given the number of items I carried, 50 pounds of luggage translates to an average weight of a little more than 100g per item I packed. 100g is the size of a respectable chocolate bar - i.e., not very heavy at all. It's amazing how it all adds up. So the next time I pack, and throw in one more thing thinking "But it weighs nothing!", I will recall the story of the Everest mountaineer who removed the packaging and string-which-makes-it-easy-to-fish-out-of-your-cup from each teabag he packed.

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