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It's a matter of taste

Just imagine for a moment ...

I was cruising for home the other day on my Trek Domane, making fast work of the Kennebec River Rail Trail at 24-25 miles per hour. For some reason, my mouth was wide open; I don't know why because I wasn't gasping for breath or getting ready to sing a song. Then it happened. Despite literally having miles of air to do its thing, a giant bug found my gaping hole and slammed into the back of my throat. Talk about yuck.

Immediately, while still motoring down the paved path, my gag reflexes kicked in. I'm just glad no other people were around as I hacked and coughed trying to dislodge this horrid tasting "monster." I'm thinking, "Dear God, I must eject this thing. I don't want to swallow it." I continued spitting like a madman; having no water to rinse out my mouth. To no avail, it was truly jammed in back there and wouldn't budge. I'm thinking again, "If this bug goes down, what's it going to do to my insides?"

My friend, Scott, on a recent 75-mile ride from Hallowell to Brunswick and back. We are "training" for the Pedal the Penobscot century ride happening in September.

I should know better about keeping my lips shut because these sort of "attacks" are not uncommon. There are two or three areas alone along the rail trail between Gardiner and Hallowell where swarms of what I believe are gnats lie in wait for unsuspecting human beings — poised to hurl themselves inside people's ears, eyes, noses and, yes, mouths with reckless abandon.

But on this particular afternoon, my fate was sealed. After another minute or more of fruitless efforts, it was no use. It was time to swallow my pride and consequently swallow that bug. To say the least, it was disgusting and really unpleasant — even worse than eating vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and artichokes.

Such are the perils of bicycle riding that I'm sure countless other cyclists have experienced. Oh well, just a little extra protein to help maintain a balanced diet.

Anyway, my rides have been intensifying of late as I prepare for two events. Coming up are:

* Sunday, Sept. 8 — The Pedal the Penobscot century ride that starts in Brewer, Maine, and benefits the Bangor Land Trust. I've never done this 100-mile trek, which is described as a "flat" ride, elevation-wise.

* Saturday, Sept. 14 — The Northwoods Gravel Grind in Rangeley, Maine. This rugged 50-mile ride takes place on logging roads, and in some spots no roads, in the mountains of western Maine. I participated in last year's event, which prompted the purchase of my Specialized cyclocross bike.

I'm looking forward to both rides, with each being an entirely different kind of experience. I'll just have to remember to keep my mouth closed.

(Editor's note: Birthday wishes go out to two good friends. Happy 70th to Jon Jennings, my longtime partner in crime on a bike. He's eaten a few bugs in his time. Also, good cheers for Ted Vaughan. Now he's not a cyclist per se, but he has a laugh every time he takes my fat bike for a spin.)

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