No, not starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Just me, me, me and maybe a bee, perhaps a wasp.
Have you ever been stung by an insect while riding?
The first time this happened to me was in a race on a hot, hot day in Acton, California, which is one set of hills separated from the Mojave Desert. I had my jersey zipped down halfway, and on a fast, curvy descent a bug banged against my chest and got caught inside the jersey. I don’t know what it was, but it got rather irritated as they do and started stinging. Since I was at speed on this curvy downhill, with other racers around me, I needed both hands on the bars, so it was bit of a predicament. I had to brake to the back of the group then start slapping at my chest to stun or flatten the bug. Eventually it stopped and dropped down, then somehow fell out the hem of the jersey. But all the other racers had sped away on the downhill and all the braking overheated my rims, leading to a blowout. End of race.
The second time was in the French Pyrenees. On the way up to the Col d’Aspin there is a small lake in a flat spot just below the Campan-Payolle ski area. It was another hot July day on the road so I had my jersey zipper pulled way down and I was sitting up with my hands off the bars just relaxing as I passed this alpine lake. Suddenly there was a sharp pain on my right side. I grabbed the bars with my left hand and put my right hand to my side. I felt a bump under the jersey and then another sharp pain. Apparently some kind of bug had flown in my open zipper and didn’t care for the aroma, so it started biting or stinging. I slapped a few times then pulled the hem of the jersey away from my side so that the bug could fall out. The pain was pretty intense for a bit, but we started the final climb up the Aspin and I soon was distracted by the pain in my legs. I never did see the bug, but my pal Eric documented the effect later that day. I carried these welts for a week.
The third time was few months ago while I was doing a ride from Templeton over highway Cal 46 towards the ocean south of Cambria. I had started with several strong riders and they were pushing the pace on the long climb over the coast hills and down to Cal 1. They planned on turning north to ride up to Ragged Point and then return, for a 100 mile r/t. I was not in shape for that much, especially at their pace, so I turned around at Cal 1 to head back for a 50 mile r/t. The early pace had taken a lot out of me, and it was another hot day, so while climbing back up Cal 46 to return to Templeton I was feeling more than a bit woozy at times. Luckily the pavement is quite good and the shoulders are wide, so I didn’t have to concentrate on holding a tight line. There were several points when it was all I could do mentally to think about spinning the cranks. At one of those points, in my peripheral vision I noticed something yellow land on my forearm, but I didn’t seem to have the energy to turn my head and look at it. Then I felt a severe pain which got my attention. I looked and saw this bug stinging me, so I brushed it away with my other hand. The pain stayed with me all the way back home, a complement to the pain in the rest of my body.
#4 was this past Thursday while riding with Ted on our way back from a java break in San Miguel. We were rolling south along River Road between fields of alfalfa when I felt something hit my lip. Luckily I had my mouth closed, but my gray goatee caught whatever it was. As I felt it moving, my hand was swinging up immediately to brush it away, but the stinger just started to pierce my lip as I knocked it off. Oooh the pain! But I must have gotten it before any venom got injected. I could feel tingling in my lip for an hour, but it never swelled up.
#5 happened last Saturday, as I mentioned in the previous post, while I was rolling past Wild Horse Winery on Templeton Road, heading north at about 60 miles into the ride. I felt a sharp pain in my upper groin, so I reached down and felt a bug stuck on the outside of my lycra shorts. I grabbed it and pulled it away, but it got me, and the hurt stayed with me for the rest of the ride. The sting was literally just a couple of inches from my nether bits, so I was lucky, it could have been much more painful!