Of Bees and Men: A Tragic Collision
If a person bicycles enough, they accumulate stories.
Most of the time I bike through the desert canyons and citrus fields of Ventura County without incident. It is just me and the occasional car passing by on a rural highway. My legs work, my lungs burn, and my heart pumps: I reflect on my life and finish refreshed, most of the time, and that is the point. I enjoy the solitude, and I enjoy an unremarkable trip on the back roads and farmer’s fields of western Ventura County.
But there are exceptions. For example, while biking Southern California streets over the past ten years four or five times cars have driven by and the occupants have thrown objects at me. They almost always miscalculate the lead they need to give in order to hit me and the object – almost always a can of soda – whizzes by in front of my head, missing me by just a bit. As they throw the object at me, they speed away and sometimes look back at me. Almost always I can see it is a young male and his friend, and sometimes I can hear them laugh. Once I was hit flat in the back by a one liter, half-full plastic bottle of Pepsi Cola, and I was so stunned by the impact that it took a few seconds for me to realize what had happened. The most recent time someone threw something at me from their car, they were stopped ahead at a stoplight. As I sprinted to try and catch up with him the driver he pulled a panicky quick right turn at the stoplight and peeled out rather than wait for me to catch up with him. In the passenger seat his girlfriend ducked down either in embarrassment — or in an effort to evade my seeing her face. Just another random act of aggression on a total stranger!
Sometimes the foibles are more natural, less manmade. For example, once a bumblebee flew right into my mouth. Out of the periphery of my vision I saw the speck flying right into my path and then into my mouth as it and I collided by chance. I immediately spit it out, but not before it stung me on the inside of my lip. My lip grew swollen and I stopped to examine what had happened. “I reckon if a person bikes long enough, things like this happen,” I consoled myself at the time.
This afternoon it happened again. I was speeding along during a beautiful Sunday afternoon and from the left a bee flew into my path and then into my left ear where it buzzed in panic and confusion. I quickly used my finger to scoop it out and continued on my ride, but the increasing pain in my ear informed that indeed I had been stung. Some twenty minutes later I arrived home and my wife could still see the stinger hanging from the inside of my ear; she used tweezers to remove and show it to me.
If a person bikes enough miles, things like this happen…..
The offending stinger, after my wife removed it from my ear with tweezers.