Watch out for the bees. It’s that time of year when the yellow jackets are in full force, frisky in the cool air, desperate in their final weeks of life, looking for a way to be remembered.
So many of us have stories involving mountain bikes, yellow jackets, blood-curdling screams, and brutal stings followed by Benadryl slumbers.
One fine fall day I was chasing two friends down Bennett Gap when at the top of the descent, through a very rocky and steep section, the bees attacked me, mad because the boys ahead of me rode over their nest and kept going. By the time the bees realized how mad they were about this disturbance, I happened to be bouncing my way down the hill after said boys. The bees, who didn’t have my same desire for chasing boys, decided instead to end their lives after jamming their stingers into ME.
At first I tried to hold onto the bike and just go faster. That lasted for two seconds before I realized that I needed both hands to clear my skin surface of the mad insects. They seemed to be everywhere, including inside of my helmet, where they had the nerve to be even more mad than the ones merely stinging my legs. I jumped from my bike and tossed it down the hill in the direction I was headed so that I could run and swat simultaneously. Unfortunately I was unable to throw the bike very far, and soon surpassed it in my freakish downhill flight in cleats and spandex. I screamed to let the guys know I was being held back, but my words were not even coherent to my own ears.
“Bees!” I screamed, “Bees! Don’t come back for me!”
I didn’t want them getting stung, too. I continued staggering down the hill screaming and swatting when Jon came back only for me to yell for him to run away, run away! I flung my buzzing helmet down the hill and beat myself in the head as the bees trapped themselves into my thick, sweaty hair. Despite my warnings, he bravely entered the vicious swarm and helped me whack at bees, shouting for me to take off my shirt, which made me laugh, even though there really were bees inside of it.
We managed to drop the swarm and collapsed onto a rock to inspect the damage as angry red welts immediately rose from my skin. I dreaded having to go back to retrieve my bike. I was feeling a little light-headed and couldn’t decide if it was from the adrenalin rush, stripping in the forest, or the histamines coursing through my veins.