A Stung Pride

Riding your bike across the country can teach you a lot of things you never knew about yourself. You get to know your limits and how you can go much farther than you think you can. You learn how to sleep anywhere, for any period of time. You learn how much food you can eat before you get to the “Oh-god-I’m-so-full-I-can’t-even-sleep-because-it-hurts-so-bad” point. You learn how strong you can be and also how quickly that strength can be taken away by the simplest of things. I didn’t discover the last bit until a few days ago.

It happened on one of our more interesting days. It was a 50-mile day, which is easy enough, but we were faced with a mountain between us and our destination. But even mountains aren’t a huge problem. What made it difficult were the gigantic rocks covering the road. We had to walk our bikes a mile and a half up to the top because we couldn’t ride over the rocks, only to discover that the downhill was a dirt road for two miles. So after our lunch stop, it was back to walking our bikes. It was during this slow-going decline, that I had the one of the most terrifying encounter in my life with the Bombus aggressiveness, more widely known as the common bumblebee.

Yes that’s right, I’m talking about those fat little fellows you see pollenating your garden. Those big, round, happy things that just mind their own business as they tend to the flowers. I’m convinced this one was different. I think it was planning to kill me.

It started its attack by flying straight into one of the vents on my helmet and pinning itself against my head and protective headgear. The vibrations of its angered attempt at flight caused me to drop my bike and throw the helmet off my head.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Greg, one of my teammates, asked.

“There was a bee in my helmet.” I shrieked.

“How do you know that?”

“Because I felt it buzzing in my hair!” I stand there trying to calm myself down from the sudden encounter. It’s no big deal, really. My grandparents keep bees, and my grandpa would tell me, “Bees are some of the most curious creatures in the world. They’re not gonna hurt you, they’ll just fly up, take a good look, and fly off on their business. They’ll only get ya if you threaten the hive.” Well, I didn’t see a beehive around, so I have nothing to fear, right?

Wrong. Within seconds, I hear its angry buzzing, the sound of its thorax muscles vibrating at 200 times per second, faster than any nerve cell can fire. The insect circles my head, and I dance around, trying to rid myself of the pest. It lands on my leg, I brush it away. It flies by my ear and I swat at it. The buzzing stops. Great, it’s gone. Nope. I look down at my hand to see the little booger burying itself under my glove. I let out a squeal of panic as I tear my glove off my hand.

“It’s in my glove.” I scream, stomping on my blue Pearl Izumis. I hear the buzzing again.

Elyssa calls out, “I don’t see it. Are you sure it’s still around?” How could they not see it?! It was everywhere. I’d turn to my side, and there it was, just chilling on my hip. I swat at it and it disappears, but the buzzing continues. I blink, and it’s burrowing into my other glove. That one gets torn off to join its sister on the ground. The buzzing continues. I tear my hat off and swing it around blindly in an attempt to knock the bee out of its flight. Maybe I’m going crazy. Yeah, that’s it. There is no bumblebee. I’m just hallucinating. The heat must have gotten to me, and now I’ve dancing like a lunatic, running back and forth in a wild attempt to rid myself of this imaginary insect, as my teammates watch with incredible confusion. I just need to calm down. I come to a standstill and take several deep breaths. No buzzing. I laugh to myself. Wow, what an idiot I was. I continue to laugh as I put my hat back on my head. There, right in the brim of the hat, was that demonic bumblebee. It turns to face me and says, “’Sup bro.”

I shriek. It’s a shriek that belongs to a victim of a gruesome murder. Its sound bounces of the rocks around me. I throw my hat as far as I can and take off sprinting in the opposite direction down the hill, still laughing maniacally. I swing my arms around, blindly flailing at the winged terror that assaults my eardrums with its incessant buzzing. There it is again on my arm. I start running yet again, this time uphill. I’m running in circles. I begin to slow, my energy drained from the three minute long panic attack. My soul shatters. I’m done. I give up. This bee can have whatever it wants. I’m too exhausted and destroyed to take another step. Tears begin to fall and I stop, lie on the ground, pull my knees to chest, put my arms around my head, curl up in a ball and begin to shake. Any respect or dignity I had is gone. I’ve lost the game. I’ve been reduced to a sobbing, curled up shell of a person because of this bumblebee. Somewhere, I hear the sound of shoes on gravel, but I don’t have time to process what that means. I’m too busy flinching from each crescendo of buzzing as the bee circles around my head. I hear a quiet smack.

“There, I got it. It’s okay Rebekah. It’s gone.” Greg says, trying to calm me down.

“Is it dead?” I manage to cry out between sobs.

“Yeah. It’s dead. It’s right there, see?” I look between my fingers at the small body lying in the dirt. There it was, lifeless, harmless, and insignificant. “It was a slow bee.” He adds.

I sniffle, stand up, and try to pull myself together. I walk over, still hyperventilating, to pick up my things. I pick my bike off the ground, turn to my teammates, and say, “Let’s go.”

It’s another ten minutes before I can laugh about it. It’s stupid. I was destroyed by bumblebee. I know I’m never going to live this down. And I had done so well the past fifty days. I had been strong; I had climbed mountains without a complaint, fought my way through fierce headwinds, and earned the respect of my teammates. And now, that image had been destroyed, all thanks to a single bumblebee. I know God has a way of keeping me humble, but I often wish it wasn’t in such embarrassing ways.

Comments (9)
  • One of the best stories I have heard all summer!! Praying your all staying safe!! Blessings to you all!!

  • Regina Bates says:

    You are so funny. I love you so much and can not wait to see my baby girl soon. Miss you and love you so much

  • Mike Monti says:

    Rebekah,
    This is hilarious!!! And I thought you weren’t into creative writing, lol!!! :-P :-D I could visualize ever duck and dodge and sway and swat! All with images of “Lanyon” coming to the front of my mind. :-)

    Glad you survived the attack, are doing good and carrying on.

    Good luck, God speed, and stay strong.

    I am very proud of you and proud and honored to call you a former student of mine. :’-)

  • mary anderson-kaup says:

    I will laugh myself to sleep tonight Rebekah!!!!! Thank you for that story :)

  • Diane Street says:

    Such an awesome visual story of your experience. Thank you for sharing. I follow you on Mary Kaups Facebook. Ray is my ex brotherinlaw. . My son,Brian is fighting stage four lung cancer and without cancer research he would not be where he is today. Thank you for your support of this . Good luck to you and your team on your 4000 mile trek.

  • Susan Colten says:

    Rebekah, That sounds utterly terrifying. And no, you can’t laugh about it until you have cried about it. It was real.

    Greg, you do know that she tired it out so you could catch it, don’t you ;-)

  • Tammy Trusty says:

    Just like life! We think we have it altogether and then the dreaded bee or whatever comes at us. Glad you are fine now. Dust yourself off and get back on the trail. I love reading your blogs. Blessings, Tammy

  • Shelley Moyers says:

    Home from vacation(by the way,we missed you)& catching up on your blogs. The bee story was hilarious! When you get back I expect a reenactment complete with background buzzing!!

  • cfee Casey Fee says:

    Ah! That is so crazy! Glad everything turned out and you’re keeping bumble…i mean humble :)

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