One Cycled into the Hornets Nest

[UPDATE: Further research has determined the responsible perpertrators were not hornets, but in fact deer flies. These insects prefer to attack moving objects wearing dark colours.]

deer fly (not one of the hornets like first thought)

I hadn’t crashed for years. Not since I was in training in 2011, so am quite confident in my bike handling abilities.

Act I: Getting Lost in the Forest

We were cycling across country from Lavan to Vézelay and the day had been scorching hot. Google Maps took us up a narrow hill path which eventually turned to a forest track. Tamsons’ bike has narrow wheels that are is prone to puncture on forest tracks, which is exactly what happened. Changing her tyre tube was my job. However, we were in for a nasty surprise…

Act II: The First Stings Bites

After about 10 minutes, Tamson was back on the road again. However, the wheel started sqeuaking as the brake were not in the right place. Stopping again to check was when I got the next series of stings bites. I had passed these off as sandflies, but the pain had become excruciatingly more painful quickly. Also, they were biting straight through my black merino top and around my neck. I got quite grumpy with Tams’ misbehaving wheel, quickly fitted the skewer and took off down the track. Puzzled at how I had become so irritated, Tamson trailed behind.

Act III: The Pursuit of the Hornets Flies

Arriving at an intersection, we found a road headed back to the main sealed route. This was a winding uphill climb through the forest and flanked by ferns either side. I quickly found out that I had company.

The hornets deer flies in hot pursuit had followed and had latched on, biting hard. They buzzed around my head and handlebars, having no trouble at keeping up. Meanwhile Tamson, watching the whole ordeal from behind, was quite puzzled as they hadn’t troubled her at all. She tailed behind as I continued to race ahead.

The fear of these hornets flies was becoming overwhelming. I gave one a swift hit, watching it fall, only to have it recover before hiting the tarmac and attack again! Becoming more relentless, they were recruiting more to their cause.

Act IV: The Crash

I started to think I could outrun them, until one buzzed directly into my ear. That was it. My panicked swipe at it sent me and my touring bike careering off the road and into a ditch. Luckily there was a dense brush of ferns that broke the fall and luckily no damage wass done. Instantly, the hornets flies vanished (or appeared to) and I was left to drag my bike out of the ditch, sporting massive welts up my back.

Tam thought the whole show was hilarous and couldn’t stop giggling. Even when we had gotten back on track to Vézelay, she couldn’t hold back that smirk on her face. I won’t stick around so long next time, so she will have to get used to changing her own punctures…

 

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