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Thursday, 31 July 2014

June Bug In My Eye

File:June bug in nature.JPG

June Bug Photo credit: Oecherbaer Wikimedia Commons

By Pico Triano

Love struck and running hot down a long clear downhill stretch of road. Whether I was paying close attention or not, I don’t think I could have seen this one coming. My girlfriend at the time was staying with an elderly woman in Altadena, California. We were both attending college in Pasadena where I stayed in a men’s dormitory. We’d talked pretty late in that Sunday evening and I hopped on my bike and headed home from her place so as not to droop too badly in class the next morning.

Her abode was well up the base of Mount Wilson and I chose to make my decent on Lake Street. Four lanes wide with almost no hint of traffic and nothing to slow me down, I flew down that hill until just a little past Charles S. Farnsworth Park. Somewhere out of the night gloom a June bug appeared and hit me hard in the right eye. From sighting to impact I had time to blink and that was it. Through the fierce pain, my eye streaming tears, I thought for sure I was going down hard. I needed all four of those lanes just to stay on the bike. Whether a miracle or just plain desperation, I managed to regain control and pull over to recover. While it smarted something fierce, I was lucky. Ripping down a hill at that speed, I could have suffered a detached retina. I don’t bruise easily though so I didn’t even go to class the next day with a black eye.

The above example is just one way insects can be an issue for cyclists. Since my June bug experience I usually ride wearing sunglasses or cycling goggles. No bug at any speed in the eye is fun. They don’t taste very good either. While flying down a hill or riding past a swamp, it’s best to keep your mouth shut unless of course you need the protein.

While you’re riding stinging and biting insects usually aren’t an issue. They either can’t keep up or can’t hang on long enough to cause any worries. There are exceptions though. I did get a yellow jacket caught between my fingers once and it stung me before I mashed it to a paste. The problems happen when you stop. A lot of biting insects are attracted to sweat and you’ll have plenty of that.

On day trips or short jaunts you don’t usually have to plan much for those carnivorous little beasties. On a tour though it is a different story. It’s best to have some kind of insect repellent. Even if you have a good tent to sleep in you’ll need some protection while you set it up. I remember ribbing a friend who came back from a weekend tour just covered with bites.

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