Another dream-like rain day in the Coast Range found The Logging Road Cyclist pedaling along a typical Range-scape: a muddy gravel road traversing a steep clearcut. On the left, a dropoff into the mist. To the right, the steep road cut was topped by the continuation of the relentless bare hillside, it too fading away into ground cloud.
TLRC found himself being pulled against his will towards the drop. He corrected his steering again and again, but as if some unfelt force pressed him, he drifted towards the brink. Finally, about to topple off the edge, he wrenched his steering one last time and got away with only his rear wheel drifting off the edge. He fell to the right, into the road.
And suddenly found himself up against the cutbank, lying on his right side. A huge white sedan, Caddy? Lincoln? roared up the road from the direction he had come. In a wide spot just up the way, it spun a 180 in the gravel and slid to a stop. A man in a skintight white jumpsuit opened the door and stood up behind it. He lifted a pump shotgun, a tactical gun, levelled it at TLRC and fired. He was so close that the impact of the shot and the boom of the round were simultaneous. TLRC was hit in his left arm, the bad one. From the small wounds he knew he had been hit by birdshot rather than the lethal 00 buck he was expecting.
As he pondered his wounds, two things happened: The man got back into the car and TLRC’s little frou frou dog came running full speed up the road whence the sedan had come.
TLRC, shocked by her appearance in this place and time, snagged her by the collar. He looked back at the sedan in time to see the driver level a black rifle out the window. TLRC got to his knees and clutched his doggie, back to the shooter. He hoped that whatever the driver was shooting wouldn’t go all the way through him into her, and
He woke up in bed covered with sweat and clutching his dog who was peacefully snoring against his chest. He slept poorly the rest of the night. The dream lingered at the base of his consciousness for a week or so and is still vidid when he brings it up from memory.
A few weeks later, he was out on a road ride. It was a beautiful September day and he was trying out his Mk V saddle, with which he hoped he had finally smoothed out all the wrinkles. Just past BiMart on 53rd, rather than gear down a bit for the slight climb up to Plymouth Dr., he decided to open up the turbo, since he was feeling marginally more studly than usual. He propped open his mouth and began to oxygenate. On the third or fourth intake stroke, something popped in, hit his uvula and buzzed down his esophagus.
With his widely acknowledged intuitive sense, TLRC felt certain that this was some kind of stinging bug. Given how energetically it was buzzing around in there, almost precisely half-way down, he also guessed it was pissed off, and about to sting. TLRC pondered this as he braked his Merlin to a stop: spit or swallow? He wasn’t sure the former would work, and likewise, didn’t know how fast his digestive acids would kill it off. He pictured multiple, internal stings either way, down or up.
He found his mind made up for him, when after the first sting, an atavistic !Spit!, or more accurately !Near Vomit! response took hold, and on its way out, what TLRC saw to be a yellow-and-black flying thing, stung him on the lip too.
Now, TLRC is not allergic to these things, but he has been stung a lot in the last few years, and one hears how “sensitivities” can thus develop. Or, to put it another way, he thought as he stood there in rapidly increasing discomfort, you never really know. Given that he had a rapidly swelling lump on the left side of his swallow tube and a couple on his lower lip he thought that continuing with his ride wasn’t a good idea. That is, if he was not going to be breathing very well in a few minutes, maybe he should go somewhere with more, rather than less people, and that he should perhaps call his helpmate, The Long Suffering Girlfriend.
Retreating to BiMart, he sat down on the bags of chicken manure and gave her a call. She was at home and would, she said, speed over with both benadryl and her albuterol. TLRC waited, his airway still open. He figured if he was still breathing now he was OK. TLSGF called and said, maybe he should go to the Urgent Care that was about 100 yds away. TLRC snapped at her just to please do as she was asked (he was miserable, and cranky as a result) and did not want to try to explain to her that he wasn’t about to leave his irreplaceable Merlin Agilant with TA triple cranks and Chris King wheelset lying around some medical office.
She arrived, and for the swelling (which was bad both in his throat and on his lips) he swallowed three benadryl, and just in case, three hits off of her inhaler. They loaded the Merlin up and got some chloraseptic too, but it didn’t help as much as the blended iced lemonade from Dutch Bros did.
As they left the coffee hut, TLSGF finally prevailed on TLRC to go see a doctor. He predicted that “64 year old man with yellowjacket sting in esophagus” would work nearly as well for him as “96 year old woman with shortness of breath and chest pain” did with his mother in terms of getting to the front of the line in a medical facility.
There wasn’t much they could do. TLRC almost vomited on the doctor when she poked a tongue depressor in too far. She gave him some prednisone, which helped a lot later on. Most memorable was TLSGF sitting in the exam room, fiddling with her phone and chortling away at poor TLRC. The doctor thought this was all pretty funny too and the two of them had a nice female bonding time of it, ha ha, chuckling away about the whole thing. Not the least of which was how hard it was for TLRC to respond, given as he had a yellowjacket sting in his throat.