Bees and Bends in the Road

I had the windows of my car partially down as I drove to my mother’s house for dinner on Memorial Day. It was a beautiful day with a slight breeze and I was going along at 55 mph minding my business when “ping!” I heard a bug hit my side mirror. It then bounced into my car and landed on my right bicep. I brushed the bug quickly off without even thinking, for fear it might be something that would sting me. As I thought about being stung I realized I should probably figure out where the flicked bug had landed. The last thing I needed was the thing flying up in my face startling me so badly I swerved off the road.

For the sake of safety, I found a wide shoulder to pull over onto and turned off my car. When no traffic was coming down the road, I opened my door and stepped outside to then lean over into my car and thoroughly examine the driver’s seat. No bug. I looked under the driver’s seat. No bug. I looked in the back seats and again no bug. I finally went around to the other side of the car and opened the front passenger side door. I looked on the floor mat first and sure enough, there was the bug! It was a rather small bee and while it was stunned, it was still very much alive. I found an old receipt and carefully scooped the bewildered buzzing bee to place him on the grass by the shoulder.

That crisis averted, I waited for traffic to pass so I could get back in my car. The next truck coming up the road happened to be my ex-husband taking our daughters to his family’s picnic. As I was reasonably certain he wouldn’t run me over, I quickly got back into my car and waved out the window as they drove by. There were no cars behind his truck so I pulled back onto the road and continued on my way to my mother’s house.

As I drove along the whole incident reminded me of the days when I used to ride motorcycles. Hitting bugs on a motorcycle was unavoidable and they’d get up sleeves and down collars periodically. I’d then be riding around wondering what the heck was in my jacket, if it was still alive and when it would sting me if so. Definitely a unique experience!

I started out as a passenger on my ex-husband’s motorcycle and eventually felt the desire to be the one holding the handlebars. My ex started teaching me on an old Honda TL that didn’t go much over 10 mph and on that bike I learned how to roll the gas and ease off the clutch to keep from stalling. My ex eventually bought me a Suzuki DR 250 and I got a decent amount of road riding experience on that glorified hairdryer of a bike. I upgraded to a DR650 because I liked the seating position and partially knobby tires of the dual purpose bikes.

I wanted my motorcycle license but I was still rather nervous on the road, especially around sweeping turns, bends in the road, sharp corners or when starting from a stop going up a hill. Wanting to do things right, I took the motorcycle safety course which included 5 hours of classroom lessons and 10 hours of hands-on training riding motorcycles. The instructors were impressed with my abilities on the Honda Nighthawks the class provided. As the bikes had obviously already been dropped more than once I wasn’t as fearful of dropping them as I was my own shiny new bike. I passed the class with flying colors and will forever be proud that on my written evaluation the instructors said I “smoked the turn” coming out of the figure 8.

Unfortunately, even with my motorcycle license I didn’t get much riding in after that. I had my daughters to take care of and I couldn’t go riding without a babysitter. Once in a blue moon my ex and I would get a ride in but as the jaunts became less frequent, I felt less confident in my abilities. I dropped my bike a couple times just trying to slow to park it and I lost a large amount of belief in myself.

I let my ex buy me out of that DR 650 in the divorce and he’s since sold it, but I still miss riding now and then. It would take me quite a bit of time to build up my confidence again. Even if I had a bike I wouldn’t want to go riding alone. I’m not sure when I’ll again feel like I earned that “Class DM” on my driver’s license but I’m hopeful it will happen someday. Whomever helps me with that will have to be the most patient person in the world because I can get a smidge flustered when I know I can do something but I can’t do it as well as I used to. All in due time I suppose.

There are times when I’m driving my car, going around a tight bend or curvy section and  I think how much fun it would be on a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle on the open road creates a distinct thrill and sense of freedom far removed from the confines of a car. There are also inherent risks on a bike because car drivers rarely look for motorcycles. All intelligent bike riders know to look out for themselves and never quite trust that other drivers see them.

There is a camaraderie among motorcycle riders; they wave or nod as they pass each other on the road and they huddle under bridges when it’s raining, no matter what type of bike they’re on. They’re also all familiar with the hazards of bugs and the gasp of panic when the thing that just pinged off their helmet starts buzzing audibly from their jacket. It’s all part of the bends in the road as we throttle along the road of destiny and it’s best to enjoy the ride.