Bug encounters when cycling are nothing new. I’ve had numerous bugs meet their end upon impact with my face, arms and neck, their sharp exoskeletons stinging my skin. The smaller ones that swarm me while I’m huffing away up a hill don’t necessarily meet their demise from the collision with my skin but, rather, drown in a pool of sweat and sunscreen. I regularly end my warm-weather rides covered head-to-toe in dead bugs.
I’ve also had several bee stings and incidents of bugs flying into my helmet and getting trapped inside, their wings beating furiously against my head in their attempt to escape.
Inevitably, there are the little gnats that dart into my mouth on inhalation or get sucked into the back of my throat when I’m gasping for air; these are either quickly spit or coughed out or washed down with a swig of water.
But during Sunday’s 80-miler, I had an all-new “eww” experience. During one of the bigger climbs, I lifted my head from the aero position, sucked in a breath of air and, along with it, a soft, fuzzy critter of some kind. This particular bug was not at all like the small, gnatty variety. No, this one bounced off my upper lip and teeth and landed in a limp, fuzzy ball on the tip of my tongue like the fluffy white top of a clover flower being dropped into my mouth. Ugh! Good thing I got proficient at loogie-hocking during my bout with bronchitis—one big hock and the sucker was launched. I never even saw what it looked like. That’s probably a good thing.