Tag Archive for bee swarm

The infamous beachfront bee encounter: The sequel


Open on establishing shot from offshore. Camera pans across water, shoreline and beachfront, zooming in on a lone bicyclist riding along the beach. Just then, a large commercial jet roars overhead; he’s beneath the runway at LAX.

He’s two-thirds of the way through what will be a 45-mile ride from Westwood to Hermosa Beach and back. He rides with ease, comfortable on his bike and confident in his abilities, despite fighting the winds that had been at his back on the way down.

Suddenly, something appears to mar this placid scene. A swirling, almost ethereal mass blocks his path, looking like electrons orbiting a massive invisible nucleus.


We see his concern as the muscles in his face tighten, his eyes hidden by riding glasses. He’s seen this once before.



The swarm pulsates directly over the bikeway, completely blocking his path.


A brief moment of fear crosses his face as he recalls his previous encounter with a similar, though much larger, swarm. It did not end well. Though he has no memory of the actual accident, he recalls the ambulance ride, followed by two nights in the ICU, and an extended rehab which is only now reaching fruition.

As he considers his options, he realizes it’s already too late, as bees envelope his head and body. His expression shifts to one of determination.

He’s committed now.


But has he learned anything from his previous encounter?

Before, he tried had tried to speed through as quickly as possible, ending up covered in bees…then, nothing, until waking up with an oxygen mask over his face.

This time, he will do things differently. Recalling the bees that had bounced that bounced off his glasses and crawled across his face last time, he leans forward as far as possible, lowering his head onto his handlebars to minimize exposure.

At the same time, he purposely slows down and pedals steadily.


He rides cautiously as bees bounce off his shoulders and helmet.

Finally, we see the swarm thin as he reaches the other side. He gradually slows down even further, riding his bike at a crawl before pausing to examine himself.

The news is good. Only a few stray bees have hitched a ride; a quick brush with a gloved hand sends them on their way.

A look of relief crosses his face. This time, he has survived.

He relaxes as he picks up speed. After this, the rest of his ride will be a breeze — though he will frequently swat at his back and shoulders on the way home, shooing away a host of imaginary insects.

And once again, not one sting.



Metro considers lifting the ban on bikes, but limiting the number that can use it. Don’t they know the whole point is to encourage people to use their services (and yes, bicyclists are people, too)?  A local rider asks if anyone can diagnose his pain in the butt. San Diego releases the pedicab driver without charges in the death of a tourist. Once again, Oregon demonstrates why it’s a cyclists paradise, as the local AAA extends their services to cyclists. Another example from the Department of DIY, as an Oklahoma physician donates bike signage to the county. Virginia Beach cyclists push for changes after a local rider is killed. South Africa considers including bikes in their transportation networks. San Francisco police reach out after a local cyclist and his 4-year old son are struck by a hit-and-run driver. Finally, Enci and Stephen Box are looking for bike volunteers to assist in making their latest film with virtually no carbon footprint.

The gift that just keeps on giving

Fourteen months after my infamous bee encounter on the beach, and I’m still dealing with it.

As I’ve written here before, I’ve managed to recover from my injuries — for the most part, anyway — and after a lot of hard work, managed to get myself back into shape. But a couple of nagging problem just haven’t gone away.

Take my hip, for instance. While it looks nothing like the picture in the second link anymore, there’s still a little discoloration, and some residual swelling that causes occasional pain and/or numbness.

Then there’s my right butt cheek, which seems to have developed a semi-gelatinous, subcutaneous mass that looks and feels like I sat on a catcher’s mitt. After all these years of riding, I may have the deeply dimpled derriere of a Roman gladiator on the left, but alas, not so on the right.

(Think of it as a 10-point buttocal scale, sort of like this: 10 Greek God; 9 Michelangelo’s David; 8 Roman Gladiator … 3 Roman Galley Slave; 2 Catcher’s Mitt; 1 Dom DeLouise.)

I feel kind of like Two-Face, but lower.

So my orthopedist sent me in for yet another MRI last week, which only confirmed my own self-diagnosis. He gave me a steroid shot in my hip to help the swelling, and he’s sending me to physical therapy to see if they can break down the fibrous tissue that’s keeping that ass mass in place.

Meanwhile, I try not to be self-conscious about it. Really, I do.

It’s not all that noticeable when I’m dressed, and my wife is the only one who sees me naked these days. And she usually tries not to laugh, though I sometimes think I catch a suppressed snicker or two.

So I packed my semi-lumpy, bi-polar butt into my skintight spandex cycling shorts and went out for a ride this afternoon.

And I’m sure it was just my imagination that the women I passed on my left turned and smiled, while those on my right quickly looked away.


Researchers at Perdue University point out what every Californian already knows — speed limits don’t count if there’s no one around to enforce them. New York imagines what a neighborhood designed for cycling would look like. Seattle cyclists are confused, as the city promotes cycling while the police harass them. The newspaper in New Haven tells cyclists to stay off the damn sidewalk (personally, I love the 3rd comment.) Bike Fixation gets action after losing the local parking meter/bike rack. Gary Reports of Obama’s new Office of Urban Planning, something that could benefit all of us. Finally, my friends at Altadena Blog report the San Gabriel Valley is being targeted by U2 spy planes. Anyone have an explanation?

Rider on the swarm


I’ve mentioned a few times on here that I’m focused on getting back into shape after a bad riding accident last year. So maybe it’s time I told you what happened.

It was one of those perfect L.A. days. The kind people back east think we have everyday, and we hardly ever get in real life. I was just relaxing with an easy spin along the coast, when something zipped past my face. Then another…and another.

And I realized it was the leading edge of the biggest swarm of bees I’d ever seen — at least 30 feet wide, with thousands, or even tens of thousands, of bees buzzing around in every possible direction. And I was already inside it.

I had no way of knowing if they were angry or docile, and to be honest, I have no idea if I’m allergic to bees or not. But I figured this wasn’t the time to find out. So I just put my head down and pedaled as if my life depended on it. Because for all I knew, it did.

Then just as fast, I came out on the other side, thinking that I’d made out okay, when I looked down and saw that I was literally crawling with bees everywhere I could see. And I could only imagine what there was where I couldn’t see.

And then, nothing.

The next thing I knew, a lifeguard was placing an oxygen mask over my face and asking if I knew where I was.

Fortunately, I’d picked a good place to land, just a few feet from the new county lifeguard headquarters next to Will Rogers State Beach, right where they used to film Baywatch. They’d found me unconscious, off my bike and laying flat on my face, and said I’d been out at least a couple minutes.

Of course, all I wanted to do was thank them for their time, get back on my bike and finish my ride. But by then, the paramedics were there, and I was on my way to the ER at St. Johns.

I still thought I was fine. The docs in the ER thought otherwise, though. That led to a couple nights in intensive care, as a result of A) a moderate concussion, B) a bulging disc in my neck, C) a massive hematoma on my right hip, literally the size of a football, and D) major blood loss due to the hematoma. In fact, my blood pressure crashed three times that first night, dropping as low as 56 over 38 before stabilizing at around 90 over 60 — still too low, but just enough to avoid a transfusion.

So if I had gotten back on my bike to ride home, chances are, I might not have survived the night. Even if, by some miracle, I actually managed to get there. And if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

They sent me home with firm instructions not to leave the house for next two weeks, and no exercise — at all — for the remainder of the year.

I remember reading in Bicycling that it takes about two weeks of rehab for every week you’re off the bike due to an injury. By that standard, I should be back where I was by the end of this month. And yes, I’m close, but I’m not there yet. I still find myself struggling at times — though I often look down and see that at least I’m struggling in a higher gear now.

And I still have no idea what really happened, though. My injuries suggest that I must have fallen hard to one side, flipped or rolled over to hit the other side, and somehow ended up doing a face plant on the asphalt. But hey, your guess is as good as mine.

For all I know, Godzilla could have risen up out of the blue Pacific and slammed me down, before slinking off to ravage Tokyo once again. Though you’d think something like that would have made the local news, at least.

I keep trying to figure it out whenever I ride past that spot, but they tell me those memories are probably gone for good. Which, all things considered, could be a good thing.

Oh, and the bees? Not one sting.

Go figure, huh?

A big thank you to the L.A. County Lifeguards, the EMTs from L.A.F.D. Station 69 in Pacific Palisades, and the ER staff at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica — you guys are the best. Streetsblog reviews Dodger Stadium’s new combination bike rack and smoking lounge. The Times’ Joel Stein misses the good old days of bikers on dope. And finally, Councilmember Tom LaBonge is big on bikes, as long as their riders aren’t into holiday lights.

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