Blog: Attack of the phantom helmet wasp

Winter's coming, and that a good thing. No stinging insects... even ones that don't really exist

During a ride yesterday, I pulled up at the side of the road, took my glasses off, removed my helmet and ruffled my hair to dislodge the insect that had flown into one of the lid’s vents.

Except there wasn’t really one there.

This is a ritual that I now seem to undertake every ride, much to the annoyance of anyone I’m riding with.

I’m on constant red alert for stinging insects catching a free ride on my head since a ride in the summer. It was a hot day in August – you’ll probably remember it, as it was the only day when you could go out without a waterproof and leg warmers.

I’d just passed another cyclist on a narrow country lane as I reached the furthest point from home on what was turning out to be a very pleasant ride.

Just as a van drew up behind me, I felt a very sharp pain on the top of my head. I did the worst thing possible: poked my finger into one of the vents of my helmet to see what was going on.

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I felt a small, hard and moving lump. That was obviously a declaration of war, as the wasp then decided that it would repeatedly sting me until it got free.

Unable to immediately pull over due to the van driver looking into my back pockets, I wobbled slowly into the next lay-by and very quickly removed the helmet and frantically brushed out my hair.

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The wasp fell to the floor. I wasn’t going to let him get away with the assault, so I stamped up and down as hard as I could, just as the cyclist I’d passed earlier came by, wondering what I was doing.

If you have ever tried to stamp on something in cleated cycling shoes, you’ll know that it is impossible. There’s not enough surface area to make contact. It flew off. Laughing a waspy laugh, probably.

By now, my hair felt like it was on fire. I found it impossible to put the helmet back on, and my face started to swell up.

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I rode home taking the most direct route, sweating and gritting my teeth. But the damage had been done – physically and mentally.

Not only did I have a balloon head, which my children found really, really funny, but I now have a permanent paranoia that I have a wasp in my helmet.

For once, I’m looking forward to riding in the winter.