In Australia, there are some serious insects: spiders the size of dinner plates and tiny spiders with red stripes on their backs that can kill you, plus ants so big they’re called “bull ants”, and cockroaches as long as your index finger.
In Germany, insects aren’t really a problem, but in summer, there are Bremsen. These nasty horse flies can sting you through your clothes.
When I get stung by one, I have a bad reaction about 24 hours later, with a racing heart, dizziness and trouble breathing. In German, “bremsen” also means “to brake”, which is about right, because I feel these flies put the brakes on me when I get hit by one.
Or by three, which is what happened on Saturday afternoon. 24 hours later, I was at the start line for the Q-Tri in Bornhöved, struggling to breathe and feeling like my heart was going to pound out of my chest. Put that together with the usual pre-race nerves and I was on the verge of an all out panic attack. But there wasn’t time to think about it, because the race started.
I could barely swim, and even had to stop at the first buoy and hang onto a lifeguard’s board for a minute. I asked her to follow me, and she kindly did. I somehow managed to get through the swim, thanks to the help of the Bornhöved lifeguards. Without their assistance, I would have stopped.
The rest of the race was tough. It seemed I was fighting for air the whole time (and riding with the brakes on). Not a nice feeling when you’re racing and trying to do your best. It was satisfying just to finish, 24th in the end, which wasn’t so bad, given the circumstances.
And Germany is not that safe after all. The country needs some big spiders that will eat the Bremsen.