Bikes vs. Bears - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

Bikes vs. Bears

George Hall

Yikes - another bear attack!  Read about it here;  Bear Attacks Cyclist in Alaska  This summer a bear drug a lady cyclist out of here tent and killed her - this was in Montana, a bit NE of Missoula if I recall correctly.   I was passing through that area on the Northern Tier route at the time.  

Be careful out there!  

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1 month ago
Bob KoreisTo George Hall

It's my understanding cyclists in Alaska are referred to as meals on wheels.

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo George Hall

I see bears in my yard and on my daily bike rides. Just a few days ago I came upon a bear with three cubs. I was riding down a paved road a few miles from my house. Two of the cubs were playing - standing up and wrestling each other in my lane and the mother was in the other lane with the third cub behind her in the woods. I stopped, perhaps 50 feet from her and maybe 70 feet from the cubs. Bears don't see very well,  so I stopped and rang my bell to  attract their attention. Then I watched the cubs playing for a while as the mother wandered up in my direction. These were brown bears and were obviously used to bicycles and humans.

When she got fairly close - ten feet? - to me we made eye contact and then she ambled over to her edge of the road and I started riding, slowly, down towards the cubs. they had stopped playing and were following her up the road. One of them came towards me but, when I turned my bike towards him, he retreated and I , slowly, rode past the cubs and around a curve in the road where I met a car coming up the road and signaled for it to stop.  I told him the bears were around the next corner and he got out his phone to video them and slowly drove on. I think that same mother and her three cubs were in my back yard a few weeks ago.

We have lots of bears around here - Asheville, NC - and only rarely have problems other than garbage cans being turned over. I've lived here since 1985 and only recall one person being killed by a bear maybe 50 miles from where I live. That person had food in their tent and was wild camping - if remember correctly - on Roan Mountain. The Appalachian trail runs near the Roan and so does the Blue Ridge Parkway  so there are many thousands of hikers and bikers in that area every year. The vast majority of them know not to ever have food in their tents.

 

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1 month ago
George HallTo Mark Boyd

Thanks Mark.  But did you mean Black Bear? Supposedly NC only has black bear. 

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo George Hall

You are right, these were black bears.

Thanks for the correction,

Mark

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1 month ago
Henry DaltonTo George Hall

I'd never heard of a bear attacking a cyclist like that; thanks for letting us know. I know some cyclists carry bear spray; I wonder if anyone has ever actually used it? I've seen bears about half a dozen times while I was cycling, but they never seemed threatening; they stood around while I took a few pictures, then shambled off. 

Of course, I never, ever eat in my tent, and I store food well away from the tent, even if the most vicious predators around are mice. Lately I've been taking a bear canister (heavyweight plastic jar with locking lid) when there's a chance I'll be wild camping. It's heavy and cumbersome, but a lot easier than finding a tree with just the right branch to throw a rope over and hang my food.

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1 month ago
Robert EwingTo George Hall

Clothing, tent, sleeping bag etc. never get near the pannier with food. Before starting a tour where bears are a possibility I wash my panniers inside and out with a dilute bleach solution. Food is prepared and eaten a distance away from my tent and bear spray is kept at hands reach. 

Seen lots of bears over the years and had a very close encounter hiking the back country of Yosemite, but never seen a bear near or far while riding.

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Henry Dalton

I've met cyclists carrying bear canisters, but only in the NW part of the US. Both of the folks killed by bears in the original post of this thread were reportedly killed by grizzly bears. I've seen grizzly bears in Yellowstone but not while bicycling. They are said to be much more aggressive than black or brown bears.

We did have one incident this fall where a couple who were having a picnic near the  Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway were injured by a bear. The article in our local paper wasn't clear how they were injured, but the problem was apparently the result of their dog attacking the bear. They were in an area where the dog was required to be on a leash, but it wasn't. Their injuries were minor and the dog survived.

I  meet black  bears roughly weekly on my daily rides. The only ones I worry about are mama bears with cubs. Only once have I felt threatened by a bear and it was  a mama bear with two cubs. When she went down into a position that threatened a charge, I rode on up the road, away from her. 

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1 month ago
Kelly IniguezTo George Hall

I've only seen bear a handful of times. This was the most memorable. Read that link for all of the details - short version is that we were on Highway 92 between Gunnison and Crawford in Colorado - a bear comes crashing down out of the woods and almost gets a ride on Spoon's handlebars! I was so excited I could hardly speak, and it didn't even happen to me!

My preferred situation is to see bear at a sufficient distance.

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1 month ago
George HallTo Kelly Iniguez

Kelly - I knew I had ridden part of your bear-day ride, so I checked the map on my Western Express journal (unfortunately it's on that other site so I don't want to link to it).  I didn't ride on Highway 92, but I rode from Cimarron to Gunnison on 50, so I enjoyed riding past Blue Mesa Lake.   A solar eclipse happened on that day in 2017 as we were riding!  Maybe someday I will get to ride Highway 92.   I've seen bear 3 times now on cross-country rides (on the Transam in Virginia and in Idaho, and on the Northern Tier in Vermont), and I've photographed them on 2 of these times but each time I didn't have the telephoto lens on so the pictures aren't very clear. 

Transam 2015 - Idaho near the Snake River & Oregon Border
Northern Tier 2015 - Vermont, Near the New York Border - Dark Spot near center is the Bear

The best bear encounter I had was in the Appalachians on my Transam ride - I stopped to talk with a couple of hikers, and a mama bear and 2 cubs crossed the road just up ahead! Unfortunately, by the time I could get my camera out of the handlebar bag, the bears were lost in the woods.   Maybe next time...

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1 month ago