Wildlife You have Seen on Tour - CycleBlaze

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Wildlife You have Seen on Tour

Brent Irvine

I listened to a podcast yeaterday in which a short discussion was held on this topic and it got me to thinking what I have seen...

The most un-nerving was when I was on a day tour in my neck of the woods (northeastern Ontario, Canada). It was about 5 am on my summer solstice ride so the sun was high, but there were no cars around on the highway. I came around a bend and a scruffy-looking fox was trotting my way on the centre line of the road. As it approached I veered to one side then the other but whatever I did, it changed course and continued directly toward me. Blowing my whistle to a shrill shriek did nothing. I finally backtracked about a km at which point it turned and headed to the side of the road then leapt into the grasses and disappeared into the trees. Nothing serious but I had never had a wild animal 'follow' me so eerily.

That is the only weird animal encounter. The coolest was startling a lynx two metres away to the side of the road that froze, watched me pass, then slunk into the trees. Other more mundane encounters - moose, deer, groundhogs but fortunately no bears while cycling.

Any interesting wildlife encounters?

** In light of the current turn in the world pandemic situation I am growing worried that my spring Euro tour will be postponed yet again so this is me trying to inject some levity :)

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1 month ago
John PescatoreTo Brent Irvine

Not very exotic "wildlife" but here's mine:

Bees - years ago, while riding a motorcycle at dusk I was stung in the neck by a wasp. Had an allergic reaction and barely made it to an emergency room where I had almost no blood pressure until they shot me up with bug drugs. Carried the bug drugs biking for years, never had another allergic reaction after normal (not directly into a vein in my neck) stings, so stopped carrying them - but I'm still paranoid about getting stung.

On a multiday ride in PA, a bee flew into my chest and fell into my shirt. I immediately stopped and for the first time in many years forgot I was clipped in.  I fell over onto an embankment above a river and the started trying to rip my shirt off. The bee calmly flew away laughing at me.

On the Seattle to Portland ride a few years about, about 70 miles in a bee flew into my mouth, stung my lip and I cleverly spit it out. It started to swell up but at the next rest stop the EMTs said to just think of it as a free "bee-tox" injection and enjoy my supermodel-like plump lips.

Raccoons - This was really a car-based SCUBA diving trip around Florida, not biking. But, 4 of us would dive and then camp at night. Somewhere in the FL keys, we drove into the campground, paid for a spot and as soon as we started unloading, a gang (gaze? nursery? - those appear to be the internet suggestions, but this was a gang) of 15 or so raccoons came waddling onto the site and starting going after our gear (while we were still holding onto the bags) and trying to get in our car. We had bought some fruit and tossed it off to the side to distract them, grabbed our gear and retreated to the car. After eating our fruit, the raccoons just sat their staring at us with their evil beady little eyes. Four 25 year-olds gave up and left the campground and stayed in a motel.

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1 month ago
Brent IrvineTo John Pescatore

With such aggressive bee issues I wonder if you eat too much honey or not enough. I'd look into the behavioural patterns of those ornery honey makers!

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1 month ago
Henry DaltonTo Brent Irvine

While on bike trips, I've seen bears (at least three times), coyotes, foxes, bison, moose, elk, a badger, and maybe a wolf. None of the encounters made for a particularly interesting story, though. But there were two times when I was riding on a road with no car traffic and I saw cattle in the road. When they saw me coming, they looked guilty (sheepish?) and jumped over the fence back into the field where they were supposed to be grazing. These were regular wire fences, maybe four feet high, and these big ol' cows just jumped over them like it was no big deal. Made me wonder what else they do when they think we're not looking.


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1 month ago
Wayne EstesTo Brent Irvine

Bees are my main wildlife problem. Two bee stings during bike tours come to mine. One sting was near my knee and my knee got so swollen that it was difficult to bike for 3 days. Another bee sting was near my ankle and my ankle got so swollen that it was difficult to walk for 3 days. Most bee stings don't cause such extreme swelling. It must depend on the bee's diet.

Large wildlife encounters include bears always running away, and moose who don't flinch at all when I pedal nearby. I saw a Cougar once during a bike tour but I was hiking at the time. A barn owl attacked me once when I entered its home seeking shade.

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1 month ago
Bill StoneTo Brent Irvine

I've been stung by a bee and encountered moose and elk, but the biggest wild critters were roaming free on Antelope Island in Utah. Not sure why it isn't called Bison Island.

Biking with Bison
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1 month ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Brent Irvine

In 1994, into Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Patrick was ahead of me, I looked up and saw a zebra "drafting" off him for a while, then the zebra turned off into the bush. Patrick didn't know the Zebra was behind him. 

On another tour, cycling back on the Dalton Highway, I looked at the side in a ditch and saw a black bear sitting up sniffing the air, I thought "a bear what a great picture, a bear I better pedal faster." 


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1 month ago
Peter BrownTo Brent Irvine

In the Hudson Valley I have seen a black bear, a fox, a bobcat and innumerable white tailed deer.

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Brent Irvine

I’ve seen numerous snakes, lizards and kangaroos while cycle touring backroads, but a highlight was this Dingo. It saw me, and walked toward me before crossing the road not far from where I’d stopped.  It was a magnificent individual. 

I’d seen plenty of dingo tracks in the sandy road surface but it was a wonderful surprise to see one so close. 

A Dingo crossing the Gibb River Road
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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Brent Irvine

I really like this topic because wildlife encounters are easily my favorite part of any bike tour.  I think I have my eyes peeled for animals at least half the time, but it seems like the best ones occur when I'm focused on something else.

In my backpacking days I experienced some pretty amazing things involving wild animals, not the least of which was the great fortune I had to be in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri in the spring of 1998.  There was the extremely rare convergence of the 17-year brood of cicadas and the 13-year brood of cicadas.  The intense screaming of those bugs was so loud that my two buddies and I had to yell at each other just to have a conversation.  There is some good news for those of you who would like to hear that deafening sound for yourselves:  the 13-year and 17-year cicadas will hatch together once again . . . in the year 2219.

But this forum topic is about wildlife encounters while bike touring.  I've had plenty of experiences with hordes of bugs there too, particularly with mosquitoes in northern Montana and horseflies in Manitoba.

Easily my favorite bike touring selfie of all time.

 Wildlife sightings are usually either too fleeting or too dark to take a picture.  That's the case with my top four bike touring wildlife experiences.  They are documented in my journals, but here are some brief descriptions.

  • #4:  I was camped between two small lakes in northern Wisconsin.  It was a cold, clear, full moon night.  I emerged from my tent after midnight to pee and was serenaded by a loon just below my campsite and another one on the other lake.  The calls of loons are amazing in their own right, but the haunting back and forth of these two loons were sublime. 

  • #3:  I always thought raccoons were silent animals that crept around looking for food in the nighttime.  Near the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, I learned otherwise.   One of them managed to yank a bag of trail mix out of a rusty hole in the bear box at the campsite next to mine.  Soon there were a bunch of them shrieking, grunting, and barking like I had never heard before.  I thought the sound came from wolves fighting over a deer carcass or something until my neighbors told me the full story the next morning.
  • #2:  A peregrine falcon tried to intimidate me while riding along Banks Lake in eastern Washington.  The world's fastest flying bird looked like a fighter jet coming at me, screeching with all its might.  It was just a warning flight, as if to say, "don't you DARE try to ride that pedal machine up this 300' cliff to my nest!"  As if!
  • #1:  I was on the west side of Montana's Lake Kookanusa and I was marveling at all the deer I was seeing and the complete lack of traffic compared to what I saw on the east side of the lake, which was on the main ACA Northern Tier Route.  Then I saw the unmistakable tawny yellow form of a mountain lion crossing the road not more than 40 yards ahead of me.  As if that wasn't awesome enough, just behind her was a mountain lion kitten, or cub, or child, or whatever you call it.  I don't think they saw me, otherwise it might have been a good opportunity for the big mountain lion to teach the little mountain lion how to chase down and eat a bicycle rider.  They casually trotted up into the hills on the other side of the road.  I waited where I was for several minutes before advancing. 

Sorry, I've gone on too long.

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1 month ago