When I get asked about times I've had traveling on a bicycle. I give a quick run down and the bit that people most wanna know about is when I mention being chased by a Grizzly bear. So while times are slow here in Durango and I stew in my skin and pull my hair out waiting for spring. I though I would share this story with those of you who have not heard it:
Falon Stoval and I were pedaling North from California on "The Mad Dash to Alaska" (The name of the trip and the tag we left on many road signs and dumpsters)
The small city of Whitehorse in the Yukon has sunlight for about 20 hours a day in the summer. So when we pedaled out of town it was a bright sunny night. We rode for hours and took down the better part of 80ish miles. We often rode at night for the lack of traffic on the roads and abundance of wildlife making roadway cameos. Usually we were pretty good about scanning the road and being fairly alert. Since we were after all in the "Grizzly Alley" that many locals had warned us about. We'd listened to a barrage of horror stories about cyclist getting eaten and them only finding pieces of their bikes. Constantly these tales were heaped on us but we shrugged it off and kept riding.
So in the darkest time of the day when deep shadows are popular and the sun is just taking a little power nap in the twilight before morning. Falon and I were riding side by side, tired and mumbling about needing to find a place to camp. We were a long ways out from anything but dense forest and mountains. In many other circumstances we would have just crashed in the woods but considering our position in the food chain we kept going.
I remember staring at my handlebars and then looking up to see what it was across the road that caught my eye. Of course it was an Um...big.... big Grizzly. He was just down off the other side of the road eating something in the grass. Falon was a little behind and to my right. I slowed a bit and when he came up along side me I said "look over there". At that second the bear either heard or finally smelled us. He stood up on his hind legs and started roaring. Holy shit my pants was that a big damn bear. I would have felt like a dwarf hugging him. I went into a weird trance, coasting and just staring at this massive beast. Falon on the other hand took off like his saddle had just caught fire. Thats when the bear started to charge. I was pondering the idea that in modern society its odd to think that something furry can walk out of the woods and eat you, but also in that same milla-second I realized I better get the fuck out of there! In a flash I was pedaling like never before. The Grizzly was now on the pavement, so close I could see the muscle straining in his shoulders and hear his long claws scrape on the tarmac as they searched for traction on the hard surface. We made eye contact, I could clearly make out individual teeth and he was closing in fast! I turned back to the bike and gave it everything. I was a panicking blur of movement, hammering through my gears and saying "shit shit shit". There was a second when he was so close on my back wheel that I seriously had the though: "Oh great, Here it is; I'm getting mauled"
But then he stopped running and I rode away. Looking over my shoulder I saw him standing in the middle of the road sniffing the air. I didn't look back again till he was a little speck against the trees.
I'd like to think that I out ran him but other knowledgeable types have said that it was a false charge and if he wanted to, he would have had me for breakfast. I wonder what I would taste like? I don't know but I doubt it beats coffee and pancakes.