Handling Animal Encounters On The Cycling Trail

Posted on: 16 July 2018

If you do a lot of cycling on the trails, then chances are that you will deal with wildlife or other animals at one time or another. Most of the time, encounters with wildlife are brief and harmless, but sometimes they can get dangerous. Cyclists are often swift moving and make very little noise which makes them appear to be either a threat or an interesting target to many animals. Here are some tips on how to avoid unpleasant animal encounters while you're out on bike trails.

Stop Moving When Confronted

Many animals, especially predators, are stimulated by fast movement. A quick-moving bike is often a curiosity, in the least, and potential prey or a threat at the most. Unless you're riding downhill or on a flat track, chances are that you will never out ride a wild animal. Instead, stop, hold your ground, and use your bike as a shield. Back off carefully when you can and do not turn your back on the animal.

Use Your Voice

Most animals, even bears, will usually avoid you if they know that you're coming their way. In many cases, using a regular bell or another small noisemaker will not be enough to get their attention. Using your voice in combination with using a loud bell or air-horn is more effective. You can call out "ho bear!" or something similar as you come around blind corners. Another tip is to go slowly around those corners and be extra alert.

Carry Animal Repellant

Most experts highly recommend carrying bear spray or similar animal repellent over any other type of deterrent including firearms. When used properly, these sprays deter or reduce the severity of attacks fairly successfully. It's important that you practice how to use these sprays before hitting the trail, so you know their range and potential effectiveness. You can buy inert training sprays to practice on so that will be more confident when it comes to using the real thing when needed. Bear sprays can also be used on other aggressive large animals as well.

Most animals don't go out looking to attack people. Often attacks are stimulated by fear, curiosity, or territorial anger. Whatever you do, don't lose your nerve and run because you may escalate an attack. If you are unfamiliar with the area, check in with the locals to see where the problem trails and animals are. If you are in need of a guide or more information on avoiding encounters with animals on the trail, contact a local outfitter for more information.