Friday, August 10, 2012

Roadside Wildlife

Ontario, Canada is a great place to ride. You never know what you’re going to see. Not long ago, coming out of Timmons, ON and in the wilderness north of Wawa, I came across a Black Bear cub along the side of the road. It was just sitting there watching as my BMW R1100GS came zipping by. “How cute,” I thought.

Then, just down the road, out comes a big Black Mama Bear, crossing the road in front of me. Or so I thought, until she stopped in the middle and stood up on her hind legs facing me. Whoa…big bear and I’m barreling down on her at highway speed.

Too close to emergency stop and turn around. Bears are fast and I didn’t think there would be enough time to change direction if she decided to come and get me.

What to do? The only thing I could think of was to slip the bike into neutral, stand up on the pegs as I approached, with my arms out, trying to be a bigger bear than her. I was even yelling at her inside of my full face helmet. She looked at me for a moment (Seemed like a very long moment…I was still going about 45 mph and closing). Then she nonchalantly dropped back down to all fours and continued across the road as I swooshed right behind her. I wouldn’t recommend that as a bear avoidance tactic, but it worked one time.

I couldn't actually give you all the details of the thought process. Probably due to the "flight or fight" mode I was in. Just seemed the most reasonable choice ... but not a lot of thought in it. I did realize I needed "neutral" if I didn't want to suddenly slow down when I let go the handlebars to stand up to be the "bigger bear." (think spread-eagle) Receiving a glancing blow would have probably been better than stopping directly in front of her if she called my bluff.

"Next time?" There have been other "Disney" moments. I'll tell you about them later.

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