Bear-ly made it

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - LETTERS -

I couldn’t agree more with James “Cranky” Ram­say, who wrote that the great­est dan­ger to cy­clists is the an­i­mals that cross our cy­cling paths (‘The Real Haz­ards of the Road,’ April/may 2017). I would like to re­late my own near-death ex­pe­ri­ence with an an­i­mal cross­ing my cy­cling path. I live in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion, with ac­cess to more than 600 km of bik­ing paths. Gatineau Park is my play­ground for moun­tain bik­ing. In the sum­mer of 2015, I was de­scend­ing my favourite bike path at a very fast clip. It was the last part of the trail that takes you to the park­ing lot. The trail is in a heav­ily wooded area and windy. When one chooses to avoid the brakes, as I did that day, the thrill is spec­tac­u­lar. As I was just end­ing the de­scent and com­ing to a flat stretch, I looked ahead and spot­ted, less than 50 feet away, a full-size black bear sit­ting right in the mid­dle of the bike trail. It was hap­pily munch­ing on some berries found at the side of the trail. There was the shock of see­ing the bear. I had to de­cide if I could stop safely. If I did stop, what would I say or do to the big black bear in front of me? With all that run­ning through my head, I went with an­other vi­able op­tion: scream like a ban­shee and hope for the best. The bear looked up and saw me com­ing at full clip. With the grace, ease and speed I did not know a full­grown black bear had, it de­parted in a sprint leav­ing me to speed by with­out ever hav­ing to use my brakes. Sylvie Courte­manche, Ot­tawa

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