close encounter

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I’ve seen two bears while riding, the first a fleeting glance of a furry black shape in the woods while mountain biking. He or she was just crashing through the underbrush about 50 yards behind a friend and I. We got moving and never saw him again.

The second was on a rainy day while on a steep multi-mile climb in central PA. I rolled to a stop for no apparent reason on the pavement and looked into the woods on the side on the road. A BIG black bear wandered out into the road and stopped about 75 feet from me, staring at me, while I stared back at him. Strangely enough there was nothing too scary about this. It was a bit of a transcendent moment in the rain. After what seemed like 5 minutes, but was probably only 45 seconds, of looking at each other I snapped out of the beginnings of a trance, reached down and rang my bell, which prompted the bear to shake his head as if he had been in a bit of a trance himself and shambled off into the woods on the other side of the road, right into the woods where I was planning to descend after I finished the climb. It was a great decent on singletrack, just greasy enough form the rain to keep it interesting,. No more bear sightings, which was fine.

I’m not worried about PA bears, I am afraid of Grizzlies and plan to ride straight through bear country without stopping if I ever do the GDR or Tour Divide.

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