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Biking in Bear Territory

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Biking in Bear Territory

Black bear cub (Ursus Americanus) near Hyder, Alaska.

Alan Vernon via Flickr

Many of us mountain bike in bear territory. And while bear attacks are rare, bear encounters aren’t. Your first reaction might not be the safest. Arm yourself with information to minimize your risk. The following suggestions may not seem like common sense, but they are the surest way to keep you out of harm’s way the next time you encounter a bear on the trail.

First and foremost, if you are biking in known bear territory, make noise when riding through dense areas and around corners. Attaching a bear bell to your bike is not a bad idea either.

In the event of a close black bear encounter…

  • Stand still—even though your first reaction might be to run away.
  • Speak softly. A soft monotone voice will let the bear know you are human.
  • Back away slowly, never turning your back on the bear.
  • Wait for the bear to leave. If it doesn’t—or if it approaches you—wave your arms to make yourself look bigger.
  • Stand your ground and use bear pepper spray if the animal keeps advancing.

In the event of a close grizzly bear encounter…

  • Don't run! You will not be able to outrun the animal.
  • Do not look directly into the bear’s eyes.
  • Speak softly in a monotone voice and wave your arms to let the bear know you’re human.
  • If the bear does not approach you, back away slowly.
  • Stand your ground if the bear charges.
  • Use bear pepper spray if the animal charges within 25 feet of you.

If a black bear attacks, fight back with all of your might and use your pepper spray. If a grizzly attacks you, play dead by curling up into a ball or lying flat on your stomach with your hands protecting the back of your neck.

Have you encountered a bear on the trail? Share your story!

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