Living in the UK, about the most dangerous things we encounter on trails are badgers, dogs, and giant hogweed. Because of this, I’ve decidedly lost my fear of the woods at night. After a childhood spent watching nature documentaries, I even generally feel okay, though wary, about snakes, sharks, and crocodiles. Thanks to a well dodgy zoo in the Tunisian desert, as a kid I once sat on a lion, carried a python round my neck, and was once in a boat pretty close to some hippos without wigging out too. I’m pretty much okay with nature and can balance my respect and fears of it.
One animal absolutely terrifies me though: Bears. They’re faster than us, they can be quiet, and they can climb. There is no escape other than behaving in the right ways to put off a given species, and maybe just getting lucky. Watching Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man didn’t really help my fears. So watching this video from a Slovakian bike park, my heart was in my mouth and my bum puckered roughly up to my sternum:
There have been some notable fakes over the years, but the consistency of the video artefacts would seem to indicate the one above is real. This is far from the first time riders and bears interacting have been caught on video too. We’ve previously featured this video in which a rider hit a bear and luckily escaped unharmed, and this one from 2013 shows an encounter between mountain bikers and a mother with cub, where they got charged but luckily didn’t have to use bear spray, play dead or fight back.
I’m honestly thankful to ride somewhere I don’t have to worry about this. If you’re not so lucky, make sure to learn what to do to avoid or survive a bear attack, get a bear bell like this Timber one, and carry some form of protection (hot tip for people in countries where you’re allowed to carry guns: 9mm bullets don’t even slow bears down and you’ll be much better off with spray).