Mountain Biking in Bear Country
Big Sky Resort's mountain biking trails opened today. Here are some safety tips to ride and be bear aware! 🚲
Bear country is a beautiful place to do any recreating when visiting, traveling and living. If you decide to go out for a ride on your mountain bike, know that you are at a higher risk to have a bear encounter. This is due to the high speed you are moving and the usually quieter noise made when biking.
1) Slow down. Bears often react defensively when they are surprised. There have been instances where bikers have been seriously injured and even killed by bears acting in self-defense when surprised by a biker. Be careful and consider slowing down in areas with poor sight distance (i.e. heavily wooded areas with lots of blind corners). If you are coming around a quick turn, make sure you are yelling "HEY BEAR!" and are slowing down so you do not scare the bear.
2) Carry bear spray. Bikers should carry bear spray in a holster/mount on their person. In a group, all riders should carry bear spray, so if one rider comes across another in trouble, they can take quick action. Bear spray can be used on all animals including cougars.
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3) Make noise. Mountain bikers don’t generate much noise, increasing the odds of a surprise encounter with a bear (especially a mother with cubs who may not be able to move them out of the way quickly). Shout periodically. The human voice has been proven to be more effective than a bear bell as bears do not associate bells with humans.
4) Look up. Look ahead and be vigilant. Keep an eye out for bear activity such as tracks, scat and feeding sites.. Do not ride in areas with rich sources of bear food, such as berry patches in late summer. Do not ride with headphones in as it makes you less likely to hear or notice wildlife in the surrounding area.
5) Don’t ride alone. Riding in a group will generate more noise, and you will be more capable of responding to a rider in trouble.
6) Avoid riding at dusk or dawn. Bears are more active at this time, and the likelihood you will encounter a bear increases.
What to do if you encounter a bear while biking:
- If you find yourself in close quarters with a bear, stop riding and assess the situation.
- Jump off your bike and hold the bike between you and the bear which makes you look larger in a non-threatening way. When you’re on a bike, you’re moving swiftly and you have less time to react than someone who is walking. This is more likely to provoke a charge from a defensive bear, especially a grizzly bear.
Find more information on bear encounters here
📷: Photos Courtesy of Mark Grothman