Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PSA: Bike Bells

Bike Bells.  You might think they are just one of those accessories that come on little girl's bikes.  And they do.  However, they can be very utilitarian, and I would recommend putting one on your mountain bike.  Here are a couple reasons why.  First, they are great for letting people on the trail, roads and paths know you are coming up on them.  It works a little better than "get the hell out the way."

More importantly, bells work great to let animals know you are coming along the trail.  Bikes are quite and can allow you to move through the woods at a rather fast pace.  I ride a lot by myself.  I often ring my bell every once and a while, while on descents without clear line of sight, to let any potential critters know I am bombing down.  Sometimes I ting it when I'm riding along and I just have "that feeling" that I am not alone.  It is best to avoid surprise encounters.  However, encounters do happen in the woods.  When I have come face to face with fuzzy animals on the trail, I find talking to them, and maybe a little bell ringing, let's them know I am a human and sends them on their way.

This brings me to my ride last weekend.  I went for a little mountain bike ride before sunset at our camp at Priest Lake.  I was on a long climb, with my head down, and when I came around a switch back, there was a cougar crouching in the middle of the trail some 50 feet in front of me.  Now I have encountered every animal out there at one time or another while out on the trail...including a cougar at another time but on this exact same trail.  Anyways, I dismounted my bike and put it between me and him...or her.  I talked to the cat and rang my bell 4 times.  He wasn't deterred in the least bit.  He wasn't backing down or taking his eyes off me as he now stood sideways in the trail with his back arched.  The stand off was killing me as time seemed to be standing still.  I decided I would take my chances and I backed down the trail never taking my eyes off him.  I got to a point back around the switchback when I could not see him any longer because of brush.  I then jumped back on my bike and pedaled like hell out of there.  I never saw him again.  Did the bell help perused him I wasn't dinner?  Who knows.  But I was sure glad I had a bell to ring when my mouth went dry and words would no longer come out...

$10 well spent

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