Watch out for these dangerous animals when you’re bike touring

Do you know what you would do if you came across some of nature's most fierce and claws?

When you're bike touring in the back country you have to be prepared for a number of things the wilderness could throw at you, including some of its most dangerous wildlife. Do you know what you would do if you came across some of nature's most fierce claws? If you don't have a plan, you might find yourself in a particularly sticky situation. 

Check out some of the most dangerous animals that you could come across on your next bike tour, and what you should do if you happen to meet them:

1. Mountain lion
Have you ever been biking when suddenly you felt like you were being watched? You may have been. Mountain lions like to stalk their prey – aka, you – and use the element of surprise to take them down. The mountain lion is mostly located west of the Rocky Mountains, but you should be prepared nonetheless. If you find yourself face to face with this fierce predator, it's important to stand your ground. Make a lot of loud, unpredictable noises, since they're scared of unknown threats, and never take your eyes off the animal. Hopefully it will runaway, but if the lion charges you will likely have to fight it, so find the closest thing to you that could act as a weapon like a rock or large stick. 

2. Bears
There are a couple types of bears you could come across when bike touring, but the two most common in North America are grizzly bears and black bears. Black bears, however, are usually less of a threat – they're more afraid of you and will try to avoid you, unless you provoke them, so just avoid them if you can.

"This is not an animal you should turn your back to."

It's the grizzly bear you need to beware. This is not an animal you should turn your back to. Don't challenge the bear – simply stand your ground and be as still as possible, even if it charges. Sometimes they will run at threats to see if they're actually a risk.

If it attacks, however, drop to the ground covering your neck and head, and spread your legs out wide so the bear can't flip you.

3. Rattlesnake
Snakes are creepy creatures in general, but a rattlesnake is a particularly frightening breed as its bite is incredibly venomous. They're found in hotter climates, but are most active during the evenings. If you see this snake on your tour, get away as quickly as possible without startling it. Rattlesnakes will rarely attack unless they feel threatened. If you know you're biking through an area that is indigenous to this snake, be extra cautious that you don't come too close to one. If you are bit however, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Keep the wound below heart level and try to get medical attention within the first six hours. 

Do you know what to do if this wild animal approaches you?
Do you know what to do if this wild animal approaches you?

4. Wolves
Wolves can be found all over – everywhere from the plains to the mountains and in forests. Fairy tales have warned us to be afraid of wolves, but truth is, they're the least dangerous creature on this list, and for the most part they will leave you alone if you don't provoke them. Typically, this animal will only go after you if it is absolutely desperate. If approached by a wolf, try to act as least threatening as possible unless it starts to advance on you. In that case, make yourself as big as possible and yell as this will typically scare it off. However, if it continues to attack, this is an animal that you will have to fight back against. Try to find a heavy object around you and aim for its nose.

Products to pack in your pannier that could help scare away threatening animals
Now that you know some of the dangers you're up against out there, you might want to consider some of the tools you should always keep on hand in your trusty pannier, just in case. 

  • Your bike: When it comes to self defense, you need to do whatever it takes to protect yourself and that might mean using your bike as a weapon or shield against an attack. 
  • Air horn: Most of these animals will be afraid of loud, unnatural noises like an air horn, so keep one handy. This could also double as a signal for help to find you more easily should you get hurt.
  • Noise shakers: Similar to air horns, a nose shaker will confuse and scare animals from getting too close to you. Be sure to shake aggressively.
  • Pocket knife: Keeping a small knife in your pocket could be useful for so many reasons, but especially if you're confronted by an attacking animal. This will reduce the time it takes to find another blunt object and may potentially save lives. 
About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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