A perfect bike ride is un-bear-able
It was the perfect day for a quick bike ride. But really there’s no such thing as truly perfect.
Cooler temperatures, very little wind, not a lot of cyclists out and a bear on the trail.
What? Cooler temperatures this time of year, that’s what you’re thinking, right?
OK, a bear on the trail is a little out of the ordinary.
I was cruising up the Glenwood Canyon bike path on a splendid afternoon when I received the alarming news. As I was departing the Grizzly Creek area, another cyclist waved me to a stop.
“A guy just said there’s a bear on the trail up a little ways.”
That was an unnerving statement. A bear as an obstacle to my perfect afternoon bike ride did not thrill me.
“Did he say how far up?” I asked.
The guy said no.
I was irritated with this man’s pathetic lack of information-gathering ability. Wouldn’t that be an important detail to nail down? Was it 100 yards, a mile, two miles? Where exactly was this bear? “Up a little ways” is as vague as con man’s résumé.
“He just said there was a bear on the trail and he advised me to turn around.”
I studied the trail in front of me. Not many options. Turn around or proceed into bear country.
I looked at the man and shrugged.
“I guess we’ll see,” I said and rolled ahead.
I have to admit, embarrassingly admit, that thoughts of social media clawed at my mind. I could get a cool photo of a bear with my cell phone and post it online.
Twitter would be so happy.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
Even better: “SELFIE!” How many chances do you have to get a selfie with a bear?
Could you stop shredding my shoulder for just a minute so I can get a pic?
I pedaled forward, slowly, warily. I needed a strategy. Should I go slow, so I could halt my ride if a bear materialized in front of me? Then snap a photo and retreat? Or should I go really fast, not giving the bruin the chance to ruin my day.
I glanced back and saw three cyclists moseying along behind me, including the guy who told me about the bear.
It was clear, these riders were using me as bear bait.
The old joke about two guys trying to outrun a bear popped into me mind. The punch line: “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”
This was the exact opposite. If this trio rolled around a corner and saw Yogi having a pic-a-nic and munching on my thighbone, they could easily do a U-turn and hightail it back to town. But not before snapping their own super cool social media photo.
Twitter would be even more happy.
Fast, I will go fast, I decided. I will not be Yogi’s lunch.
I’ve seen bears in the wild before, but this trail is narrow with few places to escape. It was a nerve-racking trek.
“Is that a bear, is that a bear, is that a bear, is that a bear …?” My head was on a swivel scanning the sides of the trail.
As I was zipping along, I spotted a huge, I mean epic, pyramid of poop. Right in the middle of the path.
It looked fresh. That’s never good. I briefly considered snapping a photo of the poop. Metaphorically, a poop pic would symbolize what I really think of selfies. But I thought if this really was bear scat, I better scat.
I pedaled faster. After another half mile I was exhausted, but I assumed I had ridden out of bear country.
Or course, there was the inevitable fact that I would soon turn around and return down the path.
Maybe that trailing trio of riders encountered not-so-Gentle Ben while on their slow leisurely pace.
Maybe the bear joke holds true with cycling, too.
I turned around at Hanging Lake for my fast return jaunt to Glenwood, but then I was worried about a possible collision with Winnie the pooper.
But I made it through bear country without seeing this alleged bear.
It made for an interesting bike ride for me on a fabulous afternoon.
But no bear photo. Of course, if I had spotted a bear on the trail, it might have been a different story, selfie or no selfie.