Mountain Bikers Guide to Safe Riding in Bear Country

Susan Cameron on Rye Ridge Trail, Kananaskis Country, Alberta - photo by Ward CameronMountain biking is becoming increasingly popular in the Rocky Mountains, and with this popularity comes both added risk and increased responsibility. Mountain biking is dangerous due to the fact that the bikes move both fast and quiet. Also, the nature of the activity requires that most of the cyclists attention is on balance and control, and less is available for watching for bears. Cyclists need to take a more active approach to being bear aware. Here are some tips.

  •   Use a noise maker on your bike, such as bells. You need to make noise, especially because bikes move very fast and exceedingly quiet. Bells are a start, but using your voice is an even better noise maker. 

  • Watch for bear signs. If you suspect a bear may be in the area (based on food plants or signs), leave the area if possible, or at the very least, make an excessive amount of noise.

  • Avoid riding downhill at a high rate of speed. Should a bear suddenly appear, you will have less opportunity to react if you are moving quickly. This is especially true on winding hills where bears may be feeding around the next corner.

  • Avoid riding trails that are lined with seasonal food sources. This includes trails that pass through avalanche slopes in the spring, as well as those that go through patches of buffaloberry in August and early September.

  • Ride in groups. This will increase your noise level, and also ensure that there will be someone to assist you if necessary.

All Material Ward Cameron 2005