A cyclist says he’s lucky to be alive after suffering serious injuries when he crashed straight into a black bear while descending a forest trail – which he had chosen for his evening ride to avoid cycling in traffic on the road.
Kevin Milner, a 30-year-old cyclist from North Vancouver, a Canadian city famous for its hiking, cycling, and skiing trails, was riding on the paved Seymour Valley Trailway on Tuesday evening, at around 8.30pm, when he spotted a black bear as he exited a corner on a descent, North Shore News reports.
Faced with a split-second decision between slamming on his brakes or trying to ride around the animal, Milner’s evasion attempt was, unfortunately for him, mirrored by the startled bear.
“The second I made that decision, he decided to run, and he ran right across the road, right in front of me and I smashed into him right behind his shoulder blade,” he told the local newspaper.
“I did a flip over him. I pretty much kissed the bear and then I guess I flew through the air.”
As the bear fled off the path, the cyclist – who landed hard on his side – was aided by an e-bike rider, who stayed with him while two other cyclists tried to find phone reception to call for help.
However, as Milner lay on the path injured, around 15 minutes later, the bear returned, seemingly uninjured, prompting the e-bike rider to attempt to protect the stricken cyclist.
“He was like, “Oh s***, dude. He’s back. The bear’s back,” the 30-year-old said. “Man, those bears are built like a truck. I thought I was going to die.
“He was kind of looking at me, really curious, kind of like, ‘What’s up with you?’ Then the bear just started eating grass. He pretty much just carried on with his day.”
Desperate to get away from the bear, and despite spitting blood and being unable to walk or lift his leg, Milner persuaded his fellow cyclist to let him borrow his e-bike.
Riding to the entrance of the forest, the cyclist was met by paramedics, who took him to a nearby hospital, where he was treated overnight for multiple injuries, including a fractured scapula, cardiac contusion, bruised ribs, road rash, and numbness.
“It feels like the whole left side of my torso went to the dentist,” he says.
The 30-year-old also noted that he has been cycling on the rugged trails of the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve his entire life, but that his close encounter with a bear may change his riding habits.
“The reason I rode in the forest is just to get away from the traffic, right?” he said. “But after hitting the bear, I mean, it’s probably safer just riding with cars.
“I’m just really, really glad to be alive. It’s like the most Canadian, North Vancouver thing that could ever happen.”
As we’ve reported on road.cc over the years, encounters between cyclists and bears are fairly common on the mountain trails of North America.
Last May, we reported that group of cyclists, including children, in Montana’s Rocky Mountains were forced to barricade themselves behind their bikes on the side of the road as a grizzly bear ambled by.
In 2021, a bikepacking cyclist was killed by a grizzly at a campsite in Montana, around 150 miles from the group’s close encounter.
Leah Davis Lokan, a 65-year-old nurse from Chico, California, was dragged from her tent and mauled to death during the attack in the small town of Ovando in July. The bear was killed after a three-day search.
In 2019 a Canadian woman said that she had to put in “a once-in-a-lifetime sprint” to get away from a grizzly as it pursued her in the Yukon.
Two years earlier in Alberta, Canada, a heavily laden touring cyclist was unaware that he was being stalked by a bear as he rode slowly uphill, until a pick-up truck driver alerted him to the danger and, with the help of another motorist, managed to shepherd the rider to safety.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.