May 26, 2009

Bears and Bikes

I was in Northeast Pennsylvania for the Memorial Day weekend. But of course training could not stop. In fact, I love to ride up there because it closely resembles Lake Placid in terms of terrain. In other words: Hills! Let's face it, the hills in LP are longer and steeper but the Poconos are a pretty good stand-in.

On Saturday, I had a 2 1/2 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run planned. The last of the easy weeks! The morning was actually quite nice. The sun was in and out but overall it was good riding weather. As always, I started early while everyone else was still sleeping. I stalled as long as I could until I could stall no longer. I was dreaming of sitting around, drinking coffee and reading the paper instead of riding alone when I awoke. But no could do. Training called and I had to answer.

After gearing up, pumping the tires and re-setting my HRM, I set off. As I rode down the driveway, only 20 feet from the house, I heard rustling in the bushes to my left. Probably a deer or turkey I thought. But as soon as I did think those thoughts, a black bear shot out and ran towards the house next door. Thankfully away from me! Of course I ran back in to tell everyone but everyone, except my father-in-law, was sleeping. At least I was excited! I remounted and shot down the driveway. The bear by now was gone.

Nothing like a little excitement to get the ride going.

At about 12 miles into the ride, I was riding up a hill on a local road as I came to the crest. To my right the hill shot down a steep slope beyond the guardrail. As I looked right and down the hill, there to my amazement, was another bear. I was again startled and put a little extra power in my cadence. But the bear really didn't give me the time of day. In fact it didn't even look in my direction. I just sped away and down the hill with the adrenaline pumping.

On my way back, I put a little extra speed in my climb past that very spot where I saw the second bear but this time there were none. At least none that I could see. All in all it was a good ride totalling 36 miles. It was about 4 miles short of what I expected to do but the hills had something to do with that. Plus, I got the bear sightings. What more could I ask for?