Animal Encounters of the Bicycle Kind

Reading about chasing an owl on Bike Seattle, I remembered the animal encounters I’ve had on my bike

  • Rode through the middle of a cow carcass during the Tour of Willamette
  • Watched a crow fly through legendary mechanic Eamon Stanley’s rear wheel during our legendary ride to Snoqualmie Pass
  • Avoided the squirrel that jumped up onto a fender, off a shoulder, and the back of my fellow riders
  • Stopped to inspect a road kill badger (very cautiously cause badgers are mean)
  • Seen enough dead possums to conclude they are the stupidest animal
  • Rode over a seagull on Alki, felt really bad for about 32 seconds, until realizing there’s no shortage of seagulls (I also never liked that Jonathon Livingston Seagull novella)
  • Slowed way down and rode really cautiously past a small moose during our tour of South East Alaska (a small moose means a big moose is nearby)

When I lived in the Tri-Cities and rode with the Chinook Cycling Club, there were three evil dogs that would actually wait for us. One of them near Finley WA, we could see hiding behind trees, clocking us patiently, and then would jump out barking, clawing, and snapping – that turned into a dog sprint like that scene in American Flyer. The second dangerous dog was on the road to Paterson WA. That bad boy you wouldn’t even see or hear until he was right up on you snapping at your heels. I learned to save enough on that ride to be ready when Mr. Vicious came out to play.

The most dangerous dog lived at the top of a climb on Clodfelter Road (from the Horse Heaven Hills course of old). Cresting the top of a leg-blowing climb, with your buddies trying to drop you, doesn’t leave much room for a dog sprint. That dog caught a few of us, was rewarded with a face full of water bottle spray, and I believe is responsible for a few nasty wrecks coming down the hill.

What animal encounters have you had on bike?


Most of mine are on rides around the Boston area.

<li>Had a chipmunk run into the road, bounce off my wheel and run back.</li>
<li>Got buzzed by a redtail hawk that was diving at a rabbit by the side of the road.</li>
<li>Rode by fascinated by the buzzards on the power pole.  This was on a ride on the WOD in Virginia.  I’m not sure if the buzzards were watching me or the nearby deer.</li>
<li>Back in high school I watched a friend ride straight into the side of a very large dog.  Each thought the other was going change course.</li>

Being forced to ride through road kill is an unfortunately common occurrence.

A few years ago, I was bombing down a hill in Buckhead on which I can usually hit the low 40s.

Ahead of me (but coming up fast), I saw a squirrel come running from the right. There was nothing I could do — he was going perpendicular to my direction, so I had to hope he would get there either before or after me. Otherwise, I had visions of the front wheel taking a sudden leap to the left.

He was before, but not by enough. Two quick thumps, and I barely even slowed down. RIP, road rodent.


Buzzards! The cow carcass and the sound of sudden snapping at your heels from the dog in Paterson are the most memorable for me.

I chased a fox pup down the road for a few hundred yards in the San Juans.  It was beautiful watching him run until he finally figured out that he should turn.  The next year a spied another pair of pups on a different part of the island, so I stopped and got out my camera waiting for them to come back out of the brush.  I stood there for a good minute before I realized that they had run through the drain pipe to the other side of the road and were looking at me from there.  Now I know where “outfoxed” came from. 

Weirdest one, though, was riding in the snow in the San Juans, and passing a camel standing in a field.  Took a good few seconds to figure out that it really was a camel.


We saw a camel as well once during a ride in Colorado, near Mesa Verde, descending down a long hill, there was a farm with Camels.

Long ago when I was delivering pizzas bu bicycle at UF,  I used to run a front Spinergy, which is a bladed-spoke carbon wheel designed by Cuisanart. I was accellerating away from the restaurant when a squirrel darted out in front of me.  In that instant, my mental computer calculated the probability that blood would spatter me and the pedestrians when the squirrel got caught in the spokes which would guilliotine the little furry fool into the fork.  But instead, squirrel rammed one of the carbon spokes with its head, making a loud cartoonish thwack-sound and ricocheted off at 45 degrees, its little claws audibly scraping the sidewalk surface in the panicked escape.
And then there was the time I was riding in a rain storm and frogs started to swarm on the road. There was no way to avoid them, so I just watched in fascination as my wheels threw them into the air.  I swear, it was just like the ancient arcade game “Frogger.” 

In a mountain bike race I had a deer that was at least 8 points run along the trail with me for a good 400 yards. At first it was cool, then right after he turned off the trail I realized he could have killed me. I’ve had foxes and coyotes run with me on the mountain bikes. There are some exotic game farms out here and we will see zebras and other weird African animals sometimes on road rides. I Always see snakes, Hawks, Buzzards, and all manner of other rural Texas wildlife.

I’ve had to bunny hop a few snakes.  Especially when I lived in Arizona.

Not my encounter but in one of the old NORBA Nationals videos there’s a great shot of a racer bombing the DH course and a black bear runs out from the woods.  The rider just misses the bear…  and then probably rode home to clean his chamois.

It’s great how stealthy bikes are. Animals are often surprised by our sudden appearance.

A friend and i were riding down a bush track on a 2 week tour of the southwest of Australia… where I live… a mother emu ran alongside us for about 300 metres.  She was staying between us and her 4 chicks who were stumbling through the scrub trying to keep up with her.

I’ve bunny hopped more than one bobtailed goanna who was sunning himself in the middle of a track.

And the stuff of legends this has become… we walked up to a Thylacine… a Nannup Tiger (supposedly extinct… people who claim to have seen one are branded nuts) It was a very isolated part of the south of Western Australia.  We stared at eachother until he realised that people were not supposed to see him and trotted off.  We sat down to contemplate what we had just seen :-)

Just stay clear of the cougars, ok?  Those are the stories you’re not going to live to post about…

<li>I once found a raccoon head in the road.  No idea where the rest of him was.</li>
<li>Resting at the top of a small hill, I smelled what I thought was a chicken coop.  Then, I noticed all of the white droppings on the road under me.  Looking up, there must have been 15 turkey vultures roosting in the trees above my head.  I moved away quickly.</li>
<li>I once road up on two people walking their pet llama.  His name was Jackson, and he heard me coming long before they did.</li>

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