Image by Geoff Brooks

Hey Bear!

Well I had my first encounter with a big ole' papa bear this morning!  
Nice cool day for a pull up the 2 mile 8% grade on my way up Hamburg Mountain not a half mile  into the ride.  
I thought I had smelled that "acrid" bear smell as I climbed a snails place, a bright sunny day,  alone, the clouds below me, no traffic gits up this a way much, just the locals.  
I had just made the turn around up where Union Chapel turns to gravel and was easing off my  brakes for the hair-raising detente’, when - whoa! - what wonder appears 30 yards down the road  but papa bear swelling up with winter fat already.  
I slowed to a stop. He had popped outta the woods to the right and stopped right in the middle,  looking up the road at me as if to say, "Hey, Redneck, this here road mine!"  
So I decided to do what any sensible biker would do, trapped - can't go up; can't race down past  'em. I say, "Hey, Bear! Scat!"  
Well, I should have stuck with just, "Hey!" Or perhaps, "Hey, Bear" would have sufficed and he  would have been on his way.  
But no, when I added what that, "Bear Scat" I think he took offense. I had inadvertently and  unintentionally referred to him as a piece of - - - well you know what "scat" is!  
Papa Bear then decides to stand up on his hind feet sniffing the air my way, and as wonders  would have it, he was right at 6' 4" - huge, more like 6' 7" tall, kinda like meeting my friend and  former major leaguer home run hitter, James Thomas on the trail unexpectedly.  
I didn't move! In fact, I was petrified, frozen on my bike, thinking where is Mighty Mickey when  I need him!  
I swear the big bear looked right at me and returned the insult, making a mild huff that sounded a  lot like "Bullll Shit!"  
He had made his point; I deserved it and poo bear dropped back down on all fours and meandered  up the embankment like I didn't exist.  
Figuring it might be a bear trick, I waited a tad. You see, I've been "false charged" by a black bear  before up on Rocky Top and believe me there was "scat" in my britches when that ole' bear full charged and stopped 10 feet short, then just casually turned and meandered up the Appalachian  Trail, fully making the point that, that was his blueberry patch - "and don't you forget it,  Cowboy!"  
Well, back to Papa Bear. It wasn't a trick. He had disappeared into the thicket. He had made his  point and we had come to terms.  
I flew down the hellish decent with a good feeling eyeing Mt. Mitchell off to my far left. I made  the climb back up Union Chapel 5 more times, with not hide nor hair of Papa Bear.  
It was a good experience, my first bear-bike encounter. I look forward to "Sharing the Road" up  here many more times. It's kinda different ain't it? And I dun good!