A couple of thoughtful drivers happened upon a bicyclist being chased by a grizzly bear, and their actions may have saved the rider from a bear mauling.
A touring bicyclist was slowly making his way up a long incline outside of Calgary, Canada, when, unbeknownst to him, a grizzly bear appeared and began to give chase. It seems likely that the cyclist would have been in for a severe bear mauling, were it not for the quick actions of a couple of pickup truck drivers who witnessed the incident.
Robbie Flemming was one of those drivers. Flemming had been driving from Calgary to Radium when he saw the cyclist and then the bear.
“All of a sudden, I see a young grizzly jump over the Banff-bound guardrail in front of a tour bus and go loping across the highway,” said Flemming. “As he gets into my lane, he stands up on his back feet, and I’m sure he can smell that cyclist coming for a bit, and I’m sure he had visions of supper.”
“It was very surreal,” Flemming recalled. “My first concern was that I was going to hit the bear. And then I realized I wasn’t going to hit the bear and then, OK, ‘He’s after that cyclist.’”
Flemming realized that the cyclist would not be able to outrun the bear at his speed – and at this point the rider didn’t even realize he was being chased – so Flemming began laying on his horn to try to get the cyclist’s and the bear’s attention. It worked.
Flemming recalled, “Finally he looked over at me and I said, ‘You’ve got a grizzly bear about 25 feet behind you.’ He looked back and went, ‘Oh!’ and started to pound on the pedals.”
Cassie Beyer and her husband Donald Poster were in a vehicle going the opposite direction and they both witnessed the scene.
“He saw the cyclist, we were going down, he was coming uphill and the bear was chasing him,” Beyer said. “It looked like the bear was after the cyclist. His head was turned, he was looking back, he knew the bear was back there.”
Beyer took photos of the incident.
Flemming and another driver pulled their vehicles in front of the bear, creating a barrier between the cyclist and the bruin. Once the rider was out of the animal’s line of sight and had gained some distance he turned and gave Flemming a thumbs up and continued on.
The bear, obviously a little confused by the actions of the drivers, eventually loped back into the bush.
Were it not for the actions of the pickup truck drivers this story might have a very different and unfortunate slant. Flemming noted that he thought the bear seemed lean and was probably desperate. That makes sense, given that it was brazen enough to chase after a cyclist on a main highway.
all images by Cassie Beyer
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