by Andru McCracken

There’s bears in that there bike park. / COURTESY TAMEY WOOD

If you ride bikes at the Valemount Bike Park and love that rush of adrenaline, you may get an extra boost without needing to hit a big gap or extreme feature.  All thanks to a bear.

Dave Radies encountered the apex predator on a section of the Ale Trail.
“I came round the corner it was about 50m away and it started running up the hill away from me. I shouted a bit and kept riding,” said Radies.

The bear’s flight instinct was reassuring and Radies hopes other riders help the bear maintain that fear of humans.

“It’s important not to habituate that bear,” said Radies, “Remember not to toss your apple cores, especially this time of year.”

Radies said that the bears are out of hibernation and are hungrily looking for young grasses and the like, human food is especially appetizing for them.

Tammy Wood spotted the bear while she was driving up 5 Mile Road to access the bike park with her riding crew.

“We pulled over to look at him or her and it ran into the ditch and made its way a little ways up a tree. After a couple minutes it jumped out and ran away,” she said. “We still went for a pedal after seeing it. He was definitely more scared of us than we were of him.”

For Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association manager Curtis Pawliuk, the presence of bears is no surprise and behaviours needn’t change.

“If you pack it in, pack it out,” said Pawliuk. “It shouldn’t matter if there is a bear there or not.”

Pawliuk said Valemount Bike Park patrons have been good with managing their impact in terms of trash.
He said riders should be prepared to encounter a bear.

Pawliuk bought bear spray towards the end of last year’s season as bear encounters were becoming more frequent, but he hasn’t used it yet; in fact, it’s still in the wrapper.

Pawliuk said he and his pals warn bears of their presence using a sophisticated sonar system:
“We whoop and holler.”