TCI Friday

Like an expert tracker I can sense if new logging has begun by looking at the road conditions. The more packed down the gravel the more likely serious work has started deep in the Coastal Mountains.

It’s a telltale hint. Well, that and the huge orange sign that says Active Logging Ahead.

So I was on the lookout during my first ride deep into the woods this spring. Sure enough, a massive bulldozer and logging crane stood idle off to the side across from a well-worn side road heading up the mountainside that will soon be stripped clean of timber.

I rolled on and just around the bend I startled a black bear on the edge of the road about 50 yards ahead. A big one, about the size of my garage fridge. It raced quickly across the road and disappeared into the thicket, obviously displaced and searching for new turf to call home.

Shimano shoes. Great prices. Get ’em now.

It’s the first bear I’ve seen back on these roads, unlike the three cougars I’ve stumbled across. It gives me a measured sense of relief that they all skedaddle when we meet — but not as much confidence as my false sense of security.

I carry a bottle of bear spray and a six-inch blade on my backpack, as opposed to inside my backpack, where I might have a super slight chance to use either under attack.

I’ve run through my reaction scenarios countless times in my head if an encounter takes a turn for the worst, always ending with a gallows humor chuckle at the end knowing the odds of having the opportunity to react will probably be near zero.

My knife is new, having lost my previous blade taking a tumble down a steep pitch about five minutes after hearing a bear bark at me deep in the woods of Washington last summer.

When we return this year I’ll have to worry if that bear is now armed with my knife.

But I digress.

I also carry my emergency kit if I happen to be stranded in the woods overnight: matches, a flint, starter kindling, emergency blanket, LifeStraw, first-aid kit, rope, extra knife, knit hat, Sharpie (if you get bit by a rattlesnake immediately draw a circle around the wound and write the time so if/when you get medical attention they can see how long the poison has been in your system) …

This week’s question: What safety gear — including bike repair tools — do you carry in the woods?

Join the conversation
  1. rides in be says

    Super glue
    I’ll be of no help

    1. John Rezell says

      I used to be a minimalist, but I mostly ride alone in Oregon woods with no cellphone reception so help can be a couple hours away. I like the idea of super glue!

  2. Emlyn Lewis says

    I usually have my phone with me, which can be of little or no use. I bring it to take photos. I try to have flat repair stuff, but I’m also a minimalist. I’ll throw a dart and some CO2 in my pocket. I ride too often on the idea that nothing is likely to happen, which is really just dancing with the devil. Fortunately, he and I are friends.

  3. Kesler Roberts says

    In addition to the normal bike tool stuff I carry a little first aid kit, to which I am adding steri-strips and superglue after having to patch my kid up a couple of times already this year.
    On long rides (which I may do again someday if I stop being so damn lazy): Sawyer water filter – learned the hardway that you need to test it and backflush before heading out.

  4. khal spencer says

    Multitool with mini chain tool, patch kit, tire levers, frame pump, cell phone, alcohol clean wipes. Extra water and snacks. Space blanket in cold months. I worry about an open blade knife carried outside the pack given the possibility of doing an endo and wearing it as body art. Besides, frankly, if the bear is that close, a knife fight might be a bad idea. Bear spray is perhaps better for close quarters quarrels with Mr. Bear or for that matter, certain humans.

    I thought of getting some snake shot for my 38 Special Airweight after a recent encounter with a rattler, given rattlers are far more likely to be a problem than black bears where usually I ride in warm months, but carrying a revolver is a bit of a nuisance and open carry, where it is available immediately, isn’t so cool in these parts. As far as bears, any firearm big enough to stop a bear rather than annoy it would be a pain in the buttocks to lug around unless one was playing survivalist. Maybe I’ll snag some bear spray.

  5. Dan Murphy says

    Uh, a Road ID so that someone can call my wife and tell her she can go ahead and remodel the kitchen.

    When we passed thru Victor ID a few years ago, the LBS stressed that I have bear spray and keep it readily available, like mounted on the bars. This wasn’t a sales pitch, they were serious. I bought a can.

    1. khal spencer says

      I carry my wallet with my Medicare and secondary medical insurance so whoever finds me knows who to bill. That way, they can also call my wife and she can decide what she wants to do with her newfound freedom. Hee hee.

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