It was a bear of a bike ride, in every sense: Boulder's Tim Egan, out training for Colorado's famed Triple Bypass bike race with his nephew, collided with a black bear on a steep, hilly road yesterday. The 45-mile-per-hour impact smashed him into the pavement and sent him to the hospital with cracked ribs, facial lacerations, and an unbeatable post-ride-beer-drinking story. Egan shared the gory details with Backpacker.com while recovering at home after being released from the hospital.
BACKPACKER: So...you hit a bear yesterday. How are you feeling?
TIM EGAN: Pretty roughed up. My brother called me from Minnesota to see how I was doing, and said I kind of feel like I wrestled a bear. Every bone in my body is sore — it was like hitting a brick wall. He was probably just a little startled, but he really catapulted me in the air.
BP: Did the bear seem like it took much of a hit?
TE: I was concerned about that, too. But I've never seen such a big black bear. He was really big, and he didn't seem to be suffering at all. He looked upset. Just after the wreck, a buck wandered onto the road, and he looked at the deer and reared to stand up on his feet. He raised his arms up and the deer took off. Then he scampered away.
BP: Were you worried about the bear coming back around to attack you?
TE: (My nephew and I) both thought about that. I was trying to catch my breath, check my knees and elbows. There was blood all over and I was trying to figure out where it came from, and I had a pretty bad bump on my head. I just needed to try and catch my breath. Even now, it feels like there's an ice pick in my back from the cracked ribs. We were concerned about him being angry enough to come back, and me being supine on the ground certainly wouldn't have helped. Fortunately my nephew was standing there. If it was a grizzly I might've been OK on the ground, but not with a black bear.
BP: How many seconds passed between the time you saw the bear and the impact?
I mean, I just saw a blur coming from the side. I thought, 'uh-oh, a dog — really big dog.' It happened in a matter of split seconds; there was no recognition or sense of what I should've avoided. I could've been going twenty, ten (mph) and I would've hit him — he was blasting across the road. There was no advanced warning. He seemed like a real healthy guy, and after a bit he just went about his business.
BP: This wasn't the first time someone's hit a bear with a bike on this particular road, but it's still not something anyone expects.
TE: I spend a great deal of time outside. I consider myself pretty aware of bears, and it was the last thing I expected. You usually just don't see them during the day. I worried that he might be some kind of a rogue bear, but he was probably just as scared as I was. He looked a little over three feet on all fours; my nephew thought he was close to six feet standing, and about 500 pounds. It's the biggest one of I've seen.
BP: What shape was your bike in after the crash?
TE: It was pretty rough. We had to do some triage work to get it back home; we just took our time. I did a lot of pedaling one handed because of my injuries. We got back OK. We had to bend some things here and there to get it going again.
BP: Any advice you can give people, should they be staring down a bear on their bike?
TE: You gotta let people know that it's a real hazard. You gotta pay attention. It's the last thing I thought I'd see. Even people who understand bear behavior like us — you can see them during the day. I want to make sure people understand that.
BP: How long before you're back on the bike?
TE: I'm a pretty avid cyclist — I'm training for the Triple Bypass, so I hope to be back on by the weekend. I may have a bit more of a rib problem still, but 24-48 hours makes big difference.
The man hits a bear and plans to ride his bike by this weekend? Egan must be training for the Ultra-Hard Man Olympics, not the Triple Bypass.
— Ted Alvarez