I'm a little freaked out right now and not quite ready to reflect on what happened last night. A teenage girl was attacked by a bear during the 24 hour race in Anchorage.
I was on a team of 5. Around 1:20 am I was doing my night lap and riding through the dark, with no light. It actually got really dark in the trees. I had a bad feeling, and was walking a tricky section of singletrack, because I couldn't see the trail. I was making a lot of noise, to scare away any bears. I was yelling and deliberately trying to keep my bike in the gear that causes my chain to rub on the derailleur.
I finally made it through the singletrack and the rest of the course was downhill. I was passed by one guy, so I felt better that there were more people out there. I took it slow down Spencer's loop and got to the turn off at Rover's Run. As I was turning I saw another guy coming through with a light. I pulled over. He said, "Are you okay?". And I just said, "Yeah, no light, so it's slow." He said, "I just saw a bear at the bottom of Spencer's Loop." I was relieved that I had passed without coming in contact with the bear.
I continued to yell a lot, because I was along a really loud section near Campbell Creek. I heard some girl singing behind me. She also had a light, so I pulled over and let her pass. It was good to hear other people making noise. I rode the rest of the way into camp, about 10 minutes and when I got back my teammates weren't there. I finally saw one of them and he said someone had been attacked by a bear and it was a girl. Everyone had assumed it was me because they expected me back already and most of the other girls had come in before me.
The guys were relieved to find out it wasn't me but we were worried about the teenage girl. It turns out she was taken to the hospital and had surgery and is going to be okay. I am really freaked out right now that it came so close to being me and am feeling sort of guilty that it had to be her and not me. Very confused.
Anyway, please make noise when you go out in bear country. Most of the riders that I came upon in the race were dead silent. I know you feel stupid yelling out to bears that may or may not be there but it could save your life. The only time I have had a bear encounter is when I stopped making noise.
My thoughts go out to the girl and her family and I hope she has a speedy recovery.