Sunday, June 29, 2008

Freaked out

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.

7 comments:

Tim said...

I'm glad you're OK, Julie. It was hard news for all of us to take.

It must have been especially hard for the guys to hear that news while you were on the course.

Emmy said...

So, Julie, you must have seen either the actual attack or the aftermath. If the girl passed you, didn't you have to go the same route? I don't know the complete route for the race, hence my confusion. How did you get back to the starting area without passing her after she was attached?

Julie said...

Sorry that part was confusing. The girl that passed me that was singing was not the girl that got attacked. Just another girl that was in the race. The attack happened on Rover's just a few minutes after I came through Rover's. Probably while I was on the Moose Meadow trail on the way back to the start.

Anonymous said...

Given the recent events, I feel the name of your blog is insensitive. Did you consult with Rick Sinnot before coming up with the name? I think a temporary closure is warranted. /sarcasm>

Jill said...

Julie,

What a harrowing experience. The whole sense of being "right there" must have been tough. I wish the best for this girl as well, and I also hope you and the other people who were at the race will find comfort in the aftermath.

Carolyn H said...

I'm glad to hear the girl is going to be okay. I usually sing to the bears--so far it's worked. When I get that spooky, neck-prickling feeling, I've learned to pay attention to it. I think it's saved me at least a few times.

Carolyn H.

Jenn said...

Scary stuff, Julie. I am glad you're okay. Heard about the attack from Jill (who was in Whitehorse at our 24 hour event).