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Do Grizzlies Like Rap Music?

From Franklin's Autobiography:
that were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of the first. So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some sinister accidents and events of it for others more favourable.

In going north this summer I have a chance to correct a mistake made my first year RVing: I got suckered into "ursaphobia."  Back then, I read books on bear attacks. This year I have watched GoPro videos of bears attacking mountain bikers. Enough! This must stop.

This is strange because I handle other kinds of risk in a rational way: automobiles (when driving or bicycling), rattlesnakes, Covid, medical emergencies (when camping alone), and automobile breakdowns when I had an older van.

By "rational" I mean acknowledging the unavoidability of risk in any life worth living, while minimizing unnecessary risks. For mountain biking in bear country, that might mean:

1. Bringing no food along.
2. Putting a mirror on the eyeglasses.
3. Bringing bear spray on a waist belt. Counter Assault makes large (10 ounce) cans that are supposed to spray 40 feet.
4. Leaving my trailer door closed when I am inside and especially when cooking. A hard-walled trailer gives false security: the screen door is no safer than a nylon tent.
5. Making noise?

How is a solo mountain biker supposed to make noise -- by talking to yourself? It is hard to keep that up for long, at high volume.

Recently I was in a multi-sport trail area in southern New Mexico, when a couple horse-riders came along, playing music from "their horse." I rolled my eyes. 

After all, the motorsports crowd is starting to do the same thing, these days. There doesn't seem to be any place in America -- be it restaurants, stores, or even the gasoline pump -- where you can escape raucous, vile music.

But maybe those horse-riders weren't just trying to be noisy yahoos. Maybe they were concerned about mountain bikers whizzing by too fast and scaring their horses. Or maybe they wanted to scare off mountain lions.

Perhaps their solution would help manage my fear about riding in bear country.

A 1980s style boombox would probably put out enough noise, but it might need a little trailer behind the bike to carry it.

Fortunately the technology has moved along. There are compact, bluetooth, lithium battery-powered speakers that will project music from your smartphone. They are the size of the classic one-liter nalgene water bottle, so can be easily mounted on the bike.

I will probably try one of these. But should I play music? What kind of music repels bears, without pissing them off too bad and provoking an attack?

The human voice might be best in scaring off bears. So podcasts could be better than music.

Talk about "sleeping with the enemy." I will be joining rather than opposing an unhealthy trend that you can see in this advertisement for one of these portable bluetooth speakers:


Ed said…
You recognize that you have ursaphobia, an irrational fear of bears, and think that a boom box is the 'fix'?

I know that facts are not going to make any difference but there were 11 people in total killed by bears in the Continental US during the years 2010-2019. Whereas, lightning killed 39 each year on average.

Be afraid, but be afraid of lightning not bears.

In my opinion rap music will provoke an attack; perhaps not from a bear but from some other bicyclist.
There are 330 million potential lightning victims in the USA.

The number of potential bear victims is 10,000 (?) solo backcountry recreationalists near Yellowstone or Glacier.
Anonymous said…
Sigh, Kabloonie math... All but a tiny sliver of those 330 million have the good sense to go inside at the first sign of a lightning storm. And your 10k figure is insanely low. Over 7 million people visit Yellowstone and Glacier combined each year. Plenty of other parks and forests have bears too, and don't forget the many millions that hit the big thru-hiking trails each year. Chew on all that, and then reconsider Ed's 11 deaths in 10 years stat. You could slather your entire body with peanut butter and ride like that every day for a year, and you'd still be more likely to get hit by lightning.
Anonymous, I was thinking of my personal risk. I am not exposed to lightning very much. It never rains or storms where I am. I never even see a cloud.

But I am exposed to bears every time I am in a forest and step outside my trailer or walk the dog or mountain bike.

So it is pretty hard to learn much by looking at national statistics.