I was out riding this morning, just before it started to get really hot,
when I had an encounter with some local fauna. I was riding on a single
track through a section with trees and brush close to the trail when I
noticed something pop up against my leg. It was quickly followed by that
familiar rattling sound. That isn’t surprising as there are a lot of
rattlesnakes around here. I got off the muni a few feet further down the
trail and saw a medium sized rattler coiled, rattling away and showing
it’s fangs. I was far enough away then, and the rattler was backing away
a little at a time but, it was close enough to the trail (practically on
it) and big enough that it could have struck my leg as I rode by. If it
did I’m sure it found the Roach pads to be an impenetrable barrier. I
had been thinking that it was getting too hot to wear the pads for the
rest of the summer. I figured I was in greater danger of overheating
than getting pedal bit. Rattlesnake bite is way worse than pedal bite. I
think I’ll continue to wear the pads.
I am glad someone brought this up. In So Cal, the Rattlers are coming out. I have wondered if riding a muni makes that surprise by the rattler just the more sudden than walking or riding a bicycle. Bikes have the ratchet of the cluster and footsteps provide sound and vibrations, but little speed.
A muni is really quiet compared to the other motive devices and I have had the fear that because the Muni is quiet that we (muni riders) are more prone to snake bites.
Re: Rattlesnakes - another good reason to wear Roach pads
I will come out from lurking on this one.
I live in Australia which has I think 14 out of the worlds 15 most
venomous snakes. Snakes can’t hear. They are completely deaf. However,
they feel vibrations through the ground, so no matter how much audible
sound you are or are not making snakes will still feel you through the
Most snakes will usually only attack you if you disturb them in some way
or they are trying to defend a nest. Most of the time we make that much
“noise” when moving away that they are not interested in messing with us
and will get out of the way. However, the Australian Death Adder (also
called the “Deaf Adder”), when it hears something coming it will lie
completely still and will usually only react when someone/something treads
on it. It has been known for 10 or 11 people to step over a Death Adder
and then the 12th person treads on it and gets bitten.
While hiking over a thousand miles on the PCT in SCal at this time of year I found that some rattlers are sound asleep in the middle of the trail and don’t wake up right away. They look like cow pies curled up in the dust. After climbing back in my skin, I had to wait patiently for the lazy fellow to decide to move away. Sometimes it took a threatening stick to get them out of the way so that I could pass. Even though I was walking, not riding, the shock of encountering them in the middle of heat-induced daydreaming is a heart-pounder, especially wearing running shoes with bare legs. And hearing the buzz without seeing the snake is even worse!
As far as riding being worse, I think that during the heat of day, there is no difference because most of them are too sleepy. During the cooler times (when the sun is down ) the speed of approach might be a factor. I think I’d be wearing my leg pads if I were riding there. I have only heard of one PCT hiker being struck, and that strike hit his shoe, and it was at night in the Mohave desert, if I remember correctly.
Oh, and the scorpions won’t bother you.
Australia’s list of nasty things is realllllllly looong.
RE: Rattlesnakes - another good reason to wear Roach pads
> track through a section with trees and brush close to the trail when I
> noticed something pop up against my leg. It was quickly
> followed by that familiar rattling sound.
Wow! So you’re not sure if it struck you, but you know you rode extremely
close to it. Roach could add this to their advertising points.
The first too-close rattlesnake encounter I’ve heard of in MUni!
I’ve been on rides where people saw rattlesnakes (and bears), but not
definitely seen one myself, until last week I did come across a coyote, and
a huge elk on a ride in Yellowstone once, in one of the few places where
cycling is legal. Several years back Brett and I saw the back end of a
rattlesnake sticking out into the Sweetwater trail, but we think it was dead
because it wasn’t moving. Neither of us is Steve Irwin, so we didn’t get
close enough to check.
On Thursday of last week, when it was about 100 degrees out, I finally saw
my first live rattlesnake on the trail. Unfortunately it was the paved
American River Bike Trail, in Rancho Cordova. The snake seemed to be soaking
up the rays in the gravel part on the side of the trail. I circled back to
give him a closer look, but still left lots of room between us…
Of course I didn’t have the camera with me THAT TIME. I almost always
bring one. That day I saw a deer (twice), baby wild turkeys, a rabbit, and
the rattler! Murphy’s law of photography.