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  1. #1
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    Mountain Lions: Why don't they attack trail riders more often?

    Why don't California mountain lions attack trail riders more often?

    Certainly cougars are formidable animals, and they have been known to attack children, lone adults, and stranded cyclists (hunched over performing repairs, for example).

    And certainly these swift panthers love fleeing prey, which a cyclist would seem to be to them, particularly those that follow a predictable pathway which has overhangs galore for the cougar to pounce from.

    And running into a litter of kittens would certainly seem to evoke ire from the mother puma, something that I'd not want to do under any circumstances.

    At certain stages of their lives the cubs eventually become adolescents who are then fated to be transients, where we can run into them as they explore new ranges at the same time that we are exploring those same new areas.

    Given that these american lions hunt during the exact same early morning and late evening hours that many of us ride, I wonder why California mountain lions don't attack us more often?

    I realize we're not their "normal" prey, yet, we seem to fit almost all the patterns of their prey. Certainly they see us well before we will ever see them, particularly since we're not looking, and yet, even if we were, they're more stealthy than we can ever be out there on the trails.

    So, I'm curious if someone has a good answer to the basic question of why there aren't far more mountain lion attacks than actually exist?

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    Through thousands of years of evolution, they've learned one thing very, very well...

    - If they attack a human, they are DEAD!.

    Humans make it known that we are the #1 predator and cougars have learned that for their survival. They live all around us but you can't even see em.
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    Also, they've evolved with deer--well before there were people on the continent. Deer, especially old and young, are fairly easy for them to take down and dispatch. Just like with sharks, it's not in their best interest to get into a fight with their prey (like us) where an injury could make them unable to hunt. Also, a lot of us are malodorous. Ain't nobody got time for that.
    Last edited by dirtvert; 01-24-2017 at 11:57 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvert View Post
    ... Also, a lot of us are malodorous..

    Hey, speak for yourself. I only TASTE bad

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    ^^ And there's that!

    If mountain lions liked the taste of people our parks would be littered with carbon parts and hiking poles.





    VV Skunks are truly badass.
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    We're big and they don't want to risk getting hurt. Still freaks me out to be deep in the park after sunset alone. I'm more worried about skunks though. They tend not to run when you encounter them on single tracks. Have had a couple close calls.

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    They know we're all carrying mountain lion knives.

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    Mountain Lions are primarily nocturnal and are most active between dusk to dawn, which is one reason why mtb riders rarely see them. Now if you ride a lot at night, your chances of running into one increases...
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    I'd suggest that either the sight or the sound of the bike skeeves them out and gives them pause... except that they hardly attack joggers or hikers either, at least relative to the number of opportunities they have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvert View Post
    Also, a lot of us are malodorous. Ain't nobody got time for that.
    ha ha!
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    We're more crunchy than chewy!

    But, in all seriousness, danger from mountain lions does increase as they become habituated to humans. Orange County, CA seems to have a bit of trouble with this as big new housing developments are being built in the foothills. One cyclist was killed and partially eaten in 2004: Mauled Man May Have Been Fixing Bike - latimes
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    These animals are more intelligent than we give credit and innately know what their dinner is. Almost without exception animal on human attacks are by old/injured/sick animals in an opportune moment. An exception here would be a bear with cubs, but most survive this type of mauling.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    These animals are more intelligent than we give credit and innately know what their dinner is. Almost without exception animal on human attacks are by old/injured/sick animals in an opportune moment. An exception here would be a bear with cubs, but most survive this type of mauling.
    Yup. It is really amazing that as we take away their territory and their roaming routes, that they still thrive and survive. They avoid all interaction with us cause they know the result of that.
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    My hub sounds like a nest of rattlesnakes. I also tend to whoop and holler after dark, because it can't hurt.

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    Some good info here....The Bay Area Puma Project | BAPP

    and here....Santa Cruz Pumas
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    "Yup. It is really amazing that as we take away their territory and their roaming routes, that they still thrive and survive. They avoid all interaction with us cause they know the result of that."

    Just like Big Foot!! 😀

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    But, in all seriousness, danger from mountain lions does increase as they become habituated to humans. Orange County, CA seems to have a bit of trouble with this as big new housing developments are being built in the foothills. One cyclist was killed and partially eaten in 2004: Mauled Man May Have Been Fixing Bike - latimes
    I always try to counter that version. I was living in OC at the time of the "attack" and have ridden the trail where the it happened.

    Mark was a very good rider, a racer in fact. He wouldn't have stopped on that section (very narrow downhill) to fix his chain. The autopsy showed no damage to his neck, as would have been expected in a typical attack. The prevailing theory was that he had a heart attack and crashed, causing his chain to come off. The lion then scavenged him.

    Mountain lions are common in that area and, interestingly enough, it's right next to the only legal--and very popular--nightriding area in OC. It says a lot that there haven't been any other incidents.
    Last edited by dirtvert; 01-24-2017 at 08:40 PM.
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    Have you freakin smelled a mtb rider?? We is sweating up a storm in our baggies, armor and then blast around in dirt. There's a reason my wife calls me PigPen after I ride
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  19. #19
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    They are waiting for tree hugging hikers to come by. Easier to catch, and they tend to be soft and tender, not tough and hard to chew like mountain bikers.

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    Pussies.

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    hey man, whos side are you on

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truckee29 View Post
    Hey, speak for yourself. I only TASTE bad
    And I only have bad taste. Or so I'm told. Frequently.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvert View Post
    I always try to counter that version. I was living in OC at the time of the "attack" and have ridden the trail where the it happened.

    Mark was a very good rider, a racer in fact. He wouldn't have stopped on that section (very narrow downhill) to fix his chain. The autopsy showed no damage to his neck, as would have been expected in a typical attack. The prevailing theory was that he had a heart attack and crashed, causing his chain to come off. The lion then scavenged him.

    Mountain lions are common in that area and, interestingly enough, it's right next to the only legal--and very popular--nightriding area in OC. It says a lot that there haven't been any other incidents.
    Good knowledge Dirtvert!! Good account of what happened.

    I like what you said about deer too. That is their meal ticket. When we run out of deer, then there's an issue. That's how a lot of cases occurred in Victoria Island a couple decades ago. The grass died, the deer died and the cougar starved.

    If you're a pygmy goat on a ranch up on Bonny Doon however, that's another story. Or an outdoor pet sleeping by your lonesome near the woods... all night.

    Cool that when we talk of attacks, we refer wayyy back to the Socal case more than a decade ago even though we bike in their territory now every day and night.
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    If I ever see a mountain lion again, I'm going to catch it and teach it to play the drums. It's hard to find a good drummer who isn't totally flaky and I think a mountain lion drummer would be a big draw for concerts and parties and stuff.
    I'm not sure how this works.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    These animals are more intelligent than we give credit and innately know what their dinner is. Almost without exception animal on human attacks are by old/injured/sick animals in an opportune moment. An exception here would be a bear with cubs, but most survive this type of mauling.
    Yes, one thing that I've learned in my years on this Earth is not to mess with mothers of any species with cubs...haha. We had an encounter with a mother raccoon in Irvine, CA with 4 kits under her care in the landscaped area in front of the door to our apartment. Good thing we were separated through our open door by a baby gate. Otherwise, we might have had a reenactment of the "killer" rabbit scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
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  26. #26
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    Good Post.

    I think the more we know the more we don't know when it comes to Mtn Lions.

    I ride at night in Mtn Lion country a lot, especially this time of year and sometimes up to 4 nights a week. I also have raced over 20 24hr races over the past 12 years and except one in Kangaroo country (Oz) all have been in Mtn Lion territory. Not boasting at all but adding all this for perspective. I'm certainly one who would have become bait or food if there was a pervasive problem in Norcal.

    Ironically I have seen 3 Mtn Lions over the past 10 years (2 in Auburn and 1 in Weaverville). All 3 were during the day and between the hours of 7AM and noon. I'm sure I've been "seen" hundreds of times by Mtn Lions who sized me up and decided that I was either not prey or I simply smelled too bad and did not pounce.

    I respect the heck out of them but don't let the thought of them out there ruin my ride.
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    Because we're big, loud, and have bright lights if we're out during the time they like to roam.
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    What an entertaining thread, I like!
    All true with respect to night activeness, the risk assessment intelligence and the preference to take another of those harmless deer instead of a human, and we stink and we are too noisy.
    However, especially in the Santa Cruz Mountains their population is growing. And since that species has a quite massive territory demand and don´t respect others, the jungsters get chased out of mom´s area before the new breed comes down. No problem normally, but if population grows and available territory shrinks, that can lead to problems. Especially for problematic individuals, i.e. inexperienced ones of more aggressive individual nature.
    Friends live at Moody´s Rd and had a mountain lion having a deer for lunch on their property last year. Including leaving half the cadaver behind in the garden (where kid is playing). Was returning at night a couple of time (and recorded on their surveillance camera).
    So be careful out there.
    B

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbne1 View Post
    Good Post.

    I think the more we know the more we don't know when it comes to Mtn Lions.

    I ride at night in Mtn Lion country a lot, especially this time of year and sometimes up to 4 nights a week. I also have raced over 20 24hr races over the past 12 years and except one in Kangaroo country (Oz) all have been in Mtn Lion territory. Not boasting at all but adding all this for perspective. I'm certainly one who would have become bait or food if there was a pervasive problem in Norcal.

    Ironically I have seen 3 Mtn Lions over the past 10 years (2 in Auburn and 1 in Weaverville). All 3 were during the day and between the hours of 7AM and noon. I'm sure I've been "seen" hundreds of times by Mtn Lions who sized me up and decided that I was either not prey or I simply smelled too bad and did not pounce.

    I respect the heck out of them but don't let the thought of them out there ruin my ride.
    Great insight man!!

    At night, we cannot see them... because we are basically blind. So chances of spotting one are even more miniscule than day.

    How far were they when you spotted them? Were you looking for them?

    I've been 'looking' for 20 years (scanning the hills always) and have nothing to show. I ask most of the park rangers too and they've never seen one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BerndK View Post
    What an entertaining thread, I like!
    All true with respect to night activeness, the risk assessment intelligence and the preference to take another of those harmless deer instead of a human, and we stink and we are too noisy.
    However, especially in the Santa Cruz Mountains their population is growing. And since that species has a quite massive territory demand and don´t respect others, the jungsters get chased out of mom´s area before the new breed comes down. No problem normally, but if population grows and available territory shrinks, that can lead to problems. Especially for problematic individuals, i.e. inexperienced ones of more aggressive individual nature.
    Friends live at Moody´s Rd and had a mountain lion having a deer for lunch on their property last year. Including leaving half the cadaver behind in the garden (where kid is playing). Was returning at night a couple of time (and recorded on their surveillance camera).
    So be careful out there.
    B


    They eat deer every 3-5 days so there's deer carcass all around. I don't think anything we do or do not affects the outcome. I say use bright lights and tail lights when riding in the dark.

    But really, the chances are so, so miniscule. There's 20 other things that can harm us. Like snakes for example. Or deer. Or cars on the way to the trail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Yes, one thing that I've learned in my years on this Earth is not to mess with mothers of any species with cubs...haha. We had an encounter with a mother raccoon in Irvine, CA with 4 kits under her care in the landscaped area in front of the door to our apartment. Good thing we were separated through our open door by a baby gate. Otherwise, we might have had a reenactment of the "killer" rabbit scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    Haha...I like it.

    I have found the large rodents like skunks, porcupines, raccoons, etc to be much more tenacious than the larger predators that people fear. I've seen just about every mammal out there, fisher cat, badger wolves to name some of the cooler one's, but like others have said, I have never had the privilege of seeing a cougar. I've come across dens, fresh kills and know spots where they are 40 yards off in the woods but have yet to see one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Haha...I like it.

    I have found the large rodents like skunks, porcupines, raccoons, etc to be much more tenacious than the larger predators that people fear. I've seen just about every mammal out there, fisher cat, badger wolves to name some of the cooler one's, but like others have said, I have never had the privilege of seeing a cougar. I've come across dens, fresh kills and know spots where they are 40 yards off in the woods but have yet to see one.
    Yep, and that comes from someone always out there with eyes wide open. They are just elusive animals who stay the heck away from us no matter how much we encroach.

    Game and surveillance cameras have increased 'sightings' but that just shows that they live in the hills, eat deer every few days and still manage to avoid us.
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    FC: All 3 of the Mtn Lions I have seen have run across the trail in front of me. That makes me wonder how many have run across behind me that I have not seen.

    The 2 Auburn encounters were on Connector and were about 100-200 feet in front of me. They appeared and were gone within a split second but there was no mistaking the long rope tail each time. The Weaverville encounter was somewhat comical. It came in the middle of the Team Bigfoot Weaverville 9-5 race. I had a friend about 150' in front of me on single track and the Mtn Lion ran across the trail between the two of us. I quickly hammered up to him and explained what had just happened. He had an "Oh $hit" moment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbne1 View Post
    FC: All 3 of the Mtn Lions I have seen have run across the trail in front of me. That makes me wonder how many have run across behind me that I have not seen.

    The 2 Auburn encounters were on Connector and were about 100-200 feet in front of me. They appeared and were gone within a split second but there was no mistaking the long rope tail each time. The Weaverville encounter was somewhat comical. It came in the middle of the Team Bigfoot Weaverville 9-5 race. I had a friend about 150' in front of me on single track and the Mtn Lion ran across the trail between the two of us. I quickly hammered up to him and explained what had just happened. He had an "Oh $hit" moment.
    Beauty! Very lucky.
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    fc
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    We should all carry a deer knife. Will be 1000000 times more useful than cougar knife.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Mountain Lions: Why don't they attack trail riders more often?-54657c3f1c54f5d5b5cde4d6d33cde68.jpg  

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    fc
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    maybe more legible. maybe

    Mountain Lions: Why don't they attack trail riders more often?-54657c3f1c54f5d5b5cde4d6d33cde68.jpg

    click on it to make it bigger
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    What happened to the original poster Woodrock? Hmmmm....
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Great insight man!!

    At night, we cannot see them... because we are basically blind. So chances of spotting one are even more miniscule than day.

    How far were they when you spotted them? Were you looking for them?

    I've been 'looking' for 20 years (scanning the hills always) and have nothing to show. I ask most of the park rangers too and they've never seen one.
    It is amazing that with so many of us in the woods regularly, that so few of us have ever seen a mountain lion in the flesh.

    I've seen a mountain lion once about 200-300 yards away in Sunol Regional Park on the fireroad and that was a sight that I will never forget. I had my kids with me. One was 7 and the other was 4. We had hiked up to the top of a rise in the fireroad and right there on the next rise in the fireroad was a feline-type of creature. For a moment, I kept telling myself, 'Oh, it's just a big bobcat' until reality kicked in and the fact that this "cat" had about a 3 foot tail was pretty good proof that it was not a bobcat. I told my kids to take a good look because they might never see another mountain lion, picked up my little one, and hightailed back the way we came.

    Come to think of it, I've seen a lot of cool stuff in the woods with my kids. We had a front row seat for the Perseid meteor showers last August after backpacking to an alpine lake. My son said it was a sight that he'll never forget. Good stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    We should all carry a deer knife. Will be 1000000 times more useful than cougar knife.
    Ha!
    One would think bees would be at the very top of that list. I've seen plenty of deer. Running down a country back road at 100mph+ on your sport bike is very inopportune moment to have one run out in front of you...lemme tell ya.
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    You just need to get out fishing more often and you might see some. These were at Shasta last November...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZQe7JodDRI

    And even better... a little worrisome how this mtn lion keeps moving toward this guy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tJ-yk_WbYs

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    I have been lucky enough to see two in almost 30 yrs of mt biking all over the west and both were in the Eastbay. Saw one 10 plus years ago crossing an open field from one set of trees to another and one a couple years ago from about 30 yards. The close one was small, my guess a juvenile, it crossed the trail and down a ravine. The most impressive thing was how far it leapt with no run. Between deer and turkeys I don't think they are going hungry hence I think we are not on their radar as food.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregd72 View Post
    You just need to get out fishing more often and you might see some. These were at Shasta last November...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZQe7JodDRI

    And even better... a little worrisome how this mtn lion keeps moving toward this guy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tJ-yk_WbYs
    The swimming cougar one is unbelievable!!!!
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    Right! Rad reference to a super old post !
    Quote Originally Posted by bdamschen View Post
    They know we're all carrying mountain lion knives.

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    I've been riding about 18 years and I've seen 1. Of course I was on my singlespeed (slowest bike ever!) headed right for him/her on Fort Ord near the BLM office. The encounter lasted a second and POOF it was gone! Pretty cool.

    I know 3-4 other guys who have seen them in other spots on Ord and Toro.

    -My take is they live in a target-rich environment. Especially around Monterey County.

    They have no need to mess with humans unless they're sick/wounded as others have mentioned..... Amazing creatures that demand respect nevertheless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    What happened to the original poster Woodrock? Hmmmm....
    I think a rat got him

    A lot of us saw "Willard" in the 70s so we know those rat eating people stats are way too low--prolly fake news

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Yes, one thing that I've learned in my years on this Earth is not to mess with mothers of any species with cubs...haha. We had an encounter with a mother raccoon in Irvine, CA with 4 kits under her care in the landscaped area in front of the door to our apartment. Good thing we were separated through our open door by a baby gate. Otherwise, we might have had a reenactment of the "killer" rabbit scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    I was riding on Beezley Hill last year during cow grazing time. I got to the top of the climb saw a herd of cattle on the trail and decided to ride around them. I didn't notice that a cafe was off to my left 30 yards down a little slope. The mother started to charge at me and I just bolted down the hill off the trail. That was a close call.

  47. #47
    middle ring single track
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    Woodrock??? The Scotts Valley bank robber seems to know these hills pretty good.

    Highway 17 reopens after chaos; gunman at large who shot at officer

    Dude bailed in Redwood Estates; next seen Aldercroft Heights; methinks he's crossing Sierra Azul to the safety of the Silicon Valley.

    Let's see; would I rather come across a cougar or an armed and dangerous felon who just shot at police???
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  48. #48
    Formerly dvo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moe Ped View Post
    Woodrock??? The Scotts Valley bank robber seems to know these hills pretty good.

    Highway 17 reopens after chaos; gunman at large who shot at officer

    Dude bailed in Redwood Estates; next seen Aldercroft Heights; methinks he's crossing Sierra Azul to the safety of the Silicon Valley.

    Let's see; would I rather come across a cougar or an armed and dangerous felon who just shot at police???
    Don't joke about Woodrock, he takes that shit seriously. Actually he likes you so it's all good.
    I'm the problem....

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    Have you freakin smelled a mtb rider?? We is sweating up a storm in our baggies, armor and then blast around in dirt. There's a reason my wife calls me PigPen after I ride
    Have you smelled a deer? They stink. In Marin they are so used to people you can pass a few feet from them and they wouldn't move, then you get the pleasure of smelling a mountain lion meal.

    Smells like a mountain biker didn't shower for a month and rode every day of that month. Tell your wife it can be worse.

  50. #50
    fc
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    So I rode Stevens Canyon Trail today and saw about 50 deer by the trail. Damn.
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