I made a big mistake!
I had a bit of scary incident on the trails yesterday with a large cat. And while I am still not sure if it was a large bobcat or a small cougar - it scared the $%&* out of me. Clearly, I am fine but in a moment of panic, I realized I had messed up in 3 big ways that could have potentially got me into trouble. Let my mistakes be your lessons to learn from. :)
1. ALWAYS LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE - I was on a mini adventure ride, with no real plan or agenda so I was kinda just going with the flow. I rode the trails near my house and then I decided that I wanted to pedal over to Galbraith so I cruised up to the south side for a ride. No one knew where I was and the area I was in was super quite - I was totally on my own. Mistake #1.
2. BE PREPARED AND KEEP YOUR PHONE CHARGED - As I stood there, alone, with my bike in the air in front of me, shaking like a leaf, panic set in. It was cold, later in the day, snow on the ground. I didn't have a backpack, first aid kit, emergency blanket - I had a multitool, water and my phone - with 5% battery. I hadn't planned on going that far, and I have gotten into a bad habit of not bringing a pack when I am just riding at home. Lesson learned.
3. READ UP ON THE WILDLIFE IN YOUR AREA AND KNOW WHAT TO DO - This could be snakes, bears, cougars etc. etc. Apparently, I have read more about cats than I thought I had because I immediately climbed off my bike and put it in the air in front of me and didn't turn my back or make any crazy movements. But if I hadn't known this and I had turned my back or crouched down or whatever, the dynamics of the situation could have potentially changed. It's different with cats and bears, and even between different types of bears so being informed for whatever you have in your area is important. What if you got bit by a snake? Do you know what to do if you are far out somewhere and don't have reception? I think that depending on my phone to get me out of trouble - be it the unlimited information available, reception, or depending on it even working - is a very problematic. It feels like a lifeline, and it certainly can be, but it won't always be.
I went back and forth about whether I should post this at the risk of sounding dramatic. But this little incident really, really scared me and I think it kicked some sense into me. :) It's funny how crystal clear your mistakes become in a bad situation.