Why I ride so slow …

One of the things you have to be careful about here is snakes on the bike trails and roads.  Some years I see none, others a few. It always seems worse when you are going fast downhill, especially if on gravel ;)

So tonight when I decided to go for a ride I thought I’d do a loop, as there’s a really nice section of rail trail that’s mainly downhill, but it can be hard to spot the snakes on it especially if you are powering down the grade. So I thought I’d go around and ride up hill on the rail trail.  But just as I entered the national park I remembered they had laid down road base on a large section, and that’s like riding a rough stone creek bed. So I quickly doubled back and took any even wider detour. And sure enough only a couple of km’s in, I encountered another snake on the road.

Fortunately I wasn’t going too fast, and I got a good clean look at him.  It was of course a tiger snake. They’re the most common around here, along with copper heads (not to be confused with the American copper heads) and the occasional red belly blacks.  All the ones I’ve seen on trails have been tiger snakes.  Not sure if it is a coincidence of when I tend to ride, but I usually see them mid to late afternoon, but at least a couple of hours before dusk.  Sometimes they are probably warming themselves, but at least twice I’ve seen them look like they were crossing then they stop as I get nearer. Tonight the tiger wasn’t that big, probably about 3 foot (< 1m) long and only 40 mm or so wide. He was moving as if he was crossing the road, but when I got about 10m away he seemed to stop.  The road was wide enough so I just rode around his tail end.   For the next few kms I couldn’t help but think of all the scars I have on my legs from twigs and branches that flick up as I ride and the occasional stone… I wonder if I should consider shin guards of some sort.

The rest of the ride was lovely, took in a few kms of flat and some nice hill climbs. About 40 km in total with minimal pain, which is good because I haven’t been riding much lately due to the lousy weather (cold/ drizzle or very windy). 

And of course, encountering a snake on the trail just adds to the reasons to have a beer when you get home :)

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