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I, like many who frequent this board, was reading all the recent posts and watching/listening to the newscasts of the recent shooting down OC way of a mountain lion. It was interesting, but it didn't make me pause much as I headed out the door late this afternoon for a quick 1.5hr out and back to Five Points (via Wilson Fireroad) from in back of Olive View Hospital (Sylmar area).

As usual, I headed out solo with my lights. I got an earlier start than usual, which means that I was out the door and on the streets for my 10 minute warmup ride to the trailhead by about 4:15pm. Felt pretty good, made it to the top in about 45 minutes. It was just after sunset, twilight really. So, I got off the bike, threw on a windbreaker, adjusted the saddle a bit, and was ready for the quick fireroad descent back down the hill. As it was getting dark, I flipped my handlebar light on (CatEye Triple Shot, no pun intended!) and I was off.

Rather than bore you with details of a quick and surreal (i.e. the "flow") descent on a fireroad I ride twice a week to stay in shape during the winter, I'll get to the details. After about three or four minutes, I came around a corner and encountered a female mountain lion and cub (!) crossing the fireroad in front of me. I grabbed a fist full of brakes and came to a quick stop. It happened real quick, but the adult female basically froze in the middle of the road while the cub hightailed it into the poison-oak lined draw on the downhill side of the road.

So, I'm off my bike now, standing up straight, facing the good-sized lion in a kind of Texas standoff. It's about 35 yards in front of me, and it is large. And, make no mistake about it, it is a mountain lion. For over a minute, we just sit there staring at one another, neither one of us making a move. Not much sound either, other than the cub calling for its mother. The cub, by the way, was probably a little larger than your average adult house cat. Once, I can remember, the momma called out kind of quietly to her cub.

While sitting there staring at the cat, I'm thinking back to everything I've read. Stand tall, don't run, look large. Well, I'm 6'3" to start with. No problem there. The cat never really did anything threatening. No growls, didn't get into a pounce position, never "looked" real threatening. I remember thinking, I got to wait this out. Didn't have to yell or scream, it wasn't interested in me. After a while, the cat casually walked a few yards south on the road and entered the overgrown ravine. I listened and waited for about a minute or so. Didn't hear the cub anymore, figured the two must have reunited. Seemed like a good time to get back on my way again. So, I picked up a couple of cobble-size rocks (just in case!), got back on the bike, and begun to slowly pedal and make my way past the revine and the lions. Once I was past, I dropped the rocks and began to descend rather quickly.

Wait, it gets even better! (I'm not much of a writer, I couldn't make these details up.) So, I'm probably one hundred yards past the draw, going pretty fast, and I'm thinking it's over. Up ahead of me, I see a little critter running along the side of the fireroad. I'm gaining on it a little, but it LOOKED like another cub!! Emphasis on looked, cause I wasn't about to stop and positively ID the thing. But, it looked to be about the size of the other cub and had a rather long tail. I slowed a little, thinking it would dart into the brush, but it continued to run along the side of the road while I'm hanging out in the rear. Finally, the thing clears the road (maybe 10 to 15 seconds go by). Meanwhile, I'm thinking that the mother is running after this cub, getting ready to pounce from behind. I looked back once, quickly. I saw nothing, the coast was clear, I put it into overdrive and hauled out of there.

I'm not the best descender, especially at night. But I moved rather quickly for about the first 1/2 mile, until I nearly lost it in a loose rut. I saw the Wed. night group at the bottom (A.P.E dudes, I think), told them what I saw, and went home.

The experience left me with quite the adrenaline rush! Two beers in me, typing away; I still feel it. Looking back, I consider myself stupid and lucky as well. Stupid, in the sense that I know better than to ride alone at night. Rarely are there other riders along this route, other than this Wed. nite ride. People, i.e. friends and family, have warned me not to ride alone at night, for obvious reasons besides simply the wildlife. I've justified my solo rides because the ride is close, I know it very well, I get cell phone reception almost the entire way, and because of my somewhat hermitic (if this is a word) lifestyle that I occasionally lead. Hell, I'm usually more worried about the 90 lb rottweiler behind every other fence, with the standard "silver and black" Raiders superfan in the house, on the quick road ride up to the trailhead than the thought of dangerous wildlife encounters.

Lucky? In what way, you ask. Well, I guess these sorts of encounters are pretty rare (I did a little research after the fact). The cubs were pretty darn cute, and remind you of the other side of the mountain lion that you don't give too much thought to. I won't weigh in, for now, on the "mountain lion" issue. One other thought, I may have been lucky that I encountered the lions when I did, where I did. In the middle of the road, not on the side as I was quickly passing by sort of thing. Thinking back, I wonder if my light almost "froze" the mountain lion. Hey, it works on deers. Really, maybe the lion didn't even see me. Maybe it only could see the light. It is pretty bright, even for an LED setup! Maybe I'll try to find out some info on this tomorrow.

Oh, one more thing, no more solo night rides. At least until I can arm myself with some pepper spray!
 

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over researcher
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I live on the other side of the CNF very close to the base of Bedford Motorway. I'm pretty busy during the day and have been thinking about picking up a set of lights and start climbing Bedford after dark. Maybe I should take the drive around and down the 241 and join a group of riders instead.
 

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Yikes! Glad it worked out okay, for you and the lions.
 

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There's a joke about bears..

Crusty Oldman said:
A true animal lover! Humans taste best with a little seasoning.
I don't remember exactly how the joke about the difference between black bears and grizzly bears goes, except the punch line that black bear scat has lots of seeds and berries in it, grizzly bear scat has bear bells in it and smells like pepper spray
 

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Dirtmistress
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All jokes aside, I read about your encounter with alot of envy. I've been riding since '89 and have seen one mtn lion briefly. I wish I could see more. They are truely beautiful animals. Consider yourself lucky in a whole lot of ways!! ;)
 

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well, the only reason you actually saw the mother, is she was with the cub. Mountain lions are exceptionally covert and keep a low profile. There element of surprise is their speciality, so , you would meet your pretty cat when their jaw was wrapped on the back of your neck. The question is whether you would wake up from the concussion blow of the might of their tackle on you, before it snaps your neck. The good news is, they dont like you. Deer is what they were breed to prey on. Deer is what they will most always kill for food. You also had a rare possible death trap, when she might want to protect her cub and attack you. I would say you are lucky on that note. The rare times it happens, it is a crazy random starving freak cat like reynolds, or you are a kid or female. However, I would say you are 99.5 % you are safe from an attack, especially when riding with a partner or group.

I would be scared to know how often a mountain lion has seen me bike by on one of my runs. They are awesome beasts, but they and the bear, are the only animal in these areas in socal that can actually kill us, rather easily. I ride with my knife and i laugh when i realize that i probably wont have time to grab it, if i really need it. so get your pepper spray, and hold on to it like a blanket, because you will NEVER use it on the cat, if you were in a real fight, because, like i said earlier, they are amazing killers. they jump 60 feet on a run and 14 feet vertical. they are sick, god bless them, and yes, i am afraid, but it will never stop my riding! Especially when i own a SANTA CRUZ BLUR LT
 

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Just passing through....
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Thats great, an experience to tell your kids and grandkids. I still ride solo at night and in the dark early morning in the San Gabriels, more out of necessity than anything else. The thought of a lion occasionally creeps into my mind as I know they are there. But lion attacks on humans are so rare, especially on adults, that I know that I am far more likely to die from an MTB fall or the drive to the trail than the wildlife (except for some of the strange human wildlife in the early morning hours, some of them scare me....). Like Merlin said, you happened to encounter one with a cub, which created a different and possibly dangerous situation. But thats still great that you saw one, seeing that it worked out well for both you and the lions.

Congrats....
 

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"Why I oughta..."
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Riding and hiking in the So Cal OC area I have seen tracks on occasion (I know tracks) and have always hoped to see one. I am a bit of a nature nut which has lead me to be active in docent work and "my education" for my "retirement" career. Treat it as a gift...
 

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I'd say

you were lucky. I had the same feeling the first time I saw a bear in the wild (my local singletrack). But I have to admit to see a mountain lion would be even more of a rush. I can't ride much at dark anymore because of my failing eyesight, and it makes no difference what light combo I use. I would still ride at night even by myself if I could see.
 

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merlin1011 said:
well, the only reason you actually saw the mother, is she was with the cub. Mountain lions are exceptionally covert and keep a low profile. There element of surprise is their speciality, so , you would meet your pretty cat when their jaw was wrapped on the back of your neck. The question is whether you would wake up from the concussion blow of the might of their tackle on you, before it snaps your neck. The good news is, they dont like you. Deer is what they were breed to prey on. Deer is what they will most always kill for food. You also had a rare possible death trap, when she might want to protect her cub and attack you. I would say you are lucky on that note. The rare times it happens, it is a crazy random starving freak cat like reynolds, or you are a kid or female. However, I would say you are 99.5 % you are safe from an attack, especially when riding with a partner or group.

I would be scared to know how often a mountain lion has seen me bike by on one of my runs. They are awesome beasts, but they and the bear, are the only animal in these areas in socal that can actually kill us, rather easily. I ride with my knife and i laugh when i realize that i probably wont have time to grab it, if i really need it. so get your pepper spray, and hold on to it like a blanket, because you will NEVER use it on the cat, if you were in a real fight, because, like i said earlier, they are amazing killers. they jump 60 feet on a run and 14 feet vertical. they are sick, god bless them, and yes, i am afraid, but it will never stop my riding! Especially when i own a SANTA CRUZ BLUR LT

Not sure where you got your information, but let me shed some light on this topic because I don't think your information is completely accurate. Since the Mark Reynolds attack I've taken an interest in the subject and read quite a bit on the topic.

In virtually every case where a human was attacked by a lion and survived to tell about it (the majority of the attacks, the victim survives despite your comment about 'amazing killers'), they were aware of the cat and it was not a surprise attack. You are right, that mountain lions attack deer by surprise and they certainly have the ability to attack humans by surprise as well. Why don't they? My opinion is that they are a little unsure about humans and want to check us out a little bit before attacking, thus the reason for it not being a surprise attack.

The only reason the cat was seen was because it was with its cubs? I don't think so. How do you explain frequent sightings of mountain lions with no cubs?

Regarding Mark Reynolds' attack, the autopsy on the cat confirmed that it was a healthy male that was not sickly, nor starving. There was no evidence from the autopsy as to why the lion attacked. To another poster (different thread I think) that speculated that Mark was attacked after dark, this is simply not possible as the attack was reported on the news at 3:30pm.

99.5% eh? So are you saying that every 200 bike rides you should expect to get attacked by a lion. I don't think so.

Regarding weapons, there is no history of success or failure of using pepper spray for defense in an attack, but one victim successfully fought off a mountain lion with a swiss army knife.

There is a very interesting book called, "Beast in the Garden" that I highly recommend.

To the original poster, thanks for the story. I sure wish I could see that someday.
 

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EDR
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Thanks for posting your encounter, I enjoyed reading.

I've read pepper spray will not have the effects one would hope for on a lion, the tear ducts are just different, I don't really know. But, hey thats not the point.

Great story.....!
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Regarding Mark Reynolds' attack, the autopsy on the cat confirmed that it was a healthy male that was not sickly, nor starving. There was no evidence from the autopsy as to why the lion attacked. To another poster (different thread I think) that speculated that Mark was attacked after dark, this is simply not possible as the attack was reported on the news at 3:30pm.

The second attack on the woman happened in the afternoon, prompting the "report" that day. The autopsy on Reynolds did not fix a conclusive time of death, but his body had already been eviscerated and partially buried when found. The specualtion that he may have been attacked in early evening OR very early morning was derived from known lion feeding habits.
And the news I read was that the cat was underweight for it's age.
 

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Great story.

I ride up that same fireroad pretty often as well. I've seen what I used to think were bobcats on the other side of the hill. May canyon from Veterans park, that is. Last year I was descending the fireroad and I was riding in a cloud. Visability was only about 20-30 feet. As I rounded the corner, I came up on a "big brown cat." Like you posted in the original post, only a few pounds heavier than a standard house cat. I thought it was a bobcat. Now that you've posted, maybe it was a mountain lion cub. Two weeks later I saw a similar "cat" up there. Both times they basically freeze for a second or two then bound off the trail. It is pretty nerve racking though, aint it? :eek:
 

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BobL said:
Regarding Mark Reynolds' attack, the autopsy on the cat confirmed that it was a healthy male that was not sickly, nor starving. There was no evidence from the autopsy as to why the lion attacked. To another poster (different thread I think) that speculated that Mark was attacked after dark, this is simply not possible as the attack was reported on the news at 3:30pm.

The second attack on the woman happened in the afternoon, prompting the "report" that day. The autopsy on Reynolds did not fix a conclusive time of death, but his body had already been eviscerated and partially buried when found. The specualtion that he may have been attacked in early evening OR very early morning was derived from known lion feeding habits.
And the news I read was that the cat was underweight for it's age.
You need to talk to people that were on the same trail that day, then you will know that the attack did not happen the night before or early that morning. It definitely happened after noon and before the attack on Anne.
 

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lmnop said:
I, like many who frequent this board, was reading all the recent posts and watching/listening to the newscasts of the recent shooting down OC way of a mountain lion. It was interesting, but it didn't make me pause much as I headed out the door late this afternoon for a quick 1.5hr out and back to Five Points (via Wilson Fireroad) from in back of Olive View Hospital (Sylmar area).

As usual, I headed out solo with my lights. I got an earlier start than usual, which means that I was out the door and on the streets for my 10 minute warmup ride to the trailhead by about 4:15pm. Felt pretty good, made it to the top in about 45 minutes. It was just after sunset, twilight really. So, I got off the bike, threw on a windbreaker, adjusted the saddle a bit, and was ready for the quick fireroad descent back down the hill. As it was getting dark, I flipped my handlebar light on (CatEye Triple Shot, no pun intended!) and I was off.

Rather than bore you with details of a quick and surreal (i.e. the "flow") descent on a fireroad I ride twice a week to stay in shape during the winter, I'll get to the details. After about three or four minutes, I came around a corner and encountered a female mountain lion and cub (!) crossing the fireroad in front of me. I grabbed a fist full of brakes and came to a quick stop. It happened real quick, but the adult female basically froze in the middle of the road while the cub hightailed it into the poison-oak lined draw on the downhill side of the road.

So, I'm off my bike now, standing up straight, facing the good-sized lion in a kind of Texas standoff. It's about 35 yards in front of me, and it is large. And, make no mistake about it, it is a mountain lion. For over a minute, we just sit there staring at one another, neither one of us making a move. Not much sound either, other than the cub calling for its mother. The cub, by the way, was probably a little larger than your average adult house cat. Once, I can remember, the momma called out kind of quietly to her cub.

While sitting there staring at the cat, I'm thinking back to everything I've read. Stand tall, don't run, look large. Well, I'm 6'3" to start with. No problem there. The cat never really did anything threatening. No growls, didn't get into a pounce position, never "looked" real threatening. I remember thinking, I got to wait this out. Didn't have to yell or scream, it wasn't interested in me. After a while, the cat casually walked a few yards south on the road and entered the overgrown ravine. I listened and waited for about a minute or so. Didn't hear the cub anymore, figured the two must have reunited. Seemed like a good time to get back on my way again. So, I picked up a couple of cobble-size rocks (just in case!), got back on the bike, and begun to slowly pedal and make my way past the revine and the lions. Once I was past, I dropped the rocks and began to descend rather quickly.

Wait, it gets even better! (I'm not much of a writer, I couldn't make these details up.) So, I'm probably one hundred yards past the draw, going pretty fast, and I'm thinking it's over. Up ahead of me, I see a little critter running along the side of the fireroad. I'm gaining on it a little, but it LOOKED like another cub!! Emphasis on looked, cause I wasn't about to stop and positively ID the thing. But, it looked to be about the size of the other cub and had a rather long tail. I slowed a little, thinking it would dart into the brush, but it continued to run along the side of the road while I'm hanging out in the rear. Finally, the thing clears the road (maybe 10 to 15 seconds go by). Meanwhile, I'm thinking that the mother is running after this cub, getting ready to pounce from behind. I looked back once, quickly. I saw nothing, the coast was clear, I put it into overdrive and hauled out of there.

I'm not the best descender, especially at night. But I moved rather quickly for about the first 1/2 mile, until I nearly lost it in a loose rut. I saw the Wed. night group at the bottom (A.P.E dudes, I think), told them what I saw, and went home.

The experience left me with quite the adrenaline rush! Two beers in me, typing away; I still feel it. Looking back, I consider myself stupid and lucky as well. Stupid, in the sense that I know better than to ride alone at night. Rarely are there other riders along this route, other than this Wed. nite ride. People, i.e. friends and family, have warned me not to ride alone at night, for obvious reasons besides simply the wildlife. I've justified my solo rides because the ride is close, I know it very well, I get cell phone reception almost the entire way, and because of my somewhat hermitic (if this is a word) lifestyle that I occasionally lead. Hell, I'm usually more worried about the 90 lb rottweiler behind every other fence, with the standard "silver and black" Raiders superfan in the house, on the quick road ride up to the trailhead than the thought of dangerous wildlife encounters.

Lucky? In what way, you ask. Well, I guess these sorts of encounters are pretty rare (I did a little research after the fact). The cubs were pretty darn cute, and remind you of the other side of the mountain lion that you don't give too much thought to. I won't weigh in, for now, on the "mountain lion" issue. One other thought, I may have been lucky that I encountered the lions when I did, where I did. In the middle of the road, not on the side as I was quickly passing by sort of thing. Thinking back, I wonder if my light almost "froze" the mountain lion. Hey, it works on deers. Really, maybe the lion didn't even see me. Maybe it only could see the light. It is pretty bright, even for an LED setup! Maybe I'll try to find out some info on this tomorrow.

Oh, one more thing, no more solo night rides. At least until I can arm myself with some pepper spray!
This story was very interesting and you should consider yourself very lucky just to have seen one. I have lived in So. Ca. for nineteen years and have never seen one. I am from Colorado and have seen every creature in that state except a Mountain lion. I used to be an avid Elk and Deer hunter and have spent many hours in the wilderness. I have seen tracks a few times but never an actual Mountain lion. One time while hunting Elk my buddy and I were in a tent. We turned in for the night with dry conditions. But when we awoke there was a fresh blanket of four inches of snow on the ground. We were surprised and rather chilled to find fresh Mountain lion tracks circling our camp site. They were about a hundred feet out from our tent. We never heard a sound the night before. It was a very eerie feeling knowing such an awesome cat had been that close and checked us out with out us knowing a thing. I am sure we are all being observed and one point or another without us realizing it. Anyway I feel you are very lucky to have had the encounter that you had. :cool:
 

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The mountain lions I've seen pretty much "go along to get along". You don't have any function in their world, so they ignore you. They don't try to hide themselves, and they're not terribly graceful as they crash thru the underbrush. Nobody's going to mess with them, so they don't need to be.

If they did for some reason want to run you down and eat you, you wouldn't have enough warning to do much about it. You might wonder why the horizon made a quick rotation, as your neck made an unusual snapping sound...
 
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