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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As AZ riders, I'm sure we are all acquainted with the rattlesnake encounter. Love them or hate them it is part of riding in this neck of the SW. My first few encounters with a rattlesnake sent a shot of adrenaline thru my bloodstream, but I have since learned to stay calm when I see them and pray that when I crash I don't land on one.


Last year I had about nine encounters, being my highest annual total to date. This year I've only had three so far. Two of them came last Sunday out at GC. I was out with the Mrs when we rolled up on a Mojave in the middle of the trail. This was my first Mojave sighting in the wild. He was mellow and we gave him his space till he rolled off the trail.


About two hundred yards later, a western diamondback rose out of the dry, trailside grass just as my front tire was passing him. I never saw him until he made a move. Per usual, he was pissed, coiling up and rattling, seemingly ready to strike. I wasn't going very fast, so I braked and jumped off to the opposite side of the bike.


I was fortunate that I probably scared him as much as he scared me because he was backing away as I jumped off the bike. But, my right shin was easily within striking distance for a few brief moments. And Seeing that they can strike in roughly 100 milliseconds or so, I sufficiently exceeded that time in the strike zone to get bit.


I have never given much thought to getting bit while riding as chances seem pretty low, so it has never impeded my riding schedule of 2-3x per week. However, this is the second time in the past two years I have found myself unintentionally within the strike zone. I'm curious how often others have found themselves within striking distance of our resident pit vipers.

 

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Ridden within 6 inches of two this year. The first one never did anything and I thought it was dead until I turned around to check it out. The other I was going down some rocky narrow singletrack and didn't see it until I was right on top of him. He recoiled and was rattling. He was stretched out just entering the tread and by time he recoiled I was maybe far enough from him? Who knows. My big concern isn't when moving really, it is in the off chance that I have to put a foot down or if I crash. I do tend to stay off of more technical/slower speed stretches of trail if I can during prime snake temps especially if the section has trickier pedal clearance.
 

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I had to bunny hop a real big black tail in Sedona one time while riding the Llama trail. They generally don't want to strike you or so I've been told. You probably have to provoke most a little more than just riding on by but I have encountered what seemed like the incredibly angry and trigger happy rattler a few times as well.
 

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I've had my fair share of striking distance encounters throughout the valley, with Gold Canyon being the most frequent...that place has a serious vendetta against me, between snakes, bees, huge bulls hiding around tight corners, and cholla...so much cholla.
The craziest one for me was riding up Vortex out at GC, looking back to see where my riding buddy was at, causing me to veer a bit, lost traction with the back tire, put both feet down, looked down to see I'm straddling a rattler, probably an inch from each foot...that snake must have been as freaked out as I was since he seemed to play dead (it wasn't). Quickly got the hell away from that snake, rode about 15 meters, and what do ya know, another rattlesnake coiled and pissed off in the middle of the trail, definitely poised to strike. Took a detour around that snake, and the rest of the ride was a high anxiety game of stick or snake...saw two more rattlers on the ride back to the car. It was a bit of time before I made it back to GC...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've had my fair share of striking distance encounters throughout the valley, with Gold Canyon being the most frequent...that place has a serious vendetta against me, between snakes, bees, huge bulls hiding around tight corners, and cholla...so much cholla.
The craziest one for me was riding up Vortex out at GC, looking back to see where my riding buddy was at, causing me to veer a bit, lost traction with the back tire, put both feet down, looked down to see I'm straddling a rattler, probably an inch from each foot...that snake must have been as freaked out as I was since he seemed to play dead (it wasn't). Quickly got the hell away from that snake, rode about 15 meters, and what do ya know, another rattlesnake coiled and pissed off in the middle of the trail, definitely poised to strike. Took a detour around that snake, and the rest of the ride was a high anxiety game of stick or snake...saw two more rattlers on the ride back to the car. It was a bit of time before I made it back to GC...
Yes, GC seems to be the place to spot them frequently and have these kind of encounters. This was my third time seeing two rattlers on one ride out there. We were definitely on high alert as we rode back to the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I had to bunny hop a real big black tail in Sedona one time while riding the Llama trail. They generally don't want to strike you or so I've been told. You probably have to provoke most a little more than just riding on by but I have encountered what seemed like the incredibly angry and trigger happy rattler a few times as well.
Rattlesnakes: motivation for mastering the bunnyhop! :D

I agree that riding past one is not likely to provoke a strike. Check out this article on a hiker that got bit. Part of article goes into the research on how adult snakes are likely to inject more venom into predators (aka mtbs) over prey.
 

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I have lived in a small town Northwest of Phoenix my entire 34 years and have spent a TON of time in the desert hunting and off roading. We go out at night a lot and I have had a quite few rattlesnake encounters. Only one close call to speak of. It was night time and I had walked out into the desert away from the Jeep without a light. Stupidest thing I could have done. I almost stepped on it. It coiled and rattled at me but didn't strike to my knowledge. I covered the 50 or so feet back to Jeep in 3 steps. LOL

I have been doing night rides the last month or so because of the temps. I did 20 miles last Thursday night and never saw one which is pretty surprising. I try to stay on two track roads on night rides because they are so active at night and being on overgrown single track arguably questionable lighting is a bad feeling.
 

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Rattlesnakes: motivation for mastering the bunnyhop!
Those aren't the snakes that are the problem.

This spring I was climbing up Windmill in the McDowells. The trail was steep enough and rugged enough that I was going about 3 mph. The weather had been in the 70's three days in a row, so I figured the snakes might be coming out of their winter dens, so I was concentrating intently on all the trailside vegetation. I nervously peered under the bushes and the cacti alongside the trail looking for snakes as I climbed. The next thing I knew, I heard some hissing, and I looked down, and between my handlebars and my knee I saw the telltale circular motion of a snake coiling up. The snake was on the right side of my bike. There were no bushes next to the trail, just some short green grass, so I think I must have scanned further up the trail.

Then my right pedal rotated from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock. I had a sickening feeling, and I went limp as I waited for the strike. I estimate my foot passed one foot from the snake at the bottom of my pedal stroke--but miraculously the snake didn't strike. It was a smaller, two foot rattlesnake.

If the snake was a Mojave Green and it had struck me, I think I would have been dead--there was no chance of getting help in time. If it wasn't a Mojave, then I might have had enough time to get back to the Pemberton Trail and hope that someone rode by.

My heart rate was through the roof for the rest of my ride. The trails were overgrown from the wet winter, and some of them were barely single track, so I was really freaked out--sometimes I lifted both feet off the pedals and coasted through the denser vegetation. Less than ten minutes later, I spied the end of a tail sticking out from under a bush next to the trail. I hesitated for a brief moment as my brain tried to decide whether to coast by the snake or hit the brakes. Then, I yelled, "No!" and I slammed on my brakes, and I stomped both feet on the trail, and I furiously back pedaled. F**k! This snake looked like the Michael Jordan of snakes. It was standing tall, and it was long and svelte, and it exuded confidence. I initially planted my feet on the trail about 3 feet from that snake.

After those encounters, I couldn't ride normally anymore. My heart rate soared whenever I hit the trails, and I rode too fast because I was scared of getting struck. I started wearing a pair of shin guards rotated to the outside of my leg, hoping the guards would offer some protection (will d30 stop a snake bite?). I also concentrated so hard on the trails in an effort to spot snakes that I couldn't enjoy riding anymore.
 

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This was my first Mojave sighting in the wild
How did you know it was a Mojave Green? There used to be a snake expert on here, and I posted a picture of a snake one time, and he said it was a Mojave Green. He explained that the only way you can identify a Mojave Green is where a stripe on its snout hits the jawline. On a Mojave Green the stripe hits the jawline at a different place (further to the rear if I remember correctly) than on the other type of rattlesnake. He said fat black or white bands on the tail cannot be used to identify a Mojave Green.
 

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How did you know it was a Mojave Green? There used to be a snake expert on here, and I posted a picture of a snake one time, and he said it was a Mojave Green. He explained that the only way you can identify a Mojave Green is where a stripe on its snout hits the jawline. On a Mojave Green the stripe hits the jawline at a different place (further to the rear if I remember correctly) than on the other type of rattlesnake. He said fat black or white bands on the tail cannot be used to identify a Mojave Green.
Good article on distinguishing between a Mojave and Diamondback.

https://animals.mom.me/distinguish-mojave-rattlesnake-western-diamondback-4644.html
 

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We should use logic here. I'd be willing to bet that each and every one of us who ride in rattlesnake territory, and who have been riding for years, has passed very to rattlers on other without even realizing it. And, none of you have been bitten and none of you will ever get bitten. So, just ride. It is what it is. You're more likely to get struck by lightning and 10,000 times more likely to die in a car accident on your way to or from work.
 

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We should use logic here. I'd be willing to bet that each and every one of us who ride in rattlesnake territory, and who have been riding for years, has passed very to rattlers on other without even realizing it. And, none of you have been bitten and none of you will ever get bitten. So, just ride. It is what it is. You're more likely to get struck by lightning and 10,000 times more likely to die in a car accident on your way to or from work.
Yep, don't even think about it really riding unless it's a night ride and the trail is overgrown enough where visibility is an issue. I will say though that one close encounter is enough to get in your head and make you jumpy for the remainder of your ride though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
How did you know it was a Mojave Green? There used to be a snake expert on here, and I posted a picture of a snake one time, and he said it was a Mojave Green. He explained that the only way you can identify a Mojave Green is where a stripe on its snout hits the jawline. On a Mojave Green the stripe hits the jawline at a different place (further to the rear if I remember correctly) than on the other type of rattlesnake. He said fat black or white bands on the tail cannot be used to identify a Mojave Green.
Reptile Organism Vertebrate Scaled reptile Terrestrial animal


Easiest way to tell is the white rings are larger than the black ones on the tail. Second clue is the green tint.
 

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I found that old thread where I posted a picture of a snake, which kicked off a discussion on how to identify a Mojave Green:

https://forums.mtbr.com/arizona/pho...first-snake-encounter-778413.html#post9154815

I misremembered what the snake expert said--there are other ways to identify a Mojave Green. If you are interested, pay attention to Cenobite39's posts. He/she also has some interesting things to say about what happens if you get bitten.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We should use logic here. I'd be willing to bet that each and every one of us who ride in rattlesnake territory, and who have been riding for years, has passed very to rattlers on other without even realizing it. And, none of you have been bitten and none of you will ever get bitten. So, just ride. It is what it is. You're more likely to get struck by lightning and 10,000 times more likely to die in a car accident on your way to or from work.
You are not more likely to get struck by lightning. On average, 400+ people are struck by lighting in the US per year compared to 7000-8000 venomous snake bites each year. However, you are more likely to die if you get struck by lightning than by getting bit.
 
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