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Local bares tale of survival

SCV cyclist shares story of bike-bear collision

Posted: July 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

A big brown bear broke Jon Woodard’s bike in half, but all things considered, the avid 61-year-old cyclist says he’s lucky to be alive.

All he has to show for colliding on his carbon-framed bike with the bear is some road rash, a broken bike and a wilderness story to challenge the claims of most campers — no broken bones, no bear bites.

“I really, truly believe there was a guardian angel watching over me,” Woodard said by phone Friday, safely at his home in Agua Dulce.

Yosemite bike ride
Last week, he was at the Sierra Nevada campsite he’s been visiting annually for the past 13 years in Yosemite National Park.

And, as he does here in the Santa Clarita Valley, he went cycling every day.

The morning of July 5, however, would prove to be a little more challenging than other days of bike riding.

Woodard was riding his bike about 20 miles per hour along the side of Dinkey Creek Road, about four miles from Shaver Lake.

“I was coming down Dinkey road, and I saw something brown at the side of the road; and the next thing I know, I hit a bear broadside,” Woodard said Friday.

“I went flying over the handlebars and landed on my tailbone,” he said. “The carbon-fiber bike was snapped in half.”

“People who were in a car got out of the car and ran over to me and said, ‘Oh my God, you hit a bear,’” he added.

Woodard said he had slowed down to let cars pass him on the left.

That’s when the bear entered the road from the right side, lumbering into the path of his bike.

“I think he was waiting for the cars to pass,” Woodard said.

A second later, and the bear might have knocked Woodard into traffic.

A second earlier, and the cyclist might have braked and ended up in the startled bear’s paws.

Was he worried the crash might have angered the bear, estimated to weigh 300 pounds, provoking an attack?

Woodard said the whole thing happened so quickly, he didn’t think of it.

After the collision, the bear returned the way it had come, he said.

“He absorbed the shock,” the cyclist said. “I’m sure he survived it pretty well.”

Thinking of bears
“The weird thing is, honest to God, I had just been thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if a bear crossed in front of me?’”
Woodard said. “I’ve been going there for 13 years and never once saw a bear.”

When passing motorists came to Woodard’s aid, helped him to his feet and brought him back to Edison Camp, they were met by Woodard’s son Tyler.

“My son said, ‘What happened?’ and I told him, ‘I hit a bear.’”

The son just laughed, and said: “Yeah, right.”

“Then the people who were helping me said, ‘No, seriously, he hit a bear.’”

Once he was safely back home, Woodard had his left wrist X-rayed as a precaution.

His only injuries, however, were road-rash abrasions on his left arm and leg.

“I am really lucky I wasn’t seriously hurt,” he said. “There is no question in my mind I could have been killed.

“I believe there was a guardian angel looking over me.”

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