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Riding through Santa Ana Mountains in the middle of the night, mountain lions?

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Riding through Santa Ana Mountains in the middle of the night, mountain lions?

Old 05-25-17, 12:44 AM
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RMoudatir
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Riding through Santa Ana Mountains in the middle of the night, mountain lions?

So I have been planning on this ride for quite a while now, I live in Southern California near Orange County and I was planning on riding through the Santa Ana Mountains starting from Skyline trail then through Black Star Canyon all the way to Santiago Canyon road and then to San Diego to complete a century since I have family there staying there over the weekend. The ride may take 10-12 hrs and it would be best if I got there before 2pm so I may leave at 2 am, I am a bit concerned about mountain lions when crossing the trails which are about 12 miles long. I love these types of adventures and the idea of riding from night and watching the sun rise is thrilling to me. Should I take a longer boring detour and be safe or would crossing through the trails not be much of a problem during those hours. If anybody lives by here and has experience with this I'm curious what your opinions are.
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Old 05-25-17, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by RMoudatir View Post
So I have been planning on this ride for quite a while now, I live in Southern California near Orange County and I was planning on riding through the Santa Ana Mountains starting from Skyline trail then through Black Star Canyon all the way to Santiago Canyon road and then to San Diego to complete a century since I have family there staying there over the weekend. The ride may take 10-12 hrs and it would be best if I got there before 2pm so I may leave at 2 am, I am a bit concerned about mountain lions when crossing the trails which are about 12 miles long. I love these types of adventures and the idea of riding from night and watching the sun rise is thrilling to me. Should I take a longer boring detour and be safe or would crossing through the trails not be much of a problem during those hours. If anybody lives by here and has experience with this I'm curious what your opinions are.
mountain lions would be on my mind too. they are obviously out there. guess it just depends on how lit up
and noisy you are rolling through the trails area. my biggest point to point concern would be riding through
camp pendleton enroute to san diego. assuming you're a civilian, have you registered to ride on the base?
and i was under the impression that registered civilian cyclists can only ride through from 9am-3pm. otherwise,
it's the freeway.

Last edited by cb400bill; 05-26-17 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 05-25-17, 03:47 AM
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Yeah, not being able to cross Camp Pendleton - in the night - is the issue here. Other than 5 freeway alternative to Camp Pendleton, other alternative is to make it an ultra long distance ride and go through Corona, Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Escondido, and down to SD. Doing much of that in the dark would be one heck of an adventure, I've done parts of it in the dark and it is pretty flippin desolate. After that, you're gonna wish you chanced the 5 freeway as a risky but shorter alternative to what I suggested.
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Old 05-25-17, 07:15 AM
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I'd be more worried about mule deer, hares, and the like. Also drunk drivers. And those Santa Ana winds......
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Old 05-25-17, 07:32 AM
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Just say "No, go home!" in a stern voice.
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Old 05-25-17, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Just say "No, go home!" in a stern voice.
I was going to suggest squirting them with a bidon ... but you nailed it. Maximum points and a bonus.
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Old 05-25-17, 08:02 AM
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And to be serious ... Night rides, I too would be more concerned with small furry speedbumps senselessly darting the wrong way .... and wind-blown debris on the road surface, if your light isn't bright enough.

I wouldn't expect a big hunting cat to be patrolling the road ... not would I expect it to be intrigued by some sweaty, puffing, relatively speedy wheeled cyborg sort of thing. I wouldn't want to have one wander by if I was sitting and resting, but while rolling I wouldn't worry.

However .... when you say "trails," are we talking packed earth, pavement, small roads .... I was thinking roads .... I'd guess if you were doing 12-15 mph you'd be fine either way.

Comfort breaks might be uncomfortable.
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Old 05-25-17, 08:31 AM
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COUGAR FACTS!

Male cougars typically weigh 115 to 220 lb, averaging 137 lb. The cougar's top running speed ranges between 40 and 50 mph. A successful generalist predator, the cougar will eat any animal it can catch, from insects to large ungulates over 1000lb.

They can only hit that top speed for short bursts, so just keep it in the mid-30s and you should be fine. Don't spill any meat juices or deer urine on yourself before you leave.
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Old 05-25-17, 08:41 AM
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I often rode through Camp Pendleton late at night back in the 1970s when I was stationed there. Main concern was the "small furry speedbumps" @Maelochs aptly described. I often heard and occasionally saw coyotes and large owls but they weren't aggressive.

Then -- as now, riding in rural Texas at night -- I was mostly concerned about deer, rabbits, etc. A few weeks ago a friend and I were riding home from a Critical Mass group ride when a small armadillo, about the size of a football, darted in front of us. I missed it. My friend didn't. Bump, wham, he rolled over onto the roadside. No serious injury to man nor beast.

But I wouldn't take even that sort of fall lightly. I fell back in February during a group ride. Misjudged a ledge in the pavement. Wasn't going very fast, maybe 10-12 mph. Hit really hard on my left side, could hardly move or breathe from the rib and chest pain, although I was able to ride the 12 miles home after resting about an hour. Took weeks to heal. I wouldn't want to be in the middle of nowhere at night in that condition.
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Old 05-25-17, 08:52 AM
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[QUOTE=ooga-booga;19608463]
Originally Posted by RMoudatir View Post
So I have been planning on this ride for quite a while now, I live in Southern California near Orange County and I was planning on riding through the Santa Ana Mountains starting from Skyline trail then through Black Star Canyon all the way to Santiago Canyon road and then to San Diego to complete a century since I have family there staying there over the weekend. The ride may take 10-12 hrs and it would be best if I got there before 2pm so I may leave at 2 am, I am a bit concerned about mountain lions when crossing the trails which are about 12 miles long. I love these types of adventures and the idea of riding from night and watching the sun rise is thrilling to me. Should I take a longer boring detour and be safe or would crossing through the trails not be much of a problem during those hours. If anybody lives by here and has experience with this I'm curious what your opinions are.[/QUOTE

mountain lions would be on my mind too. they are obviously out there. guess it just depends on how lit up
and noisy you are rolling through the trails area. my biggest point to point concern would be riding through
camp pendleton enroute to san diego. assuming you're a civilian, have you registered to ride on the base?
and i was under the impression that registered civilian cyclists can only ride through from 9am-3pm. otherwise,
it's the freeway.
I have not heard of that you would have to register to ride through a specific area, I have never ridden south to San Diego before, on Google Maps it showed me that I have to ride on the 5 freeway for a few miles and I checked that certain parts of it is allowed for cyclists to cross sonce the routes are limited to San Diego.
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Old 05-25-17, 09:00 AM
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I did a 400 km randonnee through the Canadian Rockies a few years ago. As I left Canmore, dusk was falling. I was cycling along a quiet secondary highway lost in my own thoughts during that peaceful, reflective time of day when an animal walked crossed the road some distance in front of me.

I ran through my mental database to determine what it was.

Bear ... foremost on my mind in that area. But nope, it didn't walk like a bear.

Dog ... it was too big for most dogs and just didn't have a dog gait.

Wolf ... maybe about the right size ... but again, not the dog gait.

Deer ... might have been a small deer, but deer don't move like that.

... running out of possibilities ...

By this time I was getting closer and could see it a bit more clearly. It ran up the embankment on the opposite side of the road to where I was ... and crouched.

I recognised that crouch. It was a cat. A very big cat. A HUGE cat. And it suddenly dawned on me I wasn't looking at a domestic house cat. The alarm bells went off in my head ... that's a mountain lion.

I had my helmet light on, so I sat straight up, turned my head so that my light was on the mountain lion, and cycled past it. I also reached down and opened my pepper spray pouch so I could grab my little pepper spray canister. Of course, chances are I'd end up spraying myself and just seasoning myself for the mountain lion's meal and if I did manage to spray it, I'd probably only annoy it. I kept going at a steady pace for a couple hundred metres glancing back every few seconds, and then I slowly picked up my speed until I was riding as hard as I possibly could.

It didn't seem to be following me ... but it is a cat and cats are quiet. How would I know? And do they come in pairs or are they solo creatures. Could there be another one watching me up ahead a little ways. Was I boxed in?

I don't know how many kilometres passed ... not too many ... maybe only 6 or 8 or something ... and I rolled into a very small town where my father was waiting for me in his car. We were leap-frogging ... I'd ride and pass him ... then he'd drive past me and wait for me somewhere up the road because neither of us like the idea of me riding solo through the night in the Canadian Rockies.

I could hardly breathe or talk when I rolled up to him and told him about the mountain lion!! And he stuck a little bit closer to me for a while after that.
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Old 05-25-17, 09:04 AM
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One person by them self. I don't know about that. If there were a couple more people would be safer.. more noise. Mountain lion will not run you down, they will wait and jump you from behind... by the neck. You will not see it coming.
I have been out past dark hiking with a flashlight in San Gabriel mountain... and it's just spooky.... especially when you hear the blood curdling scream of a mountain lion in total darkness.
The mountain lion population in CA is high. There has been a ban on hunting them for that last 27 years.

Last edited by trailangel; 05-25-17 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 05-25-17, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I did a 400 km randonnee through the Canadian Rockies a few years ago. As I left Canmore, dusk was falling. I was cycling along a quiet secondary highway lost in my own thoughts during that peaceful, reflective time of day when an animal walked crossed the road some distance in front of me.

I ran through my mental database to determine what it was.

Bear ... foremost on my mind in that area. But nope, it didn't walk like a bear.

Dog ... it was too big for most dogs and just didn't have a dog gait.

Wolf ... maybe about the right size ... but again, not the dog gait.

Deer ... might have been a small deer, but deer don't move like that.

... running out of possibilities ...

By this time I was getting closer and could see it a bit more clearly. It ran up the embankment on the opposite side of the road to where I was ... and crouched.

I recognised that crouch. It was a cat. A very big cat. A HUGE cat. And it suddenly dawned on me I wasn't looking at a domestic house cat. The alarm bells went off in my head ... that's a mountain lion.

I had my helmet light on, so I sat straight up, turned my head so that my light was on the mountain lion, and cycled past it. I also reached down and opened my pepper spray pouch so I could grab my little pepper spray canister. Of course, chances are I'd end up spraying myself and just seasoning myself for the mountain lion's meal and if I did manage to spray it, I'd probably only annoy it. I kept going at a steady pace for a couple hundred metres glancing back every few seconds, and then I slowly picked up my speed until I was riding as hard as I possibly could.

It didn't seem to be following me ... but it is a cat and cats are quiet. How would I know? And do they come in pairs or are they solo creatures. Could there be another one watching me up ahead a little ways. Was I boxed in?

I don't know how many kilometres passed ... not too many ... maybe only 6 or 8 or something ... and I rolled into a very small town where my father was waiting for me in his car. We were leap-frogging ... I'd ride and pass him ... then he'd drive past me and wait for me somewhere up the road because neither of us like the idea of me riding solo through the night in the Canadian Rockies.

I could hardly breathe or talk when I rolled up to him and told him about the mountain lion!! And he stuck a little bit closer to me for a while after that.

This is a great story Machka. Thanks for posting it.

Goes to show how humans think we are in control of everything but we really are not. The world can still be a wild and dangerous place.

Most survivalists and people who spend significant time outdoors say that it won't be a mountain lion, bear or something dramatic which kills them something small like a bee sting or foot fungus which takes them out.


-Tim-
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Old 05-25-17, 09:36 AM
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It's great to be at the top of the food chain...

...except for when you're not. Like, swimming in the ocean off the Pacific Coast, the Gold Coast, or South Africa; or trekking across the Kodiak, or hmmm going solo through the mountains...
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Old 05-25-17, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
One person by them self. I don't know about that. If there were a couple more people would be safer.. more noise. Mountain lion will not run you down, they will wait and jump you from behind... by the neck. You will not see it coming.
I have been out past dark hiking with a flashlight in San Gabriel mountain... and it's just spooky.... especially when you hear the blood curdling scream of a mountain lion in total darkness.
The mountain lion population in CA is high. There has been a ban on hunting them for that last 27 years.
I've suddenly started watching a bunch of mountain lion videos since that thought has occured to me, maybe I'm a bit too paranoid lol. So should I keep my guard up when on the trails, watching my back often? And stopping is not a great idea since I will be vulnerable giving the cat the opportunity to strike? And in case of an encounter maybe I can stand behind the bike and if it attacks I can use the bike as a shield to my vital areas lol
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Old 05-25-17, 10:01 AM
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I simply wouldn't worry too much. You aren't a normal menu item, and most animals won't mess with things of approximately the same size. Since you won't be moving slowly on foot through the brush, you won't be acting like prey. Even if you stop for a natural break (so long as you don't walk into a thicket) you shouldn't be anywhere long enough for an animal to stalk and hunt you.

It's not like they crouch by the roadside waiting to pounce.

I'd say, just do whatever you have to on the edge of the road as quickly as you can, and otherwise just ride.

Have you researched the frequency of mountain-lion attacks on road cyclists? I bet you can't because they simply don't happen.
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Old 05-25-17, 10:04 AM
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Attacks are really rare on humans, maybe 2 dozen in many, many years. There was one up north end of LA county a few years ago, broad daylight, female jogger, grabbed from behind, dragged the body in some brush, ripped out her internals, and cover the rest of body with leaves to come and eat later.

Gives me the same feeling when I was fishing in Alaska and 800-900lb brown bear crossed 25 yards upstream from me. You realize there is nothing you can do, this might be your day.
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Old 05-25-17, 11:01 AM
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Why not just start the ride later and show up later. You said it would be "best" if you showed up before two, but not necessary. Why make this harder than it has to be.
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Old 05-25-17, 11:03 AM
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I just finished reading "The Tribe of Tiger" which is actually about all cats from lions , tigers house cats and mountain lions. They are so stealthy they avoid making tracks, stepping around mud, snow or where ever they might leave tracks and need very little ground cover to vanish and they are everywhere, even in New England. An important consequence of stealth is their numbers are under reported. I would pay close attention to my surroundings in cougar country and that is just about everywhere in North America.
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Old 05-25-17, 11:13 AM
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Skip halfway through the video. Mountain lion just wants to play.
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Old 05-25-17, 02:30 PM
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I'm betting that you are not a 'cat person'? Because, if you were, you would understand that no cat would be interested in you as a meal, or take you as a threat unless you challenged them. A bear, maybe, a coyote, no, a cat, definately not.

The guy in the other story about the cougar: You probably interrupted him in the middle of a hunt. He was likely about to pounce on some small creature on the other side of the road when you bumbled past. He didn't run, becuase he wanted to keep an eye on his next meal. If you had stopped, THEN he probably would've gotten mad at you.

BTW, cats are nearly always loners, except in special cases (African lions come to mind). If you see one, the only time you might see a second is if it's a mother bringing her nearly-grown offspring along to teach.
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Old 05-25-17, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
https://youtu.be/d4FbHzeCJjM

Skip halfway through the video. Mountain lion just wants to play.
Yes, I get the feeling this cat had been 'humanized', like somebody had kept him as a kitten, then dumped him in the wild when he grew up. Either that, or he's just a VERY curious young cougar. Also, was the camper carrying food on himself? A heavy walking stick would've been useful in this encounter; thump the ground, smack a tree, or even use it as a bat to shoot a rock or 2 his way. I would've thrown something heavy at him well before he got that close. Also, making loud banging noises should've made him retreat.
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Old 05-25-17, 02:59 PM
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The odds are in your favor, certainly. I've ridden up Blackstar, frankly descending in the dark would scare me regardless of wildlife - but that's probably why I never enjoyed skiing either.

But it's not quite right to say it doesn't happen. It happened to two mountain bikers here in OC back in 2004, one attack was fatal. These happened during the day, so not sure night is any better or worse in that regard.

Mountain lion attacks kill 1, injure 1 / Orange County bicyclists rescue woman victim - SFGate
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Old 05-25-17, 03:38 PM
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Mtn lion are my worst nightmare.

They stalk silently and attack stealth from behind with high intelligence...it would be all over before you even know what's happening...so there's no defense against them.

Only thing to do is travel in a group...and hope others will beat off the mtb lion from your back before too late. Pick reliable travel companions.
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Old 05-25-17, 04:19 PM
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In the event of animal attack, the most reliable travel companion is the one you are able to outrun.

It's a joke.
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