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Night/Early Morning Riding and Critters

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Night/Early Morning Riding and Critters

Old 04-13-24, 05:06 PM
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Night/Early Morning Riding and Critters

I'm planning a solo ride across southern Florida in early June, from east to west, Jensen Beach to Bonita Springs. I know it will be hot; I've lived here for thirty years. Since it is about 165 miles, I'm planning to start around 4 AM, which is about 2.5 hours before sunrise. I normally have no difficulties riding this early for my Saturday endurance rides, and I regularly do it especially during the hot summer months. But I usually do this in the suburban area in which I live. Since I am riding across the state, I will be in rural areas within 10 miles of leaving home until I get to Lake Okeechobee. There is a MUP up on the dike around Lake Okeechobee once I get to the lake. So my concern would be for about 25 miles (mile 10 - 35 of the ride).

So my concern is riding solo in the dark (yes I'll have plenty of lights), and having some sort of critter charge me. I'm particularly concerned with wild boar. I was wondering about any of you who may ride extra early if this is of particular concern.

Thanks.
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Old 04-13-24, 06:00 PM
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I'm on the opposite coast and do a lot of night riding. We don't have wild boars or gators, but we do have lots of big cats and black bear. None have bothered me to date, but I have seen them as well as lots of coyotes and deer. In my case, making noise while riding alerts them and they tend to move away. But in your case, noise might just attract them because my understanding is wild boars don't fear humans. When I worked S&R I had a bell on my pack to alert animals so as not to surprise them. Good luck and enjoy your ride.
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Old 04-13-24, 06:06 PM
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My biggest worry at dawn & dusk are the deer. They'll jump out onto the road without warning, and they often cross the road in groups. I've had several close misses, but some of my buddies have collided with deer. One rider was intentionally rammed by a buck and knocked off her bike. Broken ribs.

The wild boar around here don't seem to be much of a problem. They cross the road, but they don't dart out as the deer do. I've had to scoot around a couple on descents, but nothing too scary.
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Old 04-14-24, 09:56 AM
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I ride in rural areas. My only concerns are deer and dogs.
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Old 04-14-24, 10:12 AM
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Deer darting from the side of the road is my biggest fear. I've seen quite a few bears, but they're usually trying to get as far away from me as possible. I've seen mountain lions, they're mildly concerning...not necessarily from the likelihood of attack, but rather just how scary the prospect of a mt lion attack is. I've also had some experiences with cougars, but those weren't bicycling related events...
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Old 04-14-24, 10:37 AM
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If you see what looks like the tread from a 18-wheeler tire laying in the road, then be careful. It may be a alligator!

Adding to what was said earlier about deer. If you see a little fawn all by itself, slow down. Momma deer is nearby in the brush. I've twice in the last three years seen a fawn by itself on the side of the MUP. And just before I get close, momma dear jumps out of the brush from the opposites side of the MUP through the air to the opposite side of the MUP. Once 10 feet in front of me, and the other time 15 feet in front of me. If I hadn't slowed down significantly from the 20mph+ that I was going, I probably will have been hit and knocked off my bike by the doe.
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Old 04-14-24, 01:50 PM
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Wow! Lots of deer stories. I hadn't thought of them, but we do have them here in south Florida. Perhaps I should be. I'm not too concerned with alligators. They tend to be more afraid of us than we are of them. My wife and I saw over 200 when cycling in Shark Valley, which is a 15 mile round trip bicycle path in the western part of the Everglades National Park. My wife (not a cyclist) asked me, "What do I do if I fall and a gator attacks me?"
Me, "Put your bike between you and the gator."
Wife, "That's all you've got???"
Me, "That's all I've got."

But seriously, we passed gators with their tails on the trail and others with their heads on the trail. They couldn't care less about us and the other cyclists. But others not on bicycles were on trams provided by the park. But I didn't see anybody walking that paved trail... I think for good reason.
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Old 04-14-24, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob
Wow! Lots of deer stories. I hadn't thought of them, but we do have them here in south Florida. Perhaps I should be. I'm not too concerned with alligators. They tend to be more afraid of us than we are of them. My wife and I saw over 200 when cycling in Shark Valley, which is a 15 mile round trip bicycle path in the western part of the Everglades National Park. My wife (not a cyclist) asked me, "What do I do if I fall and a gator attacks me?"
Me, "Put your bike between you and the gator."
Wife, "That's all you've got???"
Me, "That's all I've got."

But seriously, we passed gators with their tails on the trail and others with their heads on the trail. They couldn't care less about us and the other cyclists. But others not on bicycles were on trams provided by the park. But I didn't see anybody walking that paved trail... I think for good reason.
April 27, 2020 @ 1:25AM @ mile 33.5 of 100 planned for that night I was SIDESWIPED by a 250/300lb MOMMA Wild Hog. 2 cracked ribs, punctured lung, cracked scapula, trauma to left shoulder = trip to ER and then Trauma Center for a short stay. Buddy was ahead of me and shined his lights on her and babies next to her. Yelled to me but he was too far ahead. She came at me and looked me in the eyes as I looked down at her just before she hit.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3378954842

July 26, 2022 @ 3:04AM @ mile 30.4 of 100 planned was T-Boned in left Tibia(fractured) by huge Wild Hog again. Very long recovery.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7531385558

ADVICE IS BRIGHT LIGHTS AND KEEP SCANNING -- ENJOY the ride!!!!
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Old 04-14-24, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy
April 27, 2020 @ 1:25AM @ mile 33.5 of 100 planned for that night I was SIDESWIPED by a 250/300lb MOMMA Wild Hog. 2 cracked ribs, punctured lung, cracked scapula, trauma to left shoulder = trip to ER and then Trauma Center for a short stay. Buddy was ahead of me and shined his lights on her and babies next to her. Yelled to me but he was too far ahead. She came at me and looked me in the eyes as I looked down at her just before she hit.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3378954842

July 26, 2022 @ 3:04AM @ mile 30.4 of 100 planned was T-Boned in left Tibia(fractured) by huge Wild Hog again. Very long recovery.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7531385558

ADVICE IS BRIGHT LIGHTS AND KEEP SCANNING -- ENJOY the ride!!!!
Wow!

I ride with a very bright front spotlight, another one on my helmet (when dark out) and two rear red blinking lights (day or night).

I have considered having a friend follow me in a car for the first 35 miles until I get to Lake Okeechobee. The car may not fully prevent an attack, but I would also have better chances of getting to an ER quicker.
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Old 04-14-24, 08:29 PM
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Riding around dawn in that season my worry would be mosquitos. Even swimming in DEET I've been eaten alive doing activities around dawn in summertime FL.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob
I'm planning a solo ride across southern Florida in early June, from east to west, Jensen Beach to Bonita Springs. I know it will be hot; I've lived here for thirty years. Since it is about 165 miles, I'm planning to start around 4 AM, which is about 2.5 hours before sunrise. I normally have no difficulties riding this early for my Saturday endurance rides, and I regularly do it especially during the hot summer months. But I usually do this in the suburban area in which I live. Since I am riding across the state, I will be in rural areas within 10 miles of leaving home until I get to Lake Okeechobee. There is a MUP up on the dike around Lake Okeechobee once I get to the lake. So my concern would be for about 25 miles (mile 10 - 35 of the ride).

So my concern is riding solo in the dark (yes I'll have plenty of lights), and having some sort of critter charge me. I'm particularly concerned with wild boar. I was wondering about any of you who may ride extra early if this is of particular concern.

Thanks.
Wild animals aren't allowed on your MUPs? Or you're figuring it will be daylight by then?

I've had more deer encounters (not to mention squirrels and rabbits) on my local MUP than I have on the roads. All the driving I've done in south Florida seems like there is pretty good visibility pretty far off the road. Hopefully with good lights and scanning your surroundings, you'll be fine.
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Old 04-15-24, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by wayold
Riding around dawn in that season my worry would be mosquitos. Even swimming in DEET I've been eaten alive doing activities around dawn in summertime FL.
Thatís a fair concern, but I havenít had bug problems while cycling here.
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Old 04-15-24, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Bradleykd
Wild animals aren't allowed on your MUPs? Or you're figuring it will be daylight by then?

I've had more deer encounters (not to mention squirrels and rabbits) on my local MUP than I have on the roads. All the driving I've done in south Florida seems like there is pretty good visibility pretty far off the road. Hopefully with good lights and scanning your surroundings, you'll be fine.
This is pretty funny. This particular MUP is circular around Lake Okeechobee. It has very little access for typical four-legged animals because the MUP has this circular river (almost like a moat) around the MUP. Itís also quite elevated since itís also used as a dike to prevent local flooding. There are very few access points to the MUP. Itís not 100% complete, but the circumference is about 130 miles long with access to it about every 5- 10 miles. Of course Iíve seen gator poop up there (thankfully dry old poop). There are usually birds and small critters too, but no big animals (other than gators) would have any desire to be there. And yes. It should be light by the time I get to the MUP, up by the lake.
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Old 04-15-24, 11:08 AM
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The mosquitoes and gnats can be quite annoying on my local climbs. We don't have the sheer numbers of annoying flying insects that some of the more humid parts of the country have, but they're able to swarm when you're plodding along up a long, slow climb. The only thing that keeps them away is rain or wind...calm mornings/evenings in early summer are the worst. I probably look ridiculous, but there are a couple climbs that I'll throw on a mesh mosquito hood. I could learn to ignore them, if it weren't for the fact that they are attracted to moisture and will often fly into my eyes and mouth.
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Old 04-15-24, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by wayold
Riding around dawn in that season my worry would be mosquitos. Even swimming in DEET I've been eaten alive doing activities around dawn in summertime FL.
Mosquitos can't fly very fast, so if you can maintain at least 10mph, they will leave you alone.

DO NOT stop to rest near a water source! The mosquitos will attack en masse. I learned that lesson on an early summer bike tour in Canada.
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Old 04-15-24, 01:50 PM
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It's deer up here in Michigan. If one runs out, expect the rest of the herd.

If you do ride at night, I would read up on how RUSA mandates night riding for their events. Mostly it's reflective vest, reflective ankle bands, solid red rear LED, and headlight.

"Article 10While riding between sunset and sunrise and during other low-light conditions (rain, fog, etc.), a set of working front and rear lights must be firmly mounted on the vehicle and turned on. At least one of the rear lights must be in a steady (rather than flashing) mode. The lights must meet the requirements of local laws. Backup lighting systems and/or spare bulbs are strongly recommended in case the primary system fails and cannot be repaired on the roadside.

Between sunset and sunrise and during other low-light conditions, all riders must wear a reflective vest or some other device that clearly places significant reflective material on the front and back of the rider. During these times all riders will also wear a reflective ankle band around each ankle. (Due to their seating position, recumbent riders may modify their reflective torso devices to show better from front and rear.)"
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