Ask the Audience: Biking and the Beast


You share your tall two-wheeled tales of when animals attack

This amazing video has gone viral this week, featuring a South African mountain biker being taken out by a Red Hartebeest. Although our UK based fauna is generally smaller and less frisky, we asked if our Facebook followers had any crazy cyclist vs. beast tales to tell. As usual, they weren’t backward in coming forward with their responses.

First to pipe up was Dan from the Peak District, who warned of the scourge of badger attack – a particular problem during night riding, according to Dan. Badgers have a fearsome reputation when backed into corners, so care when approaching bends is, presumably, the best advice.

Brian was next to wade in, pointing out, quite rightly, that the UK’s very own Red Deer stag is every inch the match for South Africa’s wonderfully named and clearly cyclophobic Red Hartebeest. Brian’s interjection put us in mind of other large UK based fauna that frequently interact with cyclists, forcing the author to recall, with much psychological trauma, a sportive moment in the Peak District when he found himself suddenly engulfed by an intimidating herd of Fresians. Trust me folks, from afar they may seem benign, but up close, they’ve got the cold stare of a Great White Shark.

Speaking of livestock, sheep too can be a fearsome adversary, due to both their speed and skittishness. Following his earlier stag-based comment, Brian came back with what must be a land speed record for cloven-hooved creatures; Brian reporting a top speed of 28mph for black faced sheep. Impressive stuff.

However, there’s always someone out there trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Jody claimed to have been strafed by a Golden Eagle during a ‘cross race – highly dubious due to a) the scarcity of the golden eagle and b) the strict wingspan limits imposed on birds of prey wishing to enter cyclo-cross events.

After Jody’s dubious raptor claims, we were on the lookout for more chancers. When Alice claimed to have been chased by a bull elephant in Zambia we rolled our eyes – only to be proved Doubting Thomases by her photographic evidence above.

After Alice’s killer blow, our Facebook cohort sensed that trying to trump the Tour d’Afrique survivor’s pachyderm encounter was fruitless and the thread quickly descended into banality. First Kevin complained of “being hit on the forehead by a fly once”, describing it as ‘the paper cut equivalent’, before Yvonne descended to plain silliness, warning us thusly: “Conkers! Now they’re a real danger.” However the final word has to go to Callum Hughes who reminded us that in the animal world, as in other areas of life, size isn’t everything: “A squirrel once threw an acorn at me,” warned Callum.

So there we have it – thanks to our Facebook faithful and one amazing video, we’ve been reminded to take care when next we pedal off into the unknown. It’s a jungle out there...

Join in the conversation. Follow us on Facebook.