No one wants a close encounter with the bear kind, but sometimes they just happen and decisions made in split seconds result in “oh shit what did I just do?” moments. I was north of Coldfoot and hadn’t seen another vehicle in about an hour. I was riding about 50 mph on a decent section of the road. I came around the corner and found myself on a 100 yard long narrow bridge. As I entered the bridge I noticed a large black thing in the middle. At my speed I was already committed to crossing the bridge. The large black thing heard me coming, turned around and began lumbering off the opposite direction. I geared down to about 30 mph and I was committed to passing this beast on the bridge. As I got up to him I realized this was an 800 pound black bear and muttered out load to him in my helmut, “please don’t do anything stupid.” He continued lumbering in his lane and I shot by in mine. As I passed him I realized how large he was and that I could have kicked him with my boot. As I passed and saw him in my rear-view mirror, the panic breath went through me. All he had to do was move a little to his right and I would have gone down. Would the bear have run off, or would he have had a nice free snack.
I didn’t have my GoPro on at this time nor did I stop to get out the camera. This encounter came so fast that photo history doesn’t exist. So, I found a photo of the bridge on Google Street View (yes Google has photographed the entire Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay) and Photoshopped in an appropriate bear on the bridge.