When I was first working at Campus Cycles, I lived in an apartment at Orchard and Parker Road. I commuted by bike, most days, and I loved the ride. I would go through Cherry Creek State Park, then hit the neighborhood streets (and ride right by what is now my house) and stop at Kaladi Brothers for coffee, before continuing on to work. It was about 14 miles, one way.
I lived in that apartment for about 4 months, after starting work at Campus; December through March. We closed the shop at 7:00, during the winter, so I rode home in the dark, every night.
Riding through Cherry Creek Park at night was always interesting. I saw owls, deer, beavers and other wildlife on a regular basis. One night, though, some wildlife saw me a little more than I was comfortable with.
I had ridden the road through the park, and turned onto the Cherry Creek Bike Trail, which would take me to within a couple of blocks of my apartment complex. As I turned onto the trail, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
A coyote was in the tall grass, to my right.
Usually, when you come upon a coyote, he will run away. This one, however, was apparently intrigued by me. Instead of running away, Wile E began running alongside me. He wasn't chasing me, he just ran along, about 10 feet off my starboard side, looking at me and grinning that wolfy grin that all the canids practice in the mirror when we aren't watching.
Now, I won't pretend that this turn of events didn't make me nervous. Riding along in the dark, a couple of miles from the nearest human habitation, with a wild carnivore pacing me is not my idea of relaxing.
I kept my eye on the coyote, ready to get off the bike and use it as a shield, if I needed to, and noticed that my heart rate was rapidly approaching about 100% of panic mode. Eventually, though, rather than attack me, the coyote simply stopped and I rode away from him.
I have to admit that I would rather see a deer or a prairie dog alongside the trail, but I don't think I'll ever forget riding along with a coyote.
At least it wasn't another mountain lion.