Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Snakes Alive!

I have seen a grand total of two rattlesnakes, in all the time I've lived in Colorado.  Both times I was on a bike.  Both times, the snake tried to bite me.

The first sighting was a year or two after I moved here.  I had ridden up Waterton Canyon, and then up the hill on the Colorado Trail.  As I passed Lenny's bench, I decided to continue on the Colorado Trail, rather than turn and do the Roxborough Loop.  The loop is a pretty convenient route, since it brings you back out to the Waterton Canyon road.  But, I wanted to ride back down the hill of switchbacks on my way out.  So, I had decided on an out and back.

As I descended away from the bench, heading toward the South Platte and Buffalo Creek, I started across the small open meadow.  The trail, there, is rocky and rough, before it goes back into the trees and smooths out, a bit.

As I jounced across the open area, I saw him; a 6 or 8 foot long rattler coiled up on the side of the trail.  I was close enough to the snake, and going fast enough, that I couldn't stop before I got to him.  So, I stood up and sprinted across the loose rocks, hoping I wouldn't catch my wheel and auger in right on top of the big bastard.

As I went by him, I saw him strike.


I can only assume, from the sound of it, that he struck and hit chainstay of the bike (rather than my leg, thank goodness) as I went by.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I flew along the trail.

Later, I was really glad that he didn't get himself caught up in the spokes of the rear wheel.  I had visions of flying down the trail, with 50 pounds of angry rattlesnake jamming the rear wheel to a sudden stop and skid.  It probably wouldn't have ended up well...for either of us.

When I rode back through that stretch, on the way back to the car, I stopped at the edge of the trees and carefully surveyed the area ahead.  I would be climbing through the rocky area, this time, and going much slower.  No snakes were evident, so I climbed on.

Tomorrow:  Rattlesnake Number Two


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