A B.C. man says he is recovering after colliding with a bear while riding his bike on the North Shore.
Kevin Milner of North Vancouver says he was riding downhill in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve on Monday night when he spotted a black bear in the grass as he was set to turn a corner.
He says he faced a difficult, split-second decision: he could either slam on the brakes, which would have left him essentially parked in front of a bear, or he could try to get past the animal before it noticed him.
Milner chose the latter but the bear had other ideas, he said.
"He just charged across the road," Milner said of the bear. "He took off and he accelerated extremely fast and he headed just straight for me, right into my pathway."
He says he crashed into the bear's shoulder blade and was launched into the air.
"There was no time to react at all," Milner said. "I didn't even touch the brakes ... I saw my tire and I saw the bear's shoulder blade. My last thought was, 'This is not gonna be good.'"
'Huge kick of adrenaline'
The bear ran into the woods after the collision, Milner said, as he lay on the ground injured and worried about internal bleeding.
Passing cyclists offered help, he said. Two cyclists rode to an area with cell service so they could call an ambulance. Another cyclist stayed with him.
WATCH | Cyclist says he's glad to be alive after colliding with bear:
As they waited for help, the bear, which appeared to have been unfazed by the collision, returned to survey the scene, Milner said.
"With the bear coming back and me thinking that I might have been bleeding internally, I got a huge, huge kick of adrenaline and I was able to sit up," he said.
He noticed the cyclist waiting with him had an e-bike and asked to borrow it.
"I was like, 'Hey, do you think you could help me get on that e-bike? I really need to get out of here because I need to get to a hospital.'"
He made it to a shelter area, holding onto the bike with one hand and using the thumb on his injured arm to push on the throttle, he said.
He passed the two cyclists who had gone to call for help, asked for their assistance to get off the bike, then called his wife as he waited for an ambulance. Paramedics then took him to North Vancouver's Lions Gate Hospital.
Milner, who says he grew up on the North Shore and has plenty of experience riding in the area, says he isn't sure what he could have done differently to avoid a collision.
"It was just really bad luck," he said.
Milner says he's not sure when he'll recover from his injuries, which include a fractured scapula, cardiac contusion, bruised ribs, and swelling.
Milner, who has been training for a triathlon, says he plans to return to cycling when he is able to, and he's already looking for a new set of wheels for his bike.
"It's a little frustrating, but if you play, you pay, right?" he said. "It's a dangerous sport and it's not going to deter me at all."
Back in 2020, Metro Vancouver closed the entire Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve after the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) said a black bear bit a 10-year-old girl walking along a trail.
The COS said Thursday it has not received a report about the incident.
The service offers advice on what to do during a bear encounter on its site.