A quick morning bike ride turned into a different kind of adrenalin rush last week. There is a short section of single-track mountain bike trail that we ride regularly as part of an eight-mile ride. This section is dark and shady, full of twisty turns, little hills, trees and bushes.
We were all warmed up and riding fast since we know this trail, and as we were almost at the end, my husband shouted something and slowed down. As I started to slow down, I see he is looking at a Cottonmouth snake (aka water moccasin), laying just off the trail. A big, fat, black one, which meant it was an adult. Juvenile Cottonmouths have a tan coloring; the snakes grow darker with age, becoming all black.
My husband had just zipped by the snake, and then I veered off to the side, and in the process I got tangled up with a small tree. Realizing that I was way too close to this venomous snake, and I had just zoomed into his territory, I leaped off the bike, putting the bike between me and it. I probably would have climbed the tree I was tangled up with if it were bigger!
I did not take a picture myself since my phone was mounted on my bike, which was nearer to the snake than I was. After a few seconds, the snake retreated a bit from the trail. We saw a hole at the base of the tree that looked to be a likely spot for his home, which was way too close to this narrow section of trail. This picture is courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You can see the “cottonmouth” of the snake in this picture, hence the name. The snake we saw was not acting aggressive and did not display his cottonmouth for us.
After he retreated a bit, we retrieved my bike and backed away to give him some space. Cottonmouths are known to be aggressive sometimes, actually coming towards people, rather than going away. So, I was quite happy that he didn’t want to be near us anymore than we wanted to be near him. We surprised each other, and it wasn’t in a good way.
Adrenalin, although sometimes good for mountain biking, does not really feel that good after seeing a snake. Remember, watch the trails while you are out biking and hiking, as we are entering someone else’s home and territory.