VANCOUVER - The North Shore Mountain Biking Association is urging bikers to stay away from the west side of Mount Seymour after several bear sightings, one of which had a trio of cyclists pedalling for their lives.

The three men were biking Mount Seymour's TNT Trail on Sept. 27, when they spotted a black bear walking toward them farther up the trail. Brad Martyn, who captured the drama on his helmet-mounted camera and posted it to YouTube, can be heard urging his friends to hurry down the trail to leave the bear behind.

The three continued down the black diamond run, which Martyn had never attempted before, as the animal kept chasing them. They came to a stop about a kilometre down the trail, thinking they'd ditched the bear, only to see it emerge from the trees a few seconds later. Changing tactics, they huddled together, hoisted up their bikes and began yelling.

The BC Conservation Officer Service says that should’ve been their initial reaction, especially given the behaviour of the bear.

“I know it can be traumatic to be followed by a bear if you're not familiar with black bears, but it's really not unusual and we have similar reports very, very frequently," said Sea-to-Sky region supervisor Sgt. Simon Gravel. “Some bears are curious in nature and by running away or biking away it can trigger some instinctive behaviour from the bear and it's very common to see them following people."

The area’s mountain biking association says there have been a number of bear sightings in the area, including residential areas, and whether it’s the same bear or others, they want people to avoid the trails – for now.

“There's lots of [other] trails on the shore so we're asking people to stay off trails in this area – that's the western flank of Mount Seymour ,” said NSMBA president Cooper Quin. “We’ll keep that advisory up for the time being. Plan rides somewhere else. For example, there's been some great trail work on Mount Fromme lately."

The group is working with the North Shore Black Bear Society to try to avoid encounters that could lead to action from the BC Conservation Officer Service. At this point, the agency says it sees no cause for concern given the current behaviour of bears in the area. Officers are encouraging people on the North Shore or anywhere else in the province to report wildlife conflicts to the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) Line at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

Rushing to eat before winter

The region’s bears are in a state of hyperphagia right now, eating as much as possible to build up their fat reserves in order to survive the winter. As a result, the animals are even more likely to forage for pet food, garbage, bird feeders and even rotting fruit from trees.

Keeping them to a minimum can help avoid conflicts or drawing in bears, but those ignoring warnings to keep such attractants to a minimum can face a fine of $340.

If you encounter a bear, the COS is reminding people it’s best to:

  • Remain calm, speaking to the bear in a low, monotone voice
  • Keep your distance and try to look as big as possible
  • Stay together and keep little ones close
  • Back away slowly and do not maintain eye contact

A happy ending

Martyn closed his video with a final message for his online viewers: "We're all safe. It's a good story. A little scary."

As his encounter has not been formally reported, the conservation officer service is not investigating the incident. The service also tells CTV News Vancouver it has no concerns about the bear at this time.