I am hooked to mountain biking! In the past year I have discovered some nice trails in the hills around my hometown Ponda (Goa). The Bondla sanctuary which is 18Kms and Mollem National park which is 30 Kms from Ponda are fantastic places to explore on your mountain bike. However it's not practical to ride to the sanctuaries every now and then. The trails in the surrounding hills is where I ride every alternate evening.
Now, am addicted to riding my mountain bike on the trail that I discovered recently. The trail passes through a thickly wooded valley and is approximately 5 to 6 Kms in length.
The forest here is rich in wildlife and the evidence in the form of droppings is ample along the trail. On this very trail I had two thrilling wild encounters.
Wild Encounter Episode 1
A week ago I started from home at 4.30pm and reached the trail entrance after riding 6kms on the tar road. The trail starts off perpendicular to the road at the top of a hill and then rolls down through the valley. After climbing a short but steep incline on the trail I stopped for a drink, as I put the water bottle to my mouth I saw a movement in the woods and heard heavy rustling of dried leaves, before I realized what was happening two huge Gaur (Indian Bison) Bulls jumped on the trail just 10meters away from where I was standing. I dropped the water bottle, laid the cycle on the ground and dropped myself to crouching position (I do not know why I did this). The bulls were really huge with heavy, fantastic curvy muscles that would put any Mr. universe to shame. The bulls stared intently for few seconds and then disappeared into the woods on the other side of the trail. As soon as the bulls disappeared a calf and a female jumped on the trail and without looking in either direction followed the bulls into the woods. I stayed in my position expecting more members of the herd to follow. But none came. After waiting for 3 to 4 minutes I got up and continued on the trail. I rode along gently and cautiously.
Wild Encounter Episode 2
With great expectations I returned to the trail everyday, but I encountered only Grey Hare and Grey Jungle Fowl. I concluded that the Gaurs had trailed off from the Mollem Sanctuary (since the jungle in this area is connected with the sanctuary), and would never show up again. However, today I was in for a shock! As usual after doing the initial climb I started rolling down the trail, as the bike picked up the speed I concentrated on the surface a little ahead on the trail, a little ahead there is bend in the trail which I enjoy maneuvering as Just round the bend I almost bumped yessss…. bumped into a massive Gaur bull. The bull gave a loud, sharp hissing call and disappeared into the woods. In a fraction of second I had lifted the bike done 180 degrees about turn and ran up for my life. After running for about 20 meters I stopped and looked back, there was no sign of the bull. Leaving the bike behind I retraced the steps back to the spot and scanned the area where the bull had disappeared, there, deeper inside he was standing and staring at me, I tried capturing him on my mobile phone camera, but the woods here are thick and the handsome beast was perfectly camouflaged and too far way for the phone camera. I just stood there watching for a while, then the bull moved gently and disappeared in the forest.
In future I have to be really careful riding this trail! and also I have to take care that I do not interfere their transit across the trail. Now I know the approximate time when this herd passes by and will avoid being too close!