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'Glad to be alive': Man T-bones bear while cycling in North Vancouver

"I pretty much kissed the bear," says the cyclist who suffered serious injuries in the crash on a North Van trail.

A North Vancouver cyclist is recovering after T-boning a bear in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. Cyclist. T-bone. Bear.

Kevin Milner was out for a late-evening ride Tuesday night. Around 8:30 p.m., as he was headed downhill around the eight-kilometre mark of the paved Seymour Valley Trailway, he spotted a black bear as he rounded a corner.

The 30-year-old had to make a split-second decision – either slam on the brakes and come to a stop right next to the equally startled bear, or attempt to scoot around him and keep going.

Unfortunately, Milner and the bear both chose the same exit strategy.

“The second I made that decision, he decided to run and he ran right across the road, right in front of me and I smashed into him right behind his shoulder blade,” he said. “I did a flip over him. I pretty much kissed the bear and then I guess I flew through the air.”

Milner landed on his side and the bear took off into the bush.

Soon after, other cyclists happened by him and offered to help. Two young women rode south to a point where they could get cell reception and call 911, while another man on an e-bike stayed with Milner.

They waited about 15 minutes but it wasn’t help that arrived next.

“He was like, “Oh shit, dude. He’s back. The bear’s back,’” Milner said.

The bear, evidently, fared better in the collision than Milner did.

“Man, those bears are built like a truck,” he said. “I thought I was going to die.”

The bear also wasn’t fazed by the bystander trying to ward it off from the injured and upset Milner.

“He was kind of looking at me, really curious, kind of like, ‘What’s up with you?’ he said. “Then the bear just started eating grass. He pretty much just carried on with his day.”

By this point, the adrenaline jolt had kicked in and Milner didn’t want to wait for help. He was spitting up blood and worried he’d suffered internal injuries, but he couldn’t walk or even lift his leg up.

Milner persuaded the bystander to lend him his e-bike and help him climb on. Despite his banged-up state, Milner rode himself to the entrance of the forest. Along the way, he passed the young women who were riding to get help for him.

“This thing rips, man,” he said, referring to the e-bike.

B.C. Ambulance Service paramedics met him there and took him to Lions Gate Hospital, where he had minor celebrity status among the staff treating him, he said. He was kept overnight for tests and observation.

Among the injuries he has to show for his run-in with a bruin: a fractured scapula, cardiac contusion, bruised ribs, road rash and numbness.

“It feels like the whole left side of my torso went to the dentist,” he said, clearly gasping for breath between sentences.

Milner, who grew up in Lynn Valley, said he’s been riding in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve his whole life. That will probably stop now, he said.

“The reason I rode in the demonstration forest is just to get away from the traffic, right?” he said. “But after hitting the bear, I mean, it’s probably safer just riding with cars.”

Asked if there was any takeaway message he could offer from his experience, Milner said simply don’t try to get around a bear.

“I’m just really, really glad to be alive,” he said. “It’s like the most Canadian, North Vancouver thing that could ever happen.”

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