California mountain biker stares down mountain lion

A California mountain biker found himself in a standoff with a mountain lion, something he had never experienced in his 30 years of riding the trails.

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Rex Hatter, of San Luis Obispo, was on a long ride through the Irish Hills Natural Reserve on Saturday when a distraught hiker flagged him down, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported.

“She started waving at me all frantically (and) started talking all freaked out that she had just seen a mountain lion,” Hatter told the newspaper.

Hatter talked with the hiker’s father and escorted the terrified woman off the trail before riding back up the mountain toward his vehicle, Canadian Cycling Magazine reported.

His vehicle was about 5 miles away, and shortly after beginning his return trek, Hatter said he heard noises from some nearby bushes, according to the magazine.

“I looked over and I saw this cat run toward me,” Hatter told the Tribune. “The thing I’ve always heard was that you don’t run away from (mountain lions) -- if you run away, you’re gonna get their instinct going to chase you -- so I jumped off the bike and put the bike between me and the cat and just started screaming as loud as I could at it.”

Hatter raised the bike and said he tried to make himself as large as possible to scare the big cat away, the newspaper reported. The tactic worked and the mountain trotted away, but not before staring down the biker while Hatter called 911.

“I was afraid to turn my back on him, and I was thinking the last thing I want to do is lose sight of him because then I’ll be out here in the world just wondering where he is, giving a chance to sneak up on me,” Hatter told the Tribune.

When police arrived, they escorted Hatter from the trial and fired weapons to scare the mountain lion, according to the newspaper. The animal was not injured.

“I’d hate to see them hurt the animal, but maybe they could relocate it,” Hatter told the Tribune.

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