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Cyclist seriously injured after squirrel gets tangled in spokes – but the poor animal came off worse

Incident happened at Levi’s Gran Fondo in California last weekend

A cyclist taking part in Levi’s Gran Fondo in California last weekend was seriously injured after a squirrel dashed at his bike and became tangled up in the spokes of his wheel; the animal, sadly, came off worse and died shortly afterwards.

Steve Baxman, Monte Rio Fire Chief, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the cyclist, who was thrown over his handlebars, sustained a head injury and was left feeling “very disoriented” after crashing at around 9.45am.

The rider, a man aged in his 40s from Oakland, was one of 10 cyclists who needed hospital treatment during the ride, which is hosted in Sonoma County by ex-pro Levi Leipheimer, in which 8,000 riders participated.

Baxman said:“I worked a lot of bike races all over the county and I never heard of anything like this happening before. I feel bad for the squirrel and for the guy on the bike, but who has ever heard of such a thing? There were thousands of bicycles riding by. What are the odds?”

A quick straw poll of the team reveals near-misses or collisions with animals including deer, rabbits, pheasants, a water vole, a badger, a rat, a lizard (in France), a brown snake (in Australia), a peacock (rather improbably, on the outskirts of Cambridge), and – on one particularly memorable occasion – a chicken playing, er, chicken at the bottom of a 50mph descent.

Let us know your animal-related cycling tales in the comments below.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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