The last thing Mac Hollan expected to see when he looked over his shoulder as he rode through Canada’s Yukon territory on Saturday was a wolf chasing him.
Hollan and two friends are riding from Idaho to Alaska to raise money for charity. When his friends stopped to make a bike repair, Hollan carried on, and when he heard breathing behind him, he assumed they had caught up.
But the panting wasn’t two cyclists working hard, it was a wolf who’d decided that Hollan looked like lunch.
Hollan knocked it up a few gears and accelerated down the road, with the wolf in hot pursuit. Once he’d managed to get a gap on the animal, he stopped and got out his bear spray.
He sprayed the wolf in the face and thought it would then leave him alone.
“He backed up about 20 feet and I thought he was going to stop,” Hollan told Canada’s CBA News.
“I thought, ‘What a wild story. I’m glad that’s over.’
“Then he kept running again and came back up to the back of my bike and actually attacked the back of my bike and ended up ripping the bag that I carry my tent stakes and poles in and ripped it off the back of my bike and spilled it all over the highway.”
Four vehicles passed Hollan as the wolf continued to harass him, until a couple driving a motorhome stopped to help.
Hollan climbed aboard, leaving his bike on the roadside, and the wolf attacked the bike. It didn’t leave until another motorist threw a metal water bottle at it, hitting it in the head.
Hollan and his friends were prepared for bears, but not wolves, which rarely attack people. They are carrying bear spray and bear bags and have been keeping a clean camp, a measure that’s recommended to stop bears scavenging for food.
But Hollan says one freak incident is not going to stop him and his friends from riding through Yukon and Alaska.
He said: “It’s kind of hard to worry about it happening again because I think the odds of it happening in the first place were astronomical, and for it to happen twice... I don’t foresee that happening.”
Commenters on the CBA site have noted that this is very unusual behaviour for a wolf, and have speculated that it was either unusually hungry, ill, or actually a large stray dog, perhaps a husky.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.