I had a great ride home this evening, and it wasn't just because my Fargo was dressed up with flowers on the handlebar. The air was cleansed by the rain. Just a few sprinkles landed on me after I left the shop at around 9. I could see some clouds moving over toward the inlet, but there was hardly a breeze.
Drivers cooperated as I rode through the construction at the Seward Highway. Pickup trucks waited for me. People backed away from intersections when they saw me. They yielded when they had the right-0f-way. Along Elmore Road, I saw two moose browsing in a meadow near the mushing trails.
I turned onto the path alongside the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, passed the ballfields and climbed a small hill at Tudor Center Drive. That's when I saw three black bears on the north side of the avenue. I stopped and turned my bike sideways on the trail, prepared to backtrack if I had to.
It was a sow and two cubs. They were shiny and their fur rippled as they moved together and began running across the road. Bear cubs sometimes seem like they could tumble head-over-heels at any moment; their legs seem so small in proportion to their bodies. The family crossed two lanes of pavement, the median and another two lanes as a few cars slowed to let them pass. I watched and waited; saw them disappear around a fence and into the forest.
People have been seeing bears on the trails on the edge of town: in a municipal park a little closer to the mountains and in the state park. I wasn't expecting to see this family tonight but it put a big smile on my face to see my first bears of the year.
Just a side note:
I can't let this moment pass without mentioning that before I climbed the little hill near Tudor Center, I'd noticed the wide underpass that was built under the road. It includes a branch of the paved trail system and a wide grassy area. Planners said it would be a safe wildlife crossing, preventing animals from crossing the road and getting hit by cars. I think I'd rather I encounter the bears at street level as I did this evening instead of under the overpass.