On Wednesday I was heading out to mountain bike on a local trail with a pal. Before heading out I decided to take a pit stop. As I was nearing the toilets, a rider leaned his bike against the building and said to no one in particular, "I think I need to call 911. I've been bitten by a rattlesnake."
After a quick assessment of the situation, another cyclist asked the fellow to sit down and began examining the injured leg. I called 911 and relayed instructions while the other rider took care of our injured cyclist.
Emergency personnel arrived at the trail head in a relatively short amount of time. As far as I know, the cyclist was treated and released from the hospital.
Before emergency personnel arrived, I asked the cyclist what happened and he said, "I saw the snake laying in the trail. I thought I could ride past him and be safe. I guess not."
In the past couple of days, I've talked to several people that ride mountain bikes and almost all of them assumed they are safe from the bite of a rattlesnake if they are on a mountain bike. It is not true.
The incident sparked me to investigate more about rattlesnakes since many outdoor enthusiasts have a high likelihood of encountering the venomous pit vipers. You can expect to see a column in Active Triathlete in the near future about rattlesnakes.
In the mean time, have a safe weekend and do your best to avoid contact with rattlesnakes, or other pit vipers, if they live in your area. If you or someone you know gets bitten, keep the person calm and call 911. Of course, you must carry your cell phone. Try to keep the injured body part below the heart. Do not apply a tourniquet or ice to the injury.