The Adventure Cycling Association's mission is to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. As a 14-year ACA member, who has been touring since 1996, and a 25-year park ranger, I am really surprised by posts, mostly from riders outside of North America, about fears of two things; bears and rural American residents. The real truth us, there is not a bear behind every tree bush and rock, and the rural countryside is NOT inhabited by people like those in "Deliverance". Moreover, the replies that reinforce those fears are very disappointing, and certainly not very "inspiring" to those whose only exposure to the United States has been from Hollywood or the network news.
This message will likely be removed before many folks can see it, but hopefully, those that do will take my suggestion to try an "inspire" bicycle travelers, rather than scare the begeebees (Whatever begeebees are?) out of them.
I completely agree with you. This seems to be the case of either a very small number of negative experiences that people feel necessary to warn the entire world about or media stereotypes just being regurgitated by those with little actual experience. These internet based communication systems are able to spread both good and bad information so much quicker and broader than any other means in our history.
Unfortunately when people generally have good experiences on tours, they seem to make less of a big deal of all the wonderful things that happened compared to even a single negative experience that sours an entire trip. EVERY trip I've taken has had negative things occur but nothing that couldn't be overcome and incorporated into the overall experience. That's just life whether on the road or at home.
Of course there are bears out there as well as people that have only their own gain in mind. In fact, there are MANY other things that could ruin a trip as well.
In my many touring experiences in the US and abroad over the past 3+ decades, I have only had wonderful interactions with others and it seems most wildlife is more wary of us than we need to worry about them...other than raccoons around developed campsites!
Having a reasonable understanding of where a tour may be taking you and taking reasonable precautions to mitigate risk are, well, reasonable. Unfortunately our society, these days, is not largely based in reason since that approach doesn't make headlines in this day and age of 30 second attention spans.
I doubt your post will be removed as it is not inflammatory in any way. You just point out what I've noticed for quite some time. I do believe the ACA continues to inspire myself and many others.
Enjoy the ride,
JayPeterberger Bike Adventures