I was riding a favorite single track in Los Penasquitos Canyon called "Tunnels"; so named because the Oak Trees are of a small stature that they grow across the trail, creating a tunnel effect. A nice place to ride in the day because it keeps the temps cool and a challenging place to ride at night due to the technicality of it.
I was riding at a moderate pace, went to make a corner and hit my breaks before I realized what was happening. My eyes fixed on the tail of a red rattlesnake directly in the trail in front of me. I hollered "WHOA! SH!T!" as my front wheel stopped mere inches from the snake. I gracelessly unclipped and beat a hasty retreat about 15' away. He (it?) had just eaten and I could see the squirrel-sized lump about mid-body on the snake. I'd guess 5-6' long with as many rings on his rattle.
I backed off and waited for him to move. Luckliy I was downwind, but the trees made the wind swirl, alerting the snake to my presence. I'd get a few warning rattles until the wind resumed it's prevailing direction: more of a "leave me alone, I just ate" than "I'm mad and going to bite you".
I snuck as close as I dared and snapped a photo with my phone, but the snake is so well camoflaged he simply looks like a pile of dirt. Scared the crap out of me when I almost ran him over!
Stupid wide-angle phone camera...grrr.
Anyway, after I overcame my fear (and my heart rate dropped out of the stratosphere), I concluded he wasn't moving off the trail and there was insufficient room to pass without being in danger of getting bit. So I bactracked. I needed the miles anyway. So keep your eyes peeled for animals next time you're out ridin', runnin' or hikin'. You never know what you may see.