What would you do if you were riding down a remote Yukon highway and suddenly found yourself face-to-face with a grizzly bear?

Sierra van der Meer found herself in exactly that situation on Sunday, the CBC reports, while riding between Carcross and Whitehorse.

The avid mountain biker remained calm and, with the help of a quick-thinking van driver emerged from the incident safely.

Van der Meer was riding the South Klondike Highway between Carcross and Whitehorse when she spotted the sizeable animal. By the time she noticed the grizzly in a roadside ditch, she was just metres away from the bear.

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grizzly bear chase
A female grizzly bear in full flight.

She had been riding up a hill when she saw the bear, and, cautious of the animal, stopped riding and turned her bike to point back down hill in case she had to make a quick exit.

To van der Meer’s surprise, she told the CBC, “it decided to stop munching its grass and sort of walk up onto the highway.”

What happened next was even more surprising.

During a lull in traffic, the bear started chasing the cyclist down the highway.

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The grizzle continued after her for five to 10 seconds, van der Meer recalls, before a driver came to her rescue.

“[The driver] sort of sped up behind me, and the bear went then into the ditch again. And after it kind of had gone into the ditch, [the driver] pulled onto the shoulder and followed me another maybe 200 or 300 metres, at which point I finally felt safe,” van der Meer said. “She obviously knew what she was doing, and did exactly what I needed in that time.”

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Van der Meer thinks the bear was more likely trying to encourage her to leave its area, not attack her. Still, she appreciated the help.

“I’m super-grateful that she was there, because I don’t know if it would have kept chasing me if she hadn’t been there. But she certainly de-escalated the situation very quickly.”

While she saw that the driver was from Alaska, van der Meer didn’t catch the helpful drivers name.

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