Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Riding with Maudie

photo left:

Ye olde OCD has kept me busy setting up my bike, reading about bikes, talking on forums about bikes.and …happily…RIDING my bike. I ride every day and on the weekends, M and I have been exploring the bike paths around town.

There is the ongoing saga of the saddle, although I am committed to my beautiful Brooks B67. I ordered new handlebars so the saddle will be most comfortable.

I’ve also been taking Maudie out. We do .75 miles at a time, and she’s fine, not even winded. One of the concerns when starting out and running on asphalt is keeping mindful of paw abrasions: the pads need to be toughened up slowly. Her paws are sound.

My plan is to take her out 3 x a week and gradually increase the distance, although I am still seeking a good place to ride. We’ve been running along the street where we live in the afternoon when traffic is minimal. It will be a challenge to keep on as the rain settles in for the season.

I have been using 3 of the bike attachments that are readily available for roadworking your dog:

K9 Cruiser

There is another called the Springer, which many people like; I think it looks cumbersome.

The Walkydog is simple---an easily removed rod attaches to a bracket on your seat post—it keeps the dog right next to you and attaches above the collar. There is a spring in the rod that absorbs the shocks, but because the attachment is higher up, it feels a bit less stable than the lower ones. I find the bracket comes loose easily and pivots, bumping into the back of my leg. I like having Maudie almost in heel position, but on the other hand, having her a bit behind feels safer.

The K9 cruiser attaches to the wheel hub and the frame bracket and puts your dog a little behind you, more at your heel. I like the lower attachment, but I think I like having her a bit more forward. It is sturdy and I think the safer of the 2 as well as being easier to ride with.

The Bikerdog I just got. It attaches to the rear frame of the bike and thus offers both a low attachment point and a more forward position. It also comes with a harness --basically a simple drafting harness—that seems comfortable and way safer for her than using a collar.

Several times we have encountered tempting distractions, but she has not been able to pull me off course or over. There is a nice amount of information relayed through feel and sound; I can feel her drifting out, or turning back to look at something, and I can talk her back into position. (I also have a collar and lead on her. I hold the lead in my left hand for a correction if need be). I can hear her breathing and what gait she’s in. I try to keep her at an even trot which means riding at a rate that is slow enough so that she need not break into a gallop, but fast enough to keep her moving along.

It is actually much easier than I thought it would be. I was most worried about my own stability and ability to steer a straight course, but it didn’t take very long to get my “bike legs” back and riding with her is quite smooth. She also seems to know what is required of her: “ready?” “Let’s go” “GOOD job” and “slow up” are the commands I’ve used successfully. She picked them up VERY quickly.

I’m interested to hear about others experience riding with their dogs. It's fun!

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