19 August 2013

Bikejoring

 

Bikejoring


Dré and Belle bikejoring in Alaska.
 
 
If you don't have snow or a scooter, and only have one dog, bikejoring may be a good option for you!  Bikejoring is when you bike with your dog. 

Use a bike that you feel safe on, and that is built for off road use.  I wouldn't suggest buying a brand new bike for bikejoring.  It's gonna take some abuse, and I hate to see a bike treated badly!  You should be able to put your feet down on the ground easily. 

If your dog is trained already to skijor, making the transition to biking easy.  Use the same commands, and very often the same trails.   Hard packed dirt, sand, and rocky trails are going to wear your dogs feet faster.  So be a friend, and keep an eye on those feet!  We love to bikejor in a forest near our home.  The trails are a mix of hard packed dirt, grass, and wood chips. 

If your dog is not trained for skijoring, don't start out bikejoring.   Falling off a bike is going to hurt, lots.   This is not a sport for dogs or people just starting out. 


 

Mechanical Aadvantage


When you bike with a dog, you have a real advantage, by changing gears and pedalling faster, you can really allow your dog to run much faster than you would at skijoring.  Which is great for those of us with speed demons.  With faster speeds comes increased risk for injury and heat stroke. So stick to your training goals and bring plenty of water.

Multiple Dogs


Sometimes I run multiple dogs.  I need to be in complete control of the dogs and the bike.  There are a lot more moving parts, and adding more than one dog multiplies the chance of something going wrong.  The most I have ever added to my bike was three, but all were well trained and I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into.

But really, running more than one dog on a bike is fairly pointless.  Your bike provides plenty of mechanical advantage, you don't need to
 



Single Dog


Running a single dog bikejoring is a great way to work commands for a Gee-Haw leader.  It's also a great way to work on any issues or fine tune your dog before the upcoming skijor season.  Taking the time to work your dogs one on one builds your relationship and their confidence.  

Using a  bike allows you to travel at a faster speed, with less effort than jogging, or scootering.

 

Helmets


Wear a bike helmet.  Ensure it fits properly.  When you wiggle your head side to side, the helmet shouldn't shake and move.  

 Hills


Just as on skis, it is your job to maintain the proper speed on hills.  Uphill might require you to stand up and pedal.  Downhill will require you to keep an eye on the gang line and keep it taught, riding the brakes, and steering just to side and behind your dog.

Urban Areas


Don't run your dog where there is traffic or other dangers.  With your dog out on the gang line in front of you, they are going to be encountering things before you.  Cars seldom see bikes, and they almost never expect a dog pulling a bike.  So be safe, and go find a trail.

 

Gang line


Oftentimes bikejorers use bayonets plastic pipes to suspend the towline above the front wheel, and to prevent it from tangling between the wheel and forks. If you fail gangline management, and your line gets on the wheel, you are likely to flip off the bike.   So be careful.  

I do not use a bayonet while bikejoring.  My dogs are trained to keep the line tight, and away from danger.  There is a danger, that if you crash or hit someone, or your dogs, you will seriously injure them.  Having said that, if your bike, or body hits them, it's also going to cause damage. 

I attach the gangline on the upright under the handlebars.  This allows the line to move from side to side, and for the dogs to pull evenly on the front of the bike.   Do not hold the gangline in your hands, and do not attach it to the handlebars.

Brakes


Some of my bikes have disc brakes, but I prefer the cantilever style brakes for skijoring with my dogs.   It's a softer more gradual stop.  

If you need to stop your dogs, you will need to use your voice commands, just like in skijoring.  The brakes are there for control of the bike, not control of the dogs.  Applying the brakes too suddenly or strongly can injure the dogs shoulders, or tear their pads.   Always give your team plenty of warning when you plan to stop by using the brakes.

Want to slow the team down?  Try this tip, rather than holding down the brakes, which will most likely encourage them to dig in and pull harder, pump the brakes on and off to catch their attention.  Then give the command to slow down. 

 

Before you venture out, think of how fast you can dismount should you get into trouble on the trail.  

 
Check out this clips .. of the wrong way to dismount....
 
 
 
Check It
Before you hit the trail:

1. Tell someone where you are going, and when you plan to return.
2.  Bait plenty of water for the dog.
3.  Check your dogs for signs of injury.
4.  Check your gear and lines. Everything should be in order.
5.  Check the weather forecast. Avoid running your dog if it's hot out.