All Kevin Roberts needs are a set of wheels and his energetic dogs to have a good time. And once he explains the ups and downs of Bikejoring and Scootering, we’re sure you’ll join in.
In my last article, we talked about the basics of Bikejoring and Scootering – the importance of proper equipment, safety, location, and training. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of these pulled sports.
This is how I got started with Running Dogs. I had a dog that wanted to pull and this sport was a natural fit. In bicycle racing, the dog wears a matching harness and is attached to the bike or rider, with a headband. The dog pulls, the rider pedals, and fun is all around!
Related: Wheely Good Time: Bikejoring and Scootering Part 1
Bikejoring is great for smaller dogs to get involved in the pulling sport. Lots of Jack Russells enjoy the challenge of mushing, but they are too young to pull a sled. When properly hooked onto a bike, they can tow safely. Also, if there is a significant weight difference between you and your dog, bikejoring is the way to go.
If you plan to have more than one dog, invest in a motorbike. With two dogs towing, it negates the bike’s mechanical advantage, and all you’ll do is sit there. This is not any fun for anyone. Remember, it’s not your dog’s job to pull you – cycling is a team sport.
Scootering is another great way to exercise your dogs, while getting curious looks from other trail users! If you operate more than one dog, a scooter is the safe choice.
Related: How To Cycle Safely And Safely With Your Dog
There are a few scooters on the market that are suitable or purpose-built for running dogs. When you’re looking for a scooter, you need to find one that works for your body and your riding style. I’ve had a scooter with such a small footboard that I could only stand one man at a time. On top of that, the handle bars are set so low that they hurt my back. That scooter has found a new home with one equipped with shorter, lower-foot fans.
Falling with antennas
I recommend equipment that will keep the gangline out of your wheel. Even if the line touches the wheel for a second, it will wrap around your tire, bringing the dog to dangerous proximity to the wheel and quickly stopping the whole machine. There are scooters on the market with the “brush bow” already attached. This device ejects into the wheel and keeps the line from getting caught. These are the types of scooters I would recommend to my students who are just starting out in the sport.
An experienced team of well-trained dogs will keep the line tight no matter what, but if you’re just starting out in the sport, consider adding pool noodles or a length of PVS tube to protect your ring from wheel hits. If the line is going slack and hanging off the wheel, the noodle or PVC pipe won’t allow it to catch and tangle.
People at some point buy an accessory meant to put dogs to run alongside their bike, but mount it to the front of the bike instead. I would advise against this dangerous practice, as none of the side attachments are intended to strain a dog that is dragging. I have yet to come up with a fixed front bike accessory that seems sufficient to stand up to a crash. If you lose control of your scooter or bike and throw a pole forward, there is a real risk of injury to your dog or another user.
Since scooting and biking usually takes place in warmer weather, would-be urban riders need to tackle the heat. Heatstroke has a rapid onset and can be fatal to a dog. Your dog is a hard worker and may be willing to please that he will let himself loose. Know the signs of heat stress in your dog. I run the dogs early in the morning, before the ground heats up. But there are months that we simply give up on pull-ups because it’s too hot to run safely.
Should I go with a scooter or bike?
For me, it’s about the numbers. For someone who manages one dog, a bike is the way to go. If you’ve got a package, going for a high-quality off-road scooter is your safest bet. I ride both, and for me, that depends on my mood and how many dogs I want to take. If I hit a hill on my bike, I stand up and pedal harder to help the dog. If I run the same hill on my scooter, I jump up and run to help the team.
Either way, the investment and the enjoyment you’ll get out of the sport will be worth it. Whether you choose a scooter or a bike, it doesn’t matter – both will provide years of enjoyment and health benefits for years to come!