I am now training with a training mate that smashes me on every steep climb, flies past me on the very technical sections and just stays on my wheel on every descent. And that’s not just because I’m in not such a great shape… She’s pretty fast, loves shredding the trail and jumps way higher than I do. Her name is Peppa, she’s my one and a half year old miniature pinscher. Ever since I’ve been bringing her with me to the trails, I’m so motivated to get up early and go for a short pre-work ride with her. On the technical sections with short cornering and on all those nasty little ‘pinch climbs’ she really pushes me to my maximum just to keep up with her.
Like many other dogs, Peppa needs a lot of exercise so since she was about 9 months old, I’ve been taking her along on mountain bike trips. Most of the time she stays behind the bike, a few meters from my rear wheel but she loves to show me just how fast she really is when she overtakes me on the steeper sections of the trail. When she gets too tired or to get to and from the trails, she sits in the backpack that’s been adapted to her comfort. I even got her a heavy duty dog harness to protect her in case of a crash and to allow me to easily pick her up by the handle in case of an emergency. She’s almost two years old now and absolutely loves bikes. At 6 months old she was entertaining riders at a pre-Giro d’Italia training camp. From 9 months old she went trail running/riding in the Luxembourg hills and in both the 2011 and 2012 winter she was running trough the snow with Aussie cyclo cross star Lewis ‘Uncle Lewi’ Rattray.
It’s so much fun to take your loyal four legged friend out on the trails, I can recommend it to anyone! There are plenty of parks in the cities that allow dogs off the leash and mountain bikes parks out of the cities where you can take your dog to ride a few laps. But when it comes to the trails in some of the best national parks in Australia, it is unfortunately not allow to bring a dog.
The most important thing to keep in mind while you’re on the trails with your dog, is it’s safety. Never forget that spokes, disc brakes and pretty much the entire drivetrain are all very hazardous and should always be kept at a safe distance from the dog. The way I trained Peppa to know how dangerous all these things are, is by gently hitting her with the front wheel while riding slow. And make sure the dog knows the command for danger when it starts running a bit too close to the bike. Always start by running the dog on the leash so you can easily correct them when entering the ‘danger zone’. Train your dog well so it stays safe,always stays close to you and doesn’t run off.
Also make sure the trails don’t pose any threats for the dog. Boardwalks, river crossings, barbed wire or other bits of metal or glass on the trail should be avoided. Be careful not to over exercise them as their paws, bones and joints can be very fragile and always carry enough water (and preferably one of those fold-up drinking bowls) for both you and your friend!
Have fun and if you have suggestions on places to ride with dogs or if anyone wants to join Peppa and me, just shoot me an email -> firstname.lastname@example.org