Back in 2004 I picked up mountain biking seriously. A friend and I would go 3-4 times a week, crushing the souls of boys on our pink (matching) single speeds. We rocked, we rolled and that year I grew more as a cyclist than any 12 month period in adulthood.
The other unique thing about these rides were our dogs.
Fiona – my Australian Shepard mutt. Kona – Taryn’s squirrel chasing yellow lab.
They kept us entertained in the woods, they gave us (or maybe just me) a feeling of safety. Fiona often would night ride with me when I was alone. Her blinky on her collar and loud barks if she got far off trail are a memory that makes warm and fuzzies in my heart when I think of night riding.
Then Life Got in the Way
I bought a house, my trail riding was snuck in after work or before. Fiona no longer went to work with me everyday but instead was at home, in a yard and bored out of her mind.
Fiona and I are back on our own. She will be going on dealer visits, road trips and I’ll be sneaking her in to hotels late at night. More importantly, Fiona is back on the trail. This past Thursday I took my cyclocross bike out on a mellow trail in Wilkesboro, NC called Overmountain Victory Trail. The trail is part of the Kerr Scott Trail network. Super mellow, but still a mountain bike feel to it. Perfect for my ‘cross bike and perfect for Fiona’s first day back on the trail. Some how I managed to sneak the 45 minute ride in between a 2 hour car trip and a handful of dealer visits/clinics.
Fiona did perfect. I feared that after 4.5 years of being off the trail (and surrounded by crazy dogs/boys) she would forget her commands. She didn’t. She trailed to my right, near my rear derailleur. When the trail got fast she would drop in behind, when the trail got technical she would run ahead and wait. Encouraging me with her wagging tail and cocked head. “hurry up mom, this is easy!”
We didn’t go far, at one time during the winter months she would be able to knock out 15 or so trail miles. This wasn’t the day for that, this was a mellow 3.5 miles. Stopping often for her to play in the water, to celebrate.
Do you ride with your pup? Not all trails is this legal or safe (for rider and dog) but proper timing and research can lead to a happy dog and rider!