Here are a few things to consider if you have decided that you might like to try bikejor...
WHAT IS BIKEJOR?
Bikejor is a mono sport where you cycle attached to your dog along a trail. The sport can involve you cycling in new areas and exploring with your dog. Ultimately if you choose to, you could embark upon racing with your dog in this sporting discipline.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
You will need:
A mountain bike (Ensure that all breaks, chain links and gears are in good working order)
Safety equipment ( helmet minimum, gloves, pads, sturdy shoes) It is likely that you may fall off, or sustain small injuries when biking, so it is better to be prepared.
A bikejor line
A bikejor arm
A comfortable harness for your dog
A dog ( hopefully if you are reading this you already have one)
A suitable location for the activity
Insurance for public liability. ( whilst this is not essential, it is highly recommended)
To start bikejor, it is suggested and encouraged that you have already built the foundations with your dog. You should be able to line your dog out. (where the dog moves to the front of your bike with a taught line ready to run) This helps with control prior to a run.
You also need to have a dog who can turn the correct way and also ignore distractions when running forward. All of these skills can be taught on lead and also while canicrossing. Many canicross runners use a bike as a way of building speed with their own dogs.
Bikejor is not suited for all dogs, so before you begin, make sure your dog is fit and healthy and build up your distance slowly. There is no rush to be going and biking 3 miles in your first bout of training together. Every run should finish positively and remember, your dog doesn’t know exactly what you want, so you have to show them slowly and patiently. If you have someone who can help you in the early stages then this is ideal.
BE CONFIDENT ON YOUR BIKE BEFORE YOU ATTACH THE DOG
It is important that your bike skills are good before you attach your dog. The ability to ride across a varied terrain and both up and downhill safely is essential. When you attach your dog, the speed is a lot faster and you need to know that you can move along the trail competently. Terrain may involve gravel, exposed tree roots, mud and sand. It is worth be comfortable on these surfaces in all weather; a trail can feel very different after a heavy downpour. Think about your routes and the weather and be familiar with how the ground changes when you have had heavy downpours.
PRACTICE EMERGENCY STOPS
Be super confident with your breaks and make sure that you know which is which. This may sound silly, but if you haven’t ridden for a while, you should spend some time familiarising yourself with the breaks and feel of your bike.
GETTING ON THE TRAIL
When you are confident that you are ready to hit the trail, find a quiet safe area suitable for biking and attach your dog. Begin by lining your dog out and then biking for short bursts. Your dog will be going extremely fast at this point, so it is worth remembering that you need to build their fitness up slowly. You can join groups, or get the family involved with your training, however it is ideal to encourage your dog to pull in front without the chase where you can.
Some areas of land may require a permit for access, so ensure that you check this out before heading out on your bike. As a general rule to think about, avoid busy areas and locations where you may come across families and children playing, especially when starting out and be kind to others using the same paths as you.
A good line out is where the dog moves to the front of the bike ready to run. The cyclist has one foot ready to peddle and holds the break until the 'go' command is given.
There is tension in the line and the dog is facing forward, ready to move off.
STEPPING IT UP A GEAR
If you really enjoy biking your dog, then have a look at different training camps. These camps are run by UK athletes who have insurance and experience. The usually have a focus on bike skills as well as skills when working with your dog.
BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:
KEEP IT FUN, KEEP IT SAFE, KEEP IT ABUT THE DOG!
If you are interested in trying bikejor, get in touch with us and we can give you a brief introduction to the sport. We can supply equipment, all you need is a safe well maintained mountain bike and helmet.