The bike

I read an article by Jim Mitchell in Northern Dog News in the early 1970s about running dogs with a bicycle.  I had already tried running my dogs with a 10-speed bike(dog stopped to pee and I fell over…ha) and running dogs with my son’s Irish Mail, which you sat on and steered with your feet(I had the dogs tied to my waist, dogs pulled me out of the seat and along the pavement on my palms…ha).  In the NDN article Jim was running two dogs with a single speed bike, so when we moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, I bought a 24 inch girl’s Schwinn single speed bike and started training Buck with that bike.  You can see this bike in the photo below.  This picture was taken on Funk Mountain, above my house in Conconully, Washington, in the summer of 1977, so this bike had been in service for a couple of years already.  It had fenders.

bikejoring1977_bikeCRThe single speed bike has a coaster brake, so you stop the bike with your feet.  This instead of using hand brakes, which the speeded bikes use(3-speed and on up).  I learned I could hold on to one handlebar with my right hand as I was going along and control the line with the left hand, keeping tension when necessary.  One of the problems with running dogs with a bike is if the dog slows down and you aren’t quick enough to stop, the line wraps around your front forks.  This can make for abrupt stops and time used getting the line untangled.  I know that a more recent innovation is the small piece of plastic plumbing tubing placed along the line between the bike and the dog.  I find this tubing clanking along to be overly cumbersome.  Maybe that is why I have enjoyed running the dogs with a bike so much in the first place, because it is such a streamlined way to run a small team.  You can load your bike in the back of the car or on top of the car if necessary.  You can load a bike and a couple of dogs in the truck in moments and be gone to your training area and off running before you could even think of hooking up your trailer, loading in the ATV, etc.  Too much work! 🙂  Too much time used getting READY to go…

I left the 24 inch bike in Washington when my son and I moved to Wyoming.  There I purchased another Schwinn, this time a 26 inch boy’s bike with upswept handlebars.  This bike was great!  I loved the upright handlebars and how much more comfortable it was to sit upright for long periods.  This bike was a red model with fat white sidewall tires, a cruiser bike that had been modified.

The rear axle on this bike finally broke and after it was fixed it never ran the same, so I jettisoned this bike.  I was offered a Schwinn Stingray – a little kid’s bike with upswept handlebars and a banana seat – and I ran the dogs with this bike for a number of years.  I used it in Arkansas until I decided I wanted something different.

In Arkansas I found a Huffy kid’s bike at Wal-Mart for about $35.  I took it in to the bike shop and had them put on upswept handlebars and I got a more comfortable seat.  This little bike has served me very well.  You can see this bike in the photo here.  After my very first training run with this bike one pedal came off and the bike shop put on another one for me.  I had just changed out the inner tube in the front tire.  We are now running in SE Colorado on dirt.

HuffyRockit2I see people who pay a lot of money for a bike to run their dogs with.  They race with these bikes, and that is just great for them.  But I have to have a bike that can take any condition I encounter and I don’t want the maintenence of a multi-speeded bike with hand brakes.  Below you can see the little Huffy Rock-it when the dogs and I went out in Arkansas for a “mud run.”  Frankly, I would hesitate to subject any expensive(you name your price) bike to this kind of abuse.  On the other hand…I could take the Rock-it back home, hose it off, wipe it off, and it was good to go the next day.

BrinnFlareDec5mudonbikeAnd…the Rock-it has a lot more miles to put on it; we have another whole generation of dogs to run.  🙂

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