I recently read an article in MBUK magazine about mountain bike riding with your dog as a trail buddy, which is something I’d had planned for some time to do with our dog once she got old enough.
She has just turned six months old, and so it was that this Tuesday I took her out to the local trail centre for our first session together. Parking in the deserted overflow car park at Pedalabikeaway, in order to be close to the forest itself, I let the dog have an explore around the immediate area whilst I got my bike out of the boot and re-attached the front wheel, set up Endomondo on my mobile and set up my GoPro camera.
Then we were off and running (literally, in the dog’s case!) and over the next forty minutes covered a little over four miles, with a few brief water stops for the pair of us (and snacks for her) and an encounter with a herd of deer before we returned to the car park. The plan had been to then take some stills from my GoPro footage and write about how brilliantly my four-legged trail buddy had done on her very first outing.
Sadly, upon returning home and connecting the camera to my laptop I discovered that I had obviously forgotten to press the “start recording” button on the camera and thus had no footage. Arghh! The solution was obvious. Watch a movie (“Burnt Offerings”) instead whilst the dog slept and take her out another day…
Today, having given her a full day off for recovery purposes, was “another day”. Parking this time in the main car park we set off past the cafe and up onto the fire road. As on Tuesday, she was off and running immediately, leaving me in her wake and it wasn’t long before we’d covered about a mile and a half, passed by a single wild boar as it stood staring at us, and had made our way as far as the edge of the forest adjoining the main A4136 road approaching Worrall Hill.
At this point my buddy decided we should abandon the fire road and try a narrow track through the trees instead. That’s all well and good, were it not for the fact that she felt the need to pause her run every thirty seconds or so to check she hadn’t left me behind – and giving me the task of trying not to run her over!
Then we joined onto the Verderers’ Trail for a while. I followed the trail whilst the dog did likewise, punctuated by shooting off towards the trees when she spotted a squirrel and then rejoining me, and with such speed that she was back in front of me again!
Back out onto the fire road for around a mile and then we stopped for more water and a snack (for the dog only) at the top of the Launchpad. I intended to head down the path next to the Launchpad but it was clear that she fancied the bike trail instead.
As it was relatively early on a Thursday morning and the trails were very quiet I decided that it was safe to chance it, so off we went down the Launchpad! The problem with still pictures taken from video is that they don’t really convey much sense of speed. Given that our average speed was 6.45 miles per hour, and at no point did I leave the dog behind, I think it’s fair to say that she was going for it.
Letting gravity do its work, and through sensible use of the brake levers to avoid any bike / dog collisions, the pair of us made pretty quick work of the Launchpad and were within touching distance of the trail centre again.
A short section of the Freeminers’ Trail later and we arrived safe and sound back at the car park. It was a bit chillier this morning, so I put the dog’s coat on her when we got to the car – much to her very evident disgust – to make sure she didn’t get cold and loaded everything back up into the car to return home.
As I prepared the pictures etc. for this post the dog has been sleeping beside me, dreaming (and kicking me whilst doing so) and snoring quite loudly! I do need to make sure not to do too much too soon with her, but she has clearly loved running in the forest as I rode though, so it’s been a fantastic start…