Monday, 25 March 2013

Mountain biking with a Dalmation

So adorable. Also, intolerably gassy.
2 hours. That's how long you need to walk your Dalmatian (mine is about 1 years old) for them to be even slightly tired. 3 hours plus for a possibility of a quiet afternoon at home with the dog snoozing.

However, a few weeks back I hit on the idea of riding with the dog (she's running I've had to state several times in conversation). So now I can go for a one hour ride on local trails and then, as my wife puts it, I've broken the dog and I'm free to enjoy a quiet afternoon without noses and paws appearing all the time. Bliss.

I did build her up with a gentle 5km ride, but frankly she could have done that in her sleep. So I've upped it to 10km and added lots of hills for a real work-out.

And the side effect of course is that I'm not wasting lots of time walking around (boring!). I'm out on the trails and enjoying the sport I love. What's more, I then get to go home and clean and fettle my bike for hours. Clearly a perfect way to spend any day.

Things I've learned when riding with my Dalmatian

  • They have a tendency to change direction very quickly
  • They like being just ahead of you (test your brakes often)
  • My one wondered what my tires tasted like. Thus, she licked them. Mid-ride
  • You need to stop every now and then to give them time to sniff around and get some mental stimulation
  • You need to stop every now and then to give them time to pee and poop around
  • You should have a bowl of water ready for when they finish
  • In the UK climate, you may want to give your Dalmatian (or any short haired dog) a coat. I use a waterproof and fleece jacket and it keeps her snug
  • Dry your dog after a wet run. Mine shivers if she isn't thoroughly dry
  • Don't get too far away. My dog could see me on a straight fire-road, but still she decided to run off in the exact opposite direction to try and find me
  • Don't run too fast. 10 mph is good. More is fine in short sprints
  • I ease up on the fast descents. My dog tries to keep up and I think she'd do herself an injury if I pushed it
  • Don't ride / push it / make it all about you if the dog isn't feeling great. That's not cool