Bikejor - or Mountain Biking with a dog

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Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

Bikejoring is one of the 'Dryland Mushing' sports that developed as a way for Sled-dog teams to maintain a level of fitness when there is no snow around - the others involve the use of scooters (specialist off-road, large-wheeled scooters for 1 or 2 dogs) and rigs (three- or four-wheeled sleds pulled by large teams of dogs), or simply running (Canicross).

Bikejoring tends to be faster than Canicross, as people can generally cycle faster than they can run.  And the resistance from bikes is less than a person running, so dogs will often find it easier to pull in harness.

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Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

We would recommend doing Canicross as a precursor to Bikejor whenever possible - if the dog goes the wrong way when running it does not have such a drastic consequence as with a bike, where you are going at a faster speed and have one extra 'thing' to control.

Often the same harness can be worn for both Canicross and Bikejor, although the longer harnesses are better for Bikejor.  The bungee line for Bikejor needs to be longer than for Canicross, so that it can clear the front wheel, and a Bikejor 'arm' is definitely recommended to keep the line off the front wheel.  Other than that, it's just normal cycling equipment that you need - helmet, gloves, protective glasses.

In terms of bikes that are best - we'd recommend a hardtail mountain bike (front suspension only) with hydraulic disc brakes.  Rear suspension works against the motion of the dog (you are bouncing up and down whilst the dog is trying to move forward) and with rim V-brakes they are more likely to get covered in mud and become less efficient.

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Photo courtesy of Karen Burd

Like Canicross, Bikejor is a winter sport in the UK, with the main season running from September to May , through rain, snow and mud!  Most dogs find the summer months too hot to run, although you can often continue training in the (very) early mornings.  Bikejoring usually takes place cross country on soft trails - the dogs should not be run far over paved surfaces as this could damage their limbs and/or paws.

Some forests in the UK do require permits for Bikejoring and there are also restrictions on some bridleways, so please do investigate where it is acceptable to Bikejor.

No dog can race until it is at least 18 months old (12 months for Canicross) to allow the bones to develop properly. This early time can be used to teach your dog directional controls (they will need to know left and right, or haw and gee in mushing terms, and to associate the harness with pulling but collar with walking to heel.

Races tend to be 5km in length as the dogs work a lot harder / faster than with Canicross.

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We started Bikejor in 2014, after Mummy was banned from running.  We do actually prefer Bikejoring as the speed is much faster than Mummy can run, and she doesn't feel as heavy on a bike!  So far the fastest we've managed is 34.9 kph, which we did in February 2015.

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Further information on Bikejor can be found on Facebook