Making the transition from canicross to bikejor

Many people who come into the dog sports begin with canicross because it is the easiest way to exercise your dog and also the simplest way to train your dog to pull in a harness. However, if you’ve ever attended a race which has the bikejor classes too, then you’ll have seen how much fun the competitors have at the faster speeds you can achieve with the wheels. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but once you’ve trained your dog to pull you, it can be very tempting to have a go at either bikejor or dog scootering to get that extra speed for a more exciting run.

Bikejoring is great fun and you can really get up your speed on a bike to go at your dogs’ pace – Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

If you are thinking of giving bikejor a go then there are a few things you should know which will help you get the best from your experience.

The first thing you need to make sure of is that you have trained strong voice commands. When canicrossing it is easy to correct your dogs’ direction and quickly grab your bungee line to prevent any mishaps. However when you are on a bike there is no option to do this, so your dog must respond to your voice signals for directions and control otherwise you could end up causing an accident if your dog isn’t listening to you.

It doesn’t always go right at the best of times, so make sure you’ve trained your voice commands as best you can! – Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

You also need to make sure the equipment you are using is suitable, don’t be tempted to ‘botch’ it with home made bikejor arms and lines. There are plenty of clubs now who may have equipment they can loan you to have a go with your dog and there are a small number of businesses offering training for the dog sports now. If you choose to borrow club equipment remember they are not liable for anything you do and might not be able to offer the ‘training’ you require but using the correct equipment will at least give you an idea if you’d like to do more bikejoring, so you can get your own kit to use later on.

Getting the right equipment for bikejoring will give your dog the best starting experience

We would suggest that it is quite important that you train solo on the bike first before attaching your dog. You might already be a skilled mountain biker and in this case you will be giving your dog the best chance of doing well at bikejoring by being in control of the bike and yourself first. However if you’re getting on a bike for the first time in a number of years (which was the situation we were in) then it is worth hitting the trails without your dog to gain some bike skills that you can utilise when you do attach your dog. Without having a basic skill level on a mountain bike you could be putting yourself and your dog at risk of harm, so just get used to being on a bike again and then you can help your dog get the best possible start to bikejoring.

Bike training without your dog can only be on benefit to you and your dog when you do try bikejoring, so try this first if you haven’t been on a bike for a while

It can be very helpful to find someone knowledgable to help you get started, we mentioned above there are a few businesses offering training now and some clubs also offer training weekends and camps which can be a great way to introduce your dog to something new. We recommend that you never try bikejoring first on your own, always take someone along with you who knows you and your dog just in case something unforeseen happens. Bikejoring can be great fun but always make sure someone knows where you are as accidents can happen in the most unexpected circumstances!

Make sure you are not on your own when you first start bikejoring or that someone at least knows where you are – Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

It is also worth educating yourself on the rules regarding insurance and rights of way when bikejoring. Many Forestry Commission sites require permits to be obtained for anything where a dog is attached to a ‘wheeled vehicle’ and the public liability insurance required to obtain a permit is £5 million. This might seem excessive but in a blame culture it is worth checking what you are covered for with your dog, as hitting into a person or another dog with your bike could be costly. Riding on roads is not permitted at all with a dog attached and it’s not good for a dogs’ joints anyway to be moving at speed on hard surfaces. With canicross a few road sections won’t do any harm but long stretches on tarmac at the higher speeds you can achieve on a bike can damage your dogs’ pads and joints.

Your dog might have been canicrossing for years and covered many miles with you on foot but always start bikejoring with short sections, to allow your dog to get used to the increase in speed. Too many people seem to think that because they can run 10 miles canicrossing they can go straight out and ride 5 miles with their dog on the bike. Being able to run at full pelt attached to a bike is a very different experience for your dog, so make sure you are not challenging your dog to begin with and keep it fun for them, leaving them wanting to do more.

Bikejoring should always be fun for you and your dog, so keep it short and simple to begin with – Photo courtesy of Matt Eames

If you want to know more about making the transition from canicross to bikejor we have a few recommendations for businesses, clubs and individuals who could potentially help so get in touch if you’d like to know more but we hope you’ve found this blog helpful as a guide on how to make the experience the best it can be for both you and your dog. Happy trails!

 

 

 

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Bikejor for beginners – A reading list

The coming of the new year has seen many more people looking to take up the sports of running and biking and more importantly for us here at K9 Trail Time, people wanting to run and bike with their dog. Last year I wrote a blog containing the main blogs I have written to help you get started in canicross, so I thought it was about time I did the same for bikejoring.

Bikejoring is rapidly gaining popularity in the UK - Photo courtesy of Mel Parry

Bikejoring is rapidly gaining popularity in the UK – Photo courtesy of Mel Parry

I wrote a bit about getting started in bikejor here:
Getting along to an event is a great way to learn about the equipment and training - Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

Getting started with the help of friends is a great idea – Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

The next two links are an introduction to the equipment and how to train
getting-it-wrong-on-the-bike

Training is important to avoid accident! Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

The following blog focuses on which bikejor attachment might be the one for you
Rower-land Bike Attachment

Getting the right equipment is important

The below blog contains a few tips for those beginning with their dog in bikejor
With the proper equipment and training you can enter bikejor races all over the country - Photo courtesy of Chillpics

With the proper equipment and training you can enter bikejor races all over the country – Photo courtesy of Chillpics

And lastly if you want to bikejor race with your dog, the racing blog I wrote might be of interest.
We have now competed in two European Championships in both Canicross and Bikejor

We have written about how to get started racing

There is some duplication in these blogs but they give you the very basics you need to know about equipment and training and briefly explain the sport of bikejoring for the beginner. If you have any specific queries then please do contact me emilyt@k9trailtime.com and I’d be happy to help you get started with your dog in one of the sports we love.

Bikejor Attachments – Which one for you?

With so many people starting to take an interest in the sport of bikejoring and not knowing where to start with what to look for in a bikejor attachment, I thought I would write a quick blog to highlight the features of each of the attachments we sell here at K9 Trail Time.

The purpose of the attachment for bikejoring is only to help keep the line away from the wheel and the bungee lead you use to connect to your dogs’ harness must always be wrapped around the main headset on the frame of the bike. Never fix the line to the end of the attachment or to your handle bars. The attachments are not designed to take the weight of the dog pulling and if you attach your line to the handle bars you risk the dog pulling your bike in a different direction to the one you would like to be travelling in!

Arctic Wolf Attachment – Suitable for both bikes and scooters – Link to website:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/bikejor-scootering/bikejor-attachments/bikejor-converter-arctic-wolf.html

This attachment is made of metal with a big rubber bungee providing the flexibility in it for unexpected stops. The Arctic Wolf attachment fixes around your bike’s headset with a clamp which is tightened with a spanner and provides a strong point for the arm to be fixed to your bike. The rubber joint and metal arm can be screwed and unscrewed, making the arm easily detachable if you leave the metal clamp on the bike. This attachment is great for keeping strong dogs directed towards the front of the bike, although it it the heaviest of the attachments and it ‘bounces’ slightly with the movement of your bike.

Arctic Wolf Bikejor Convertor

Arctic Wolf Bikejor Convertor

Non-stop Klick Fix Attachment – Suitable for both bikes and scooters – Link to website:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/bikejor-scootering/bikejor-attachments/non-stop-bike-scooter-attachment.html

The Non-stop attachment uses the patented Klick Fix system for attaching the lightweight metal arm to the bike, making it the most expensive of the attachments we sell. The main unit has a very simple way of attaching to the handle bars of your bike, which also means it is the most universal of the attachments we sell. The metal arm then slides into the unit and is very easy to remove from the bike using the Klick Fix system but is also extremely tough when attached, so it is suitable for even the strongest of pulling dogs. The arm incorporates a rubber bungee for flexibility if your dog should stop suddenly but does not bounce like the other metal attachments tend to.

Non-stop Klick Fix Attachment

Non-stop Klick Fix Bike / Scooter Attachment

Rower-land Attachment – Suitable for bikes only – Link to website:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/bikejor-scootering/bikejor-attachments/rowerland-bikejor-attachment.html

The Rower-land bikejor attachment fixes to the bike with velcro and webbing straps, which makes it very quick and easy to fit or remove the whole unit. Once it is strapped into place however, it doesn’t move at all and provides rigidity out the front of the bike to keep the line from dropping into the wheel. The attachment is make from a very strong plastic, which also has the benefit of being flexible enough to bend if your dog were to stop suddenly. This attachment will not fit on bikes that do not have a standard, slightly angled, mountain bike frame, so you will have to check it will work with your bike.

Rower-land Bike Attachment

Rower-land Bike Attachment

Windog Attachment – Suitable for both bikes and scooters – Link to website:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/bikejor-scootering/bikejor-attachments/windog-bike-scooter-attachment.html

The Windog bike and scooter attachment is the most flexible of the attachments we sell and also the cheapest. It attaches using a very simple system of bolts and washers to fix to itself around the headset of your bike, meaning it will not mark your bike or scooter in any way. It has two different width settings but could also be adapted for thinner frames by using foam padding underneath. The Windog attachment is made of very pliable plastic covered in material, which gives maximum sideways movement to the attachment, whilst still holding you line away from the front wheel.

Windog Bike / Scooter Attachmnet

Windog Bike / Scooter Attachment

Hopefully you will find this short guide useful in making your choice but if you would like more information on any of the products we sell, please do get in touch through the website: http://www.k9trailtime.com

Happy trails!