Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Bicycles and Dogs

Images of dogs running trails/roads with people on bicycles is not an uncommon find on many social media feeds, outdoor websites and the like. In the summer months, this is a very common happening for individuals across the US and the world. I find myself with a bit of envy as I watch others ride trails with their off-leash dogs and consistently also find myself wondering where they are riding that allows this activity.
*Image from Redstone Cyclery's feed
Locally, there are designated off-leash trails that can be hiked with dogs (assuming that the proper paperwork/classes have been filed/taken), but most riding trails I've discovered do not allow this activity. I suppose it's entirely plausible that people ignore the signs and let their dog off leash anyway to follow and romp while they ride their bike. But, when I see these images online, it causes me a bit of pause as I find that I feel guilty leaving my own pups at home to go and ride. While the dogs most definitely get more than their share of exercise, I often think it would be such a fun activity to share with them - at least in the right circumstances. Granted, one of them is nearly completely blind now and can't run very far at this point in life, but the other would completely enjoy this activity, I'm certain.

With short and rare exceptions, I have had a dog the entirety of my life. I consider them part of the family and treat them as such (perhaps they are treated too much like family in some people's eyes). I consider them my "children," though I'm entirely aware that they are canines and when I communicate with or scold them, it is really more for my benefit than theirs. Still, I like to include them in as many activities as possible throughout the day. Dogs are people/pack-creatures and don't like being left alone for long stretches of time (or at least, I've never had a dog in my life that enjoyed being alone for several hours).
*Image from Ten Meters from the Hut feed
Over the last several years, I've tried to come to terms with having dogs and enjoying riding bikes. It may seem a strange thing to struggle with, but these are probably the two biggest joys I have in life, and often I find that they can be at odds with each other. My dogs are nearly always with me, a habit that has developed over the years of primarily working from home. They know there are certain times of the day that they will be alone and they are fine having that time, but if I'm gone for several hours during the day on a regular basis, they start to find ways to show their dissatisfaction.

This reality is one of the biggest factors that has kept me from moving in a direction of bike touring. I simply cannot imagine leaving these furry, four-legged loves alone for several days or in a dog-motel. At one point, I had pondered taking them with me - towing them in a carrying container; however, pulling 115-120 pounds of dog, not including the gear we'd need just strikes me as unreasonable - at least for me, though I'm sure there are those who have done it.

These fur-loves of mine are also a big reason I don't pursue longer distances on a bike. I watch others who participate in brevets of varying sort and I find myself wanting to push some of my personal limits to see what I am capable of doing. While I know it's possible to do these events and still have dogs in my life, the amount of saddle time training required of me and knowing that I'd be leaving them for very long days unattended breaks my heart. An occasional century or all-day ride is doable, but multi-day events become a much bigger challenge.
*Image from Randi Jo Fabrications feed
There are many people who have dogs and still ride bikes. These two don't necessarily have to conflict. Obviously, I do ride a bike and have dogs, but I cannot help but find myself wanting to combine the two facets of life and enjoy them simultaneously.

Admittedly, I seem to have made my choice, whether it's a conscious one or not. I have definitely chosen to limit time on a bicycle to have the ability to devote an equitable share to these critters I love so much. I suppose in some ways it is the best balance I've been able to achieve to date without feeling as though one area is lacking. Maybe one day I'll find these mysteriously hidden trails where dogs run freely, but until then these two areas of life remain separate. Thankfully, I don't have to choose one over the other, but I do have to make periodic concessions in order to keep the balance.

2 comments:

  1. I’ve come to appreciate the ways that having dogs (well, one dog right now) limits my time. It helps me maintain a balance between home and work to know that I have to leave the office by a certain time because Argos needs to go out. He keeps me moving in other-than-biking ways too because he needs to be walked. There are definitely sacrifices dog lovers make, but they seem worth it to me.

    We will occasionally put him in the “spa” (have him boarded) if we want to take a day trip somewhere, and he seems to do okay with that. When we go on vacation, Argos goes to stay with my sister. This will sound nuts, but I end up driving 1600 miles for two round trips to Indiana so he can stay with her! That was fully one half of my car mileage last year. But he loves her so much, and she takes such good care of him. It’s worth it. 😀

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    Replies
    1. I don't think driving Argos to your sister's home sounds nuts... but, being a dog lover, I'd do the same, even with my distaste for long periods of time in the car. I have flown my mom out to watch our dogs (and of course, I've driven to her home to watch hers as well), so I consider that on par with extended driving to put our pups in good hands. There are few people I trust with our dogs. They definitely have to have their own dog(s) or at least have had them at some point and I have to have seen them in action with their own. It probably sounds nuts to many people, but I love them so much I can't imagine leaving them just anywhere/with anyone. But, I know that's just me and I'm a little kooky like that.

      I would not trade having them for the opportunity for more bike time. I am able to get in plenty, despite my desire (at least at times) for an extended bike adventure. I do wish I could take them free-of-leash on a trail because I think it would be enjoyable for both of us, but I can live with our current reality.

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