Do you ride with your dog?
If not, you should, because your dog can probably kick your ass.
If you are not owned by a dog, and are a mountain biker, your best riding partner may be at your local pound.
When I began mountain biking in 1988, my puppy, Paco, often shreaded me on a downhill section of open grass near the University of Cincinnati. (I’d clocked her at 28.6 mph.) Long before I could legally drink in a bar, Paco and I would spend our Friday nights raging through campus. Call me freakish or mal-adjusted, but dogs and I see eye-to-eye. I understand their needs, and they mine. In order of importance; dogs need to run, play, eat, love and sleep. Symbiotically, I just need a companion that is always there…ready to do whatever. A tough reality; I liked her more than even my closest friends. A mix of whippet, lab, and border collie, Paco has since established herself as one of the first traildogs exhibiting real trail etiquette in the region. No stranger to the 40+ mile day, weeks in the forest or months traveling in our ’79 Duster, 13-year old Paco is now in her pre-retirement.
In the winter of ’98, my wife (then girlfriend) and I decided that we could not let Paco’s wisdom escape the dog world…that we must ensure her lessons were carried to another dog.
Down to the pound we went. Week after week going through the rather painful experience of dog-hunting in the pound. Knowing that, at the end, we would be experiencing the joy of bringing a puppy into our lives, made it easier to bear the whines and pleas of all those dogs wanting to come home with us.
We both independently selected ‘Ponch’ or ‘Ponch-man’. He was an 8-week old brindle Boxer-mix. What a cutie!
His first day home, he waddled all the way to BioWheels and back, following my bike at a very slow pace. For the next year, Ponch got that ¾ mile run twice nearly every day. Often, Paco, would join us for the day. To this day, people seem surprised to see me without a dog at my side. (I try to minimize those times.)
At 1.5 years old, Ponch has grown into just as amazing a trail dog as Paco was in her day. In fact, he’s a bit faster. Oh joy!
I am not writing this simply to tell about my dogs.
Months ago Ponch and I were riding with some friends near Apollo, PA. Near the end of our ride, we crossed a country road to move into a different section of trail. As we were making our way, we saw an suv (big surprise there) barreling around the corner at high speed (45 mph). He had plenty of time to slow down, but did not. He drove straight into our roadside group, forcing us too split. It looked like he was blabbing with shotgun. Unfortunately, Ponch followed me. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see him look at me, then SLAM!
I thought his head was instantly smooshed. The sound it had made was heinous. I just freakin’ exploded, internally.
The Jeep’s front bumper threw Ponch spinning into the ditch. I assaulted the truck as it finally managed to come to a stop 50-yards down the road. A man and woman got out and feigned concern. The woman said, “He (the driver) lives around here, so it’s OK”….”to kill my f—ing dog!” I finished her stupid sentence. Ponch was lying in the dirt, visibly shaken, but not hurt. Once we assessed that there was nothing majorly wrong with him, I let him stand. Immediately, something caught his eye, and he bounced away, as if it’d never happened.
Ponch-man sure makes the rest of us look like wimps. Ripped with muscle and seething with love, from nose-to-tail, Ponch is truly a rubber dog.
Rescue a dog from death – or worse- from a mercifully short life staring at its lazy-ass owner.
following is a response we got to this article-bw
just read your article on riding with a dog and i too recently started riding with a dog. i got a border collie mix about 6 mo. ago from a rescue site and she has turned into the perfect riding partner. she has been on every ride since i got her and she is good for at least 20mi. thats when i usually give out but sometimes she is ready to go even more.
i don’t think most mt bikers realize the special relationship between a biker and his dog. however every time i reach for the bike Sadie is ready to rock and instantly jumps in the van as i am loading almost like she is worried i might leave her. not much chance of that.
Today she and i led a ride and as everyone else was leaving we went back for more. our time together on the trail is too rare and we were not about to let a beautiful day pass without a few more miles.
Some of my riding buddies aren’t too pleased sometimes on fast courses when we have to stop for Sadie to get a drink and cool down and i was starting to think i was in a minority. However, after reading your article its nice to see someone else understands. Keep up the good work and keep spreading the word that dogs are an important part of the mt biking world.
jekyl, mailto: Jekyl9@cs.com