Bikejoring is a recreation or sport where a harnessed dog or a team of dogs are attached to a towline to pull and run ahead of a cyclist. Scootering is a similar activity, but a kick scooter is used instead of a bicycle. Bikejoring and scootering are dryland (no snow season) mushing activities and together with canicross were developed from skijoring and dog sledding to train racing dogs out of the winter season.
You will need: a canicross belt, proper harness (half size, or X-Back) and an elastic line. A good, sturdy and reliable mountain bike or scooter, as well as the helmet and a pair of gloves are a must for your own safety. Press here for more information about the equipment.
Training a Malamute for bikejoring/scootering can be started after it’s over 12 months old – starting with up to 5 km and gradually increasing the distance. After 18 months, the distances can be safely prolonged, but also in a gradual manner. Malamutes are allowed to participate in official bikejoring/scootering races from the age of 18 months. As any other running activities, bikejoring/scootering should never take place on an asphalt, pavement and rocky/edgy terrains.
Keep the dog well hydrated. During a non-race exercise offer some water every few miles. After an intense run or race, don’t let the dog lie down or drink immediately – walk around for 5-7 minutes, then give plenty of water or a glycocharge mix for faster muscle restoration.
If the canicross and basic mushing command training were successful, there is not much left to learn. Start slow, let the dog to get used to a constantly tense line and concentrate on teaching your Malamute to not make any sudden moves. Actually, in bikejoring, the only tricky part is the safety of the driver. Once you’ll experience a feeling of bikejoring through a narrow forest path at over 30 km/h, you’ll understand what that means. Sudden jump for a pee or after some animal into the bushes, abrupt stop during a fast run, or a tangled line in the front wheel – all of these unforeseen moves will end up with the driver flying from the bicycle and getting seriously injured. A bicycle with hydraulic brakes increases the chance of stopping at a right time, so consider investing more into the gear. A good place to start looking is BikeRadar.
Scootering requires more physical effort from the driver, but it is a safer (and for some – more fun) activity if compared to Bikejoring. The driver can simply step off the scooter at any time and end up intact. Also, a scooter has much less vital parts to be broken, thus, at least theoretically, it should last much longer than a bicycle. Imagine a situation: the line gets tangled in the front wheel and your dog drags the bicycle into a dense forest. Forget the derailleur, gears, shifters and many other crucial parts – you’ll end up carrying the bike back to the car, but a scooter might survive this scenario. A scooter also takes a bit less space, so there are more options on how to transport it. Just make sure that it has a very strong frame, a sturdy shock absorbing fork and good brakes. Google for reviews and look for a trustworthy manufacturer with plenty of real crash stories which the scooter has survived.