The Winter season ended on a real high note this year with myself and Harry the hound being awarded ‘Champion’ in the Bikejor class of the Sled Dog Association of Scotland (SDAS).
The class comprises one dog (any breed) and one cyclist (either sex). The dog is attached to the front of the bike (mountain bikes and cyclo-cross are a popular choice) by an elasticated lead of no more than 3 metres in length. The dog must run out in front of the bike so requires a strong, confident and focused/driven dog to be successful – Harry is perfect!. The aim of the human is to pedal to keep up with the dog and ‘steer’ along the correct marked trail by voice commands only. The sport is therefore a real team effort.
This year there were 5 races in the series held in different locations over Scotland (with one creeping in to Northern England) from October to March. The trails have been between 3 to 5 miles long over undulating terrain, with grass or leafy forest surfaces being preferred (the last race was however a little muddy for my liking!). Dogs should never be run on tarmac or other hard ground that could cause sore pads or limb impact injuries. The weather must also be cool to prevent the dogs from overheating.
Not to be outdone my gorgeous Alaskan Malamutes, Gambit and Charm, pulled me to SDAS Season Championship ‘runner up’ in the Nordic 2 dog rig class. They had to compete against the faster Siberians, but as some of this year’s trails were tough and required power and drive they had the advantage and I am proud to say that they won two of the series races.
I have been racing sled dogs for some 11 years now and am improving every year. I still enjoy the team effort and thrill of working with my dogs and the trips abroad to compete and train. My Swedish training trip this year was clearly beneficial. I must thank my mountain bike coach Jim Barron of Dirt Vixens for bringing my mountain bike skills on by leaps and bounds and giving me the confidence to ride faster and stronger, Hannah from Flare for kitting me out in her lovely range of comfy stylish clothes and bringing a bit of glamour to the sport, and my training buddies in the The Moray Sled Dog Crew for making it fun even on the cold, rainy, muddy days.
I am already looking forward to next season’s racing with SDAS and possible trips to Poland to compete in the International Federation of Sled Dog Sports European Cup race in the veteran bikejor class and a return to Sweden to race on a sled at the World Sled dog Association World Cup.