Equipment that will make you a “Pro” Canicrosser or Bikejorer!

I have decided to write a post about equipment as there are a lot of posts on facebook where people are asking for what is the best!

I am not an expert but I have learnt a lot in last few months being involved in the sport. So here’s my experience and only my opinion (you don’t need to agree).

Canicross

Let’s start with canicross. As of yourself, you will need something comfy for running:

It is an easy choice for people as there are a lot of different running companies that sell the right gear, but when it comes to dogs gear that’s another story. When I started my adventures with canicross, I couldn’t find much or I found information that now I know they were misleading. A lot of companies are trying to say their equipment is right for running with dogs, but I have learnt that a lot of them are purely business and money orientated and know nothing about canicross, and not talking here about faster pace sports like bikejor or scooter.

Dogs equipment

I struggled to understand and find something that will be good for Roger. He has an unusual shape. So I made him run in his walking harness (what a stupid idea that was, note on that my own gear wasn’t good either). I have decided to buy my first equipment back in Poland. DC Grizzly belt for myself, manmat bungee line and Roger had his walking harness. We were very slow but we enjoyed the runs (as per photo above).

Eventually, I have learnt that it is very important to have the right equipment:

  • A dog can get injured, if harness is incorrect for pulling.
  • Dogs should be able to use their shoulders without any restrictions.
  • The harness shouldn’t be too high on their throats.
  • Bungee line has a different length for different sports.

So my first equipment was a wrong choice. My belt hurt my lower back. Now I use this belt for hiking and it is just perfect. My bungee lead was too long (bikejor line) and it was harder to work together as a team. Also, Roger harness made restrictions on his running style and choked him.

Right choice

I still struggled to find the right equipment. I thought I went in the right directions and ordered a customised harness for Roger. Well, once again wrong decision. I was close to giving up when I decided to go and ask for recommendations from folks who do the sport for years. They know the sport and they know what is right for the sport and why.

My old equipment ended up in a bag. Roger got his brand new harness from Dragratten. How surprised I was on our next run, his pull was stronger. I noticed that more often when he saw his harness he got super excited. Note from me: his harness was tight, it wasn’t loose, it worked really well with his running style.

I have changed my belt for the lightweight and it was sitting on my hips too. Amazing, no more pain in my lower back. Bungee line was a bit shorter and the whole experience of canicross has changed. We started to progress with our times and I could see it helped as to become stronger.

My younger dog got her pro harness straight away. She will probably grow up from it soon, but it is defo worth the money as she learns in the right equipment from the start. She was 10 months when she got her first proper sled dog harness. 

Why use a collar?

I decided to keep Roger as he pulls a lot during a walk in a harness, but it is a different one than his running. Laferra walks on the collar, which helps before races that I can keep her on the collar when she is trying to be mental. Also during training, it is handy with her to have the collar to cool her down or walk her to start point. When I am nearly starting running I clip her on harness so she knows she needs to pull.

Bikejor and scooter equipment

Ok with caniross you can make mistakes and learn from it, but when it comes to faster speed sports you better with the right equipment. So what do you need here:

  • MTB bike or scooter.
  • Helmet and gloves.
  • Bikejor/Scooter bungee lead (longer than canicross).
  • Dog harness.
  • Arm antenna to keep the lead away from wheels.

People ask why do you have arm antenna on your bike. Ok on the photo above you can see lead is a bit slack as Roger slowed down due to big stones and hill. Arm kept the line away from wheels so I didn’t have an accident. I tried bikejor and scootering without the arm and instead of having fun I was thinking about line and brakes all the time.

Once again a lot of money if you think, but again it changed the way we train and how much we enjoy all this. I use same arm antenna for my scooter.

Equipment is very important

I have learnt: it is all worth the money! The dogs love it more and you can really push your team at training and races.

There are a lot of companies who say they are great for canicross, but think twice. In last couple months, I have managed to stay injury free and my dogs got excited when they see harnesses.

Think twice about your dog health! Use the right equipment, ask experienced folks for advises! It changed my experience and I hope you will find the right path to the right equipment yourself!

I am not an expert but been to may races in UK, I watched and observed, I have learnt out of my own mistakes!.Be happy, enjoy your running with furry friends.

 

Good shop with equipment: https://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/

 

 

 

Hello August.

Beach before the rain

I chose a right weekend to work, as it was heavy rain here. However, we have managed to have a good run at the beach just before it came.

There was no one else there, so I let Laferra off for a first time after some time being on the lead. You wouldn’t believe how much happiness that brought to her. She was crazy hunting seagulls. Such a happy pup!

The best Saturday morning, as Portobello beach isn’t that far away and not meeting anyone there is just a bonus. What do I mean by morning? Before 7 am.

MTB

Another day another beach walk before I could go and enjoy riding a bike.This time I was trying another 7 Stanes trail centre at Newcastleton. Surprisingly after Glentress and Innerleithen, those red routes were very easy and not challenging at all. A good fun day of 30km, which I definitely feel today. Dogs enjoyed the day walking near the river. I must say I liked it that there were no people. Nice trails if you are planning to have a trail dog, as nice and soft surface for their pads. Even tho it was a bit longer drive than normally, I have a good day out.

August

I really can’t believe it is already August and it seems very busy time ahead. Luckily Laferra’s “heat” almost finished so we can go back and enjoy our runs with the group. So it is a month to go until our first race of the season. I am really looking forward to the weekend away in Aviemore, although my car doesn’t seem to make that happen easier (stuck at the garage). Yes I said racing time, which means we need to push this month to make Lafie focus during 5km not just 2-3km like she does. So we have plenty classes booked and also Ruff Dugger, but I haven’t decided yet which dog will do it (probably Laferra, as to see how she is in a race environment, even it isn’t a race).

I know she looks great in a harness, but I wish she can run as good as she looks. Haha do I sound like a mean mum?! I am so looking forward to race season as that means most weekends away with the dogs to some great locations in the middle of nowhere!

Wee social run

For a change, we went to the social club for canicross to Almondell and Calderwood Country Park. It is located in West Lothian near river Almond. A lot of natural woodland with a home to a wealth of wildlife such as deer, foxes, herons and woodpecker.

 

 

 

 

Oh! What an evening. I lost Laferra, as she was a bit crazy running around. I actually didn’t stress and started running to the car while using a whistle. It was maybe around 10minutes and I could see happy Laferra running back to us from the car park. She got lost and ran to the car, which is fantastic (after all I must be a good mum for her). Rest of the evening she stayed with me the rest of the run. Another test for princess Laferra and another pass for her. She is seriously the easiest dog I could ever rescue.

Bike bike

At least my bike doesn’t break as much as my car! (touch wood). I was back with Dirt School for some MTB on a Friday night, as this is the best way to spend your Friday night right?! Another amazing dog free evening (well I missed them a lot). A wee 17km around Glentress on Friday night is the best way to start your weekend. I was lucky to be captured by Brodie Hood Photography.  

This is my first MTB photo and I must I am chuffed looking at it, as I look confident on a bike. Just after 3 months riding that’s not bad at all, but it is time for the new bike.

Beach is like a heaven

My dogs love the beach. Roger was taken out of the shelter for his first walk to the beach, Laferra was found as a puppy at the beach. You can see how much they love it, when they run free like crazy hounds.

First time ever we have travelled to Tentsmuir Forest. Just a 1.5h drive from Edinburgh, you are taken to a pine-scented forest and windswept sands. I really didn’t know it is such an amazing place with single trails for a canicross or a bikejor but also amazing pretty massive beach for dogs to be off lead. It also has fantastic facilities such as picnic tables so ideal for having BBQ and a massive car park. A fantastic day spent with our canicross friends on a social run.

Another day of the weekend and another beach. We were back to Yellowcraigs. I was gutted that I didn’t take my wetsuit as it was hot and no wind at all. It would be ideal for me to have a swim as I think I pulled my muscle so time for few days rests. I have decided we will be going swimming every day this week. Wish me luck as it isn’t fully light at 5 am.

I must say I am so happy it is August already! Just a month to go and we are back to our racing season! I would normally say let’s the hard training bein, but in my case let’s it heal quickly.

Have a good week People. 🙂

 

Already July!

The heart of the city

What a week that was. Most days that I was out and about the rain was pissing down. It didn’t rain, it was pissing down. No matter how good was your waterproof, you got soaked. As I live in Edinburgh it is a bit drive during rush hours, stuck in traffic to get to a nice country park. I totally forgot there are Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park about 5 min away from my place. In the heart the city, you can clear your mind and enjoy a bit hiking. I found nice soft trails and surprisingly tough hills. Even tho this place is in the city, there are a lot of wild animals there: birds and rabbits.

The advantage is that there is fresh water for dogs to drink (not loch water). Nice run around for approx 4km was enough in that rain. Especially Roger isn’t a big fan of paddles and mud. Surprisingly he did really well and wasn’t in a huff. I know Laferra always like to get dirty but yesterday she wasn’t really keen about paddles (maybe due to her pads not fully healed?). I think I will start running her first, as she is going to “break” my legs.Therefore I can’t cope with her speed, so time to play a different game and I need to work a bit harder running without dogs. Also, my conclusion of that late afternoon is that running in soaked clothes isn’t good fun at all.

Chatelherault Park in Lanarkshire

I really thought Scotland can’t surprise me anymore. Again how wrong I was. As usual, I took Roger first for a wee jaunt around this beautiful Country Park and as I allowed Roger to be fully a leader for our running trails, I needed to change that as we were running around a field with sheeps. Haha, I know what he is like! However, with my directions skills, we got lost and ran longer than I planned. The good side of being lost is that we really explore this place. Beautiful five-star visitor attraction is located just over an hour drive from Edinburgh. It has 500acres of countryside and woodland and over ten miles of routed pathways. I presume it has everything for everyone.

Good lesson

Next it was Laferra’s turn and what a lesson I got from my pup. Unfortunately, she is still shy with some dogs (apart from her favourite Nismo-she even tried to steal kisses from him) and she wasn’t herself at all. I decided to stay at the back, be calm and enjoy the nice environment. Sometimes those moments are hard and it is difficult to stay calm, but it is for the best. I must admit I even thought for a second to take her back and just stop cani-hiking. I am not patient at all. We had sticked to the classes and Laferra picked up again. Always remember that you need to be patient and understanding, our four-legged friends can have a bad day or a headache too. Always make sure you finish training, walk or hiking in a positive atmosphere. Your dog is trying best to please you, but sometimes they need more directions from us. I am really thankful to both my dogs for teaching me life lessons.

Always remember that you need to be patient and understanding, our four-legged friends can have a bad day or a headache too. Always make sure you finish training, walk or hiking in a positive atmosphere. Your dog is trying best to please you, but sometimes they need more directions from us. I am really thankful to both my dogs for teaching me life lessons.

Lazy Sunday

I know our lazy Sunday turned into fun at the beach from early morning. This was the first time after a week that I let Laferra off lead as her pads are much better. I love those moments when my dogs can be just dogs and have fun around.

Rain is back

Actually it is good to see rain back, it was getting dry in woods and not many water stops. I am not the biggest fan of rain, but when I go out and all the running is done, I feel really good and it was always fun as no one there. So we skipped agility and went out for some fun in rain. I wasn’t in the mood to drive far so we only went to Cammo Estate,  which is usually quiet.

Roger and Laferra in action

Happy Friday.

Scotland will always surprise me.

Scotland- my tiny heaven.

Unfortunately, Laferra has injured her pads. I really panicked as she didn’t show any pain and if she wouldn’t come to me for a massive cuddle I wouldn’t even notice. We are at the beach very often so I was surprised it happened after our early morning run. I spoke with few friends who have dogs and more experience than me and also research the Internet for the answer. To be honest, I am still confused what happened, but it looks more like she burnt her pads and had massive blisters. I presume she started using her front legs too hard for her soft pads. Anyway, she is healing well and 2 days later it is barely noticeable.

Another Country Park.

Beecraigs Country Park was my choice for this week training and walk. It is located in the Bathgate Hills and it offers miles of woodland paths and trails. This is the largest park in West Lothian. There is an animal attraction so you can see Red Deer, Highland Cattle, Belted Galloway Cattle and Hebridean/North Ronaldsay/Shetland Sheep. It has a dog-friendly campsite and kids play area. I always thought this place will be busy, but because it is so big sometimes you won’t meet anyone on trails. Beecraigs also offers MTB trails, which are very technical with all the roots and stones. Great place to practise your skills.

Unusual day out.

Last weekend for a changed I went to Craigie’s Farm. Just 20-minute drive from Leith. I always thought it is further, however, what a place. I went on Sunday so I thought it will be full of people, but it is that big that you don’t feel crowded.

OMG those strawberries and raspberries taste amazing, I can even see the dogs are loving them more than from shops. I felt like a child again, smiling all the way and trying to pick the best fruits. I can’t wait for cherries and gooseberries to be available to pick.

As the farm has animals, I thought dogs won’t be allowed, how surprised I was when there were signs: dogs allowed and poo bins. There is even Canine Cafe, which I am going to explore next time with Laferra. Such a good day out.

New canicross season

It is that time of the year, that it is almost July and time to plan a schedule for the new season. I like to plan ahead. All dates in the calendar, planning ahead the budget as this season it will be two dogs entering the races. I also want to go to England for some races. I have most of my holidays booked for races, so we can actually rest and stay a bit longer, so watch this space for some more adventures around UK. Oh, I can’t wait for new season, Laferra seems to understand the “canicrossing” and what she needs to do now. She is still a pain sometimes running around or not on a path, but I am being patient for now. We have still two months until first race so a lot of time for our training. Although I just signed for a muddy run with Laferra (Ruff Dugger). This will be her first experience running in the “race” environment.

 

Happy Thursday.

 

Rainy rainy Scotland

As you all know now, I won a scooter and I couldn’t wait to try it out with Roger. I know the temperature was high, but we did only 2.5km and very easy pace. Here is the video how much Roger loved it.

Scootering with Roger

Even high temperature we tried our new toy! It is too hot but I know Roger and he can do 2.5km. OMG scooter is awesome 😀 check it out on the video. It is hard work… jelly legs??

Posted by Dogxplorescotland on Friday, June 9, 2017

 

Our weekend was full of travelling so the dogs could enjoy different trails for running. Firstly Heatherhall Woods in Fife. Amazing quiet place, with so many easy trails for walking, running, cycling or horse riding. This place is a home of frogs, newts, red squirrels and deers. It was rainy morning for us, however, hidden in woods, we couldn’t feel how miserable it was out there. Officially Laferra managed to pull me to my dream speed at cani-fit class.

I felt really lazy on Sunday, however, we were booked on another fun canifit class. Cathkin Brae MTB Trails is a tough choice for those wanting to run there. It surprises you with quiet high hills and all that running on grass kicks into your legs and glutes. These MTB trails are tiny trail centre just off Glasgow. It only has 5.5km for riders. For us runners, it is a jolly as it has open fields and nice tiny woods. Just over an hour drive from Edinburgh, it has stunning views all over the Glasgow. I always like to stay a bit longer than and walk dogs and play fetch. I didn’t take my bike so I couldn’t enjoy it even more, maybe next time.

My life is pretty much full of adventures and training with dogs. There is one day during the week that I have dogs free evening so I can enjoy peace and quiet. In January I have decided to start doing yoga with PandaYogaEdinburgh. According to few blogs and people, the key benefits of yin yoga are:

  • stillness: calms and balances the mind and body.
  • stress and anxiety reduction.
  • increased circulation.
  • improved flexibility.
  • fascial release.
  • greater joint mobility.

It has been a few months already and I can definitely see the benefits myself, but also my colleagues mentioned that I look more relaxed. It also helped my body to recover quickly from runs and all rides. This yoga is just perfect as you stay in one position for few minutes.

I will take this opportunity to also explain to you what is canicross? Trust me it isnt cheating like a lot of people say/think. So what is it? Canicross is off-road or cross country running with your dog. You need to have special equipment to do it. Starting from your dog harness (it is different harness than walking harness), bungee lead and your own human belt. According to Cani-fit website (have a look at a guide for beginners): ” the human is the driver, directing the dog from behind with voice commands”. Below photo captured by Sharon Reid shows Roger flying from the start line. Some dogs are natural, some dogs need to learn how to pull and run in front of their human.

Sometimes everyone has those days, that nothing works well. I had one of those and decided to spend an evening on my own. I went up to Glentress 7 Stanes Mountain Bike Trails. This is a heaven for all mountain bikers. As Roger and Laferra were with me, as usual, I wanted to spend some time with each one of them. Roger and I took a wee ride around blue trails. Oh wow, those hills are not stopping him at all. Later on, for the first time, I have decided to take and assess Lafie if she can be my trail dog. Wow. Just wow. Running in front on all uphills and behind me on downhills. She just surprised me as she looked like she knew what I wanted her to do.

Easy 12km spin around and I think she definitely did around 30km, as when I stopped she was running full beans into woods. One, two whistles and there she was back. After all this fun in Glentress I gave both dogs water full of sardines. Remember after runs no matter what weather it is you need to hydrate dogs. Mine don’t drink just water after a run, so I try to find out what my friends are giving their dogs after canicross. It seems that sardines are the winner. Also check your dogs pads for any cuts as that could be painful for them. I try to keep waxing them before and after runs, so they got stronger and more prepared for long running.

Keep an eye on a blog next week, some exciting news will be out!

I wish you all a great weekend and amazing adventures.

 

Super busy Gang

Last couple days have been very busy for our gang.

Roger and Laferra could spend a day with Roger’s previous owners and it looks they all had a great adventure out in Edinburgh. Lucky for them it was nice and sunny, so long walk along Restalrig railway path was ideal. The path takes you all the way to Portobello if you wish to do 2.5 miles walk. It mainly is cycle path but why not use it for a walk with dogs.

On Saturday, I was out in Glentress to do my mountain biking beginner course with Ridelines. The day was amazing. Why MTB course? As you know by now I am planning to compete in bikejor with Roger and I thought I will learn proper skills so I am strong and ready for a season. Now MTB is a part almost every day of our training. I can’t wait to put those skills into practice with Roger. Unfortunately, temperatures are too high at the moment to do it.

Unfortunately, temperatures are too high at the moment to do bikejor, so we only canicross. What temperature is too high? It differs for different dogs, and how well your dog can cope with the heat. Usually, you should stick temperature x humidity <1000 you are fine to go. As I mentioned before you are the one who knows your dog. I still would go for a short and easy pace jaunt on a bike with Roger even 17 degrees, however, I would watch humidity and make sure he has enough water prior during and after a run. I never realised that during summer when playing fetch with dogs you can still overheat them. The best is to stay close to the water on a hot day as dogs can run in and cool down. Please keep an eye on your dog. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • heavy panting or rapid breathing
  • elevated body temperature
  • excessive thirst
  • weakness, collapse
  • glazed eyes
  • increased pulse and heartbeat
  • vomiting, bloody diarrhoea
  • seizures
  • bright or dark tongue, gums
  • excessive drooling
  • staggering, stumbling
  • unconsciousness

As we live in Scotland rain is a normal thing and it doesn’t stop us to enjoy time outdoor. For a change, I decided we go East for our canicross training. Dalkeith Country Park is gorgeous and full of nice trails. However, dogs are not allowed in Restoration Yard or Fort Douglas and must be kept on a lead in the Palace Field area until across Montagu Bridge. Park is full of things to do for families too. Beautiful scenery is just a jolly for training. Even tho rain was very heavy in woods you didn’t really feel how wet it was out there.

Nice trails with a lot of stops as you can walk or run along the river. Laferra and Roger loved the scent and running deer. As you can imagine no one was there during this awful rain.

Saturday night was very exciting for my friends and me. I bought a ticket for a raffle as my friends are going to World Championship and are trying to get funds for their expensive trip (you can still support them, but raffle is finished: https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/sled-dog-world-championships-November-2017/ ). So they did raffle draw on Saturday, and by the look on live video I have won a Kick Bike Scooter. So here is to more adventures for me and dogs and of course a tougher training. I have never won such an amazing prize, so looking forward to it.

On another note, sometime ago our gang had an opportunity to have a photoshoot with Barbara Ostrowska at https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraOstrowskaphotography/. My dear friend Kinga organised all and also thank you to her and Fitline for all the support. My dogs loved it and were superstars. I will leave it for you to judge but here are some of the results: