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Touring with a big dog

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Touring with a big dog

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Old 06-06-18, 09:44 PM
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Big Lew
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Touring with a big dog

A bit of history...between the years 1992 and 2006 I did an extensive amount of touring over much of the western side of North America.
I usually carried 40-55 lbs of camping related weight because of the many long distances through remote areas.
I had to give up touring because of cancer related issues but am now wishing to get back into it.
Now the question...has anyone toured long distances with a large dog? I'm assuming that when adding the weight of my lab to the
camping gear it will equal the weight of another medium sized person as dead weight. I have access to a shop and materials to make
a light but strong low center of gravity trailer equipped with a braking system. I plan on the dog walking or trotting beside me on the up
hill grades. Looking for anyone's advice that have done this before, or have cycled with over 100 lbs extra weight.
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Old 06-07-18, 03:31 AM
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Big Lew,
I have no experience to offer you, unfortunately.

I have seen 1 guy touring with a (very old) shepherd, sitting proudly in his trailer. Judging by the amount of gear on the bike, this guy was camping too. This was in Europe, along the Danube. (Campsites in Europe are very dog friendly)

Here in Holland you see lots of people on day rides with their dogs, usually small. One couple I met a few months ago had 5 dogs with them (2 in a trailer, 2 in front baskets and one in a rear rack mounted box. Electric bikes made it easier.

It is something I would love to do in the future, so please, come back and give an update on your research!
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Old 06-07-18, 03:34 AM
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There is a cyclist in my town who toured across the country a few times with a big dog. Actually I think he said to me once he picked up this dog in Louisiana once on a tour.... or something like that


He tows one of those child trailers. The dog jumps in or out during the bike ride depending on need and mood
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Old 06-07-18, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
There is a cyclist in my town who toured across the country a few times with a big dog. Actually I think he said to me once he picked up this dog in Louisiana once on a tour.... or something like that


He tows one of those child trailers. The dog jumps in or out during the bike ride depending on need and mood
I met a guy doing similarly. He had a greyhound Saluki mix in a kid trailer and was more or less living on the bike. He too said that the dog ran alongside up the long grades. He mentioned that it took a while to get road hardened enough to enjoy the ride with all that weight, but he was doing fine.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:53 AM
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As said, get a kids trailer. Lots of weight, you in shape? Really good shape? Use flat routes and do motels? And get some uber low gearing.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I met a guy doing similarly. He had a greyhound Saluki mix in a kid trailer and was more or less living on the bike. He too said that the dog ran alongside up the long grades. He mentioned that it took a while to get road hardened enough to enjoy the ride with all that weight, but he was doing fine.
Yes, I fully expect it will be a learning curve requiring a lot of patience, especially for someone like me that was used to
traveling 60-110 miles daily on my previous tours. I'm also a lot older now and retired which is both good and bad. I have
much more time but less muscles, lol!
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Old 06-07-18, 11:30 AM
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E bike, touring bike? Not my cup of tea, but might work for you.
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Old 06-07-18, 12:17 PM
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I have 2 touring bikes, the older is an old 6x3 spd Norco Tango that I completely upgraded with high end parts,
including titanium axles. It is already set up for towing a custom trailer when traveling on logging roads so I
know it will handle the extra weight on paved highways. It has very low gearing (as well as high speed) and it
has strong custom wheels. I'm leaning toward using it rather than my 9x3 spd Devinci Monaco hybrid touring bike.
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Old 06-07-18, 01:51 PM
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A dog jumping in and out of the trailer and also walking up hills...

is there any concern about the dog's safety on roads? Or is it one of those dogs that actually listens and behaves well?

mine would run for the nearest squirrel or bunny regardless of traffic.
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Old 06-07-18, 02:04 PM
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Maybe this?


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Old 06-07-18, 02:25 PM
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I don't know why anyone would want to bring a dog on tour. First there is the hauling of the dog as mentioned. But then there is the care of the dog. Hard enough to take care of your own chores let alone caring for a dog. And 110 miles with dog and gear? Really?

If you do it teach him to pull his own weight..


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Old 06-07-18, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Maybe this?


Ha Ha! He's about the same size! I'm not worried about him jumping in and out
as he's extremely well trained....unless a coon runs across our path, lol! That's
the only animal he has a bit of a problem with. After getting surprised and bitten,
he wants to kill them all. He's made it his life's ambition and he's pretty good at it.
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Old 06-07-18, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
I don't know why anyone would want to bring a dog on tour. First there is the hauling of the dog as mentioned. But then there is the care of the dog. Hard enough to take care of your own chores let alone caring for a dog. And 110 miles with dog and gear? Really?

If you do it teach him to pull his own weight..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBJ28V4xGG8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HB-DKO1Xmk
I don't expect to do more than 35-50 miles a day. He's not a chore to take care of, and it's very expensive to put
a large dog in a kennel for long periods of time. Leaving a specialty trained dog for a couple of months with caregivers
will undo some of his training which will have to be re-taught again as well.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:03 PM
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I carry a dog in a trailer, he is a mix Long Haired Jack Russell, weighs 8.5 kgs, but I generally tour in areas where there is not much water so can have 20kgs of water on board as well as extra food for him. My gearing is 50-34, 11-34 and that is okay for the outback, but I do feel it around here New England AUST. I can tell you this his company is great to have. He and I talk all the time. I met a guy in 99" near Adelaide whom was moving from Melbourne to Darwin, with 2 12 month old GSD"s in a purpose built trailer. Now he had a lot of weight on, and it was slow going, he couldn't trust his dogs to walk beside him, so other than breaks for them, they remained on board. HE had 3 weeks to get to Darwin and he did it in 2 and half. Other than hill climbing from melb. to adel. it was virtually flat from their to Darwin. When I contacted him 3 months later, he said it was hard but expected it . He was 56 years old. I am almost 60 and yeah I feel it, but I am not in a race. Hope this info helps.
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Old 06-07-18, 09:12 PM
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in all seriousness Lew, as you are someone who has toured before a lot, you know about gearing and the weight of a bike.
Ive toured extensively in hilly mountainy terrain with up to maybe 50 55 lbs of stuff, and one of my bikes has a low gear of 16.7 gear inches (specifically a 26in bike, with a 22t front and 34t rear on 2in tires)

if you add a trailer and a 100lb pooch, and x lbs for the trailer, you are going to want some serious low gearing, or lets put it this way, your legs and knees are going to want some darn low gearing.
Sure, it depends on the terrain, but short steep hills happen, and while he she can walk at times, in my experience, you will still want to use a mountain bike crank, ie 44 or 42/32/22, and a good sized cassette also, to 34 or 36.

lets also be realistic about the jumps betwween shifts on your older bike, with 6 speed, you may possibly have some larger percentage jumps between shifts, and with all that weight, it could be a hell of a burden---think 18 wheeler trucks and their closely spaced gears, its like us with a touring bike, add on a heavy dog and well.....something to take into consideration and at least be realistic about the physical challenge of hauling a shedload more weight than you have in the past (not to mention, when you were younger, and most likely a lot stronger, no offence, but as we age, we arent as strong, let alone perhaps with effect from your unlucky medical stuff.

whatever you look into, a mtn crank will make life a lot more enjoyable. Im totally sold on them for heavy loaded touring and they work perfectly for the speeds we chug along at with a heavy bike.
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Old 06-07-18, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
in all seriousness Lew, as you are someone who has toured before a lot, you know about gearing and the weight of a bike.
Ive toured extensively in hilly mountainy terrain with up to maybe 50 55 lbs of stuff, and one of my bikes has a low gear of 16.7 gear inches (specifically a 26in bike, with a 22t front and 34t rear on 2in tires)

if you add a trailer and a 100lb pooch, and x lbs for the trailer, you are going to want some serious low gearing, or lets put it this way, your legs and knees are going to want some darn low gearing.
Sure, it depends on the terrain, but short steep hills happen, and while he she can walk at times, in my experience, you will still want to use a mountain bike crank, ie 44 or 42/32/22, and a good sized cassette also, to 34 or 36.

lets also be realistic about the jumps betwween shifts on your older bike, with 6 speed, you may possibly have some larger percentage jumps between shifts, and with all that weight, it could be a hell of a burden---think 18 wheeler trucks and their closely spaced gears, its like us with a touring bike, add on a heavy dog and well.....something to take into consideration and at least be realistic about the physical challenge of hauling a shedload more weight than you have in the past (not to mention, when you were younger, and most likely a lot stronger, no offence, but as we age, we arent as strong, let alone perhaps with effect from your unlucky medical stuff.

whatever you look into, a mtn crank will make life a lot more enjoyable. Im totally sold on them for heavy loaded touring and they work perfectly for the speeds we chug along at with a heavy bike.
You make many very good points. Since starting this thread I've been researching trailers skookum enough for the job.
Even were I to make my own, the weight will be around 25-35 lbs. Adding all the various weights up and considering my
lack of serious multi-day cycling for several years as well as my advanced age, I think it's wise to forget about it. Would
be a different thing if I was in my 40-50's and still doing long tours every year. The gearing is mountain gearing except for
the tall ones, which are far apart as you say, so I think they would do quite well. The 'granny gears' are very low.
Thanks to everyone for your comments.
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Old 06-07-18, 10:39 PM
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I should add that while it's been a long time, I pulled kids in kiddie trailers back in the day, and it works reasonably well.
one thing not too forget is the additional weight of dog food and water.
I guess if a used kiddie trailer could be bought, you could at least see how it goes. Kiddie trailers can always be resold too, but I'm sure there are weight limits on them to be aware of.
I imagine too w even borrowing a trailer and putting in some weight like sacks of potatoes or whatever could quickly give you any idea of what you'd be up against.

anyway, all the best with whatever happens or doesn't.
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Old 06-07-18, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I should add that while it's been a long time, I pulled kids in kiddie trailers back in the day, and it works reasonably well.
one thing not too forget is the additional weight of dog food and water.
I guess if a used kiddie trailer could be bought, you could at least see how it goes. Kiddie trailers can always be resold too, but I'm sure there are weight limits on them to be aware of.
I imagine too w even borrowing a trailer and putting in some weight like sacks of potatoes or whatever could quickly give you any idea of what you'd be up against.

anyway, all the best with whatever happens or doesn't.
One thing I've learned since retiring and having extra time to do things is that our brains relish the new adventures
but they're not necessarily in sync with our aging bodies. Up until I had cancer issues I was in excellent shape,
especially my legs, and believe that had I not had the issues they still would be in great shape to tackle riding with
the equivalent of another person's weight. During all my tours, I always used gearing rather then push too hard.
I relate it to the commercial trucks I drove with very heavy loads...having proper gears and using them gets the job
done without undue stress on the motor or drive train. One situation I think I would have problems with is when stopping
on a steep hill with all that weight. Trying to hold everything stopped and in control while attempting to get off or on
would be challenging, even potentially hurtful, and very likely turn the air around me blue, lol! It's sometimes hard to do
with just a normal loaded touring bike. Nope, it's best I go find someone to care for the dog, thanks.
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Old 06-08-18, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Big Lew View Post
Nope, it's best I go find someone to care for the dog, thanks.
I don't know anything about your health situation, or your overall condition, but every idea deserves a bit more than 24 hours of discussion, no?

Maybe I'm being incredibly simple, but if hills are the issue, is it not possible to avoid them?

It seems to me that the most important factor is already in place - a well trained dog. No amount of conditioning or gearing will compensate for a dog that can't be trusted.

Of course, it's your decision. and I mean no disrespect. As someone with a similar dream it hurts a little to see the idea dismissed so quickly.

In any case, the best of luck with your touring!
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Old 06-08-18, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Big Lew View Post
One thing I've learned since retiring and having extra time to do things is that our brains relish the new adventures
but they're not necessarily in sync with our aging bodies. Up until I had cancer issues I was in excellent shape,
especially my legs, and believe that had I not had the issues they still would be in great shape to tackle riding with
the equivalent of another person's weight. During all my tours, I always used gearing rather then push too hard.
I relate it to the commercial trucks I drove with very heavy loads...having proper gears and using them gets the job
done without undue stress on the motor or drive train. One situation I think I would have problems with is when stopping
on a steep hill with all that weight. Trying to hold everything stopped and in control while attempting to get off or on
would be challenging, even potentially hurtful, and very likely turn the air around me blue, lol! It's sometimes hard to do
with just a normal loaded touring bike. Nope, it's best I go find someone to care for the dog, thanks.
Heck, I'd forgotten that that was you, who drove trucks. Can't keep track of who is who without a real face sometimes, well for me anyway. I remember your comments on truck drivers being professional, which I've always felt too for the vast majority, and personally I've always put myself in their shoes slash seat, in situations where we meet. As you know, most car drivers haven't a fricken clue that a loaded truck doesn't behave like a sportscar, and either do a lot of mirror less cyclists.
Ya, I've always made the connection between riding loaded and semis in terms of gears and drive train, both of us slow to accelerate, slow to slow down.

In my past two Latin American trips, I found truckers exceedingly courteous and professional overall, despite the challenging road conditions at times, and always did my best to make things easier for them with proper communication or a wave, and simply taking to the grass when the situation was better for all.
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Old 06-08-18, 04:20 AM
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Big Lew
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
I don't know anything about your health situation, or your overall condition, but every idea deserves a bit more than 24 hours of discussion, no?

Maybe I'm being incredibly simple, but if hills are the issue, is it not possible to avoid them?

It seems to me that the most important factor is already in place - a well trained dog. No amount of conditioning or gearing will compensate for a dog that can't be trusted.

Of course, it's your decision. and I mean no disrespect. As someone with a similar dream it hurts a little to see the idea dismissed so quickly.

In any case, the best of luck with your touring!
Thanks! I see from your location, hills might not be a concern, but I live in southern British Columbia where hills and mountianous
terrain are all around me. Even on my easier tours along the west coast of the States there are some steep climbs. The trip I am
considering is going from the south-west side of Canada to the south-east side. The first many days involve a lot of mountains, and
there are a lot of hills once I cross the prairies. I'm 72+ and a bit overweight compared to my former touring days, so I'm taking all
this into consideration...it is a dream, but I have to be realistic as well. As I said, the mind is still saying 'let's do it' but the body is
saying 'I don't think it's in the cards.' Both my mind and my body are in agreement that it's doable going solo though.
I value "djb" comments. They're coming from experience and a well grounded fellow that tells it 'straight up' and as it is.

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Old 06-08-18, 11:18 AM
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Looks like you decided not to do it but I wonder if you could make a cargo bike work. I saw a dog riding in a laundry basket on the back of an xtracycle yesterday. I think there was also a guy who toured with his dog on one but it may have been an electric bike.
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Old 06-08-18, 12:07 PM
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Big Lew
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Originally Posted by stringsonbikes View Post
Looks like you decided not to do it but I wonder if you could make a cargo bike work. I saw a dog riding in a laundry basket on the back of an xtracycle yesterday. I think there was also a guy who toured with his dog on one but it may have been an electric bike.
Thought of that but some of the fun for me in touring has been the adrenalin rush of racing down the far side of a mountain
after struggling to get to the top. Don't think going at any speed would be a good idea with a cargo bike. You can't just go
for it and free wheel at top speed with a bike and trailer either, but you can safely go fast if your loads are balanced. As I
mentioned, I did have a homemade trailer for accessing gated logging roads which I towed with fairly heavy loads on steep
grades. I even brought out deer as well as camping etc gear with it with an estimated 140-60 lbs. so I do know a bit of what
to expect. The biggest difference between going up and down a local logging road and touring is the day in and day out hard
peddling required which can break down your body. I once rode with a fellow that pushed it too hard resulting in serious knee
and tendon problems so bad he could barely walk. He missed a few weeks of work while he recovered.
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Old 06-08-18, 04:46 PM
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I know you are saying you arent probably going to do it, but one other factor with a trailer is the wide track, and specifically with a narrow road, and or big potholes to avoid, and or a roadside dropoff mixed in with potholes or rough stuff in general.
In Honduras last year, we followed the route taken by another tourer, who was using a folding Bike Friday bike, towing the trailer of the purpose designed suitcase for the bike. A particular section one day was really really rough, narrow, road shoulder dropping off a lot, and I couldnt imagine him riding that with a trailer, especially with the traffic there was when we were there, lots of rock quarry trucks in both directions, difficult with a regular bike, but easy for me to just pull off the road if need be, and to avoid holes etc. It would have been a real bear for that guy pulling the trailer, simply from the wide track and two other tires to go into or sink into depressions etc--and he had just stuff in his trailer being bounced around, not a loved pet.
I dont know the west coast area, but around here there are a number of bike trail systems which would certainly be more relaxing for doing a trip with a trailer, so I guess that could be a possibility , but again, I dont know the details of what is out there, how long they are and if they would be interesting to go on.
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Old 06-08-18, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I know you are saying you arent probably going to do it, but one other factor with a trailer is the wide track, and specifically with a narrow road, and or big potholes to avoid, and or a roadside dropoff mixed in with potholes or rough stuff in general.
In Honduras last year, we followed the route taken by another tourer, who was using a folding Bike Friday bike, towing the trailer of the purpose designed suitcase for the bike. A particular section one day was really really rough, narrow, road shoulder dropping off a lot, and I couldnt imagine him riding that with a trailer, especially with the traffic there was when we were there, lots of rock quarry trucks in both directions, difficult with a regular bike, but easy for me to just pull off the road if need be, and to avoid holes etc. It would have been a real bear for that guy pulling the trailer, simply from the wide track and two other tires to go into or sink into depressions etc--and he had just stuff in his trailer being bounced around, not a loved pet.
I dont know the west coast area, but around here there are a number of bike trail systems which would certainly be more relaxing for doing a trip with a trailer, so I guess that could be a possibility , but again, I dont know the details of what is out there, how long they are and if they would be interesting to go on.
Yes, when pulling my heavily laden trailer on old unused logging roads it was a big frustration trying to fit all 3 wheel tracks
around the big holes and boulders for sure. I was sitting on the fence when I started this thread, hoping to hear from others
that had toured with a big dog and done so with success which would encourage me to give it a try. After reading sensible
comments from some, and especially you, I can see it's just too much of an ordeal considering the distance and varied terrain
having to ride through. Thanks!
Big Lew is offline  
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