Sunday’s Bicycle Adventure

I took the two dogs out with me on Sunday on a short bicycle ride: only did about 1.5 miles. It didn’t take them long to get tired. Neither are used to be doing this much exercise. But, let me set the scene before I get into the story with the dogs and our adventure.

My dogs, Lacy (white) and Morgan. You can see my bicycle back behind them.

I am still working on my bicycle touring, trying to increase my distance and endurance, and working out what works for me. I had decided I wanted to be able to do some dirt/gravel road travel in addition to touring on the asphalt. While I had my bike in for a repair (a bent rear derailer) and upgrade for the back gear cassette, I consultated with my favorite bicycle repair person, Ben, at R.E.I., about the dual touring I wanted to do. He talked about ‘off-road’ tires for the bike. My bike is not a mountain bike. It is a big touring bike. They are heavier than mountain bikes or even my road bike, but still I had read some people who do touring also include dirt/gravel road riding. If you are in a third world country, often there are very few paved roads.

Ben said he wanted to do a little research first to see if he could find ones that would not require me to take off my fenders, especially the back one where there was little clearance. During the week, he ordered me some that should work both on the asphalt and dirt–dual purpose tires. My current ones, which are essentially brand new, are great road tires, but not for dirt/gravel roads. When they came in a week or so later, I took the bike in to get them changed out. (Yes, I could have done it myself but there were some other factors we had to make a decisions about.) Off-road, dual purpose tires are wider and have special treads on the sides to help stabilize you during turns on the dirt/gravel.

I was delighted when I got to R.E.I, The tires had brown sidewalls which went nicely with my new Brooks leather saddle (seat)–and not so bad with my handlebar bag. Then, Ben had the audacity to tell me I could also get brown leather handlebar padding when I got ready to replace them. Vanity, vanity, vanity. I know where part of my R.E.I. rebate is going next year. Okay, back to my story.

My R.E.I. Adv 1.1. touring bike with new tires and saddle, sans touring bags.

Got the bicycle with its new tires back home, but the rear tires was leaking a little air. The tires can be run tubeless. You just add a sealant inside the tire so that if it gets a puncture and it self seals. Now, I know several tricks for remedying air leaks, but it was still leaking. After trying all my tricks, and getting a few more from R.E.I. bike shop people, I still had a slow leak. I decided to put the tire up to pressure and take it for a couple of mile ride to see if that would seal it. So I did, and it helped. But, alas, still a tiny leak. So, another ride. This time it seemed to seal. When I got up the next morning, it was still reading 60 lbs! Bingo, problem solved.

Okay it was Sunday morning and going to be a nice day. I really like to go for rides on Sundays. Traffic is light is a big factor. However, I also had vowed to walk the dogs every morning when we weren’t taking the horses out to our boys school for equine-assisted psychotherapy, which is only one day a week usually. A solution for the day: I would take the dogs with me! This is where it could tricky I thought to myself.

I wanted to try the new off-road tires off road. Clemson University has a wonderful system of dirt/gravel roads in their Experimental Forrest about 12 miles from me. That was a perfect place to try out my new tires and also make sure that rear tire was indeed holding air–and that the dogs could run along beside me. It would be a short, shake-down ride.

Now back to the dogs. We got there. Now Morgan is Old Dog (black in the image above), twelve years old. He is still the most energetic of the two. Lacy (white) is Young Dog, a little over two years old. She’s gotten fat, and the vet said I have got to put her on a diet to loose some weight. I was interesting to me she said nothing about getting more exercise. Now, I get loads of exercise, but the dogs not so much. One reason, is that like to ride the bicycle now and there is not a good way to do that with the dogs–at least on the city streets around me. Walking, hiking, or backpacking is harder on my arthritic hip joints, but bicycling doesn’t bother me. The city has an ordinance about dogs being on a leash. Actually they are on leashes, electronic collars that have a half-mile range. The CU Experimental Forrest offered me a great opportunity not only to try out my bike on the dirt/gravel roads, but a safe place for the dogs to accompany me. Right? Well…

It was Sunday morning after all. We got there and there were horses and riders all over, joggers, many of them university student age, bicyclers, walkers, etc. So, first note to self: do these roads during the week, not on Saturday or Sunday. I have trained the dogs to be around people and horses, so they took it all in stride. I unpacked my bike and the dogs, put my touring bags back on the bike and headed out down the road. I didn’t have a map so had to stop and ask a couple of people where the various roads went. (Second, note to self: get a map!)

It was a wonderful ride. After about half a mile, the dogs tongs were hanging out; they were huffing and puffing, and Ms Tubby Dog, dropping further and further behind. Morgan did a better job keeping up with me. I was riding slow. Had to stop several times for them to catch up. The new tires did great, and I really liked being able to ride on the gravel/dirt roads. The roads are peaceful and scenic–even with all the horses, joggers, hikers, etc.

Additional notes to self: 1) bring water and a water dish for dogs; 2) do this some more with them so that they can get in better shape.