Cycling UK's Top Dog is Oscar!
Cycling UK's Top Dog is Oscar!
There is no doubt about it, 65-year-old Maggie Scorer from Orford in Suffolk is adventurous: she has sailed half-way round the world and around the coast of Britain. But as well as loving the sea, she also loves cycling so in March this year she decided to combine the two and take her dog Oscar along for a ride around Great Britain's coastline.
Cycling UK's Top Dog
Maggie's dog Oscar, who is a Golden Retriever, was the star of the show, attracting a lot of attention along the way. He was a constant companion, encouraging Maggie after a hard day in the saddle. We don't know of a dog belonging to a Cycling UK member that has travelled as far by bike, so we have awarded him the title of Cycling UK's Top Dog.*
Taking him on the journey, though, meant Maggie had to tow an extra 32 kg, plus 4 kg of food. After doing extensive research, Maggie chose to use a Dutch dog trailer called Doggy-Ride. She rode a Thorn hand-built steel touring bike.
Maggie is pleased to be back home but she says: "It has been an incredible journey – a journey of highs and lows, funny times, tough times, so many new places and new faces, changes in landscape, architecture, culture and seasons. A huge physical challenge but even more of a mental, psychological and emotional challenge than I expected – a life-changing, spiritual experience."
Oscar ran alongside the bike sometimes, but mostly he happily climbed into his trailer. Maggie said he was a wonderful companion: "A real star, adapting to each new day with apparent ease. Loving all the attention from passers-by, his new doggy friends, the long walks and swims and generally watching the world go by. He might find life a bit dull back at home!"
So why did she take her dog with her? Maggie told us he had come along on her sailing adventures so leaving him behind was not an option. Plus, she felt safer with him by her side.
Their full itinerary is available on Maggie's blog Dog on Tour. Maggie and Oscar travelled anti-clockwise, heading north from Suffolk along the east coast, choosing a route which was as close to the sea as possible. They set off in March and returned six months later back in Aldeburgh, to a cheering crowd of Maggie's friends, family and many cyclists who were inspired by her journey.
Top tips for cycling with a dog
Here are Maggie’s tips for cycling with a dog in a trailer:
- Have a well-trained and well-behaved dog!
- Make sure your dog is well-balanced and not scared by traffic or loud noises. Check they are not jumpy at traffic lights or when you are overtaken.
- Buy a specialist dog trailer, don’t use a child trailer as a larger dog will be able to rock it and it will become unstable.
- Think about if you need to use a harness (Oscar was happy and safe without one).
- Finish your ride with enough time to take your dog for a good walk and run around.
- Plan your accommodation as not all campsites, hostels and B&Bs welcome dogs.
- Stop every 3 hours so your dog can stretch its legs, think about where you stop and try not to ever stop on a busy road.
- Take spare walking boots for walking the dog - you don’t want to be cycling in wet and muddy shoes and it gives your cycling shoes a chance to dry out.
- Think about how the weather will affect your dog. I used a wet travel towel soaked in water to cool Oscar down on hot days, as his head got hot sticking out of the trailer. He didn’t mind the rain at all, in fact he hated his rain cover more. When it was raining hard, Oscar wore a cycling cape (designed for humans!). He also wore a dogrobe.
- Make sure your dog has a comfy place to sleep. Oscar slept on the memory foam mattress from the trailer, a dog fleece and dog towel.
- Oscar ate the same dog food as at home and had a collapsible washing up bowl for his food and water.
- Don’t forget a flea and tick collar, poo bags and a dog first aid kit.
- Choose your route well, avoid narrow roads when cycling with a dog trailer. Cycle tracks with narrow gates are frustrating too as you cannot get through without detaching the trailer and getting the dog out.
- Cycling uphill is hard work when you are towing an extra weight, expect to get out and walk on steep hills.
- Cycling downhill is tricky too, as the extra weight means you pick up speed.
- Practise towing your dog on short trips.
*If you are a Cycling UK member and think your dog deserves a cycling award, please let us know, by leaving a comment below.