Updates on Training

Okay, so my attempts at a weekly posting have really gone awry over the past month. I got crazy with work and, between the heat and the rain, I just haven’t been out much. Or at least not enough to make an interesting trip report.

Things that have come up, though, are that because of the heat I wanted to make it safer for me to take Ranger for a ride in the cooler evening or morning hours. The problem with those times are that it’s usually dark enough that people aren’t looking for cyclists. I ordered a bike light set for my bike and am pleasantly surprised at the visibility, both for me and for traffic also on the road. The front white LED is a 1W and has several settings: flashing, low and ZOMG!MYEYES! The rear red LED taillight has solid, flash and strobe. Ranger also has a red flashing LED that hangs from his collar, and one that I can clip to the back of his harness if I put a harness on him. I have reflective vests for both of us. Mine is mesh vest in a bright highway-worker yellowy-green, so I wear it in daylight as well. I wear safety glasses and a helmet, despite research that I recently came across that says bike helmets may not protect you in an accident.

Ranger has put in about 70 miles on the bike tow leash and has had a lot of fun with it. I’ve taken him across the dam where I live. The walkway there is narrow and has a barrier to keep you away from cars. The flexibility of the bike tow leash has allowed him to safely drop behind my rear tire in this situation. On days when it hasn’t been pouring rain I take Ranger out. Of course, since it’s not pouring, there are squirrels and rabbits all over. He hasn’t been able to pull me over to get to them, and can’t get around my front tire to get to the ones on our right as we ride by. This has definitely been a good purchase.

On the weight pull front, I purchased and assembled a wheeled cart for Ranger’s weight pull training. It rolls pretty well and he shouldn’t have any trouble pulling it for his qualifying weight (on wheels it’s 8x his body weight for a qualifying pull and 10x for his CH and All Star points). Right now it’s still so hot out that he’ll only give me a couple of good pulls with little weight on it before he quits, so I have to start back at much lower weights (probably even an empty cart) to build up his confidence to keep pulling even when you have to put some effort into it.The house I live in came with a large pile of bricks behind it–about 800# by my estimates. This will be plenty for Ranger to practice on. I don’t expect him to ever need to pull much more than that. He has moved about 1000# on rails before, but decided it was too hard (after almost a full 16-feet pull) so he stopped and barked at me. This is what I’m trying to avoid by building up his confidence.

This cart has a 1200# capacity (I don’t know the weight of the cart itself, but it’s over 50#). I used 1400# test vinyl-coated metal rope for the traces. I clip him in using a screw-gate carabiner. I tied down the steering mechanism, but am still having some trouble keeping it from moving around, so it sometimes doesn’t track very straight. If anyone has any suggestions on how to improve that, please let me know in the comments section.