Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My New Training Partner

You've probably heard me complain from time to time about riding alone. While it's certainly a part of consistent cycling, it isn't as much fun as it sounds. I won't be complaining about that anymore. I now have a new training partner. We met a couple of weeks ago and have had a great relationship ever since. She weighs 17 pounds and is named Rinti. She's a wire fox terrier.

I have been strapping her carrier to my commuter bike every day for the trip to and from my truck, so she's accustomed to cycling, and likes it. But I didn't have a way to take her along with me on my training rides; my road bike has no rack and no way to mount one - it's carbon fiber. So instead, I purchased a luggage rack for my Burley Nomad trailer to pull behind my road bike. Now we can travel together even on my days off. I just strap her carrier to the top of the luggage rack and down the road we go.

Although she isn't much help on the rides, she is good company - if you don't mind the constant complaining. For instance, when we are climbing uphill (which now causes me to use lower gears than I previously needed) I hear this little voice behind me, "Hey! Won't this thing go any faster? It's gonna be dark by the time we get up this little hill." I usually ignore her and just keep pedaling. Or if we get to rolling too quickly going down the other side she yells, "Hey Andretti! This ain't Daytona! And there aren't any seat belts back here, either. How about using those brakes and peeling off a little speed, already."

Terriers are independent creatures. They have their own mind, and resent your interference. If they want something, they expect to get it. For instance, when I am unwrapping a Power Bar, I hear, "Hey! You bring enough to share? Cause you shouldn't eat in front of me if you don't have enough for both of us!" Or if we've been too long between stops she yells, "Hey! I gotta pee! You planning to stop soon, or you just gonna wait until my eyes turn yellow?"

She doesn't have to do any of the work during our training rides; she only has to sit there and look at the scenery. My trailer doesn't trail directly behind my bike, it sits off to the left just a little. Rinti is able to see where we're going. In fact, when I stand to pedal she hollers, "Hey! Down in front! You make a better door than a window, mister. You're blocking the view. Time to lose a few pounds off that butt, Miles!" And being able to see ahead, she is on the lookout for bumps or even other dogs. Sometimes it's, "Hey! You trying to hit every bump on purpose or what? Cause if it's by accident, you are way ahead of the law of probability!" And when three big dogs came out of a yard after us, it was, "I hope you got a plan! Can't you put a little more into it? They're catching up."

Despite the constant kvetching, her company brings me peace. If I look in my bar end mirror I can see her in her carrier, and I'm glad she's along. Except for that one time that I looked back and she was licking herself and said, "Hey! Can't a girl get a little privacy around here?" Other than that, I enjoy having her behind me on a ride, and seeing her little face peering out of the grate of her carrier.

So as long as she is willing to climb into the carrier when it's strapped to the trailer and head down the road behind my bike, Rinti and I will be cycling the second half together.
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