Riding the Fox Cities – May (Cats and Dogs)

May is coming to an end, but summer is just starting. Hopefully you were able to get in a few bike rides, because it’s a great time to ride in the Fox Cities!

My personal theme for May is “Cats and Dogs”. Doesn’t sound like much of a bike theme? Well, keep on reading and hopefully all will make sense.

Trophy and Prizes

Trophy and Prizes

One of the rides I did in May is the Fox [V]alley Cat race. I was looking forward to this event ever since I participated in the 1st Fox [V]alley Cat race last November. An “alley cat” race is essentially a scavenger hunt of sorts on bike. They originated as competitions among bike messengers to see who was the best. Riders are given a crude map/manifest with destinations when they show up. Stops can be done in any order and there is no predefined route and each stop typically has a challenge. Part of the fun is thinking through the optimal route. This particular race is more for adults since the stop challenge may involve having a shot of whiskey. These aren’t for everyone, but if this sounds like something that would interest you, check out the Fox Valley Alley Cat Races Facebook page. The organizers do a great job and I had a lot of fun.

The dog part of my theme has to do with an experiment over the last month.  I started taking my dogs (one at a time) for a run while I bike.  Since I love to bike and they love to run, I always wanted to see if I could make this work.  There are obvious risks which prevented me from trying this in the past; however, the potential health and happiness benefits for the dogs and me made me want to experiment.

Dog on the run

Sadie going for a run

The experiment started with me taking my daughter’s cruiser style bike so I could sit more upright (the upright position keeps any weight off my hands) and have a lower center of gravity.  I tried other bikes since, but this is still my favorite for dog rides.  This enables me to hold the leash with one hand, steer and brake with the other (coaster brakes using the pedals would be better), and still ride in control.  I use my arm to limit slack in the line so my dog, Sadie, can’t cross in front or behind the bike, and she doesn’t seem to have any desire to go through the bike.  I also bought a comfortable harness so that there is no pressure on her neck when pulling.  Overall, we found a solution that we are comfortable with and we both look forward to our rides/runs.  I’m not recommending this for everyone.  However, if you are confident in your bike handling skills and have a furry companion that would love to run, it may be worth starting your own experiment.

bike lights in the rain

bike lights in the rain (long exposure)

Since Memorial Day weekend just ended, many of you may have experienced another form of “cats and dogs”.  Although the weather was nice overall, there were some rain showers passing through.  I hope you were lucky enough to get caught in one of them.  Yes, I said “lucky”.  In general, I do try to avoid riding in the rain, but if you haven’t done it lately I encourage you to try.  It can be a kid-like experience and once you are wet you may find yourself intentionally seeking out more puddles.  I don’t recommend this if commuting TO work, but if you are headed home and would change/shower immediately after anyway, then return to your youth and have a little fun!

Newton Blackmour

Newton Blackmour

I had lots of other great rides, including the nearby Newton-Blackmour trail, but I’ll just leave you with the cats and dogs for today. I hope you are able to get out and find your own bike themes. I’ll be back in June to share mine.

As always, if you enjoy riding in the Fox Cities, including many of the free ride events offered by the FCCA, please consider showing your support by becoming a member.


P.S. If you aren’t doing the Bike Challenge, check out the National Bike Challenge page for more info.

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