"Princess, I don't think we're alone!"
Operation Jodhpurs Bulk-Up is now underway. Getting ready for our second mountain bike ride was a real treat. Juno practically did cartwheels around the garden as I put the bike rack on the car and loaded up the mountain bike gear. She knew where were going and she was more than ready for it. Loki even pranced around me as I test road my bike around the driveway and gave me no grief about getting into his car crate--another story for another day on his new-found anxiety. Juno engaged Loki in play and tugged his favorite toy in excitement. She never does that. Nah, she doesn't like mountain bike riding at all.
The hard part is convincing her to do less. She hasn't really biked more than 5-6 miles in Switzerland on easy paved farm trails. Her first ride out here in California was 7 miles and it was really hard to convince her that day to turn around. She stands her ground and pleads with me, prancing in the opposite direction and looking back to see if I'm coming until she finally gives in and follows me. This day we made it to the top of one of the big climbs with our choice of beautiful single track to descend. I could hear Mr. Wild Dingo's warning echoing in my head: "Do not take them down the single track, it's too dangerous, blah-blah-blah."
"Hello boys. If you want to keep up with the husky, you're going to have to work a little harder on the climbs!"
But you can't say no to the husky who's forging ahead, hoping we don't back track on trails she's already seen. And I couldn't say no to single track so close within my grasp. So we chose a trail and went for it. The dogs were in seventh heaven. And it felt mighty fine to be back on my mountain bike, enjoying the swooping single track.
We ran into a few lone riders and a group of two or three on the trails. It seems the spring weather is calling a few to play hooky and head to the mountains. I love exposing the dogs to as much as possible. The first month I had Loki, he went ballistic at bike riders, total cujo. Now he will alert (quietly) for me but he either ignores or is very friendly to passing riders. How both of these dogs have changed in their five years with me.
This time we managed to do an entire loop, two climbs and 2 descents for a total of 10 miles. It may have been a bit much for Juno's second ride out. Loki handled it with ease, but Juno struggled a little bit on the last 2-3 miles. She let me know when she needed to rest and take water and let me know when she was ready to go again. All the while the in the back of my mind: what if she can't make it out? I'm off the grid and can't possibly call for help. We saw enough riders out there to know that there would be someone passing us so I didn't panic. Instead, I let her pace us and never forced her to go any faster than she wanted to go. And though she slowed, she was completely capable and a few times busted off the trail to chase a squirrel with Loki, so she couldn't have been that tired.
"Princess, those dudes had sandwiches."
"Follow the sandwich, Big Boy. Follow the sandwich!"
She was thoroughly spent after the ride and crashed on the lawn watching me as I unpacked the car and put things away. I expected her to be stiff this morning, but she's already pounced around the garden and tried to egg-on Loki in some games. It was a risk to do such a big ride for her so soon, but with lots of massage last night and rest, she's doing better than I expected. We're booked at the end of the month for a PT session to evaluate how she's doing and I'll bring her in for some acupuncture tune-up. But overall, Operation Jodhpurs Bulk-Up is underway. Its first and second missions: accomplished.