Story and photos contributed by Ruffwear Employee, Allison Miles
As a Ruffwear employee, dog owner, and general adventure enthusiast, I am constantly inspired by evolving dog gear that allows us humans to share more and more adventures with our furry friends. Recently, I’ve been exploring bike touring and bike-to-ski touring with my 6-month old dog, Riggins.
Last weekend, I set my sights on the empty roads, high desert landscapes and ancient rock formations of Eastern Oregon. Before the sun came up, I loaded up my touring bike, panniers, Burley Tail Wagon, and Riggins into the truck and drove two hours east. My panniers held my tent, sleeping bag, Jet Boil stove, enough food and coffee for a couple days, food, treats and bones for Riggins, and clothing layers to keep me dry and warm through the forecasted thunderstorms and cold desert nights. I spread out the Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag™ inside the Tail Wagon to keep Riggins warm and comfortable as I pedaled. I stashed his Flat Out™ Leash, Aira™ waterproof rain jacket, and Bivy Bowl™ into the wagon’s outer mesh pockets, where I could quickly access them (yet where he wouldn’t be tempted to chew them).
Once we were on the road, reality about the weight I was towing quickly set in. (When I got home and weighed everything, it was in the ballpark of 115 lbs). Only a few miles in, I was huffing, puffing and grunting to get up a hill. I stopped, leaned over my handlebars to catch my breath, and turned back to look at Riggins, who was contentedly – and obliviously – gnawing a bone in the Tail Wagon. I pulled the break on the wagon (an amazing and incredibly useful feature), put Riggins on leash, and made him get out and walk alongside as I rode. The road was wide and the desert landscape provided ample views ahead and behind, so I could keep an eye out for cars. 47 pounds lighter without Riggins, my bike felt like a feather and we quickly topped the hill, sat down for a water break, and took in the view of the valley below.
Riggins happily returned to his bone inside the wagon and we began our descent. The churning black skies, which had been threatening all morning, finally opened up and bombarded us with rain and hail. I pulled over to put Riggins in his Aira Jacket and zip the plastic cover over his wagon to keep him dry. I put on my rain gear as well, just in time for the squall to move on and the sun to break through the clouds.
We continued for another 40+ miles this way, covering 52 miles in the first day. Time slowed. I found myself grinding up hills, sometimes pushing the bike or making Riggins get out and walk, but the miles gradually flowed by, along with roadside wildflowers and the swiftly moving river. Sunshine alternated with fat rain drops, but we managed to avoid a second deluge that day.
A little after 6pm, we arrived at an empty campground along the John Day River. Riggins explored the banks of the river as I made dinner and set up the tent. Just before dark, Riggins snuggled in his Highlands Sleeping Bag next to me in the tent, where I sipped hot tea and listened to the return of the rain as I examined my maps and planned my next day of riding. I drifted off to sleep and woke some time later to the full moon shining into the tent. Snuggling up to Riggins and smiling to myself, I fell back into a restful sleep.
We woke to the sun cresting the ridge to our east and I broke camp, taking about an hour to savor my coffee and pack our gear, carefully balancing the weight in each pannier. Riggins was happy to jump back into the Tail Wagon for another adventurous day of riding (or scenic bone-chewing). The sun stayed with us through the next day as we explored the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and looped our way back to the truck.
I believe that the most exciting part of an adventure is the unknown. We set out without knowing what might happen or what we’re capable of achieving, enduring or overcoming. It can be scary, surprising, funny, joyful, and beautiful. Sharing this experience with a canine friend seems to make the unknown feel a little less scary, a little more joyful, and a lot more memorable. Thanks, Ruffwear and Burley, for helping Riggins and me create these incredible memories together!