Moab to Host Nation’s First-Ever Single-Track Bikejor Race | get out and go

The first-ever singletrack bikejor race in the United States will take place in Moab the weekend of March 5.

Wait—bikejor?

Imagine a dog sled race on dry land, with one mountain bike instead of a sled and two dogs instead of 16. The “Western Singletrack Trail Dog Challenge” will be held on the Klondike Bluffs Trail System, just at north of Moab.

According to Brad Kassing, an avid bikejor who helped organize the race, bikejoring has been growing in the United States since the mid-2000s.

“It’s a lot easier to participate in than sled races because you only need one or two dogs,” Kassing said. Kassing lives in Flagstaff and has been bikejoring for five years. There are a few factors driving the growth of the sport – on the one hand, he said, many dog ​​sled races are becoming less viable due to climate change affecting the duration of sled races; and during the pandemic, the number of bicycle and dog owners has increased. Bikejoring brings “all of those things together,” he said.

Kassing got into the sport when his adventure partner dog began to age and be less able to join Kassing in mountain biking and hiking. While Kassing was looking to adopt another dog, his wife suggested he adopt a sled dog, a dog bred to have hard feet and athletic stamina.

“I describe her as a great friend, but a terrible pet,” he said. He started bikejoring with his dog early on and found that they both excel at the sport. His wife also adopted a sled dog, so the couple could cycle together, and now they do it competitively.

In Flagstaff, bikejoring is pretty popular — a race Kassing took part in last fall had 64 teams. He’s trying to keep the Moab event smaller, he said, because it will be the first bikejor event in the United States on a single-track or technical mountain bike trail. He chose Moab because it is well known in the national mountain biking community as the mecca of the sport, and because the mountain bike trails near Moab are designed for more experienced riders.

By organizing a bikejor race in Moab, he hopes to show people that bikejoring is a serious sport.

“The single-track dog sled racing culture in the United States is very, very different,” Kassing said. While this race will be the first-ever singletrack event in the United States, in Europe bikejor athletes have been competing in singletrack events for years. “It’s a bit of a touchy subject in some ways,” he said.

This is because many Americans consider the sport to be weird and a bit dangerous. Kassing said it can get dangerous when people try it because of their dog, instead of the other way around. To succeed as a bikejor athlete, you must first be a mountain biker.

“A lot of us are trying to show that it’s a real thing. It’s a sure thing. Some of the European athletes are laughing at us, like they’re literally joking about some of the posts that the Americans put out, about the way we’re too scared to go single track trails,” Kassing said. “So for the whole mushing community, this race means a lot.”

Bikejoring on a single track trail will be challenging for the same reason as mountain biking on a single track trail: the trails have tight turns, small ledges, loose cobblestones. Riding with dogs that pull you sometimes makes it easier, Kassing said, because the dogs can help stabilize the bike in turns.

“There’s a problem with mountain bikers who don’t take the sport so seriously because they can’t imagine a dog actually pulling them,” he said. “But these dogs can go up to 30 miles an hour. Mountain bike gearing won’t get you 30 miles per hour.

Kassing is expecting about a dozen teams for the Moab race, he said. The race will be run as a time trial and each team will run the course twice. Generally, during bikejoring races, teams average over 20 miles per hour.

“The most fun part to watch is the start line,” Kassing said. “You see the dogs rushing in, trying to get away.”

Anyone interested in registering or watching the race can find more information through the “Bikejoring Western USA” Facebook group.

About Norman Griggs

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