Siberian Husky is bikejoring in the woods

What Is Bikejoring? History, Fun Facts, and More

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Lara Jill , 14th March 2024

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If you enjoy mountain biking, you’ll find bikejoring an exciting new way to harness an active dog’s natural instincts to run into a structured form of exercise that benefits you both.

Bikejoring is like dog sledding—but with wheels and without snow. Imagine the rush of wind on your face as you speed through the woods, with your beast friend by your side. Sniffer will love bikejoring (and the potpourri of smells) just as much!

Know that bikejoring isn’t just a recreational activity of dogs pulling a bicycle; it is a sport in its own right.

Origins of Bikejoring: How It All Started

I’m pretty sure many have been wondering, “Where did bikejoring originate, and what’s the meaning behind its name?”

Sled Mushing, the Grandfather of Bikejoring

Bikejoring has its roots deeply ingrained in mushing, commonly known as dogsledding. As you may recall from your history class, people back in the day employed powerful, high-stamina dogs to transport themselves and their cargo across snowy landscapes. Remnants of sleds and harnesses were found on Zhokhov Island, and radiocarbon dating shows this practice dates back at least 6,000 BC.1

Sled dogs also became the go-to mode of transport in Yukon and Alaska. In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen raced to the South Pole with a team of sled dogs. But what really puts mushing on the map is the heroic 1925 Serum Run.

Togo and Siberian Huskies in the 1925 Serum run

Amidst treacherous weather conditions, 20 brave mushers and 150 sled dogs embarked on a perilous relay mission to transport 30,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin to the remote town of Nome. The stakes were high, and countless lives hung in the balance.

The legendary Leonhard Seppala and his fierce Siberian Huskies, led by Togo, trekked an astounding 674 miles before meeting up with Gunnar Kaasen and Balto, who completed the final 53-mile stretch of the relay.

Thanks to modern technology, no musher and canine had to risk their lives anymore and dog sledding evolved into a competitive sport. While sled mushing is the grandfather of all mushing sports, Bikejoring likely came out of skijoring, another popular sport in Scandinavia where skiing is deeply ingrained in their culture.

The Birth of Bikejoring

Not everyone has access to snowy terrain and climate changes caused dogsled races to become less viable. As such, sled dog racers and skijorers alike had to seek another way to combine the humans’ craving for adventure and their canine companions’ penchant for running.

Thus, bikejoring emerged, highlighting the power and agility of dogs. The term was coined by combining the English word “bike” and the Norwegian word “kjøring,” which refers to the action of being pulled by something.

Bikejoring swiftly gained popularity in Europe in the 70’s. It allowed enthusiasts to enjoy the same adrenaline thrill while also providing a fun, active time with their pets. Bikejoring has evolved over the years from attaching your dog next to your bike to the standard practice of having them running in front using a bike antenna and bungee leash.

Bikejoring, an Emerging Sport in America

While Europeans have been competing in singletrack bikejoring events for years, this sport has only been starting to get traction among Americans in the mid-2000s.

In 2019, Brad Kassing and his wife, Dr. Sarah Kassing, a veterinarian and leader of the Arizona Chapter of Canicross USA, have been instrumental in promoting bikejoring in the United States by representing America at the Dryland World Championships in Sweden.

Fast-forward to March 5, 2022, the couple helped organize America’s first bikejoring event. By hosting this event, organizers aimed to showcase that bikejoring is a serious sport, even though it’s relatively new in the United States.

A lot of us are trying to show that this is a real thing. This is a safe thing. Some of the European athletes are laughing at us, literally like joking at some of the posts that Americans are making, about how we’re too afraid to go on singletrack trails. So for the whole mushing community, this race has a lot of significance,❞ Kassing said in an interview for the Moab Sun News.

The event was held on the Klondike Bluffs Trail System just north of Moab. The national mountain biking community considers the area the mecca for the sport, with challenging trails designed for more seasoned riders.

Is Bikejoring a Real Sport?

Bikejoring is a legitimate sport that has been acknowledged by various international governing bodies, such as the International Canicross and Bikejoring Federation (ICF) and the International Federation of Sleddogs Sports (IFSS). World Championship races cover 4 to 10 kilometers, averaging speeds around 30 km/h with the fastest dogs recorded reaching up to 60 km/h.

Maxime Chaya and Pepper during ICF Bikejoring World Champions 2023

The latest ICF World Bikejoring Championships took place in Lipa, Germany where Maxime Chaya and Pepper, his German Shorthaired Pointer, brought home the title Bikejoring World Champions for 2023. The biggest bikejoring and canicross event will take place in Italy between October 15 to 20th this year.

The Top Dogs of Bikejoring

When it comes to the dog-eat-dog bikejoring championships, two names stand out as the most accomplished athletes.

Viktor Sinding-Larsen

Viktor Sinding-Larsen and his Greysters

Viktor Sinding-Larsen is a 42-year-old athlete hailing from Norway. He displayed incredible skills and exemplary dedication in his pursuit of excellence, which is reflected in his numerous achievements:

2008 – 2 IFSS European Champion Bikejoring

2009 – 1 IFSS World Champion Bikejoring

2010 – 2 IFSS European Champion Bikejoring

2011 – 3 IFSS World Champion Bikejoring

2013 – 2 IFSS World Champion Bikejoring

2014 – 2 IFSS European Champion Bikejoring

2017 – 2 IFSS World Champion Bikejoring

2018 – 1 IFSS European Champion Bikejoring

2019 – 1 IFSS World Champion Bikejoring

20x Norwegian Champion

Viktor also set records in scootering, skijoring, relay, and combined dog sports.

Igor Trackz

Igor Trackz and his Greyster

Another athlete found at the forefront of bikejoring world championships is Igor Trackz from Poland. His achievements include victories in the following:

2009 – Double World champion, 2nd dog class and 4th dog class, Canada

2011 – World Champion, 4 dog class, Norway

2013 – World Bikejoring Champion, Italy

2015 – Double World Champion, 4 dog class and bikejoring, Canada

2018 – World Bikejoring Champion, Poland

Bikejoring Fun Facts

The Siberian Husky is probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of strong, high-endurance canine breeds for bikejoring. Hold on to your hats! Take a closer look at the world champions. You’ll immediately realize that their trusty companions are either German Shorthaired Pointers or Greysters.

Now, what is a Greyster? A Greyster is a crossbred from the Greyhound and the German Shorthaired Pointer. This show-stopping breed is a cross between a Greyhound and a German Shorthaired Pointer. The latter is best known for being a proficient, well-rounded hunter, while it is no secret that the Greyhound is the fastest dog alive!

These innate skills, combined with consistent and efficient bikejoring command training, would make these dogs a force to be reckoned with.

Conclusion

Bikejoring demonstrates the incredible bond between humans and their canine companions. Know that even if you’d rather just enjoy a more laidback outdoor adventure rather than compete, you still need to provide your dog with the right training and equip him with the proper gear, such as a comfortable yet heavy-duty free-motion harness.

Why not give it a try and create unforgettable moments? Your dog will benefit from the physical and mental stimulation, and you may just discover a new passion for bikejoring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can small dogs join bikejoring?

Unfortunately, no. This activity is suitable for medium to large breeds that are agile and strong enough to pull a certain amount of weight.

What is the minimum age for a dog to compete in bikejoring competitions?

Your dog should be at least 18 months old with complete vaccinations.

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