Article & Photos by Maria Christina Shultz, SUP with your PUP
Spending three weeks on the road with my Australian shepherds, Kona and Riley this winter was an amazing break from reality. We did it all, from paddling and biking to hiking and shark-tooth hunting! But one of the biggest highlights for me was being able to share a few biking adventures with Kona in her Burley Tail Wagon.
I’ve been working on training both dogs to ride confidently in the trailer for the last several weeks, and on this trip, it all came together for Kona, who absolutely loved our rides. Riley, on the other hand, is still not quite ready for long rides. While it broke my heart to leave him behind in the RV, I didn’t want to push him or stress him out.
One of our first stops was Jekyll Island, Georgia. The island is a state park and it’s over-the-top dog friendly, from the restaurants and shops to the campground. There’s also an amazing bike path around the perimeter of the island. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to test Kona’s training with an extended ride. She rode perfectly for the first three miles, and then the trail opened up and we got to ride along the ocean. With the bike trail nearly empty, I let Kona out to run alongside my bike on a leash. She was stoked! She pulled me for nearly a mile at 13mph, seeming to smile, with her tongue hanging out, the whole time. After a while we pulled over to explore the beach. The rest of the trip around the island was simply gorgeous. I let Kona out for a few more runs to make sure she was good and tired. We ended the ride on a driftwood beach, where the smooth, compacted sand makes pedaling easy. What a treat to ride on the beach!
The next stop on our trip was the Santos Trailhead Campground, which offers world-class mountain biking and hiking. But now there’s something else … right behind our campsite was a brand new paved bike path! It had literally just opened about a week before we arrived. Right now it’s only 16 miles, but it will eventually run across the entire state, connecting several other trail systems. Kona and I had a blast on the fresh, buttery smooth asphalt, and she rode and ran with me the entire 16 miles. I’d love to come back and ride through the entire state of Florida with Kona. We’ll follow the progress of the trail’s construction and add this to our bucket list.
As we traveled farther south to one of our favorite Gulf Cities, Venice, I knew I’d have a third opportunity to log more time with the Tail Wagon and Kona. On Christmas day, we visited the Legacy Trail. It’s a 15-mile paved trail running between Sarasota and Venice. Kona and I rode 10 miles out and back in the beautiful Florida sunshine. She insisted on running more this time and happily trotted along next to the bike for about five miles.
Each trail offered something different, and after all three rides, Kona and I had logged 53 miles with the Tail Wagon. In the road biking world, 53 miles might not be an impressive distance, but to me, it’s just awesome to share new experiences with my dogs. Every time we do something new together I feel our bond strengthen. It’s like I’ve always said – it’s not how far or how fast you go that makes an adventure special, it’s the company you keep. I’m looking forward to planning a few bikepacking trips with Kona this spring and getting Riley more comfortable with this awesome new activity our pack has discovered.