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New on Portland’s cyclocross scene: Dog racing

Posted by on November 12th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Cross Crusade #4-52
How fast is your dog?
(Photo © J. Maus)

If you’ve attended a cyclocross race in or around Portland, you probably noticed that there are nearly as many dogs as bikes. For some reason, there’s a huge cross over between dog lovers and ‘cross lovers.

Now, one local race organizer plans to make the dogs part of the action.

Kris Schamp, owner of Portland Racing, said the idea came to him after watching the Cross Crusade up in Astoria over Halloween Weekend. “Seeing all the dogs out there sitting on the sidelines, I just thought ‘Hey, why don’t they get to race and have fun?’”

At Schamp’s Kruger’s Crossing Cyclocross Classic on November 22nd, he’ll have a race for dogs and dog owners. The course will be about a 1/2 mile long and, like any respectable cyclocross course should, it will feature mud, several barriers, and “a bunch of other things dogs might appreciate.” No bikes are allowed in the race and dogs can be either on-leash or off must be kept on-leash. There’s even a special category for “carry-on and lap dogs” where owner must carry their dogs along the entire course.

“The response so far has been overwhelming, so it looks like it’s something that a lot of folks (and dogs) have been waiting for.”
— Kris Schamp, Portland Racing

Prizes will be awarded to top finishers and the “most original dog attire” (will we see a pitbull in spandex!?). There will even be a fenced-off corral where dogs and their owners can socialize before and after their race.

Schamp said the venue for his event, Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island, was so dog friendly that he felt is “seemed like a natural fit.” He’s partnered up with local small business owner Lanette Noble, whose Cycle Dog company makes dog leashes and collars out of recycled bicycle inner tubes.

Has Schamp found a new niche in the local bike scene? “The response so far has been overwhelming, so it looks like it’s something that a lot of folks (and dogs) have been waiting for. Should be a blast.”

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Comments
  • cory November 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm

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  • nahbois November 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    This is such a bad idea I don’t even know where to start.

    I’ve raced my dogs at dog show trials, and muzzles are required because a dog fight is almost inevitable. When you start mixing strange dogs in a strange environment, bad things happen.

    Now people are going to have dogs off leash (who are probably not under voice control) running around with dogs who are ON LEASH, which inhibits body language and often makes dogs feel insecure. I’m really doing a face/palm here over this idea.

    I hope the organizer reconsiders, and talks with a few dog behaviorists about the best way that this should be executed.

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  • velo November 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Love it! This should be a great time.

    As for the issue of dogs and fighting my guess is two things:

    1) Most of these dogs have spent a while interacting, I’ve never seen dogs fighting at the cross race.
    2) This will be more fun and less of a true race. (Isn’t that really the spirit of cross? No matter how fast you go part of the joy is just getting muddy!)

    Lots of dogs wander around at the Crusade Races off leash and most are absurdly friendly.

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  • Dan November 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    If that beagle pictured is anything like mine, the next time you let it off leash to race will be the last time you see it.

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  • nahbois November 12, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    The short-sightedness is killing me. Dog’s don’t know the difference between fun and organized.

    If a dog is being run on a leash, their owner by their side and a fiesty off leash dog comes barreling into them, it is just putting dogs in a risky situation.

    I am sure cyclocross organizers do a lot to minimize risk, and are safety conscious. Why isn’t that being done for the dogs?

    If anything ALL dogs should be on leash. I mean, it is the law.

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  • ma November 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Um velo, I’ve heard and or seen at least one dog on dog confrontation at every Cross Crusade event this year. Each time, both dogs seemed well care for and behaved, yet they were still growling. Why? Because they are dogs. Confrontations will eventually happen in any dog social event.

    Off leash idea concerns me too. Its not the dogs that are well socialized, its the OWNERS who think their dogs are well socialized, or owners who can’t or unwilling to control their dogs.

    I may pass on Kruger this year.

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  • brewcaster November 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Bah, relax.

    Ever been to a dog park? Think of it like that but more fun.

    (and beer)

    I say YAY!

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  • joel November 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    #4 nahbois – If anything ALL dogs should be on leash. I mean, it is the law. – well, it IS private property… plenty ok for dogs to be off-leash there. :) but…

    there definitely are some inherent risks involved, and certainly some bugs to be worked out, but many of these dogs have met each other before, at other cross races, and many of them have *copious* dog park experience under their collars. perhaps a leash/off-leash class breakdown? the pre-race socialization area is definitely a good idea as concerns nipping potential problems in the bud goes…

    as for me, my pup wont be finished with his vaccinations for another month, so he doesnt get to go to any cross events, let alone race, quite yet. i suppose thisll give me the opportunity to size this whole thing up based on how things go down at krugers this year. besides, i need the next year to redesign the bike carrier on my cargo bike to accommodate riding the bike *and* the dog to local races.

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  • velo November 12, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    @ ma, I’m willing to believe that confrontations happen, but I’ve personally never seen one. I’m usually amazed at the number of dogs who don’t get wigged out by bikes, other dogs or people.

    @ nahbois, is it really the law that dogs must be on leash on private property? Krueggers is a private venue that hosts some races.

    I hope this works out well, because it could be a ton of fun for people and dogs.

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  • Kris Schamp November 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    nahbois #4:

    This race will be fun AND organized. We plan to do everything to keep things safe for the dogs, the dog owners and the spectators.

    For starters, the race is only for dogs of the friendly/social type. Every week, I see plenty of dogs at the races who fit that profile. If your dog doesn’t do well with other dogs around, it’s probably not a good idea to sign him/her up for the race. We trust that most dog owners will exercise good judgment when making this call.

    Re: leashes, I think it’s probably a good idea to make the dog races on-leash only. After all, we don’t want to run the risk that someone loses their dog in the corn maze!

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  • joel November 12, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    *my* real concern isnt over whether or not dogs will get into fights, but my own survival. i know either of my pups parents could *easily* wipe the floor with me on any lap of any cyclocross race in the world. im concerned that ill be getting dragged along, face down in the mud, by the first turn, if not for the entire lap, not because of an out-of-control dog, but because me in race mode will be no match for him in race mode.

    although this does bring another idea to mind – dog-powered beer slip-n-slide drag races!

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  • bahueh November 12, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Kris, on lease only would be a good idea.

    Other than that, not really too much different than the Tabor Doggie Dash or any number of other related dog running events in this town.

    but, yes, leases required. Any responsible dog owner knows this.

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  • staying home November 12, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    MORE dogs at a bike race?
    No thanks. I’m staying home.
    Kris does put on some good events and I’ve raced at Krugers the past three Novembers but I won’t this year.

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  • Anonymous November 12, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Sounds like fun!

    My preference is for leashes during the race.

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  • Jeff P November 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Dogs on leashes and bikes required somewhere/somehow! It is a bike race venue afterall….what about beers for your dogs!!

    PS Preferrably leashes complying with the 8′ max length MAC law.

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  • Linda November 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    “leash”, not “lease”.

    I agree with the leash only policy, though you may want to specify length of leashes (i.e. no flexi-leashes) so as to prevent or minimize the possibility of dogs and owners getting all tangled up. This may be inevitable.

    I no longer have dogs, but I have to say I’m surprised at the number of dogs I see at cross races. I’m amazed because it seems like such a loud & chaotic place for dogs, and I’ve seen a few looking pretty frightened. I’m sure many of them would much rather be napping somewhere more quiet.

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  • matthew November 12, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    i have a staff terrier (saying pit bull is like saying serial killer & technically incorrect) and spandex… seems like a great time. i do bring her to dog parks and she is very well socialized but like most females if a large male tries to mount or dominate her (she’d fixed) she will definately turn and square off. i’ve seen the same behavior in humans come to think of it. it’s what dogs do regardless of breed. she does respond very well to verbal commands. i will leave her harness on (like i do at the dog parks) and for this event the leash will probably stay on too. i’ll wear a muzzle if it’ll make you feel better… heh, heh…

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  • nahbois November 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Kris,

    Thanks for re-considering the off-leash option. I think you will find that most responsible dog owners will be happy to participate knowing that the off-leash dog variable is off the table.

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  • Kris Schamp November 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks everyone for the feedback…

    By popular vote, the dog races will be on-leash only (no flexi-leashes, please). And yes, there will be a bike element in the race, but I can’t reveal any further details on that.

    Jeff P #15: Beer? Sure, but only for dogs who are 21+.

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  • jh November 12, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Will they be disqualified for humping, because if so, my dogs out!

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  • Brad Ross November 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Kris,

    Consider the possibility that contributors to this blog do not represent the popular vote.

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  • Bald Chick November 13, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Slightly OT, but I thought Kruger had to stop hosting bike races. What changed?

    I’m all for the leashed version…you may also want to restrict use of “canicross” or “skijoring” set ups for the same reason as flexi-leashes.

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  • nahbois November 13, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Brad,

    It shouldn’t be about popular vote, it should be about keeping dogs safe.

    It really can’t be left up to individuals to decide if their dog is nice or not. There is inevitably one moron in a crowd, I nor anyone else should have to worry about their dog.

    Will there be a clean up poo-crew?

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  • fredlf November 13, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Owners of herding breeds (Aussies, Border Collies, et al) all know that a bike is the only way to completely tire your dog. It’s not physically possible for a human to run far enough to tire a two-year old Aussie (though my wife keeps trying, god bless her).

    I predict the shepherds will put this bikie experience to good use and dominate the event.

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  • Beverly Hills Chiuaua November 13, 2009 at 11:48 am

    My Chiuaua is ready, no fear of the herding breeds or any other.
    Got the Dugast slippers, doggy embro and skinsuit.
    There better be a lot of barriers or you only going to see us at the call ups…

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  • Kris Schamp November 13, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Bald Chick (#22): yes, regular leashes only.

    nahbois (#23): like in all bike race events, pooping on the course is bad form and absolutely verboten! Anywhere else on Kruger’s Farm, dog owners are expected to pick up after their dogs.

    fredlf (#24): “It’s not physically possible for a human to run far enough to tire a two-year old Aussie”… hmm, maybe next year, we’ll organize an ultra endurance race pitching your Aussie against a Tarahumara runner.

    Beverly Hills Chiuaua (#25): Dugast slippers? Doggy embro? OMG, I think we created a monster!! ;o)

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  • Anonymous November 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    mine and my friends dog

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastfewdays/4071080318/sizes/l/in/set-72157622722453154/

    taken by cory grove…first comment on this page

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  • Psyfalcon November 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Its all been done before.

    Canicross.

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  • sean bob November 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastfewdays/4071080318/sizes/l/in/set-72157622722453154/

    mine and my friends dog taken by cory grove(the first commenter on this page)

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  • Loren November 13, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Now I HAVE to attend a cyclocross race. Clyde will be enammered.

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  • Stochelo November 16, 2009 at 7:26 am

    If the pictured beagle is anything like mine, she’d rather be at a road race–and would find the feed zone in a nanosecond!

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  • Jose Rodriguez November 16, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I think that this is an awesome idea. Way to stay creative Kris.
    Boo to all the nay-sayers. I think both the safety and proper etiquette of the dog are the responsibility of the owner. Not Nahbois.
    Yes, most people will pick up after their dogs.
    Yes, most dogs will be fine with socialization.
    Yes, most dog owners will follow the rules.
    Yes, I’m sure that something could & just might happen. But not anything different than what happens when all the dog owners bring their dogs to the dog parks, other cross races, or anything for that matter.
    Let the dogs have some fun, and their owners too. If you’re not into the idea of a dog race, stay in your car during the race. Everyone else can have fun with or without you present.
    Also, please don’t let a fun dog race stop any of you from going to the race.
    IT’S ALL ABOUT FUN PEOPLE!!!

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