|The timeless Audrey Hepburn could carry off a puppy in a basket. Obviously, I didn't take this photo.|
I've often wondered about the wisdom of biking with little dog in one's bike basket. Sure, it's cute and adorable, for both the cyclist and the dog but is it really a smart thing to do? Couldn't it be dangerous for both the little dog and the cyclist? Would an excited, uncooperative pooch destablize my ride. Might it sudden leap out of the basket, possibly into on coming traffic, at the sight of an Abert Squirrel?
|Wouldn't a dog trailer be safe and more dignified? I don't know. It's not as cute. . . .|
Then, there's the whole question of whether or not I want to be one of those women who rides around with a little dog in her bike basket? Yes, I'm usually secretly jealous when I see a woman pedaling around town with a cute little dog in her basket but I'll be 49 next month. Is that really something I should be yearning to do. . . . I mean at my age? I haven't worn a belly ring in seven years because I decided I should be more mature than to need to wear a belly ring, even though mine was really lovely and elegant, but maybe some things just aren't dignified on a woman of a certain age. Maybe a puppy in a bike basket is one of those things?
Well, I'd pretty much decided that the whole cute little dog in a basket was just not my thing, and I wasn't going to do it. My bike basket is for practical purposes like my cell phone and a place to toss my sweater on a warm day. When my inner French girl is in control, it's an ideal location for carring a not too large bottle of pinot grigio, a block of gruyere and a box of crackers. These are the things that dignified older women carry in their bike baskets, if they have them. Women such as the always stunningly, daring, bad-ass Lauren Hutton or the never-fails-to-look-as-if-she-knows-something-that-you-don't Catherine Deneuve. Neither would be caught dead, at their more advanced ages than mine, with a cute little dog in their bicycle basket ( or "panier à vélo", en francais). I resolved to choose dignity.
|A scared little dog just after being rescued from a Hwy 51 on ramp.|
|Wearing a new fashion harness from Petsmart. Still scared but no longer shaking.|
We determine that we can't leave her at the hotel on Sunday, race day, and since my job is to be his one-woman cheer leading squad, Bob says that I'll just have to bring her with me. I'd brought my Dahon to get around Tempe between the hotel and the various locations along the race route so I'd have to carry Daisy in the bike basket! She's the perfect size. Almost too small. Damn! Daisy is a Teacup Chihuahua. I was never meant for a dog this size.
A "purse-dog", the type carried around by people who accessorize with small animals.
|She's so exhausterd!|
Bob's finished his swim in 1:43 and during that time, I carried Daisy and did a little leash training, although the thick crowd made that difficult. After the swim, I retrieved my Dahon from the car and pondered how to teach Daisy how to behave in a bike basket. I had no idea where to begin but decided the smartest approach for two beginners would be to put her in the basket, secure her with harness and leash to the handlebar stem, with just enough slack to comfortably move around, and then walk the bike around to assess how she handled the movement and no longer being in my arms (her preferred location). As I anticipated, she resisted being lowered into the basket and, once deposited inside, stood up on her hind legs and balanced herself with front paws on the handlebar. She looked wobbly and unstable, and I imagined that she felt that way so I peeled off my Patagonia puffy jacket and created a nest-like environment for her in the basket. This seemed to comfort her immediately. The jacket had my scent on it and probably felt enclosed and snugly. She still stood up in the basket but did not wobble around or try to climb over the handlebars to reach me. I walked her and bike thusly for about 30 minutes around the vendor area before heading to the bike route and back to the hotel.
|First time basket rider.|
By the time we got to Mill and Rio Salado along the bike segment route, my confidence leveled had increased significantly. Daisy was now comfortable snuggled into the folds of my jacket. As we made our way through the spectator area I quickly became aware of the ooohs and aaahs from those we passed, mostly from women but also quite a few men. "Oh, look it's a puppy in a basket!" "Did you see the little dog in her bike basket?"
I dismounted several times to look for Bob among the cyclists and quickly a small crowd would form around us. More oohs and aaahs, along with petting hands and questions. I felt a strong need to establish that no, this was not my dog . . . . we found her . . . . just a temporary thing, we aren't keeping her . . . . I don't normally carry around a Teacup Chihuahua everywhere I go (rapidly becoming a big lie!) . . . . biking with a dog in your basket is probably dangerous for everyone involved, etc., etc., etc.
|Snug in a bike basket. It helps to create a nest-like environment.|
|In front of Aveda.|
Angie arrived and we decided to have lunch in the outdoor dining area of My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (highly recommend the Lemon Orzo soup), where Daisy curled up on the sidewalk beneath our table and was no trouble at all. After lunch, Angie and I did wandered the Mill Avenue area before she caught the rail back home. Daisy and I pedaled back to the bike course finish in time to see a smiling Bob come in. We then traveled on to the hotel, using mostly bike lanes and rested with the other two dogs for a few hours before heading back out at dusk to catch Bob at mile 16 of the running segment.
|Across an well illuminated bridge.|
|Nappy-nap time in a bike basket after a long strenuous day of biking.|
As related in my previous post, Bob completed his Ironman triathlon in 14:15:38, greeted at the finish by his adoring wife and a sleeping Chihuahua. Bob loves dogs so I'm sure he was a little gratified to see that Daisy had weathered the busy day apparently happy in the role as extremely cute bike accessory. In less that 24 hours, he was already quite attached to our little rescue dog and was relieved to see the bond that had clearly developed between Daisy and I, my determination to place her with the Chihuahua rescue group nearly melted away.
|Timeless and confident enough to love an Ironman and carry a puppy in her bike basket.|
**This post is revised from an earlier published version. I wasn't totally happy with ending and after consulting with my husband (a new Ironman) the better words came easily. On this day, I give thanks for an honest editor.