Scootering and Sledding Gear
Purchasing gear is often a very confusing issue for urban mushers. There are SO many options and the selection
to choose from is so vast!---
Not to worry...following is a break down of the primary components.
& If you need assistance with your selection, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Probably your most important decision...there are many great manufacturers out there. The majority of our group runs with Diggler Scooters www.diggler.com for many reasons...since this is a big decision, your best bet will be to ask people with different scooters their opinions at an event!
Another decision! Here are just a few links to great outfitters:
There are many different harness designs, each have benefits depending on
your dog's specific needs. Many urban mushers use the traditional
x-back harness design.
How can you check to see if the x-back harness fits correctly on my dog?
Scooter Lines, Tugs, Gang Lines, Neck Lines, Skijor Lines, Tow Lines - what do I need?
Scooter lines, tow lines or even skijoring lines are all fashioned in the same way: there is a center line, which includes a portion with a built-in bungee for shock absorption and then it splits off into 2 separate tug lines (usually 3 - 4 feet long) so that you can hook up two dogs to your scooter.
Neckline: a short line with brass snaps on each end that attaches to both dogs at the collar (so they run together). Speaking of collars, we insist on using either a limited-slip collar or a full-circle collar - NOT a choke collar when running our dogs. Limited slip collars prevents a dog from backing out of their collar but they are prevented from being 'choked' during the run if their dog partner suddenly decides to put on the brakes during the run. The company's listed above have really nice selections of collars with large D or O rings to easily attach the neckline - you can even have your phone number or your dog's name embroidered on the collar.
Bridle: the means by which the scooter (main) line attaches to the scooter. Most often, people use a locking carabineer attached to the scooter for quick and easy attachment/detachment purposes.
If you are looking for a package:Alpine Outfitters carries a 6-foot two-dog line, a neckline, and a nylon webbing scooter attachment (which you can wrap around the scooter's stem and it comes with a D-ring, through which you can then loop the scooter line through... http://alpineoutfitters.net/Secure/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=46
Black Ice sells their own 2-dog scooter "tow line" (http://www.blackicedogsledding.com/page14.html) but from reading their description, I am not sure what kind of scooter attachment they include so you can hook up the line to the scooter. Also, I do not think they include a double-neckline for attaching two dogs at the collar.
You can also buy a two-dog skijoring line, and this is readily available from a bunch of other online outfitters such as Nooksack Racing, Cold Spot Feeds, etc, as well as both Alpine and Black Ice. Skijoring lines tend to be a little bit more heavy duty and are also longer --- usually 8, 10, 12 or sometimes even 14 feet long. They may or may not include a neckline and definitely do not include a scooter attachment.
FYI, you can buy a scooter attachment from Alpine and I think the cost is $8. However, you can always fashion your own scooter attachment by wrapping a piece of nylon rope around the stem or simply by looping the scooter line around the stem. It's not as easy to take it on and off or not as clean-looking but it does save you a couple of bucks.
Regarding the length of the scooter line: the longer the line, the less control you have over the dogs and more chances you have of running over the line with your front tire, specially if the dogs are not keeping the line tight. The standard length of Alpine's scooter line is 6-feet but I personally prefer using an 8-foot line (you can request that they make one for you at 7 or 8 feet). Since my dogs do go in bursts of speeds, the extra length gives me more time to react in case I have to swerve or suddenly hit the brakes. It also makes for a less steeper pulling angle. Note that the reason skijoring lines are generally longer is because the skis extend further up front than a bicycle's tires AND also because skis don't have brakes (other than your butt or face) and so the extra length gives a skijorer some extra reaction time.
BTW, a true gangline is for use with a sled or cart for a bigger dog team. However, you can fashion your own scooter line (which is what I've started doing as well) from different gangline components, making it a modular system to which you can add more dogs, vary tugline lengths, etc.