Bikepacking With Mira
Every once in a while the YouTube algorithm pays off in a big way. Last month, I opened up the app to search for my go-to relaxing backpacking and adventure videos and Youtube recommended, Dogpacking EP 2 - Bikepacking World Tour. I clicked and was immediately hooked. In the episode, bikepacker John Freeman traverses central-western Montana on his bike via backcountry single-track, forest roads, and the occasional pavement to get to the next gravel route — all while capturing endless jaw-dropping scenic footage. John may be doing all of the riding and filming but the main character is certainly Mira, his 4-year-old, ball-of-energy, Border Collie / Heeler mix who runs many of the miles next to him and rides the rest in her custom seat.
Join Mira’s Around-the-World Journey, beginning with Episode 1
The video may be the beginning of this around-the-world journey, but Mira has already put some pretty big miles under her paws, dogpacking in Spain, along the Baja Divide, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), Orogenesis, and more. I caught up with John and Mira while they were in Mexico, continuing their around-the-world trip, and got a little more background on their journeys and life in the saddle.
Tell us About Mira.
Mira is a mixed Border Collie/Heeler cross from working stock of a central Alberta ranch. She is 4.5 years old.
Where are you and Mira based out of generally?
Most of my mail goes to Canmore Alberta Canada but we really live on our bike these days. Probably for the next several years that will be the life we live.
I saw a video clip of her learning to sit in her bike seat as a puppy – how old was she then? When did she start running in front/behind your bike?
Mira's first trip was 4 months in Spain. That is the youngest that a dog can fly. She didn’t run much then because she was so young. We would walk the hills together and the rest of the time she would ride in a padded basket mounted on the back of the bike. As she grew it got harder for me with the increase in weight.
Mira taking a play break on the GDMBR.
Your YouTube channel features a Great Divide dogpacking route and now, the first few episodes of your Around the World journey. How many long-distance dogpacking trips has Mira taken? What was her first?
She has been down the Baja Divide 3 times. 4 months all over Spain, much of the GDMBR, Western Wildlands Route, Orogenisis (from the tip of Baja to the US Canada border). She has ridden N/S across the US 5 times now with the majority of that on dirt routes.
Now on your current Around the World, it looks like you started in Montana, headed south, and have passed through a good portion of Mexico so far. How far south do you hope to go in the Americas?
We started in the Canadian Rockies and are riding south. The trip will visit all seven continents (6 for Mira). First south on the Western Hemisphere. Then north on the eastern hemisphere.
What’s a long day of dogpacking look like for Mira?
An average day has about 6 hours of riding. Mira walks/runs a half to a full marathon every day. Some swimming when there is water and a lot of ball/stick fetching. She still has energy at the end of her day.
Mira putting in the miles in the Navajo Nation.
Who’s the first one out of the tent after a hard day?
Always Mira. She loves the morning.
I saw you giving her what I assume is a daily health checkup in the tent. What do you check for regularly on her?
I give her a check over several times a day. That’s the reason we use the Rex Specs. The amount of exposure to the elements has an effect on her eyes and I want her to be healthy during a long life.
It’s time to ride in Kananaskis, AB.
Does having Mira with you break down any social barriers that you might have otherwise encountered as a solo bikepacker?
Almost everyone smiles when they see Mira. Being next to that kind of positive energy makes my life so much better. An incredible number of people come up to us and ask what we are doing. It’s the best!
If someone wants to get started dogpacking, what would you recommend? Should you take plenty of overnight rides without a dog first?
Here is a link to an article that I wrote.
How long do you think her frisbee will last? That thing gets a ton of use!
We have already switched to a ball. The frisbee has been lost 🤪
How can people follow and support your trip?
I hope people will follow us on all our places:
Want to read about more cool canines? You can meet more adventure dogs and learn how to get your dog out on the trail or on the water in our Adventure Series.