Brodie the goldendoodle is perhaps the last thing you'd expect to see on the back of a road cyclist.
That’s right—Brodie, who weighs 75 pounds, can sometimes be spotted riding in a backpack with his owner, Cliff Brush, in their hometown of Boca Raton, Florida. The bike-riding duo is both a local and internet sensation, and it’s easy to see why.
“He’s just honestly the chillest dog in the world. He doesn’t require much training in regards to just being down for fun and having a good time,” Brush told Bicycling.
Brush, 30, calls himself a “hobby cyclist”—though he’s got ten years of riding under his belt—while he calls his dad, who introduced him to the sport, a “serious cyclist.” But Brush jokes, “I’ll beat anybody in the 80-pound-dog-on-your-back division.”
It all started about a year ago when Brush was trying to figure how to efficiently walk his dogs, while also tiring them out. He started going on bike rides around his neighborhood with their leashes tethered to his bike, and then he would drop them off at home and continue his ride.
“I could tell [Brodie] didn’t want it to end,” Brush said.
Brush said he gets a lot of comments from people on social media criticizing him, saying it’s too dangerous to ride with his dog on his back. It’s easy to make assumptions from the content he posts on social media, but the rides that Brodie and Cliff go on are usually no more than a mile or two at most.
“They’re short, little joy rides,” he said, and they don’t happen frequently, perhaps every other week or so. They either ride around his neighborhood or along a stretch of road A1A, which runs parallel to the beach. Since they live in Florida, they only ride early in the morning or late in the evening, when the outside temperature is suitable for Brodie and all his fur.
Brush likens it to a parent riding a bike with their child in tow. “We’ve never had a crash. I’m very cognizant of the fact that he’s on my back. We keep the rides really safe,” he said.
Brush also uses the right gear to keep rides enjoyable for Brodie. He uses a K9 Sport Sack backpack, which is designed to carry a larger dog—it’s the only he’s come across that’ll work for him. Plus, Brodie wears canine goggles from a company called Rex Specs to protect his eyes. “People think they’re just for style,” he said. “But they actually protect his eyes from wind.” They also provide UV protection, which Brush says is important for dogs too, and they protect his eyes from any debris.
But it’s not easy for Brush to ride with Brodie—all 75 pounds, give or take, of him—on his back. “Keeping the rides short is more for me,” said Brush, who adds that riding with Brodie puts a ton of tension on his lower back and really engages his core muscles. “It’s a crazy workout.” (We don’t recommend trying it at home, folks.)
Plus, it’s difficult to handle a light and responsive road bike like his Trek Madone with that much weight on his back. “The Madone is so light. Luckily, he’s good as long as he’s staying center,” Brush said, noting that his backpack straps have to be equally tight to keep Brodie center of mass.
“He’s not very aero,” Brush joked.
Brush also owns an e-bike that he’ll sometimes use when riding with Brodie. “The e-bike is way easier as far as balancing and the weight and everything,” he said.
As much as Brodie loves riding, Brush’s other dog, Luna, who is Brodie’s mother, doesn’t seem to enjoy it as much. “It’s just hard to tell with her. She’s been more hesitant,” Brush said. “It’s just not as obvious that she’s loving it as much as Brodie.” It’s something you can’t force, for the sake of your dog, of course. Not every dog is a bike-ride loving dog like Brodie.
But Brodie is usually up for an adventure. “He’s just loving life,” Brush said.
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