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Travels with Trixie

15 November 2022

Words: Wolter Kuiper
Photos: Thomas Roemmelt & David Caird

In Australia there’s a limit to how much mountain bike riding you can do with a dog. What with snakes and poison baits, it’s a dangerous life running around in the bush barking at venomous reptiles and looking for free feeds.

I tried towing our rescue dog, Trixie, in a Bob-style trailer but the 10-year-old Jack Russell just couldn’t handle singletrack at all… maybe it’s her long Fox Terrier legs but she doesn’t seem to be able to balance well enough for trail riding and there’s too much going on for her to sit still. Maybe that’s my problem as well.

She much prefers our Christiania cargo trike, in which she can perch regally on the passenger seat surveying her Melbourne domain, sniffing at the breeze. But the trike was a tad too much like hard work with only eight gears, even without anything like the hills that I used to climb back home in Wellington. During COVID I came up with the idea of building Trixie a trailer that would be a little more stable and could be towed behind my Scott flat-bar roadie - with twice as many gears as the trike.

Having survived the pandemic and reached retirement age without any decent holidays, it only seemed fair that she should have her own caravan. I started collecting bits and pieces for it once the State Government allowed us outside again, but the project didn’t really get going until Trixie tore a ligament and had to be carted around in an old pusher. Oh, the humiliation.

Photo: David Caird

I’d planned to use stuff I’d found or scrounged but, like most of my bicycle projects, there ended up being a fair bit of new stuff. The chassis had started out as a trailer to tow my kids’ bikes 15 years ago. The floor was leftover particle-board flooring and ridiculously heavy. The carpet had been dumped down the street. Initially the corflute plastic roof was made up of leftover placards from the 2022 federal election but they were a bit thick and hard to bend… a lot like the candidates.

Needless to say, by the time I’d finished faffing in the garage, Trixie’s leg was almost as good as new. The personal numberplate arrived just in time but didn’t look right until I’d fitted an LED light above it.

The day finally came when we could go on our first 'holiday' and the 17km Outer Circle Rail Trail that runs from inner-suburban Fairfield to Hughesdale was chosen. There were lots of dog parks and a nice 'camping' spot near Hartwell Station before the trip home. Being a miniature caravan, the canine’s conveyance looks perfect on shared paths with painted centrelines.

Trixie didn’t much care for the old railway infrastructure along the way but you could hear her tail wagging in delight against the marine ply sides of her new mobile home.