Like this site? Help us to make it better.


How cycling is helping me cope with the loss of a much-loved pet and bike-ride companion

Elodie may have passed on ... but she will always be pedalling alongside me

Nine months ago, I wrote here about how going cycling with my Miniature Schnauzer Elodie in the basket of my bike was helping me get through the first COVID-19 national lockdown in England; now, with the country in another lockdown, it’s cycling – with the help of a new bike I couldn’t have had before – that is helping me get through losing her.

> How lockdown helped me (and the dog) finally crack 30 Days of Biking

It was very sudden. She hadn’t been herself for a couple of days, and when I took her to the vet at the start of January, and went back an hour later after he took her bloods, I was told that she wouldn’t be coming home that night.

I was devastated. She’d been my constant companion since I began working from home back in 2008, and when I moved from the Cotswolds to Cambridge a few years later and got my Elephant Bike, she was also my riding buddy.

> Training a dog to ride an elephant – and for a great cause

Whether it was in Cambridge or London, or all number of other places, we had many memorable days together on the bike, and the smiles she brought to people’s faces when they noticed her in the basket will be a treasured memory forever.

Elodie - NLD

Even including the time we were staying with a friend and her pups in Wales, when I pushed the bike (and the dog, in her basket) up what was briefly the steepest road in the world towards Harlech Castle.

The ride back to Barmouth that day, though, was fantastic. Mainly because it was largely downhill … although I’m still slightly annoyed that Elodie didn’t scare off the seagull that swooped down to grab my pie when we got there.

The suddenness of her passing – barely 90 minutes from us arriving at the vet to me holding her paw as she went to sleep for the last time – will never leave me.

I don’t have kids and, yeah, while I’m fully aware that having a pet cannot be compared to bringing up a little human, she is the closest thing to a child I will ever have.

That evening, I wanted … needed … to be alone for a while, so rode down to the river at Hammersmith, where I had taken her so often for a bike ride and walk these past three years.

Elodie - Christmas bike lights

It may well be that I was still in a sense of shock when, a week or so later, I whacked a bid in on eBay for an old Raleigh bike that had been converted to single-speed (and with a 53x15 gear ratio … subsequently adjusted for these 56-year-old legs).


But, whatever the bike, it is giving me huge solace now to be able to ride to the places we used to go to together, and once there, to think about the happy times we had on our rides.

30 Days of Biking 3

The one day that I think will forever stick in my mind is when the RideLondon pro race started in Bushy Park a couple of years ago.

Elodie met a few famous people in her time. Danny De Vito and Freddie Flintoff both petted her on the occasions our paths crossed. And a certain 30-time Tour de France stage winner and former road world champion once scowled at her. She, of course, scowled back.

Elodie - Danny DeVito

But to be cycling through the park to the start of the race and all of a sudden there was another Milan-San Remo winner, Arnaud Démare, riding next to us for a bit and smiling at the pup in the basket, that was something special.

That same afternoon, we … accidentally … ended up on the RideLondon route coming into Putney, in the window between the sportive and the pro race, and were waved through by marshals.

I’d planned to stop in Parliament Square, but there was no obvious way off the course, so I just gritted my teeth and did the final kilometre or so onto The Mall and under the finish line, to the cheers of the crowd and the surprise of the announcer.

Elodie was in her element. She was in the basket of her bike, she had the wind in her beard, and she had everyone’s attention.

Elodie - View from bike

Me? I still haven’t got anywhere as fast on the bike along the Chelsea Embankment as I managed that afternoon, according to Strava, despite being on a much lighter bike now; but that memory is worth 1,000 Personal Bests.

Pedal free, my little one.

30 Days of Biking 5

A little PS. The main photo at the top has a special significance; as a puppy, Elodie lived in Oxford, in middle age she lived in Cambridge, and her final years were spent in West London, close to the Thames again ... the pole you can see in the picture with Chiswick Bridge in the background is the finish post of the Boat Race.

Oh, and slightly less cycling-specific than the above ... but I made this YouTube video of her, too ...

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


richliv | 3 years ago

Very sad to lose a loved pet and I know I would be if I lost my doggie home working companion, so very sorry to hear. Mine is not altogether keen on riding in a basket but we've been along the Bath-Bristol cycleway a few times. We have to enjoy our time with our children and companion animals, neither is forever. (I do have both btw).

littlegermanboy | 3 years ago
1 like

What a lovely article and video, Simon. Sorry for your loss.

OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
1 like

My condolences. We dog owners do get attached to our animals. She had a good life, so RIP. My whippet is very much a firm fixture in our household and I remember the wrench when my old spaniel died many years ago now. I'm in various groups for dog owners on Facebook and I see plenty of ads for rescue dogs that always manage to tug the heartstrings. Grieve for her for a while and when you're ready, there are plenty of other dogs out there needing rescued. Having been a dog owner before, the dog rescue places will take you more seriously.

jollygoodvelo | 3 years ago
1 like

My deepest condolences.  A beautiful epitaph to remember a lovely little dog by.

I think sometimes in all the stress and inconveniences of Covid we forget other life is also happening.  My cat left us last month: far from being a riding companion, he used to run away from me if I wore anything reflective, but the house now has a gap in it that no number of bikes can fill.  Take time for yourself and keep the memories close.


jonbott | 3 years ago
1 like

So sorry for you loss,sounds like she had a great life.

Jack Osbourne snr | 3 years ago

What a lovely tribute to a lovely wee dog.

Compact Corned Beef | 3 years ago

What a lovely video tribute. My condolences for your loss - pets really can be family.

hawkinspeter | 3 years ago

Deeply sorry for your loss.

Seagull2 | 3 years ago

My deepest sympathies also Simon , as a dog lover i fully get the emotional ties and friendship and companionship, and the heartache when they leave you. I have a miniature schnauzer too, called Sonny, aged 4, and he is a wonderful character. I have one daughter aged 10 , and a wife , who are also daft about him. They are a lovely breed of dog, and amazing company. Not every dog gets a fabulous life, but Elodie certainly did. Take care, best wishes. 

Rendel Harris | 3 years ago

Deepest sympathy Simon, always hard to lose a deeply loved part of your life, whatever their species. Hope you'll consider having another dog when the time is right, it's predicted there will be a lot of rescues needing loving homes soon, sadly.

I always loved the fact that in your bio it's Elodie's Elephant Bike, not yours!

curdins | 3 years ago

So sorry to read this Simon. But as with all pets, the best we can ever do is love them and look after them, and ensure their lives are filled with fun. It certainly looks like you managed that, so congratulations to you both for a life well lived.

Latest Comments