Biking beside Icarus affords me the rare opportunity of seeing a perfect design accelerate into motion.
When he jogs, Icarus looks much like other dogs – clumsier, maybe, but the mechanics are the same. His legs hit the ground in close sequence, but staggered and uneven. You can tell he’s waiting for the party to start.
But when I begin to push past 20 mph, pedaling into muscle pain, the dog transforms. He’s off the ground longer, he stops looking at me between strides, and the horse-hoof patter quickens.
Whippets are double-suspension runners. All four feet are off the ground twice per stride: first, curled up beneath the body; second, extended out in a Superman pose. They fly. From standing, it’s amazing and insane to watch an animal break into that kind of speed. But riding beside that pup is a whole other experience. It’s like seeing an elegant machine, each part working in fluid concert.
Tonight, as we crossed a field, Icarus spotted several deer at the tree-line and reminded me that his top speed is upwards of 30 mph. He cut in front of the bike and threw me off balance. When I squeezed the brakes the stop was so sudden that the back wheel lifted at least a foot off the ground. I slammed back down, the chain popped off, and Icarus caught his prey-drive breath.