Family Biking: Beat winter blahs with a plan to pedal more

Setting goals and plans might keep you riding more this winter.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s that time of year.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We stayed in all day Monday. The kids were out of school due to a Portland Public Schools planning day. My one bike-related chore was digging dozens of pieces of glass out of my tires while fixing a flat (more on that in a future post), but that was the closest I got to riding my bike.

The planning day got me thinking about planning something — anything — for the upcoming months to help keep the winter blahs at bay.

I’m don’t own a car. I use my bike just about every day; but I tend to ride a lot less in winter as weather turns nasty and daylight disappears. I shy away from faraway errands and combine or delay necessary trips. And I scowl out the window at the sky a lot. I’m at an advantage this year as the two-school commute has me biking 18 miles every weekday versus just four last year, but considering how grumpy I felt through the winter last year, I want to make some sort of little plan to keep me pedaling and peppy.

Since I’m indecisive and can’t narrow it down to one little goal, I’m going to do all my ideas. I’ll need some inspiration, so I’d love for you to share your winter riding goals — past, present, or future — in the comments.

Here are mine:

Coffeeneuring Challenge
I love online challenges and while I haven’t felt organized enough to participate in the Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge in years, I’m going to do it again this year, starting this weekend. According to the website, you just bike at least two miles to a different local coffee shop (or no purchase necessary: make your own coffee or other drink outside in a different park/campground) once per weekend day, seven times through November 25th.

Attend a group ride
Online challenges that encourage biking are awesome, but so is connecting with real people in person! The BikePortland post Portland’s network of bike clubs for women is thriving turned me on to a bunch of groups and I recently joined the Ride Like A Girl Meetup group and have gone on a few of their rides. I’ll do at least one more ride with them this winter.


Start using the Ride app
I just installed Ride Report’s Ride app to earn fun trophies as it automatically tracks all my rides. I think it might be just the push I need to run rainy errands I’d otherwise delay. And bonus! It’s a Portland-based company (hi William!).

Write a Ride Report on
Another local company, Ride with GPS, has a feature called Ride Reports for creating pretty webpages with your recorded data (using the Ride with GPS app), photos, and words. I’ve only created two Ride Reports since the tool launched a year and a half ago, but committing to doing another one will inspire me to do something a bit bigger and more exciting than normal for the sake of reporting.

Supply gathering

It’s flat-fixing weather.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

This one errand gets its own heading since it’s bike related: I want to stock up on patch kits, spare tubes for each of our bikes, and even get a second pump so I can keep one on my cargo bike at all times while the other travels in my pannier or computer bag with my regular bike (you get one guess if I had my pump and a spare tube on me when I got the flat tire mentioned at the top of the page).

Route testing
No time like the near present to bike to all those places I didn’t visit when the time was right and the weather was better, like Fazio Farms, which I learned about in the comments of my bike-to-pumpkins post. This is the only item on my route testing list so far, but I will add more places to hit this winter.

Bike to holiday lights (and then to hot chocolate).

Winter family bucket list
The above items on the list aren’t kid-specific so I have a family-oriented collection of ideas, too. So far I have two items: Explore the Powell Butte Nature Park mountain bike trails, and bike to the top of Mount Tabor.

There are some great winter events coming up that I’m not putting on our bucket list because I want to keep things easy and daytime-y, but others should consider attending Winter Wonderland’s “Bike the Lights” Night on Tuesday, November 27th and Peacock Lane on a pedestrian-only night December 15th, 16th, or 17th.

Start a bike train
Personal goals are all well and good, but what about goals that include others? Our elementary school counselor has been working on starting up several walking school buses, one of which I’ll lead once a week. It’ll be even easier to turn what we’re already doing into an official bike train.

Plan a winter bike to school event
We hosted a fabulous Walk and Roll to School Day on October 10th and I’ll use our leftover prizes and snacks to celebrate active transportation at least once in the winter. If you haven’t yet requested Walk+Roll incentives (stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils) for your school, you can still do so through October 31st — hurry! — here’s an order form via The Street Trust (PBOT’s prize order form requires a log-in).

Care to set a goal? We’ll check in after January 18th when the school quarter ends and see how we all did and how we’re coping with winter. Please share any insights in the comments! Thanks for reading.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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