Family Biking: Get ready for puddle season

Start ’em young…also, balance bikes have no drivetrain to douse with puddle water.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Puddle season is right around the corner, are you ready?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Officially, I believe one should always avoid puddles because you never know what’s hidden under the water. Unofficially, they’re really fun to ride through!

But seriously, puddles can contain sharp rocks that puncture tires or hide deep potholes that throw you over your handlebars when you enter them. Or if you lose momentum on your way through a big puddle and have to put your foot down: soaking wet foot.

Shallow puddles are fun!


Sometimes puddles feel unavoidable, filling a depression across the whole bike lane or road. We cautiously ride through these sorts of puddles, lifting our feet to keep them dry, but it’s never a bad idea to backtrack and choose a drier street or take to the sidewalk to avoid unplumbed depths.

Sometimes the fun is in avoiding the puddles.

We encounter a lot of puddles on rainy days and without constant encouragement to avoid them, one of my kids aims at each and every one. Luckily my kids will usually listen to reason and skirt around those enticing day ruiners. Another trick I’ve used in the past is to stop and throw rocks or sail boats in puddles to scratch the itch. That said, we’ve had a few miserable day with cold, wet feet and “notes to self” to pack spare shoes and socks in the future.

Well. This felt unavoidable at the time, but I could have elected to use the sidewalk.

What are your thoughts on puddles? Have any horror stories to tips to share? Thanks for reading.

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson (@familyride on Twitter) wrote our Family Biking column from February 2018 to November 2019. She's the author of Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (Mountaineers Books). In her former home of Seattle, Madi was the Board President of Familybike Seattle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as a means for moving towards sustainable lifestyles and communities. She founded Critical Lass Seattle, an easy social group ride for new and experienced bicyclists who identify as women and was the Director of Seattle's Kidical Mass organization, a monthly ride for families. While she primarily bikes for transportation, Madi also likes racing cyclocross, all-women alleycats, and the Disaster Relief Trials. She has been profiled in the Associated Press, Outdoors NW magazine, CoolMom, and ParentMap, and she contributed to Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.

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5 years ago

When I was but 5 yrs old and having inherited my sister’s balloon tire bomber (The girl’s frame made it so much easier to learn to ride by myself, with no training wheels), my grandpa warned me against riding through puddles. ” You’ll get a flat!” Well that sounded like “You’ll put yer eye out!” of course. I loved my grandpa but have been riding through puddles to this day. Never did get a flat from that.

David Stein
5 years ago

My only crash was due to the puddle on Barbur Blvd southbound before the offramp to Capitol Hwy; hit a large rock and had a really bad rest of the night. Generally puddles are alright if they are optional to bike through and not seemingly mandatory. Rain boots, and possibly a Muddy Buddy, are really helpful if the plan is to puddle jump on or off bike no matter your age.

Hello, Kitty
5 years ago

Love the photo!

Greg Spencer
Greg Spencer
5 years ago

Two of my worst spills were due to hitting deep potholes that I didn’t see cause they were filled with water. Puddles scare me and I always try to avoid them.

B. Carfree
B. Carfree
5 years ago

There is one upside to doing a lot of riding on the same streets/bike paths over and over. During leaf and puddle season, I know where the worst of the hidden road defects are even when they are hidden from view. Of course there’s always the possibility of a new hazard making its way to the bottom of a puddle, but I haven’t yet done an imitation of Papa bear of the Berenstain Bears.

We always pack spare clothes for the granddaughters, especially including comfortable wool socks. Even as protected as they are, they still manage to get a good soaking from time to time.