Family Biking Column: My recap of the Worst Day of the Year Ride

Cargo trailers make for easy decorating, and easy carrying of three kids and three bikes (one had a flat tire, two were tired).
(Photo: Jen Regan)

After having such a great time last year celebrating a friend’s 8th birthday on the Worst Day of the Year Ride, we had to do it again! In fact, it was so fun that our friend rescheduled his birthday by two weeks to work around the rescheduling of the event — that’s dedication!

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I highly recommend this ride for families with even the littlest kids. Kids 12 and under are free and early registration for those over 12 is $12.50. The Family Route ride is four miles and took us an hour and 14 minutes including a fun rest stop (41 minutes moving time). The covered tent at the start/finish has plenty of space and several heat lamps. And the food is plentiful and good for picky kids.

The date change (postponed two weeks due to unsafe icy roads) wasn’t convenient for everyone, and the ride seemed to draw fewer people than last year, but I’m so glad the event wasn’t canceled outright. Also, since we do the Family Route which starts two hours after the Challenge Route, we don’t get to see the start crowd in all its glory.

Plenty of room to gather in the closed streets.


The bountiful breakfast spread.
Lots of coffee, before and after the ride.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

In the interest of keeping the kids from getting too cold, we don’t arrive too early, but we did give ourselves time to hit the breakfast spread. We enjoyed muffins (blueberry, poppyseed, and chocolate), bagels, bananas, cereal, coffee, and hot chocolate. This was all in the same tent as check-in and day-of registration making it easy to take care of business before hitting the course.

Worst Day event staff is the best, thanks Greg!

Things only seemed mildly discombobulated given the date change, but everything still worked out just fine. We saw a small group of Family Route participants gathered in the street when we arrived, but it was well before 10:45 a.m. so we didn’t join them out in the cold. Unfortunately, the Family Route ride marshal (just one this year, whereas there were several to stick with various clumps of riders last year) escorted them onto the course early so we didn’t get an escort this year. Granted, before last year’s Worst Day of the Year Ride, I’ve never been on a ride with a volunteer leading the way so it’s not something I expect, but it was really nice! The discombobulation got a little worse after that when event staffer Greg wasn’t sure if the Family Route was signed of not (it was!) but he gave us great instructions and helped me find the Ride with GPS route so we didn’t have to worry about falling off the course.

The course was very well marked with yellow arrows.

Halfway through our small ride, we joined routes with the 15-mile Urban Route so that made for a more exciting course, suddenly seeing more bikes on the road. We Family Route riders pulled off for a kid-friendly rest stop while the Urban Route riders were motivated to push on at the TWO MILES TO GO sign.

Rest stop helmet and handlebar decoration station.
Rest stop snow station was very popular.
Rest stop cookies smothered in whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate station.

Rest stop
The rest stop was staffed by lovely Benson Polytechnic High School Dance Team students and parents who helped the kids decorate helmets and handlebars, play with artificial snow, and make cookie sundaes. A four-mile route probably doesn’t need a rest stop and we didn’t know to expect one last year, but it’s such a great touch!


Vegan chili, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, chips, and cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter) were provided in a tent in the street next to the breakfast/registration tent which was now set up for eating and merchandise shopping. The heat lamps were still on and much appreciated.

The photo booth was very fun.

Photo booth
A very professional photo booth set up against the back of Lucky Lab Brew Pub was one of the kids’ favorite things. They were invited to pose for and print as many photos as they wanted, but we moms capped it at two.

The most amazing costume I saw!
Costume contest all-stars.

Costume contest
We didn’t enter the costume contest this year, but I love admiring all the costumes! We were “biking birthday party” again, and this year I brought my new cargo trailer rather than my cargo bike and it proved a great base for balloons, streams, and piñata.

The birthday boy won the race to the finish.
Pixie was in a party dress under her blankie.

Not everyone wears a costume, but we saw some great ones like Han Solo and Chewbacca on a tandem bike, Smokey and the Bandit, and dandelions (achoo!).

Were you there? Will go you next year? What would you suggest as a group costume assuming we branch out next time? 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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