Family Biking

Below are stories about biking with your family. Click on a headline to read the full article.

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Getting deeper into community activism

Posted on February 18th, 2020 at 10:37 am.

Parental unit on school drop-off duty.
(Photos by Becky Jo)

Communities revolving around shared interests are a funny thing, aren’t they? Online communities more so.

I come to you, wide-eyed, and with the joy of learning something new. You know that feeling. It’s almost like a teen-spring crush. It’s thrilling, exciting, full of awkward moments, triumphs, and failures. I have that annoying energy and “whywhywhy” of a toddler. You are an established community with well-worn hats. Many of you have seen it all, and have seen people like me come and go. People like me haven’t yet proven our mettle, and some of you may be wary of sharing your precious good energy. I get you. I do. I’m a more seasoned person in sewing communities, and while I love nothing more than to bring new people to the fold, it can be exhausting, and at times even soul-crushing.

So I just want to say:

I owe you a thank you. Thank you for giving me your time, energy, and kindness. Thank you to those of you that have reached out and invited me to be social. Time is your most precious resource and I am grateful on behalf of both myself and any other new cyclists lurking in here with me
[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Locking Habits and Etiquette

Posted on February 11th, 2020 at 9:20 am.

“I chose safety and my burrito.”

I was sitting outside a taqueria, waiting for my to-go order as we do, and I saw, or rather mostly heard, a kerfuffle over bike locks. I wasn’t quite close enough to see exactly what the scenario was for myself, and as it was two people getting a bit heated, I wasn’t about to physically insert myself to get details, but the scene was:

Guy One comes out. Goes to get his bike, and finds another bike is locked to it. Stands confused.

Guy Two comes out, says something about Guy One being a jackass and not leaving any space on the rack for anyone else, so he locked his bike to Guy One’s bike.

Guy One says things.

Guy Two says things back.

They part ways grumbling.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Strava Struggles and Stats

Posted on February 4th, 2020 at 9:59 am.

north portland bike ride

Data is fun.

A couple summers ago, our family would go on big bike outings down and around the Smith & Bybee Wetlands area (it’s fun, you should try it!). My tweens and husbeast would go speeding up ahead of me, while I struggled behind, pulling the hard-bottom Burley trailer, our picnic stuff, and our kindergartner. It was easily over a hundred pounds.

I’d get home afterwards and my husbeast and I would compare notes and it would just irk me that Strava recorded me having a leisurely bike ride with minimal effort while it recorded him, half as sweaty, as having a vigorous one. I looked all over the app trying to find a way to change some sort of effort or cargo-pulling settings, but there was no such thing.

I have no plans on going pro. I realize I am privileged to say I don’t diet or track much of anything health-related in any earnest effort, but data sure is fun. Why is it that just because the data is there to observe, we need it? Or we need it to be correct? It’s not like I was going to change anything in my life if the data was accurate. I just wanted my little gold star, dammit
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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Seats and Undercarriage Issues

Posted on January 28th, 2020 at 11:30 am.

After riding 10 miles on my stock seat it was like bad teen sex. I had to walk around doing the cowboy-waddle.

I got my bike in February 2016; it was a 2015 close-out. I had no idea what I was buying. It was deeply discounted, in my size, and I wanted something modern and light weight.

A friend, Em, also got a road bike at the same time, and we both starting chatting about it. Em, whose kids have all grown, was investing way more time into her rides, and was swapping out gear and putting on miles. I commented one day that after riding 10 miles on my stock seat it was like bad teen sex. I had to walk around doing the cowboy-waddle. Em said she had done this thing where you can check out seats, like at a library, and see which ones you like. Em ended up choosing a $300 seat she was so excited about.

That was a bit above my tax bracket. Instead, I went to the sporting big box store and got some gel-seat-cover-thing. It’s like someone took gummy worms, smooshed them together, and covered them with leftover 70s velour. After a couple years, it started to look like the seats of my Zipcar, so I took it off. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I really just couldn’t look at it anymore.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: WTF Apple? (and other route questions)

Posted on January 21st, 2020 at 10:46 am.

Becky Jo’s bicycle phone mount sans phone.

Let’s stop for a second.

During this adventure, I’m going to be reconciling a lot of my previous car-driving lifestyle with my current carfree lifestyle. I’m excited to have a new world to learn about, and while I’m not technologically or mechanically inept, this is a whole new world of application. Also, yes, some of you will really want to send me to LMGTFY. Normally I would too – but there’s so much out there, and a lot of it is completely contradictory. There’s some serious analysis paralysis happening in my melon. I realize I’m in over my head, and if I’m coming up with these questions, there’s likely a hundred more out here too scared to ask, not to mention among yourselves it can’t hurt to info-share. I’m just the one with a keyboard and zero shame. OK. Let’s get going…
[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Deep Dive 1 – Gears and Tires

Posted on January 14th, 2020 at 10:52 am.

dirty road bike

My bike as it’s currently ridden with new tires and fenders.
(Photos: Becky Jo)

I’ve posted some questions related to gear, but mostly it’s been how to carry groceries and how to feel more chill. If you don’t mind, I’d also like to ask you, the more experienced collective, more nuts-and-bolts type stuff as I go along on this journey.

I am fairly mechanically inclined. I realize that requires some spatial reasoning ability and we are all at different points on that spectrum. I certainly don’t judge anyone who cannot, but for the purposes of today’s asks and answers, I do pretty well. I’m user-manual friendly and I even create technical illustrations on occasion, which in my lifetime has included a range from freight trains to sewing. All of that is to say, I am capable of learning how to take care of my bike…but how far do I really need to go? As I get older, the amount of brain capacity I want to commit to things that aren’t necessary diminishes.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: We Have Hourly Rates

Posted on January 7th, 2020 at 6:35 am.

TFW you’re carfree but you need a car.
(Photo: Becky Jo)

Here’s the thing: I’m new to cycling as my main mode of transportation; but like each of you, there are things I am proficient at, and the sewing world is one of those things. So, when two weeks after getting rid of my car, I had to go to Tualatin to transport 54 bolts of fabric back to North Portland (about 20 miles, with hills), this presented a conundrum.

No worries, I said. We have a contingency plan for this, I said.

Our budget is set up to handle a Zipcar rental every now and again, and if used efficiently we figured should only be needed one or two times a month, tops. I researched it and set it up after the CarMax/Lyft revelation in the first post. I live by University of Portland, so I have three or four close Zipcars as easy options. This time around, I figured I’d get it for a full 24 hours, that way I could pick up the 54 bolts, drop off 54 bolts, drop off college kid’s really heavy dumbbell set at PSU, go to IKEA (because the standing desk I’ve been wanting is on sale), and get cat food/cat litter. No problem.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Gear Me Up

Posted on January 1st, 2020 at 8:16 am.

female cyclist standing in wet weather gear with bike

All set for a grocery run.

We’ve established my Ready, Fire, Aim personality and the caveats that may entail. Don’t worry. We are just getting started.

For this one, we have to go back in time. Back when I commuted a very long time to work in a sea of cubicles and wanted a bike for weekend fun. This is five or six years ago, and I got a “road bike.” At the time I didn’t have any beef with REI and didn’t really know what “road bike” meant; it was a previous year’s clearance so price was nice, it would fit my frame, and it was aesthetically pleasing to me. That was truly the extent of my needs at the time.[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Ode to Zen Bike Guy

Posted on December 26th, 2019 at 9:59 am.

group of cyclists riding at night in an urban setting, wearing casual gear and lots of lights on the bikes

Foster Night Ride photo by Krishna Muirhead

Now that we’re acquainted, my first and biggest question is:

“How are you not constantly having a heart attack?”

I know some of you are totally chill. I see you. I have this amalgamation of chill cyclists in my head, based heavily on a few in particular. One looks more like he’s hovering along, and there just happens to be a bike under him. You know the guy. No helmet, no hands on the handlebars, not even aware of the potholes, wearing all black sometimes with a plaid flannel variation, and certainly unconcerned with vehicles. He’s glorious. Sometimes he’s female. She has the cutest little basket in front of a big heavy cruiser, wearing a dress and sandals, and without any effort whatsoever is passing me up a hill. Sometimes it seems like folks of all kinds are passing me and not at all having the same level of stroke-inducing-crazy-car-magnet-luck I’m having.

Be honest with me, okay? Is there some law of diminished returns on wearing reflectors, all the lights, Day-Glo green and pink, and two rolls of reflective tape? Is there a point at which it starts being more like a flame-to-a-moth scenario? I know it happens with emergency vehicle lights and traffic, so you can tell me. I’ll believe you.[Read more…]

Introducing our new column: Becky Jo’s Carfree Life

Posted on December 17th, 2019 at 2:52 pm.

My 2nd grander and I when first trying out our new SUV. (Photos: Becky Jo)

(Publisher’s Note: I’m excited to introduce our new Family Biking columnist Becky Jo. You can expect her posts every Tuesday. Enjoy! – Jonathan)

Hi, I’m new here.

Funny story, or at least I hope I’m able to laugh at it someday. My family has gone completely carfree. It seemed like a logical plan at the time. See, our family consists of two parental units, one kid down at PSU in the dorms, one kid in high school, one kid in middle school, and one kid in elementary. (Don’t worry, that factory is closed.)

We had one car for all of us, and if you didn’t have access to said one car, you either waited, took the bus, walked, or biked.
[Read more…]