Family Biking with Madi Carlson

Each week Madi Carlson shares insights and adventures gleaned from raising two kids on two wheels.

This content is made possible by Clever Cycles, a family-oriented bike shop located on SE Hawthorne at 9th.


How to keep little bike passengers cozy in the cold

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 20th, 2018 at 10:40 am

Bundled-up bike passengers

Lots of layers is a good start; but there’s much more to keeping them comfortable.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

You’ve decided to start biking more with your little ones. You’ve found routes that work for you. You’ve got your bike set-up figured out.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

And then you look outside and realize it’s 35 degrees.

Pedaling my heavy bike keeps me warm, but it’s a different story for my non-pedaling passengers. They need at least one extra layer when it’s cold outside. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned over the years.

As we get our first major snow storm of the year, this week’s post is all about how to stay warm and dry while biking with kids. First, I’ll go over the things you can put on your bike, then I’ll share the things you can (hopefully) put on your kids.
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Here’s how I’ve carried my kids by bike for the past 10 years

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 13th, 2018 at 9:36 am

The boys and I at the Fiets of Parenthood event in 2012.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

The first step to biking with kids often starts with a question: How do you carry them?

I’ve had several family bikes over the years, with some overlap because redundancy is awesome if you have room to store it. I’ve since learned about bikes that work for babies through big kids, but I liken my multi-bike journey to the car seat progression many families follow: infant car seat to convertible car seat to booster seat. Even though some of those seats aren’t used for a long time, everything feels like an eternity when it’s baby-related and seems well worth it.

By sharing what has worked for my family, I hope it’ll help make carrying kids easier for you. Below is the progression of our bike set-up journey over the past 10 years…
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Partying on the Worst Day of the Year Ride

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 12th, 2018 at 8:51 am

Worst Day of the Year Ride 2018

Our group had a birthday party theme. Can you tell?
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We had a blast on our first Worst Day of the Year Ride.

New this year was a half-price four-mile family-friendly route which was perfect for us. Friends came down from Seattle because their almost-eight-year old wanted to celebrate his birthday with a bikey Portland weekend which made choosing our group costume easy: biking birthday party. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a ride with so many creative costumes and seeing the group finery was reason enough to attend.
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Introducing our new Family Biking column by Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 6th, 2018 at 2:30 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Publisher’s note: Welcome to our Family Biking column! I’m thrilled to share Madi’s insights and experiences here on BP. Please give her a warm welcome and let’s thank Clever Cycles for helping bring this content to the community. — Jonathan]

Hi. I’m Madi.

I bike for all the typical reasons — it’s cheaper than driving, it’s safer than driving, it’s simpler than taking the bus, it’s healthy, it doesn’t pollute, it’s usually faster than all other modes of transportation — but mostly because it’s tremendously fun. Even with kids. Especially with kids. I love to share that sense of fun and ease with others in the hopes of encouraging more families and individuals to bike even just a little bit more often. I’ve found focusing on the fun stuff to be an effective way of promoting bicycling as transportation (but I also reserve the right to discuss statistics and badmouth car traffic).

I ride with my two sons, aged 10 and 8, and our conveniently-basket-sized dog. I’ve been family biking since my first son was one year old and have gone through several bike iterations along the way. I like to think there are a lot of different right answers and very few wrong answers when it comes to choosing a family bike.
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