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.


Family Biking: Sidewalk cycling can be a savior

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 14th, 2018 at 9:24 am

Riding on the sidewalk on the “wrong” side of the street to get to the MAX station.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

When I lived in Seattle I often said the best pieces of bicycle infrastructure were sidewalks.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I stuck to streets for the most part, but there were several places we regularly biked that required covering a couple blocks where I didn’t feel safe in the street, and in those instances, thank goodness for sidewalks! These were fast, four-lane streets with no bike markings whatsoever. No bike lanes. No sharrows (not that sharrows on arterials are great, don’t get me started).

As I’ve written previously, my routes differ whether I’ve got the kids with me or if they’re riding solo or attached via a trail-a-bike or cargo bike. This also affects the amount, if any, of sidewalk riding I do.

Here are more of my thoughts and experiences on sidewalk cycling…
[Read more…]

When moms escape: Tackling the unpaved Trask River Road route to the coast

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 10th, 2018 at 10:23 am

Team Sundress ready to hit Trask River Road (after an hour-long ride on the MAX).
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

“It was by far the hardest thing either of us have ever done, but we’d both do it again…though only after some rest and time to forget some of the details.”

While the kids are away the moms will play.

For me that means riding my bike much farther while carrying a bit less stuff than when I have the kiddos in tow. And ideally with a mom friend at my side. My friend Elle of Tiny Helmets Big Bikes came up from Sacramento, tasking me to find us a multi-day bike trip. I decided we’d take Trask River Road to Tillamook on the Oregon Coast.

Here’s the scoop on the route via Oregon Bikepacking:

While not technically easy, this the most straightforward, easiest dirt route to the coast from Portland. Starting from the end of the MAX line in Hillsboro, we route you through the least pavement possible to Mount Richmond and then on gravel up to the Barney Reservoir and along the North Fork of the Trask River directly into Tillamook.[Read more…]

Family Biking: A cautionary tale of kids riding too-small bikes

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 7th, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Sitting on one’s rear rack looks pretty cool, but it doesn’t look comfortable.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

As a kid I rode a succession of wrong-sized bikes and loved them all. Heck, as a teenager and adult I’ve also had a lot of bikes that weren’t perfectly sized for me, including the bike I rode with my first-born (which was two sizes too big). However, my knees and my back appreciate that my current bike is the perfect size for me.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

As a parent I’ve learned the hard way to keep pace with growing kids.

It started last winter, without my really noticing, when my younger son stopped sitting on his saddle because his bike was getting too small.

That morphed into doing a lot of riding on his rear rack for fun, since it was so easy to reach on the too-small bike, plus it provided him a spot to sit more comfortably (or so he said) than the saddle.
[Read more…]

Family biking profile: Elizabeth Decker has rediscovered the fun

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 1st, 2018 at 7:46 am

Elizabeth and Zaiden on their Yuba Boda Boda midtail cargo bike.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Thanks for all your comments on last week’s post. This week we’ve got another reader profile to share…

Elizabeth Decker is relatively new to family biking and she does it with an infectious glee that’s not uncommon. Because, as many of you already know, biking with a kid in tow really is one of the funnest things a mom can do.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.[Read more…]

Family biking: What type of infrastructure is important to you?

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on July 24th, 2018 at 10:55 am

We love this leaning rail with a footrest we found in Seattle.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

Let’s talk infrastructure! When I think about infrastructure I think about everywhere we use our bikes; streets, bike lanes, trails, paths, sidewalks and even things like signals, signage, and bike racks.
[Read more…]

Family biking profile: Sara Schooley is sure you’ll like e-bikes too

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on July 17th, 2018 at 8:24 am

Four-year-old Holly rides her own bike alongside mom Sara and passenger Tobin (two).
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We had so much fun with our profile of Kathleen Youell last week that we’ve decided to do another one.

Some of you wondered whether or not Kathleen continues to ride through the rain and cold of winter, so I’ve decided to ask all future profile subjects about how they deal with weather. And just for the record, Kathleen doesn’t buy a car each winter, she keeps biking!

This week we chat with Sara Schooley, a mom of two little ones who lives in north Portland.[Read more…]

Family biking profile: Kathleen Youell moved to Portland to live carfree

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on July 10th, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Kathleen Youell, her kids, and my suitcase, in her bakfiets.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

This week on the column we’re going to share a profile of one of our readers.

Kathleen Youell has been a fixture in the Portland family biking scene for a long time. I met her seven years ago — three days after I got my first cargo bike — and have been riding with her ever since. I caught up with her recently to learn more about her family and how cycling fits into it.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Preludes to pedaling their own set of wheels

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on July 3rd, 2018 at 11:19 am

Trailer bikes are great for when they’re too big for balance bikes but not yet ready to be on their own.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I was taught to bike the old-fashioned way. My mother tossed me and a little red bike off the end of the pier by our house and I pedaled with all my might for land — and I was a competent bicyclist by the time a wave swept me onto the sandy shore. Or something like that.

Kids these days have it much easier with lots of nifty options that don’t involve the Pacific Ocean, avoid scraped elbows and knees, and aren’t uphill both ways. This week I’ll share what I’ve learned about balance bikes, tricycles and trailer bikes.
[Read more…]

Grab the kids, load up your bike, and cool off at a local watering hole

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on June 26th, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Bikes and summer: just add water.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

We love biking to water in the summer — whether it’s to a beach, lake, river, spray park, or swimming pool. Summer days are long and free activities that hold the kids’ attention for long periods of time are my favorites. I can’t be the only parent who happily hangs out in the shade while my kids dig in the sand or throw rocks into water for hours on end, with the occasional break from my book to play catch or help with sandcastle building.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

The main things I pack for the beach are snacks, swimsuits, towels, beach toys, and shade (if we’re not heading to a site with its own shade). I strive to demonstrate family biking as fun and easily replicated, but I also tend to fill all available storage space with stuff. Once on our way to the beach a couple flagged us down to ask if we were at the tail end of a cross-country bike tour. Beach stuff is bulky but light so it looks impressive, but is still easy to lug around.

Whether your plans call for a quick jaunt to your local park’s splash pad, the new Poet’s Beach downtown, or a more ambitious destination like Broughton Beach on the Columbia River, here are some tips to help make the day go smoother.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Make this the summer you pedal to camp with the kiddos

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on June 19th, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Bike camping with kids: pedal hard, sleep hard.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Biking is fun. Biking with kids is double the fun. Bike camping with kids is triple the fun, triple the exhaustion, and the biggest adventure I’ve ever experienced!

For me, summer means bike camping with Kidical Mass. My first bike camping trip was six years ago with the Seattle chapter. Having only been car-camping meant I didn’t have small or lightweight gear, but I was able to fit our old four-person tent and all our full-size pillows onto my cargo bike and we had a blast.

Over the years I’ve replaced older gear so it’s much easier to carry everything and I’ve even become confident enough that I camp without a big group. However, for many years our camping trips were only done surrounded by a bunch of brand new friends, and it’s still my favorite way to camp. And it just so happens Kidical Mass PDX is hosting their annual bike camping event next month at Dodge Park.
[Read more…]